After seeing details of the federal budget, Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo (Conservative) MP Cathy McLeod said the Liberal government lacks fiscal concern.
She said the government’s focus is on big programs, arguing a large gap in the budget is an absence of initiatives to create wealth and jobs.
“I think someone called this a spending-palooza,” McLeod told KTW.
McLeod said she and the federal Conservatives agree Canadians need continued support during the pandemic. However, she said part of the reason the support continues to be required is due to a failure by the government on the vaccine rollout.
Vaccinations are directly linked to the budget, in both the eyes of McLeod and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who also criticized the government’s vaccine rollout on Monday during budget talks. O’Toole said the budget does not answer calls from provinces for more vaccines. McLeod said vaccines and the budget are linked.
“If you look at countries like the United Kingdom and others, where the population is vaccinated, they are starting to reopen,” McLeod said. “We need to continue to provide support long past when some other countries might need to do the same thing.”
As a result of the spending, the federal deficit is projected to reach $354 billion. McLeod said the debt being taken on in one year by the Liberal government is more than that accumulated by every prime minister ever in Canada — combined.
Included in $101.4 billion in planned stimulus spending is a national $10-a-day day care program, similar to one that has existed for years in Quebec and one that has been promised in British Columbia by the NDP government, though not yet implemented.
The child-care plan was the headline-grabbing announcement of the federal budget and is expected to save families hundreds of dollars monthly per child in day care costs, by about 50 per cent as early as 2022.
McLeod said that due to ballooning debt, the kids receiving such child care are going to be paying for the program as adults. She is also skeptical such a program will come to fruition, noting the Liberals have promised a national childcare program for many years.
McLeod plans to reach out to Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine in order to understand how a foreign homebuyers’ tax may impact the resort municipality.
Some have criticized the federal budget as an election document, touching on many different voter groups. McLeod said “there is no question” the budget is an election plan for the Liberals.
While the next election is officially set to take place in October 2023, there is speculation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may go to the polls as early as later this spring or in the fall.
McLeod said she was glad to see in the budget extension of business wage and rent subsidies, due to ongoing impacts of the pandemic.
The government is also keeping the Canada Recovery Benefit in place. The program was a replacement for the initial $2,000 a month program for people out of work due to the pandemic, who were not covered by employment insurance.
While the benefits will continue, they will be made less generous come July, dropping to $300 per week from $500 now. Extending the CRB, and a similar benefit for people who had to leave their job to care for someone, will cost $2.5 billion.
The government will extend both the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy until the end of September; the deadline the Liberals have given for when they expect all Canadians to be fully vaccinated.
The wage and rent subsidies will be extended under the same terms it has operated under since it was last overhauled, gradually tapering off as businesses get more of their revenue back. But the government is also adding a time component, gradually phasing out the benefits through the summer months.
By September, even if a business was still seeing revenue reductions of 70 per cent it could only receive 20 per cent of its wage and rent in subsidies.
The budget also takes indirect aim at companies that paid out higher executive compensation this year, but still took the wage subsidy. Any company that takes the wage subsidy after June and pays higher executive compensation in 2021 than it did in 2019 will have to give the money back.