Dáil debates

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

 

12:10 pm

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Dublin Bay South, Labour)

Later today, along with our finance spokesperson, Deputy Nash, I and my Labour colleagues will be introducing our alternative Labour budget and our proposals for budget 2023. We are doing so at a time when we are facing unprecedented crises. There is a crisis in the cost of living, and there are exorbitant price increases in food and fuel and in basic household necessities. We are also facing an energy security crisis and a chronic housing crisis, where are seeing so many people being priced out of homes, either to rent or buy. In the face of these crises, and while we are seeing healthy Exchequer figures at macro level, we in Labour are calling for Government to adopt a really serious and substantial cost-of-living package not only to invest massively in the building of new homes and in support for public services, but also to adopt a €4 billion emergency package of measures to help alleviate the real hardship that so many families and households are facing into over this bleak winter ahead, which will undoubtedly be exacerbated by the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war there.

There are measures that we in this country and this Government can take that are in our power to do, even in the face of massive international challenges. We, in Labour, have called for three key measures to be adopted as part of an emergency package of measures to help struggling households and families. Those three measures include, first, to cap childcare costs for families. Every week I hear from constituents who cannot afford the sort of increases in fees for crèches that they are being charged, and from parents who simply cannot access crèche places at all. We are calling for a massive investment by Government in the national childcare scheme to ensure that childcare costs for parents will be no more than €200 per child, bringing us into line with European average costs per month. That is a measure that could be adopted in this budget and could really help alleviate hardship for parents who are struggling. Second, we have called for the introduction of a €9 monthly climate ticket to enable individuals to have unlimited public transport journeys across Ireland. For the price of €9, this climate ticket measure would not only help alleviate pressure on families faced with rising transport costs, but would also ensure that we are going some way to meeting our climate emissions targets in terms of reduction in the transport sector. A similar measure was introduced in Germany. We have called for that to be introduced, even for a six-month period, in this budget. Finally, we are calling for the immediate extension of free GP care to all children and young people under the age of 18. It has been a long-standing ambition of my party. We saw the measure being introduced on an incremental basis previously. However, this Government and the previous government have not done anything to further that ambition and to ensure that parents no longer have to think twice because of cost if they are faced with having a sick child to the doctor. We want to see free GP care extended to all children under 18, and we want to see it done in this budget.

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