Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison is not pleased with the midterm federal budget.
Tuesday’s budget included several measures intended to provide relief for low-income and vulnerable Canadians, but Aitchison says it will actually keep people in those situations for longer.
“I’m pretty disappointed in this budget,” says Aitchison. “It’s been touted as a budget to help Canadians, but in truth it’s going to make life a lot more difficult for Canadians. It’s going to make life a lot harder for the most vulnerable in our society. It’s going to add about $4,300 worth of debt to every single household in the country, to households that are already struggling to pay the bills.”
Aitchison says the proposed dental care program, which would cover households with combined incomes of under $90,000, is a “classic example of big tax-and-spend regime.”
“They created a whole new system at massive expense, that frankly they didn’t need to do. They could have very easily supported the existing programs the provinces have that definitely needed more support, there’s no question about that,” says Aitchison. “We’ve seen them bungle programs left, right, and centre for the last eight years, so I don’t have a lot of hope that they’re going to actually get this thing done very effectively or efficiently.”
According to Aitchison, the borrowing needed to support the $43-billion of new spending, on programs such as dental care and the GST “grocery rebate,” outweighs any benefits those programs provide.
“They’re borrowing excessively, which is actually exacerbating the inflation situation in this country, making things worse,” says Aitchison. “But they’re [then] claiming they’re helping Canadians by giving some Canadians a few bucks here and there, to help them pay for things that because of their inflationary borrowing and spending now cost thousands more.”
Aitchison says he’s most frustrated by the lack of action on the housing crisis, a major issue in Parry Sound-Muskoka. “The number of homeless people is growing. The number of young people giving up on home ownership is growing. The number of Canadians renewing their mortgages this summer are probably facing the possibility they can’t afford their house anymore because of outrageously higher interest rates,” he says, calling the $4-billion Housing Accelerator Fund “a drop in an absolutely ocean-sized bucket.”
“Frankly, we need trillions of dollars of investment in the housing sector and no government can spend its way out of that problem,” says Aitchison. “We need to be incentivizing the private sector. We need to make it easier and cheaper for projects to get built. We need to incentivize the municipal sector to make the development approvals process cheaper.”
Overall, Aitchison says he’s really not impressed by what the Liberals have tabled, and expects the Conservatives to propose amendments in the coming months, particularly in relation to housing.
“It spends money really, really well. It also borrows money really, really well. Honestly, this budget was a complete disappointment,” says Aitchison. “Back in the fall, the Minister of Finance talked about the importance of fiscal guardrails, and getting the deficit under control, and getting the budget back to balance. And they just literally lit that piece of paper on fire and threw it out the window.”