When my colleague the Honourable Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Minister of National Revenue paid us a visit in January, we had the opportunity to visit Kelowna International Airport to showcase how $1.25M in federal gas tax funding has been invested locally.
Due to this funding contribution, Kelowna International Airport and other city owned buildings are now more energy-efficient.
Furthermore, the work at Kelowna International and other city buildings was done by sourcing local suppliers and workers.
It’s a great example of taxpayers’ dollars being reinvested back into the community.
I know from my 9 years of working as a Kelowna city councillor that it is difficult for local governments to plan for and raise the money for long term capital projects. However, since 2011, our Conservative government has made the gas tax fund a permanent funding commitment that today provides predictable, long-term funding to help the City of Kelowna, District of Lake Country, and communities across Canada meet their local infrastructure needs on an annual basis.
Important initiatives like this are the direct result of consultations with the public. It was municipalities for instance that encouraged our Government to make the gas tax permanent and why our government made the commitment in Budget 2011.
In fact, consultations with Canadians are at the core of how the federal government determines what will be included in a federal budget.
Every year constituents are given the opportunity to contribute to the discussion by attending hearings by the Standing Committee on Finance or participating locally in roundtable meetings hosted by elected officials and local business associations: Minister Findlay, for instance, joined constituents, community organizations, and those from the education and business sectors in a pre-budget roundtable hosted by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
And while the Finance Minister met with private sector economists, academics and business representatives in Ottawa, Canadians were also contributing ideas through an online portal at Finance Canada or by sending them to their Members of Parliament.
This allowed our Government to get a full picture of what everyone was saying about the economy and provided the direction for Budget 2014, which will be presented on February 11th.
Budget Day always generates a great deal of interest and excitement in Ottawa. Centre Block crawls with cameras, pundits and experts waiting to be the first to discuss the Budget’s contents and rate the government’s performance.
Local media contacts my office so I can comment on how the Budget will benefit our communities.
I don’t know everything that will be in Budget 2014, but you can be certain it will focus on the drivers of growth and job creation—innovation, trade and investment, education, skills and communities – and also on helping families with the cost of living and raising a family.
It will also reiterate our government’s ongoing commitment to lower taxes and a return to balanced budgets by 2015.
Although one cannot predict what will happen globally, the sound fiscal management practiced by the Government has put us in a good position: as outlined in the fall 2013 Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections, responsible and disciplined use of taxpayers’ dollars is expected to yield a surplus of just under $4 billion in 2015–16.
We have managed to accomplish this while providing record levels of funding to the provinces and territories for health care and social programs and reducing the tax burden of the average Canadian family of four by nearly $3,400 since 2006.
As a prudent government that puts the taxpayer first, you can also count on us to continue finding additional savings and efficiencies in government.
Every annual budget tabled by the federal government holds the promise that we can achieve more: whether it is a balance between the economy and the environment; programs that support local initiatives like the sustainability of our infrastructure; or funding that supports innovative proposals and partnerships like those developing between Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan and the private and social sectors.
Whatever it is, I am confident it will have a positive impact on the future for the communities of Kelowna & Lake Country.
I thank all of you who took the time to share your budget suggestions I encourage you to listen to the budget speech on February 11th or access the budget in full at budget.gc.ca.
As Minister Flaherty has noted, “I am overwhelmed by the positive and insightful feedback we have received from Canadians across the country. Your input in the pre-budget process is invaluable to me and my colleagues, as we move forward in keeping Canada's economy strong.”
The Honourable Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and welcomes your feedback at [email protected]. Information on local announcements and federal government programs can be found at www.cannan.ca.