Balancing the federal budget has a lot in common with balancing the family budget.
We’ve been through some tough times so we’ve had to take out a line of credit to avert emergencies and we’ve been working diligently to get back to balance by setting clear priorities and taking care of the things that are most important: our children’s education, our family’s health and well-being and protecting the most vulnerable. We’ve found savings in the running of our house and ways to make it more efficient. And we’ve kept an eye on the future to ensure that we continue to be productive.
According to Chapter 4.2 of Budget 2014 (budget.gc.ca) here is where your tax dollars go:
Elderly benefits: $43.8 billion; Employment Insurance benefits: $17.7 billion; Children’s benefits: $13.2 billion; Major transfers to other levels of government including support for health and other social programs: $44.7 billion; Fiscal arrangements: $19.4 billion; Cities and communities (gas tax fund): $2 billion; Other: $200 million; Other transfer payments total $113 billion; Public debt charges: $29 billion.
With total revenues of $276.3 billion and total expenses of $279.2 billion, we have posted a deficit for this year but we will return to budget balance next year. We’ll be able to pay more down on our debt and we will ensure that Canada is prepared for any economic challenges that might come our way from outside our borders.
Our focus on Canada’s labour market will also continue to be of primary importance.
As the report, The State of the Canadian Labour Market, released by the Department of Finance(also available at budget.gc.ca) says “Canada’s labour market has generally succeeded in meeting recent challenges and performs relatively well in a number of areas, including job creation and post-secondary educational attainment. Canada’s economy has outperformed other G-7 countries in job creation in the recovery and over the last seven years. Canada’s labour force participation rate is high by international standards and Canada enjoys a fairly mobile population that responds well to economic opportunities.”
Nevertheless, as the report indicates, “there are areas that could be strengthened. In particular, imbalances between unemployment and job vacancies persist in certain regions and occupation groups; a number of groups remain underrepresented in the labour market; relatively fewer Canadians graduate in high-demand fields than in competitor countries; and Canada lags its peers in the development of business skills.”
Budget 2014 focuses on addressing these deficiencies. Among the initiatives taken: we are launching the Canada Job Grant and an enhanced Job Matching Service to help connect Canadians with available jobs; we are introducing a new Canada Apprentice Loan to help registered apprentices in Red Seal trades with the cost of training; we are investing more in programs to help older workers and persons with disabilities access the labour market; we are creating thousands of new paid internships for young Canadians entering the job market; we are investing more into aboriginal education and training; and we are providing $1.5 billion over the next decade for the Canada First Research Excellence Fund for post-secondary research.
The federal government also recognizes that for communities to realize their economic potential they need more funds for infrastructure.
Last Thursday, Prime Minister Harper announced the New Building Canada Plan, which will provide $53 billion in support of infrastructure in Canada over the next ten years.
The new Plan will support projects that focus on economic growth, job creation and productivity, including building roads, bridges, public transit, and other public infrastructure that supports local economies and will provide municipalities, provinces and territories with the assurance they need to plan public infrastructure projects in their jurisdictions.
Locally, the strong partnership forged between all three levels of government here in Kelowna-Lake Country, which helped us reach important local infrastructure goals will no doubt serve us well again and ensure that we can realize our constituency’s priorities.
It disappoints me to hear the opposition suggest that Budget 2014 is a “do nothing budget” since it also suggests your tax dollars are doing nothing. Yet, higher taxes mixed with big spending, especially on government, is not the recipe for the effective use of taxpayers’ money.
As with any family budget, being frugal can seem difficult, but there are times when it is necessary. Even when the economy is firing on all cylinders, we should remain prudent.
Today, taxes are at a 50 year low. Health, education and social funding for our seniors, our vets, and our families is higher than it has ever been.
Maintaining balanced budgets, keeping taxes low, paying down the debt, supporting job creation, and protecting the programs most important to us is a better recipe for success.
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.