The federal government released its 2016 budget on Tuesday, and the local MP feels it’s full of missed opportunities.
Richard Cannings, a member of the NDP, sent out a press release Tuesday afternoon accusing the Liberals of falling short on their campaign promises.
“We were disappointed and we’re calling it a missed opportunity, especially for the opportunity the Liberals had to reduce inequality in Canada. I think that’s one of the main things Canadians are expecting from the government is to turn that tide,” he told the Castlegar News on the phone from Ottowa.
In particular, Cannings was disappointed that there was nothing on home care for seniors. Back when he was trying to get elected, Justin Trudeau promised to negotiate a new health accord with the provinces, with a long-term agreement on funding that would include an extra $3 billion over four years for improved home care services. While the new budget mentions both the health accord and home care, there’s nothing about the promised $3 billion:
“The Government is committed to working in partnership with provinces and territories to negotiate a new multi-year health accord that will improve health care in Canada and boost health outcomes for all Canadians. The Minister of Health has begun discussions with her provincial and territorial counterparts to enhance the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs, improve access to home care and mental health services, and support pan-Canadian innovation in the delivery of health services.”
The Liberals also dropped their plans to expand taxation of stock options.
“These are opportunities to get funding again for programs without hitting the middle class and lower income Canadians with taxes,” said Cannings.
While he may be dissatisfied with the decision, Canadian startups, who reacted against the idea, were reportedly very relieved on Tuesday.
Cannings was also upset about the Liberals’ changes to employment insurance, which he said don’t go far enough.
“They haven’t really brought in measures that will reduce the money coming in that goes into general revenue and they really have only moderately increased the ability of Canadians, who paid into this fund as they work, to access it once they’re out of work,” he said.
Cannings and the NDP reacted to the fact that the budget shows the government will have collected $6.9 billion in revenue from EI premiums over three years, but it’s worth pointing out that $3.5 billion of that was collected in 2014-2015, $2.2 billion in 2015-2016, and the smallest amount, $2.1 billion will be collected in 2016-2017. In the three following years, the budget projects that EI will pay out more than is collected, though only up to $3.5 billion, not $6.9 billion. This deficit is accounted for in part by the Liberals plans to lower EI premiums, beginning with a decrease to $1.51 in 2017.
The budget projects a deficit of $29.4 billion for 2016-2017, with no surplus in sight, even in 2020-2021 by which time there will have been another election.
“We will admit with them that it is a difficult fiscal situation and difficult to balance the budget this year, but … if this is going to work, as they say, in stimulating the economy, we should hope that it really works and we have a plan to actually get out of this deficit situation,” said Cannings. “So we’re disappointed that there’s no surplus in sight, no balanced budget in sight.”