Federal Budget 2021: Some Wins for CAPE Members


  1. National childcare program – a historic investment

The government’s announcement is a huge win for families and working parents – especially women who bear the brunt of lack of access to childcare, facing dim work prospects without it. Once implemented, it will give them a fair chance to (re)enter the workforce, fulfill their professional aspirations, earn additional income, and participate in Canada’s economic recovery and growth.

We will keep a close watch on progress being made, especially as we are in a minority government, meaning that a federal election could derail plans or progress.

  1. Addressing racism and prioritizing diversity and inclusion

The government is enhancing its work to address racism, and prioritizing diversity and inclusion by investments to fight systemic racism and empower communities. Building on the 2020 Speech from the Throne, to make the public service more diverse, the government is proposing amendments to the Public Service Employment Act to “affirm the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce and avoid biases and barriers in staffing processes.”

  1. Stabilizing pay and pensions

The government is investing millions of dollars earmarked to address the backlog of pay problems caused by Phoenix and to modernizing the critical IT infrastructure to avoid another Phoenix-like IT debacle.

  1. Promoting Canada’s linguistic duality

CAPE believes and supports a bilingual public service and has actively advocated for positive change. We therefore welcome the government’s investments in efforts to modernize the Official Languages Act and have actively taken part in previous consultations. We look forward to engaging with the government on this important topic.

  1. Disaggregated data

CAPE was successful in advocating for the inclusion of disaggregated data in the annual Public Service Employee Survey, which has helped confirm a few things that were believed but were not backed by data.

The $172 million earmarked for Statistics Canada to implement a Disaggregated Data Action Plan is welcome news. It will also support the enhancement of data collection, which will result in better decision making.

  1. Mental health

The mental health of many Canadians has deteriorated since the onset of the pandemic, according to a December 2020 survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association. Some of our members faced and continue to face enormous pressure in dealing with the pandemic, as they were on the front line in rolling out an unprecedented number of government programs created to assist Canadians in a time of need. Others had to find creative ways to balance young families at home, a sick family member or colleagues – all while ensuring that they continued to deliver the high-quality services Canadians are accustomed to.

Budget 2021 proposes investments for federal agencies and institutes to help develop national mental health service standards and projects for mental health interventions, and to address trauma brought about by the pandemic.

The mental well-being of our members, especially during these trying times, remains a priority and CAPE will continue to be a champion for members’ mental health and continue to promote tools and services that support mental well-being.

  1. Supporting government translation and interpretation services

Our interpreters are facing ongoing health and safety challenges since Parliament and committees began virtual sittings at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. They now must conduct remote simultaneous translation, which is not optimal for them, especially when the government approved headsets are not used or are used incorrectly by parliamentarians or witnesses. This has led interpreters having at times to choose between service delivery to the detriment of their health and injuries.

While CAPE is pleased that Parliament adopted some of the recommendations it made to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee when it appeared as a witness in May 2020, subsequent follow-up letters to the same committee and written briefs to the Standing Committee on Official Languages – which have led to improvements – we remain concerned that there are still ongoing problems.

Budget 2021 proposes $18M in funding for the Translation Bureau to respond to a higher volume of translation and interpretation requests while continuing to support a remote working environment. This will ensure that Parliamentarians and Canadians receive timely translation and interpretation services in both of our official languages, as well as in Indigenous languages, sign languages, and other languages spoken across Canada.

  1. Long-term care – fixing a national shame

Long-term care facilities were responsible for several Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths – a shameful situation that shocked our nation. We saw heartbreaking situations with our seniors living in horrendous conditions in long-term care facilities, which were made worse during the pandemic.

We voiced our concerns about this unacceptable situation and therefore welcome the massive $3B commitment that will ensure better standards are applied in long-term care facilities.