SDSG – Local MP Guy Lauzon had a somewhat mixed reaction to Tuesday’s federal budget.
Speaking with Cornwall Newswatch Tuesday night, shortly after the budget was revealed, Lauzon’s first take after a “quick read” of the document is it doesn’t mention job creation or cutting taxes.
“I was sort of getting sentimental about (former finance minister) Jim Flaherty. And I remember Jim Flaherty’s budgets were all about reducing taxes and creating jobs and that was his focus and this budget here, it’s just the opposite,” the Conservative MP told CNW.
Lauzon argues the Trudeau government has actually raised taxes by cancellation programs like income splitting for families with children, the children’s fitness tax credit and the children’s arts tax credit.
The first fiscal road map from the Liberal government projects a $29.4 billion deficit this year and another $29 billion in 2017-18.
The Canada child tax benefit and the universal child care benefit will be replaced with a new Canada child benefit. The government claims it will result in an increase of $2,300 this year for low- and middle-income families. But Lauzon said “the devil is in the details.”
Lauzon does give the government some credit with addressing funding for veterans, an increasing in the guaranteed income supplement top-up to $947 annually for single seniors and money for First Nations’ education and infrastructure
“They did some good things but they promised they were going to borrow $20 billion over the next two years and then we’re going to return to a balanced budget. The truth of the matter is they’re borrowing $58 billion and at the end of the four years $117 billion in debt and no plan to pay any of it back,” Lauzon said.
“No plan to create jobs. What are we getting for this huge (spending) somebody’s got to pay for all of this,” said a flabbergasted Lauzon.
“There’s no hint of anywhere that we’re going to address this deficit,” he said, “You can’t run your personal household always going into debt to pay your hydro bill or to pay your groceries and that’s what they’re using this money for, they’re not using it to create jobs or to invest in something that’s going to make a return.”
The SDSG MP believes the government’s plan to not reduce the small business tax rate to nine per cent (it will stay at 10.5 per cent) and a more generous Employment Insurance program will actually be a job killer. “The EI for the small business person is going to go up and, in fact, the small business person is going to pay more taxes now so he or she is not going to hire as many people.”
“I think it’s a real disincentive for small business to hire,” he said.
As for municipal infrastructure, the Liberals had promised $60 billion over 10 years in stimulus, but the budget has about one-fifth of that with $11.9 billion over five years.
While taking a quick glance at the budget, Lauzon is also worried the Federal Gas Tax – a staple of municipal budgets – has omitted inflationary increases for municipalities.
The Conservative government had made the amount stable with increases indexed to inflation.
“If that’s the case, let’s say that’s two per cent per year, they’re going to lose eight per cent over the next four years,” he said.
The City of Cornwall received $134,179 this year in Federal Gas Tax funding.
“They depend on that gas tax a lot of their budget nowadays, it’s getting to be considerable,” Lauzon said.
But Lauzon can rest at ease. Buried on page 242 of the budget is a two per cent increase per year in the Gas Tax Fund.
The MP is also disappointed that agriculture was left out of the budget. “The crops were good last year but the prices weren’t out of this world so a lot of the cash-croppers are saying ‘Jeez, you know it would have been nice to see something in there,’ – well, they didn’t even mention. There was nothing to create jobs – the farmers create jobs as well.”
With $3.7 billion in National Defence purchases of ships, planes and vehicles shelved, Lauzon recounted the words from Gen. Rick Hillier in 2008 about the “decade of darkness” under the former government.
“Quite frankly, I think we’re heading for another decade of darkness.”
On the same day that terrorists attacked Belgium, Lauzon also noted there was nothing in the budget under defence about how Canada planned to address the Islamic State (ISIL). “That was shocking.”