Mayes defends budget

Infrastructure needs in Okanagan-Shuswap communities are not being ignored, according to the local MP.

Infrastructure needs in Okanagan-Shuswap communities are not being ignored, according to the local MP.

Tuesday’s federal budget included money for bridges in Montreal, Que. and Windsor, Ont., as well as $391.5 million for highways and bridges in national parks, but there was no specific mention of money for infrastructure upgrades for municipalities in general.

“We have that covered in the gas tax fund,” said MP Colin Mayes.

Mayes insists the budget will benefit the region as sections of the Trans-Canada Highway through national parks will be improved, and he is confident that federal support can be found for other portions of the route.

“If the province comes forward to say they want to do the Trans-Canada, that money can come from the Building Canada fund.”

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget includes no major tax cuts and spending is decreasing for the third year in a row. The document forecasts a $2.9 billion deficit this year and a $6.4 billion surplus in 2015/16.

Among the highlights is proposed legislation to cap wholesale wireless roaming costs in Canada.

“Canada has one of the highest costs for cell phones,” said Mayes.

“The government is trying to find ways to bring us into line with the rest of the world. The costs for communications are disadvantaging businesses that need to use cell phones and the Internet.”

Not surprisingly, the federal budget is getting negative reviews from opposition parties.

“It’s another lost opportunity to do something positive for Canadians,” said Nick Hodge, Okanagan-Shuswap NDP president.

“Again we hear about reductions, restraint, fragile recovery, and cuts to programs. I am looking forward to the day when we have a government interested in making life better for Canadians. For all of the talk about restraint, tax revenues are projected to increase by $12.2 billion, 5.5 per cent over last year.”

Liberals are describing the budget as disappointing.

“Much of what is in the budget is unlikely to do anything for the average Canadian and even less for the residents of the North Okanagan and Shuswap,” said Dustin Griffin, Okanagan-Shuswap Liberal president.

“The big ticket items entirely miss the needs of our riding such as $500 million over two years for automotive research and development and infrastructure spending in the national parks of $391.5 million over five years and money for specific bridges in Windsor and Montreal.”


Vernon Morning Star