South Okanagan — West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings said the massive deficit of $29.4 billion is backtracking on the Liberal promises made at election time.
“Residents of South Okanagan-West Kootenay were hoping to find measures to reduce inequality in today’s budget but they are finding missed opportunities instead,” said Cannings. “Canadian families are being told to wait for years because the Liberals choose to delay completely fulfilling their campaign promises into the future but families here in our region are still struggling to make ends meet.”
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has handed down his first budget with a deficit three times what had been promised during the election campaign — as the new Liberal government embarks on a stimulus program.
Cannings said the budget fell short on fulfilling Liberal promises of restoring home mail delivery, funding for homecare and investing $500 million in rural broadband services — instead it gave $8 million.
The budget forecasts more than $100 billion in deficits for the next five years, contrary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election promise to balance the budget in four years. Morneau billed the budget as a plan to “revitalize the Canadian economy” and deliver a tax break to nine million taxpayers, and a more generous, tax-free child benefit.
“There are more than 1.4 million Canadians out of work and the unemployment rate has risen three months in a row,” said Cannings. “Meanwhile, access to employment insurance is at historic lows with fewer than four in 10 unemployed Canadians able to access benefits when they need them.”
Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said the finance ministry reported on budget day that the Liberals inherited a $4 billion surplus.
“There was still a surplus in January, and they’ve blown through that in the first 100 days,” Ambrose said. “What we’re seeing now is reckless spending without a job creation plan, and no actual plan in the budget to return to a balance.”
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair took aim at Morneau’s plan to target additional Employment Insurance coverage to areas of the country hit hard by the slump in oil and commodity prices.
“Right now there are 850,000 people who have lost their jobs who are not even eligible for EI,” Mulcair said. “The budget only takes care of 50,000 of them.”
The budget also indicates Ottawa can contribute up to 50 per cent of future capital funding, instead of the one-third from each senior government that was the practice in the past.
Big ticket items in the budget include the reduction of middle class tax rates – from 22 to 20.5 per cent for the $45,000 to $90,000 income bracket. Only part of that is offset by an increase in the tax rate for income over $200,000 from 29 to 33 per cent.
The budget also includes $8.4 billion for aboriginal communities.