After two years without a federal budget – the longest period our nation has ever gone without this essential fiscal document – the Liberal government has finally tabled one that’s over 700 pages.
In this email update, I review what stood out for me and share what some of you hoped to see reflected in federal funding priorities.
2021 Federal Budget Overview
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s January 2021 Mandate Letter to his Minister of Finance directed her to implement “a new fiscal anchor” and to “avoid creating new permanent spending.” This budget not only ignores this direction, it does the exact opposite. When it comes to fiscal responsibility, it’s promises made, promises broken from the federal Liberals.
Canadians wanted a data-driven plan to safely reopen our economy, to get Canadians back to work again, and provide future generations with the hope and confidence that they will be better off than the generation that came before. The Liberals failed to deliver that plan, and instead are adding nearly a half-trillion dollars in new debt that can only be paid back through higher taxes.
As my colleague and our Party’s Shadow Finance Minister, the Hon. Ed Fast, pointed out during his Speech in reply to the federal budget, the Liberal plan “fails to sufficiently address the most important structural weaknesses in our economy, including our declining productivity [nor] does it meaningfully address the dramatic flight of foreign capital from our country, nor does it commit to comprehensive regulatory and tax reform.” In other words, the Liberals’ debt-heavy spending spree does little to address what’s not working in our economy, and they have no intention of ever returning the federal budget to balance.
Robert Asselin, writing this week in the Hub, observed that a “budget that needs 700 pages of (red) ink says a lot about government motivations.” Asselin, who worked as the Budget and Policy Director for former finance minister Bill Morneau, sees this federal budget and “the government’s decision to spend more than $100 billion in so-called short-term stimulus [as] a political solution in search of an economic problem.” He goes onto to say that “it is hard to find a coherent growth plan” in this budget. Even Liberals are calling out Liberals for their short-term view of the challenges that Canada’s economy faces and the incoherent, fire-hose strategy of spending federal tax dollars on anything and everything in advance of a potential election.
Housing in the Budget
As the Conservative Party’s Shadow Minister for Housing, the first section of the budget that I analyzed in depth was Chapter 6.1, A Place to Call Home, and unfortunately, I came away wanting.
Despite taking on an unprecedented amount of federal debt, there were no measures to meaningfully address the ongoing housing affordability crisis. There is nothing that will make it easier for young Canadians and First Time Home Buyers to get into the housing market, and the document barely mentions the housing supply crisis happening across Canada.
Earlier this month, the Liberal Parliamentary Secretary for Housing shockingly admitted that Canada is “a very safe market for foreign investment, but not a great market for Canadians looking for choices around housing.” The Liberals have turned a blind-eye to this issue for their entire tenure in government, dismissing our legitimate and valid concerns as dog-whistle politics. Only now are they paying lip service to this issue, promising to consult on the implementation of a 1% foreign owners’ tax, which wouldn’t be implemented until 2022!
Childcare in the Budget
During the Budget presentation, the Finance Minister herself pointed out that Liberal governments have tried and failed to implement a nationally regulated childcare system for decades. This promise will be no different. My belief is that families don’t need an Ottawa-knows-best, one size-fits-all childcare system.
The Ministry for Children and Families has long been under the authority of the provincial and territorial governments, and I believe it requires further funding, but does Ottawa really need to oversee B.C.’s program? A new bureaucracy in Ottawa will not create more affordable daycare spaces we need today. I say this as a parent who pays for two spots in a licenced facility in Abbotsford.
If I were the Minister in charge, I would consider increasing the monthly allotment for the Canada Child Benefit, provide a full tax rebate for the cost of childcare (currently capped at $8,500), and increase the social transfer to the provinces and territories to build more childcare spaces.
What You’re Saying
Having waited more than two years for this budget, there was a lot of pent-up advice, opinions, and thoughts to be shared among the constituents of Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. To date, I have received 206 replies to my budget mailer, which is astounding, and I thank you for your feedback. Clearly, there are certain items you thought should get added attention in the federal budget.
Chief among these were seniors’ issues. Whether it was less taxation on seniors, increases to seniors’ CPP, OAS and GIS benefits, additional COVID-19 assistance for seniors, or more affordable housing for seniors, it is clear to me that you want more support for our seniors, who have worked hard to build the Canada we all enjoy and, now in their golden years, who require our assistance to get by.
This makes me think of the comment from the gentleman from Abbotsford, who lived and worked his whole life in B.C., paid his taxes in full, but with no private pension, he must rely on monthly CPP and OAS payments of about $1,500. I hear stories like this one over and over. It’s clear more needs to be done to help our seniors.
A significant number of you are concerned with the level of spending and debt that the federal government has taken on in the last two years. I have heard the calls to “balance the budget” and to “spend wisely” from numerous constituents. One fellow from Abbotsford warned me that “there won’t be a future for our children and grandchildren” unless the federal government reins in spending now. Cutting the federal Liberals’ carbon tax, reducing spending on foreign aid, winding down COVID-19 relief programs, and getting people back to work were all floated as ideas to help get federal spending back under control.
Some of the other issues you raised related to the recent federal budget include boosting funds for homelessness and affordable housing; rescinding the federal Liberals’ firearms legislation, including any plans for a gun buy-back program; increasing funding for infrastructure and mental health programs; increasing assistance to front-line workers; more summertime jobs for students and youth; and, a renewed emphasis on national defence spending. I thank everyone who sent me their budget comment cards, and I look forward to reading more as they come in.
The Conservative Plan to Secure our Future
Canadians can be confident that, with Erin O’Toole’s Recovery Plan, Conservatives will secure their future by recovering millions of jobs, introducing policies that result in better wages, and helping small businesses that are struggling get back on their feet.
Canada’s Conservatives got us out of the last recession. Canadians who are worried about their future know we will do it again.
You’re My Boss
Your input is valued. The Small Business Supports Survey is ongoing, and I want to sincerely thank the hundreds of constituents and small business owners who have answered the survey and shared their views on how I can best support you. You still have time to let me know what you think by visiting www.bradvis.ca/surveys.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office to voice your concerns or to seek assistance with any federal government programs by calling 604-814-5710 or emailing [email protected].
Brad Vis, MP
PS: I know you have lots of questions about the Conservative Party’s recently announced plan to Secure the Environment. Rest assured that I will be commenting on our Party’s plan in an upcoming email. For now, I encourage you to check out our detailed plan, which you can find here.