The federal budget has been released.
On Tuesday, March 22nd, the Liberals announced their financial plans going forward, including changes to employment insurance, a child benefit, and tax breaks for the middle-class.
Battlefords-Lloydminster MP, Gerry Ritz, is not pleased by Budget 2016, saying it’s not a good budget for Western Canada or for taxpayers as a whole, and the budget shows that the Liberals’ spending is out of control.
Among some of the items and changes in the budget is increased funding of Canada’s indigenous people. Budget 2016 invests 2.6 billion dollars in primary and secondary education on reserves, 40 million dollars toward the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 1.2 billion in support of social infrastructure in First Nations, Inuit, and Northern Communities, among other allocations.
“There’s a tremendous amount of new spending for First Nations, and while that is welcomed… we did a tremendous amount of that too and they’re carrying on, at the same time, they’ve opened the taps for a little over $8 billion for First Nations, which they will certainly welcome… the problem is, just before they opened those taps they took away the Transparency and Accountability legislation that we had put in place to make sure that these dollars were spent where they were allocated,” says Ritz.
Ritz also says that Saskatchewan and Alberta have basically been ignored by Ottawa.
“There’s not a lot there for anybody, other than huge unprecedented spending. We’re not in a recession. We’ve been showing growth of about 1.5% last year. The finance department’s own numbers show a $4.2 billion surplus, as of January of 2016, and in spite of that the Liberals have decided to open the flood gates and pour more money out. And of course, that money is yours, as taxpayers.”
Budget 2016 also includes changes to the employment insurance. In order to reduce the time period where citizens are without income while between jobs, the budget reduces the EI waiting period from 2 weeks to just 1 and temporarily enhances benefits in 12 regions, granting up to 70 weeks of coverage for long-tenured employees.
Ritz claims those changes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
“Of course, as you well know, in the Lloydminster area the oil patch has been hit extremely hard by international pricing. But at the end of the day, the changes that they’ve done jiggering around with the EI, don’t really address a lot of the concerns in my area, and in the Alberta side of Lloyd too because a lot of those oil patch guys are either consultants or contracts, and EI is not going to help them at all.”