By Chad Ingram
Published March 15 2018
While he had many criticisms of the 2018 federal budget Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Jamie Schmale acknowledged it does contain some worthwhile spending including on items that could prove useful in Haliburton County.
“With more than $300 billion there’s got to be some good in there right?” Schmale said following the passage of the budget last month.
The 2018 budget contains more than $338 billion in planned spending including some $5.4 billion in new spending for the year.
What the Liberal government repeatedly referred to as a “gender-based” budget contained a number of initiatives aimed at getting more women into the workforce.
“There was some money allocated to help women get into the skilled trades and businesses . . . so that’s a good thing” Schmale said adding some of that funding could be helpful in Haliburton County in particular.
The budget also contains expanded parental leave that would offer an additional five weeks of paid “use it or lose it” parental leave for the non-primary care-giving parent which for many Canadian families will mean dads.
“Both parents can share in the adventure of raising a child” Schmale said.
There has been widespread criticism that while it may focus on increasing the number of women in the workforce the budget does not include any money toward a national child care program something that was talked about by the now-prime minister during the 2015 election campaign.
On the issue of affordable daycare Schmale said “I think just in general life is becoming more unaffordable for Canadians” and suggested that if Canadians weren’t taxed so highly they’d have more money for services such as daycare. “When the economy is successful wages go up.”
While the budget does contain monies for the expansion of broadband internet Schmale noted that the Eastern Ontario Regional Network owned by the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has still not received word on a grant application for a $300 million project that would fill cellular broadband gaps throughout the eastern portion of the province.
“This has been a year plus waiting for some kind of announcement” Schmale said adding that the delay leaves the area further and further behind in an increasingly digital world.
With U.S President Donald Trump constantly threatening to terminate NAFTA if he doesn’t get the kind of concessions he wants to see Schmale criticized the Liberal government for not allotting any money to deal with potential ramifications there.
“There’s really no contingency fund for the fact that NAFTA could collapse” Schmale said adding the budget does contain $3 billion of general contingency funding.
Of the tariffs that Trump has been musing about putting on steel imports to the U.S. Schmale said “Nobody wins a trade war.”
While it contained no money for the creation of a national pharmacare program the budget did indicate an interest in exploring a of pharmacare system and the feds have announced that an advisory council with the goal of creating a pharmacare program is being created.
On what he thought of a pharmacare program Schmale said “We have yet to see the cost on all of this. “It’s all about the cost. At that point we have to ask Canadians are you willing to pay for this through taxes.”
Schmale said he thought the budget would benefit urban areas more than rural ones and said that Canada was already seeing foreign investment in industries such as mining and forestry going to other countries.
He also pointed to the $18 billion deficit saying the deficits being accrued by the Liberal government puts financial burden on future generations.
“Why you would rack up the credit card in good times is quite concerning” he said adding “the approach seems to be spend our way to prosperity.”
During the 2015 election campaign the Liberals promised not to run deficits in excess of $10 billion.