Federal budget falls short, says MP Dave Van Kesteren

In what was his final federal budget, an outgoing Conservative MP says in his opinion it fell short of what Canadians need, as well as Chatham-Kent-Leamington residents.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington MP Dave Van Kesteren (Handout)

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In what was his final federal budget, an outgoing Conservative MP says it fell short of what Canadians – and Chatham-Kent-Leamington residents –need.

MP Dave Van Kesteren said it was “much the same” as last year, with a lot of future promises.

In 2019-20, a $19.8-billion deficit is projected, including a $3-billion risk cushion. By 2023-24, the deficit is projected at $9.8 billion.

“At some point, we’re going to have to pay for this,” Van Kesteren said. “You can’t keep putting on deficits. We were promised a balanced budget by 2019. We have a $20-billion deficit.”

The MP said he was also concerned about smaller municipalities and what the proposed infrastructure funding would mean for them in reality.

He said (the Liberals) “talk about $50 billion in the next two years, but my understanding is that $200 million of that is going to be for smaller municipalities, whereas places like Toronto will get the bulk of that.”

Despite compensation for supply-managed farmers, Van Kesteren said he hoped to see more help for agriculture.

“We’ve got challenges here, but we’ve also got challenges in the rest of the country.”

Speaking in Toronto, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the government will “continue to work towards getting to a balanced situation.

“First and foremost though, we want to make sure that we make the investments that give people the optimism for the future,” he said.

The finance minister also rejected the idea that a recession in Canada is possible in the near term.

“What we’re seeing in Canada, of course, is an extremely strong market at home, the lowest unemployment rate we’ve seen in over 40 years,” he said. “Our long-term forecasts are positive.”

Some of the items in the budget include:

  • Municipalities can access $2.2 billion more in gas tax transfer revenue as a one-time top up, helping fix or expand infrastructure;
  • $1.25 billion over three years for a First Time Home Buyer Incentive, along with other measures that will ease Canadians’ entry into the real estate market;
  • $1.7 billion over five years for new skills training tax credits, including a credit for eligible workers to pay for training fees, and a credit supporting training for people receiving EI;
  • $5 or $6 billion over 10 years for broadband in northern and rural communities, on a promise to extend high-speed Internet to all Canadians;
  • $1 billion to increase affordability of high-cost drugs for rare diseases, plus the creation of a new Canadian Drug Agency to negotiate prescription drug prices “on behalf of Canadians”;
  • $4.7 billion in new money for Indigenous communities, including for settling land claims; governance support; improving child welfare services; promoting Indigenous languages; and improving health and safety in communities; and
  • $3.9 billion in compensation for supply-managed farmers who are losing a share of the dairy, egg and poultry market after two trade deals entered into force: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan, Australia, New Zealand and seven other countries in the Asia-Pacific.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said the budget has some good measures, including a gas-tax boost.

He added that, given the housing situation, any incentives will help buyers.

“It’s all good news if you can offer incentives,” he said.

– With Postmedia files

tterfloth@postmedia.com

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