A list of priorities for the Canadian government

Finance Minister Flaherty has promised us tax cuts. The recent surplus, and projections for the future, make such a promise possible. And many people and corporations are happy. But we would prefer to see more compassionate and progressive use of the available funds.

We want the federal share of health care costs restored to former levels to make it possible to reduce waiting lists and provide everyone with a family doctor. We want to see equality in health care guaranteed – one system for all, no two tier system and no privatization. We want to see universal pharmacare, initially at least for preschoolers. As one newspaper columnist has said, our national health care plan is not broken; it is broke.

We want more emphasis on restorative justice and the prevention of crime.

We want to hear our political leaders inspiring and challenging a fairer distribution of income – there is no reason why any family should receive more than five times the income of any other family, particularly when there is so much poverty in Canada and throughout the world.

There is a growing poverty gap within our country and among the nations. We want to see it narrowed. And we want to see the stigma of poverty removed through the use of universal benefits.

We want more money spent on waging peace than on waging war.

We want to speed up the settlement of land claims and thus reduce the gap between the Native people and the majority, in order to promote justice and peace and to prevent the sacrifice of more lives, both Native and Caucasian.

We want government at all levels to take seriously the prospect of global warming and to begin preparation for the changes that are coming. We want the federal government to restore its support of home owners as they install solar and other modern forms of alternative heating. We want to see an end to the use of fossil fuels in all government buildings. We want the erection of homes on flood plains prohibited. We want a carbon tax imposed.

We want anti-viral medication made available to AIDS sufferers in Africa at cost or less. We want a recognition that clean drinking water is as much a human right as is clean air; to treat it as a commodity to be bought and sold by the wealthy and available only to those who can pay – that is triage and tantamount to genocide.

We want to see greater government assistance to university education, so as to provide the poor with equality of access to higher education.

We want to see affordable housing provided for the poor, and better provision for those who are homeless due to mental illness and similar disabilities.

Nearly sixty years ago Canada formally agreed that:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23 (1)).

We want Canada to take the Universal Declaration seriously.

If cancelling the federal government’s tax cuts will make possible one or more of the above suggestions, we will gladly forego our share of the surplus.

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