Many Key Areas 'Missing' From Federal Budget: MP Stetski

In the Media: Summit FM

The MP for the Kootenay-Columbia region says the federal government did a better job at helping out wealthy Canadians than anything else.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveiled the 2018 budget Tuesday, which overall, adds around $18.1 billion to Canada's deficit.

It included several significant spending announcements, including $1.2 billion over the next five years for parental leave, $1.3 billion for conservation, and $1.3 billion to address First Nations Child and Family Services.

One area Stetski says seniors were completely left out of the budget and calls for a national seniors strategy.

"Old Age Security amounts should be increased, the guaranteed income supplement should be increased - there were some increases last year - but I still hear from seniors that are really struggling. Affordable housing is really important for seniors."

Also missing from the budget, says Stetski, were universal child care, agriculture, plans for marijuana legalization, affordable housing, the return of the energy retrofit program, meaningful ways to combat climate change, and closing tax loopholes and pursuing overseas tax havens.

Morneau put a heavy emphasis on increasing women's participation in the workforce with legislation expected to be introduced later this year, as well as $30 million over three years to encourage women and girls to get involved in sports.

Stetski says that is all good, but the finance minister and prime minister are missing out on one key component - childcare. 

He claims some families in the Kootenays are paying as much as $1,700 per month for two children to be in daycare, which forces some women to stay at home full time with their kids rather than returning to work.

Another area the MP would like to have seen more focus on is affordable housing.

"In two out of the three communities [Stetski recently surveyed], affordable housing was a limitation to expanding businesses because there was no place really for new workers to live. It needs to happen now and not start in 2019 and go on for another eight years after that."

Stetski also hoped to learn more about the government's plans to introduce a new universal pharmacare program, but instead, all that was mentioned was the formation of a committee that will investigate the matter.

He does give Ottawa some credit, though, as $1.3 billion was allocated to conserving lands, waterways, wildlife, and species at risk. Stetski has advocated for increasing the amount of protected lands and waters in Canada from the current 1% and 10% to 10% and 17% respectively.

- David Opinko  Read the full article on Summit FM