Nova Scotia groups share their federal budget priorities

CBC News spoke with some Nova Scotia groups and associations to find out what is on their wish list for Tuesday's federal budget.

Priority areas include affordable housing, energy efficiency, infrastructure and education

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will deliver his first budget in the House of Commons on Tuesday at 5 p.m. AT. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

CBC News spoke with some Nova Scotia groups and associations to find out what is on their wish list for Tuesday's federal budget. Here's what they had to say:

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) Halifax

The organization for low- and moderate-income families would like to see investments in affordable housing. It says many Nova Scotians are struggling to pay for rent and other necessities of life.

"They've got to run to the food bank and stuff like that, which you shouldn't have to," said chair Bonnie Barrett.

ACORN would also like to see $10-a-month internet access be made available, and zoning changes enacted so that payday loan companies couldn't set up shop in areas inhabited primarily by low-income people.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Nova Scotia

On March 10, the think tank released its alternative federal budget, a 158-page document detailing its priorities. Its wish list includes more money being allocated to poverty reduction, refugee assistance and immigration settlement services.

"This year in particular, we're looking to see how the vision that [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau presented to the electorate comes to fruition," said director Christine Saulnier.

She says the centre is looking for a budget that invests in Canada's future.

"It's about kind of rolling back some of what we saw in the last decade and really building so we get back to where we were and move forward," said Saulnier.

Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia

The federation hopes Trudeau keeps his campaign promises to students and is looking at three in particular:

  1. Double funding to Canada's Youth Employment Strategy.
  2. Lift the two per cent funding cap on the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and increase funding to ensure all Métis, Inuit and First Nations students can access post-secondary education.
  3. Increase funding for Canada's student grants program by $715 million.

"The majority of students are now working and taking out loans to afford school, so the need for grants is really evident to us," said the federation's Charlotte Kiddell.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

With increased funding planned for infrastructure, the federation wants to ensure that money is well spent.

"We want to see that it's about creating real jobs and delivering on projects for Nova Scotia and not just be another slush fund for politicians," said Atlantic director Kevin Lacey.

During the election campaign, the Liberals campaigned on reducing employment insurance premiums. The federation would like to see broader reform, with Lacey pointing to hundreds of millions of dollars of EI revenue being used for other government spending in the past.

Ecology Action Centre

The centre is eyeing money for environmental initiatives and is hoping to see more funding for science research, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"Investing in energy efficiency can help all parts of the country, both urban and rural. It's a great way to create jobs and also make the Canadian economy more efficient and productive in the long term," said policy director Mark Butler.

As well, the centre is for looking for more attention to be paid to the Species at Risk Act.

"No species have been listed on the act since 2013, so there's a huge lag period where a number of species are just waiting for additional protection," said Katie Schleit, the centre's marine campaign co-ordinator.

Nova Scotia Federation of Labour

President Danny Cavanagh says he'd like Trudeau to keep his commitments to increased spending on infrastructure after many years of insufficient funding.

"We believe that's one of the best things government can do to help create jobs and stimulate the economy," he said.

Cavanagh would also like to see "devastating" changes made to the employment insurance system in 2012 be reversed.


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