I am hearing a lot of commentary on Minister Flaherty's latest budget from the opposition and Canadian pundits alike. Many are calling the Economic Action Plan 2014 a "do-nothing budget." If this were, indeed, a do-nothing budget, it may be more desirable than the previous eight do-something budgets, considering that "something" was running the largest deficits in Canadian history, with almost nothing to show for it.
For the record, this is the Finance Minister's 8th deficit budget in a row. Just when Canadians find themselves in record household debt, this Finance Minister comes along and adds an additional 5 thousand dollars of debt to every man, woman and child in Canada and then has the gall to lecture Canadians on their personal indebtedness
This budget does do something. It does a lot of somethings.
It takes $4 Billion of planned spending away from our troops. It punishes them for the procurement debacles of the Harper Government. It reduces their readiness and leaves us vulnerable.
It ignores our veterans. Instead of making the major investments needed to support our ailing veterans, it resurrects the Last Post Fund, which it had cut, and has resumed paying for the funerals of Canada's poorest veterans. I'm glad they have corrected their error. But what of our veterans that are still alive?
Our ill and injured, despite desperate calls on Julian Fantino to deal with the inadequacies of the New Veterans Charter, continue to go without so that the Harper Government can balance the budget next year. It closes several Veterans Affairs Offices and forces our most vulnerable veterans to wait in line at Service Canada for help. These veterans are not in need of a licence renewal, they are in need of the best support available.
It ignores the millions of jobless Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Instead of developing a comprehensive employment program, it continues to advertise a program that does not exist and has decided to go it alone. The Conservatives have chosen once again to opt out of collaboration with the provinces.
Kevin Page, Canada's former Parliamentary Budget Officer has stated that economic growth in Canada has steadily slowed since 2010 and that it is incredibly difficult to lower unemployment with such slow growth. It is disingenuous to tell Canadians that the economic outlook is optimistic when so many cannot find meaningful employment.
It ignores struggling families desperately in need of daycare options. In 2006, the Conservatives cancelled the Liberal National Daycare Program, opting instead for a $100/month subsidy. Canadian families know how to stretch a buck, but $100 does not stretch very far.
It completely ignores the environment. Not that we were expecting very much from a Government who has systematically eroded environmental protections since taking office. At least we can commend them on their consistency.
It, once again, leaves Canadian municipalities high and dry, without desperately-needed infrastructure funding. Because of the delay in investment, our cities and towns are left with crumbling buildings, potholes, and millions of liters of raw sewage spilling into our waterways as extreme weather further erodes our already overwhelmed critical infrastructure.
It re-announces spending that was supposed to have been spent in previous years, highlighting the Harper Government's inability to both keep promises and to budget responsibly.
This is not a "do-nothing" budget at all. It certainly does a lot of things.
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