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I write to you today to express my concerns about the recent budget that was presented by the Government in the House of Commons on March 22nd. This letter serves to present my main concerns with the budget and the impacts that it will have on our country as we move forward.
My first concern is about the size of the deficits that this Government has decided to run. During the campaign, Prime Minister Trudeau promised to run what he called “modest” deficits of $10 billion/year before returning to a balanced budget. Budget 2016 misses this target by a mile. This budget projects deficits of $5.4 billion this year, $29.4 billion in 2016-17, $29.0 billion in 2017-18, $22.8 billion in 2018-19, $17.7 billion in 2019-20, and $14.3 billion in 2020-21. To me, these are not “modest” deficits and are certainly much greater than the promised $10 billion. Worst of all, the Government did not even present a plan to return to balance.
Second, I was disappointed to learn that this budget promises to reverse responsible decisions that were made by the Conservative Government surrounding the Old Age Security (OAS) system. While in Government, the Conservatives announced changes to the OAS system that would have gradually increased the age of OAS eligibility from 65 to 67 by the year 2029. These measures were announced in response to a changing society wherein Canadians are living longer, healthier lives.
Furthermore, the system was broken. With an aging population, without any changes, the cost to Canadian tax-payers would sky-rocket. In 2010, the OAS program cost about $36 billion. Without any changes, the cost of the program would balloon to $108 billion by the year 2030. Currently, there are approximately 4 working taxpayers for every 1 senior drawing from OAS. By the year 2030, there will be only 2 working taxpayers for every 1 senior drawing from OAS. This is at the heart of why action was required. It is simply not sustainable. Governments must be able to make tough choices that may be unpopular but are necessary. This is a perfect example. It is unfortunate that the Government is playing politics with this issue.
The Government is also reversing important
decisions made by the previous Government to bring in essential reforms
to Employment Insurance (EI) in Canada. These reforms were not
necessarily popular for all but they were necessary to ensure that we
have a sustainable EI system. The changes that this budget proposes
include significantly reducing the number of hours worked before being
eligible to collect EI, extending benefits by another 5 weeks to a
maximum of 50 weeks, and eliminating important requirements to
demonstrate that claimants are actively searching for a job. The total
cost of these reforms is about $2.5 billion. The Prime Minister is
attempting to buy the votes of Canadians with their own money. As I’ve
said, the politically viable option isn’t always the right one.
Furthermore, this budget is a slap in the face to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). We all remember the 1990’s and what has been called the ‘decade of darkness’ for our military under the Liberal government at the time. It appears as though while ‘sunny ways’ are supposedly shining everywhere else, our military is being left in the dark. This budget removes $3.7 billion out of the budget of the Department of National Defence which was earmarked for vitally important procurement projects. The budget does not allow the military to upgrade important equipment such as ships, aircraft, and other vehicles for the next 5 years. It appears we are in for another Liberal attack on our military.
Finally, the Government is keen to pat itself on the back for infrastructure spending in this budget. I note however that most of their new spending is focused on cities and urban areas such as public transit funding and combatting congestion in Canada’s largest cities. I see a very limited amount of money out of the proposed $120 billion that will be available for rural municipalities like Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound to draw on.
Therefore, I am disappointed with this budget. Canadians did not vote for spiraling deficits with no plan to return to balance, they did not vote for an assault on our military, and they did not vote for irresponsible economy policy. I look forward to the debate in the House of Commons and will be voting against this flawed economic plan for Canada when implementation bills come to a vote.
Larry Miller, MP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound
Canadian Community News, and thereby its subsidiaries, does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. All comments must be signed and are published at the discretion of the editor
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Thursday, March 31, 2016