We know April showers bring May flowers, but what did this year's federal budget bring?
The government touted it as a “post-Covid” budget, but what Canadians received was an unfocused, heavy spending budget that does little to help Canadians with their everyday struggles.
While I was hoping we would see an outline for long-term economic growth and debt management, as well as immediate tax savings for families and small businesses to help with inflationary pressures, we received nothing of the sort.
Months into an inflation crisis, we still see no end to the federal government's continued money printing. More dollars chasing fewer goods will only result in higher gas, groceries, and housing prices.
Pouring more tax dollars into ineffective government programs like the National Housing Program is neither good value for money nor helping with housing affordability. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer said the government's housing initiatives have produced "limited results" when it comes to housing affordability. A scan of our local housing real estate listings confirms that.
We need a real plan to address the housing crisis rather than doubling down on failed government programs from previous budgets.
The government also directed large spending to initiatives without plans. An example of this is $3.8 billion in Budget 2022 to launch the Critical Minerals Strategy- which still does not exist. I've asked for this plan at the committee level from the government for months.
The effects of March's Liberal-NDP supply and confidence agreement are also clearly on display in this new budget, with $15 billion in new spending commitments related to their deal.
However, what has been dropped by the government is equally important. Gone are the guardrails the government committed to in 2020 to reduce stimulus spending relative to the speed Canadians returned to jobs lost because of the pandemic. Also gone is the commitment made in the prime minister's mandate letter to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to create no new, permanent spending.
Even promises the government ran on in the last recent election have been dropped.
Gone is the promise to provinces to help hire 7,500 new family doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners and to cut surgery backlogs. The establishment of mental health transfer payments has been left out, with discussion only at future interprovincial meetings.
And the commitment made to British Columbia communities still rebuilding from last year's floods and fires to upgrade infrastructure to mitigate future weather events is also gone.
One spending item Canadians won't see a benefit from is the $26.9 billion in debt interest servicing which could have been used to help staff our hospitals, reduce inflation, equip our armed forces, or help the less fortunate.
As the shadow minister for Small Business Recovery and Growth, I was disappointed to see the government's proposed support for small businesses fall out of line with what small businesses themselves have asked for. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, which represents small businesses at the national level, called this budget "a missed opportunity to help small businesses."
The federal government is choosing to maintain its maze of red tape and tax increases with no focus on crippling supply chain issues. Payroll tax increases remain in place despite national labour shortages, leaving fewer payrolls to tax, carbon tax increases make the cost of everything rise and our local wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries will still have their products hit with excise escalator tax increases.
Lastly, the price tag of this budget, a $52.8 billion deficit, will not only increase inflation but will add to our more than $1 trillion national debt, which is rising by $6 million every hour.
Less than a week after seeing Budget 2022, the Bank of Canada hiked interest rates by 50 basis points (0.5%) and warned it would likely raise rates further to combat the out-of-control inflation and cost-of-living crisis.
A commitment to reduce our national debt, along with strategies for long-term economic recovery and to reduce inflationary pressures should have been at the heart of Budget 2022.
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This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.