GUARDIAN OPINION: Federal budget provides hope for Canadians

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Minister of Finance Bill Morneau takes part in media interviews in the foyer of the House of Commons after delivering the federal budget on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

Liberals first budget will see red ink swell to $29.4 billion, with a similar-sized deficit next year

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal election last October was won when he boldly promised early deficit budgets to spur growth and stimulate the economy. Canadians liked what they heard and voted in a massive Liberal majority. They wanted jobs, investments and hope.

Tuesday, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered on that key promise. But instead of a $10 billion deficit, the Liberals first budget will see red ink swell to $29.4 billion, with a similar-sized deficit next year.

The numbers are staggering and there is no commitment or date to return to balance. It should be a major concern but that has become a worry for tomorrow because today money is being lavishly spent to fulfill government election promises.

The biggest winners are Canadian families, with billions in tax-free child benefits; aboriginal communities will get $8 billion over the next five years; and municipalities will pick up $11 billion this year in infrastructure funding for transit, water, sewer, ports, harbours, roads, buildings, bridges and buses.

It’s positive news for communities across the country pleading for cash to upgrade aging infrastructure. The spending frenzy will be a major economic stimulus for all provinces.

The tax cut to middle income Canadians is there, green infrastructure spending is there, reversing changes to unemployment insurance are there and climate action is there. Also there is a roll back of the eligibility for old age security from 67 to 65. They are all good news items.

But national defence took a $1.6 billion hit. The department is to get that money restored over the next four to five years but what does it say in the fight against international terrorism which struck against with deadly results earlier Tuesday in Belgium.

There is disappointing attention to youth unemployment and the restoration of mail delivery is uncertain.

There will be is disappointment is many areas because expectations were so high.

More than any other region in the country, Atlantic Canada is heavily dependent on Ottawa for essential funding. Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal transfers, supports and equalization payments enable P.E.I. to access services comparable to other Canadians.

That is why the federal budget presented Tuesday is so critical to this province. The projected federal supports to P.E.I. for fiscal 2016-2017 is $582 million, almost $30 million more than 2015-2016.

Early budget analysis suggests that health care spending remains the same while a new health accord is being negotiated. Funding might increase once that new agreement is concluded.

The government is being accused by critics of ‘under-promising’ for Canadians and then will likely ‘over-deliver’ in time for the next election.

But overall, it’s a positive budget for Canadians.

Mr. Morneau says the budget restores hope to the middle class, will revitalize the economy and will use smart investments to ensure that Canada’s best days still lie ahead. The promise is there that hope and hard work will result in prosperity.

Let’s hope they all combine for strong results and renewed hope for all Canadians.

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Belgium, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • laurent Beaulieu
    March 23, 2016 - 16:34

    It is a good budget unfortunately to many did not bother to read it and inform themselves. Prosperity and hope and this is what Canadians want.

    • Cromwell
      March 24, 2016 - 06:56

      Mister Beaulieu If you believe that this is a good budget, then it is abundantly clear that you are very easily satisfied. However, given your unfailing support of liberal issues, this is not surprising. This budget, which is what Canadians suffered under Trudeau the Elder, does little or nothing for most Canadians, but will help those who do not contribute in any way to the Canadian economy. The result will be massive deficits and an increasingly divisive country.

  • Same Old Same Old
    March 23, 2016 - 16:28

    Reading this is just a reminder of the past . Liberals spend - borrow spend till they get the country in the red so far that its near impossible to ever get out . They then let the PC's in who have to spend the next number of years paying down the debt which is unpopular but necessary . Just the same old circle all over again . When will we as Canadians stand up and stop stealing the future from our children & grandchildren & I would say our great grandchildren when Justin is finished . Sure seems to be starting out great $29.4 billion this year and no light at the end of the tunnel in future years .

    • AMAZED
      March 27, 2016 - 13:19

      You are very confused ...the Tories have NEVER had a surplus even by having a fire sale on liquidating Canadas gold reserves and any thing they could flog for a nickel . The Liberals are the ones who clean up the Tory mess and get the books back in order and pay down the National Debt , however when the Liberals get things running smoothly the Tories always seem to get back in power and put our country right on the brink of disaster , even when they inherit a $20 Billion surplus . READ something and educate yourself , just google it for goodness sakes !

    • Angus
      March 28, 2016 - 08:31

      @ amazed Actually the Libs are the ones making things up. They were always yelling about the parliamentary budget office and how important it was - now hey argue with it. From Google - "On November 20, the Liberal government released their Economic and Fiscal Projections (EFP) and forecasted a $3-billion deficit in 2015-16 — putting them at odds with the PBO’s $1.2-billion projected surplus on November 10."

  • WE were mislead
    March 23, 2016 - 10:19

    SO it looks like we WILL NOT get our mail delivery back...or that VAC disibility military clients will not get life time pensions for their service..... MR CASEY and Mr Mac AULEY told us a few lies..... Nothing for seniors or middle class with no kids.... and now we are in debt for years.....and they do it with a smile on their faces

    • You Were Not Mislead
      March 23, 2016 - 16:34

      You were not mislead , you were just foolish again thinking about getting freebees that you know in your heart someone else will have to pay for . ha,ha

  • de udder guy
    March 23, 2016 - 09:21

    Once again a weak and arbitrary dissection of the budget. The "middle class" which is impossible to identify will get money that it does not need. 11 billion in infrastructure money is piddling once overages and corruption is factored in, and Canadians did NOT vote for jobs, investment and hope. They voted to get rid of the Tories. Period. In the process we are now back to the 70's with government set to get much bigger in size and in debt.

  • AL
    March 23, 2016 - 08:59

    Sounds a lot like the way the Liberal Government works in PEI. Start of in debt. then borrow more money, then give it out with no plans to get it back And worse no thought given to how to repay the original loans and remove this massive debt along with the interest from the backs of the taxpayers of this country. what are they thinking?. oh thats right; themselves and their party.

  • Angus
    March 23, 2016 - 08:51

    The term lickspittle comes to mind when reading this editorial. So undoubtedly this post will never see the light of day. This is a Trudeau Sr. type budget and many of us remember how much PET cost us and how long it took to get out of debt. No matter, the sheeple never worry about the price to be paid by their children and grandchildren.

  • Retired
    March 23, 2016 - 00:11

    Haven't see too much help for the seniors in this province.