The federal budget offers little for seniors, nothing for locals in industries including fishing, tourism and hospitality, and gives Canadians little clarity around what to expect going forward, says Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Conservative MP for South Surrey-White Rock.
“Where our real disappointment is in this 2021 budget is that it seems to introduce some risky and unproven economic schemes that we believe will harm the personal financial security of Canadians by eliminating job growth and raising taxes on hard-working British Columbia families,” Findlay said Friday (April 23).
“There’s some things in here that I think will help, but there’s a lot more that could have been in here.”
In her April 19 budget, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced more than $100 billion in new spending over the next three years, describing it as a budget that “is about finishing the fight against COVID.”
But Findlay said her party was “really hoping to see a plan to reopen the economy,” one that would help those in the hardest-hit industries.
“These are people that lost their jobs, had their wages slashed,” she said. “They’re feeling let down, because this budget should not just be about spending… but also about where we’re going to go and what the markers are for us to get (there) – that’s what people want to see.”
Findlay said the budget also doesn’t do enough to address the ability of those suffering during the opioid crisis to access treatment.
“More people have died of opioid deaths in B.C. than COVID, and we can’t leave people behind,” she said.
Nor does it benefit local infrastructure projects such as the Massey Tunnel replacement.
She also criticized plans to repeat last year’s one-time payment to seniors. When those cheques were issued last year, Findlay said she heard as much criticism as she did thanks, “because it wasn’t tied to any means test.” The funds were dolled out regardless of a senior’s financial situation, meaning many who received it didn’t need it and for those who needed it, it wasn’t enough, she explained.
“Now, they’re talking about doing the same thing in August, another cheque, and I know I’m going to hear the same thing,” Findlay said.
She said the same concern surrounds a promised increase in Old Age Security benefits. In addition to the increase not coming into effect until next year, it is only for those aged 75 and older.
“Again, the question is, shouldn’t that be on, first of all, a means test? And secondly, there’s a lot of seniors between 65 and 75 who really need that. So, it sounds good on the surface. It appears to be doing something, but it’s not doing it in a thoughtful enough way and it’s not doing it, in my opinion, in a fair enough way.
“It is positive… to get some money to seniors, it’s just not as effective as it could be. That’s the issue.”
Talk of improving national standards of care is not enough, she added: “In a crisis like we’ve been in, we don’t need more talk.”
Findlay said a regional development agency for B.C. is one positive out of the budget, as it recognizes that the province has unique economic realities.
Other positives are funds targeting childcare; and, the extension of some subsidy and relief programs.
“However, we are concerned about the Canadians who have fallen through the cracks. There’s several new businesses in South Surrey and White Rock who’ve opened up and they don’t get any of these subsidies, they don’t get any help and they’ve put their life savings into these new businesses.”
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