With the federal budget presented this week, I was hopeful we would see the Liberal government fulfill its statements that this budget would have fiscal restraint in order to finally cut wasteful spending that has led to inflationary costs for Canadians.
The Conservative Party’s asks were clear. First, bring home powerful paycheques with lower taxes and scrap the carbon tax so hard work pays off again. Second, bring home lower prices by ending inflationary debt and deficits that drive up inflation and interest rates and third, bring homes people can afford by removing government gatekeepers to free up land and speed up building permits.
Unfortunately, none of those were met. Instead, Budget 2023 will leave Canadians overtaxed, billions more in debt and at the mercy of continuing inflation.
The government's preambles of fiscal restraint in this budget were abandoned. The deficit in Budget 2023 for this fiscal year is $40.1 billion.
The path to a balanced budget that Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland set for herself last year has also been completely abandoned by the choice to prolong and increase future budget deficits through the rest of this decade.
Freeland's commitments a year ago in Budget 2022 to lower our debt-to-GDP ratio and pay off our pandemic debt were also abandoned. At a time when it’s reported one in five Canadians are skipping meals, that is not acceptable. I hear from local residents every day how they are struggling to just get by. It was brought to my attention recently that a local family put out a public call for bottles or cans they could collect from neighbours because they needed financial help to take their dog to the veterinarian.
The carbon tax will increase to 14 cents per litre on April 1, making it more expensive to heat your home or get to work. The excise tax has not been fully halted from increasing on April 1, which will affect our local wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries and the thousands of people they employ.
In 2015, Canadians needed 39% of the average paycheque to make monthly payments on the average house. That has now risen to 62%. By every objective measurement, things are more expensive, and people are taking home less.
According to a forecast prepared by the Parliamentary Budget Officer ahead of the budget, the cost of servicing our federal debt was already on course to jump from $24.5 billion to $46 billion by 2028. That's tens of billions of dollars in public funds that will no longer be available to invest in areas Canadians want to see investments in, such as healthcare, national security and public safety.
No one can ignore the expected recession in Canada, as financial experts increasingly recognize it. Adding burdensome debt, new spending and punitive taxes will not help.
On a different topic, I wanted to let our community know about an opportunity.
As a Member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, the committee oversees the Centennial Flame Research Award, awarded each year to a Canadian with a disability.
The purpose of the award is to enable a resident living with a disability to conduct research and prepare a report on the contributions of one or more persons with disabilities to the public life of Canada or the activities of Parliament.
For 2023, the amount awarded will be $7,500, with May 1 the submission deadline.
Go to http://ow.ly/kPLN50MOlLv for information, or, if you email my office, my staff can send you the link.
Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.