OPINION: More Comments on the Federal Budget
By Richard Cannings, MP for South Okanagan — West Kootenay
Last week we saw the Liberal government bring forward their first budget, a document that was expected to deliver on the many promises they made just six short months ago during the campaign. Instead of fully delivering on those campaign commitments, they delivered a budget of missed opportunities for our region.
Budgets are truly about choices and when you present a 271 page document like a federal budget, this is a mixture of good choices along with the poor ones. In this budget, the Liberals did make some good choices and proposals that I support, like new investments in affordable housing, new funding for tourism advertising and the re-opening of the important Veterans Affairs office in Kelowna.
However in this same budget there are many campaign promises completely missing or only mildly spoken to. After promising to invest $3 billion over the next four years in home care, there was nothing towards that vital service. After clearly promising to restore home mail delivery, this budget doesn’t even mention Canada Post. This budget gave nothing towards improving mental health services for veterans, didn’t close the stock option loophole for CEOs that costs taxpayers $800 million a year and broke the Liberal promise to lower taxes for small businesses, Canada’s number one job creators.
Today there are more than 1.4 million Canadians out of work and under the current Employment Insurance rules, access to EI is at historic lows with fewer than 4 in 10 unemployed Canadians able to access benefits. This budget did offer some appreciated help to those hurt by the economic down turn but of the 850,000 people who have lost their jobs who are not eligible for EI, this budget only takes care of 50,000 of them. While I am happy for the 50,000 who have been helped, that still leaves 800,000 left without.
At the same time this budget raids the EI fund once again, taking $6.9 billion out of the EI fund over the next three years to pay for other programs and services, not more access to employment insurance. Instead of using those billions to help more of those 800,000 unemployed people in their deepest time of need, the Liberals chose not to.
Budgets are about choices and while the Liberals have made some good choices in this budget that I applaud, they have made some poor choices that I feel will hurt hard working families here in our region. That is why I cannot support this budget at this time. I hope that the government will take this feedback that New Democrats are offering to make further improvements to this document. In the meantime, I welcome any feedback you might have on the budget. Please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org and I look forward to hearing what you have to say.