Critics await cuts after ‘jobs and growth’ budget

Federal deficit on track to disappear in three years: Conservatives

It’s a case of fiscal deja vu.

The new federal budget is much the same as the Conservatives’ pre-election ‘Jobs and Growth’ budget, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert admits.

But he’s hoping there’s a few additions that will please taxpayers in the $281.4-billion package – including a promise the federal deficit will evaporate as early as 2014-15.

“We’re now on track to eliminate our deficit one year earlier than planned,” Hiebert said in a statement prepared shortly after the budget was released Monday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

“That means, in three years time, we’ll have a balanced budget and then we can reduce taxes even further for hard-working Canadian families.”

Hiebert pointed out the Conservative government’s plan calls for a reduction in overall program spending by five per cent – which is estimated to produce $4 billion in annual savings starting next fiscal year.

But critics, such as NDP Opposition leader Jack Layton, have faulted the budget for giving no specifics of program cuts – noting the Conservatives have previously claimed civil-service attrition would take care of much of the reduction in spending.

Tax giveaways to profitable corporations as a function of targeted job creation have also come under fire from the NDP.

Aside from compensation to Quebec for implementing the HST, the only other budget measure to gain Opposition approval is a $400-million extension of the ecoEnergy program, which encourages home renovations that reduce electricity and heating costs, something the NDP had requested in earlier budget discussions.

Local NDP candidate Susan Keeping, who polled second highest in Hiebert’s riding in last month’s election, said the budget is “disappointing.”

“On a personal level, when I look at this budget, I see a five per cent reduction, but nobody says where this is coming from. That makes me uncomfortable – people should be demanding to know what is going to be cut. The government, as our representatives, needs to be open and honest about this.”

Keeping said she believes that civil-service attrition will not be a factor in the Conservatives’ reduction in spending.

“If they’re doing a quick five per cent cut, they are not going to be waiting for people to move on or retire,” she said.

Keeping, a White Rock resident and executive director of the Newton Advocacy Group Society, said she is particularly concerned about impacts on social services.

“I have heard they are looking at what the Liberals did when they came into office and wanted to reduce the deficit. We all know how much that hurt health, education and social services.”

Keeping said the recent Homeless Count in the Lower Mainland indicated social services are managing to make some headway in helping society’s poorest.

“When cuts come, we may lose the headway we’ve gained,” she warned.

But Hiebert noted the new budget includes increases to transfer payments for health care and education in B.C. The health-care component will rise to almost $3.8 billion, an increase of $216 million over last year, while the Canada Social Transfer, which funds education and housing, now stands at $1.5 billion – a rise of $349 million since 2005-’06.

Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman said that while the new budget offers “no surprises” – it is still, like the pre-election budget, “good news for business.”

“What we’ve always wanted is for them to restore the budget balance – to reduce debt so that there is a balanced budget, and we’re hopeful they can do that by 2014-15,” she said.

“We want to ensure the economy is competitive and that we’re not raising taxes for business, and this includes only a minimal increase in business taxes.

“The biggest challenge for the federal government is to restrain their program spending while not compromising social-service programs. The Surrey Board of Trade is serious about not compromising those programs, which are all part and parcel of a healthy economy.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First rainstorm of the season pelting the Lower Mainland

Batten down the hatches as heavy rains, wind, and some localized flooding possible

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Horgan’s election call ‘nakedly opportunistic,’ political scientist says

Premier says campaign will ‘fully comply’ with public health directions

Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

UBC, UBC-O, UFV and UVic athletes will not hit the links this year, Kelowna was set to host

COVID-19 exposures at Surrey schools: An updated list

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Attorney General of Canada defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Refresh of Liberal government’s agenda comes amid new looming COVID-19 crisis

Lockdowns saw fed spending soar to historic levels in effort to offset pandemic’s blow to Canadians’ livelihoods

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

Most Read