This week the Liberal Government introduced the 2018 Budget. As is customary in Canadian democracy, it is the role of the Liberal government to promote what it views as the merits of their budget. As the Official Opposition, it is our job to illustrate the concerns we have with the budget.
On that note, I have a few.
It has become clear over this mandate, that the Prime Minister excels in making promises but often falls short on the delivery of said promises. For example, we were promised Electoral Reform, a National Housing Strategy, Infrastructure Investment, new fighter jets for our military…the list goes on.
This budget is no exception.
Mr. Trudeau distinctly promised Canadians that after a series of small deficits, his Government would return to a balanced budget in 2019. This budget demonstrates that the Liberals have no intention whatsoever of returning to balance in 2019. Budget 2018 calls for yet another deficit of $18 Billion this year. Based on the current pace, Mr. Trudeau will add $450 billion to Canada’s national debt over the next 27 years.
Why is this a concern?
In short: because you and I, pay interest on that debt.
By the year 2022, which is only four short years away, it’s estimated that Canadians will be making annual interest payments of 33 Billion dollars on that outstanding debt! To put that number in context, the amount of the annual transfer, that the Government of Canada provides the Provinces to deliver health care to Canadians, is currently $36 Billion.
Another promise in this budget relates to a National Pharmacare Program, an idea that has long been championed by the NDP. What’s interesting is there is no actual money allocated to pay for a National Pharmacare Program. Rather, the Liberals announced that they will create an advisory panel to further study the idea. This idea has already been studied in Ottawa for close to a decade. When it came to legalizing marijuana, the Liberals made a commitment to do so by July 1st of 2018. In my view, if the Liberals were serious about creating a National Pharmacare Program, they would have made similar timeline commitment and attached dollars in this budget to make it happen.
Regarding marijuana legalization, a seldom discussed proposal in this budget is a commitment to spend $546M over five years to enforce Federal pot legislation. This appears to be an admission that the Liberals now realize that illegal marijuana may well be a serious threat to undercutting legal marijuana. I mention this because one of the arguments for legalization from Mr. Trudeau was that there would be less need for law enforcement.
While the budget proposes to spend $546 Million to enforce marijuana legalization, it also proposes to spend less than half of that amount to fight opioid addiction. The budget calls for $231 Million to be spent over the next five years to fight the opioid crisis. That said, it is unclear how this money will be divided up between the provinces and territories.
Things not in the budget?
For the most part infrastructure, military, daycare, housing affordability and poverty reduction were items that received no significant upgrades or mention. The Liberals promoted this as a gender based budget and in fact used the word “gender” 359 times in a budget document that is 367 pages long.
My question this week:
Will this budget do anything to help you or your family?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.