The House of Commons rises for the summer this week, and I am looking forward to being back in the riding and connecting with constituents.
While in Ottawa, I was able to ask questions and debate many important topics the past few weeks, one of which was the Liberal government’s Budget 2021.
I’ve spoken before about Canada’s increasing debt, and we see this is not the only thing that’s getting more unaffordable. From housing to lumber to food to fuel, it doesn’t just seem like every-day items are getting more costly, they are.
In May, Canada’s inflation rate increased by the fastest rate in a decade. Country-wide, transportation costs were up 7.6%, shelter was up 4.2%, and clothing and footwear 3.9%, just to name a few.
I’ve heard from countless Kelowna-Lake Country residents that life is getting more expensive, and that the Liberal government doesn’t seem too concerned.
Not having a softwood lumber agreement with the U.S. since 2015 and not addressing shipping container shortages for Canada are a few factors contributing to cost increases and I brought these forth to ministers.
Despite spending more than $1 trillion in the combined 2020 and 2021 financial years, the sectors that need help the most are getting ignored in this omnibus budget.
It was disappointing to see only $500 million dedicated specifically to tourism relief. This industry has been devastated by the pandemic and will likely be one of the last to recover.
The budget also detailed how arts, entertainment, and recreation were the largest affected sectors for people losing work February 2020 compared to 2021, and yet only $450 million is allocated, spread over three years.
This is disappointing to musicians and performing artists, as well as the festival, arts, culture, and sports providers in our community.
Aerospace is another major employer in Kelowna-Lake Country.
The budget states, “in 2019 aerospace contributed more than $28 billion to Canada’s GDP,” and “directly and indirectly supported 234,500 jobs.”
It also notes that this sector is “highly dependent on purchases from airlines hit hard by the pandemic,” and “the sector is facing reduced demand and a longer path to recovery, relative to other sectors of the economy.”
Yet, there is just $250 million over three years across the entire country in the budget for this sector.
These are just a few examples of this unfocused, half-a-trillion-dollar spending plan.
The sheer amount of new debt without targeting stimulus to the most affected sectors, on top of the trillion dollars we already owe, will continue to increase inflation.
No inflationary concerns have been more vigorously expressed than the monumental increase in housing costs in our community. The government’s current response to this crisis is to double down on its failed First-Time Home Buyer Incentive.
With this program, the government takes an ownership stake in your home and gets a piece of the pie if it goes up in value when you sell it.
The program was touted to help 100,000 Canadians become homeowners in three years, however, there has been little uptake and it’s estimated that it will take nearly 20 years to hit that target. The government needs to admit that this was a bad idea and move onto a plan that will work.
Recently, Conservatives put forward a common-sense plan in the House of Commons with concrete actions to address this issue.
This plan would combat money laundering and foreign money pouring into the real estate market and calls for real measures to increase rental housing units and supply.
Experts are saying that the government has ignored calls to action and the cost of housing will jump another 13% this year, putting first-time home ownership further out of reach for many in our community.
We will continue to hold the government to account to address this.
If you need any assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, please feel free to reach out any time.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.