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'Is your life is better off than it was prior to this budget' — MP Wayne Stetski

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
March 24th, 2016

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government stood true to election promises after the Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled a budget that forecasts big deficits over the next five years.

However, the $10 Billion promise ballooned to $29 Billion Tuesday when Morneau itemized the budget for Canadians, which concerns Kootenay/Columbia MP Wayne Stetski.

“I really think people need to go back and look at what the Liberals promised, look at what’s important to them and see what if they’ve delivered on what they said they were going to deliver,” the rookie MP said Wednesday from Ottawa.

Some of the budget highlights include increase to the Canada Child Benefit; EI changes that make it easier to qualify for benefits as well as extended weeks to 12 hard-hit regions of the country; $120 Billion of infrastructure spending over 10 years, focusing on public transit, waste management, water and housing; as well as increase in funding for students and veterans.

Stetski, who said much of the money is spread over four to five years, was on Parliament Hill Wednesday going over the budget with his NDP colleagues.

“I think what people really need to do is, six months from now ask themselves . . . is your life is better off than it was prior to this budget, or it is worse than it was, or was there basically no change in your own personal life while growing the debt by $30 Billion?”

There were some items Stetski liked in the budget, like money for finding tax evaders, climate change, proportional representation, Canada Child Benefit and helping seniors.

However, an election promise to help small business by the Liberals fell short according to Stetski.

“The tax cut (for small business) that was proposed, is not there,” he said.

“So how does putting us further in debt help small businesses, which there are a lot of in Kootenay/Columbia.”

Stetski said the figures released Tuesday by Morneau are totals for the entire country — $4 Billion on this, and $75 Million on that.

And will any of those dollars filter down to the urban ridings, is a question that needs to be asked.

“Until we actually get the details and see how it plays out on the ground specifically in the Kootenay/Columbia riding, it’s really hard to say . . .. Take infrastructure dollars, and there are some fairly large numbers there, but will that all end up going to big cities or will some of those funds come to the riding.”

Stetski was disappointed the budget, while Morneau increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors, did not address home care or palliative care for the Canada’s aging population or mental health care.

He was also concerned there was nothing in the budget for agriculture, especially with the pending Trans-Pacific Partnershiptrade deal.

“That’s a concern in the Creston area where we do have dairy farmers,” Stetski said.

“It does have to come through Parliament, but looks like the Liberals are aiming at signing the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership which will impact dairy farmers . . . and they said they would compensate dairy farmers but there’s no money in the budget.”

The day following the tabling of the Federal Budget is generally reserved for debate in Question Period.

However, overnight, it was learned that Conservative MP Jim Hillyer had died in his office.

The MP for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner had complained of feeling ill on Tuesday.

“I didn’t know Jim personally, but here in Ottawa we’re like a family and his death really struck home with me and the rest of the members in the House,” Stetski said.

“I’m very sad for his wife and four children.”

Wednesday’s Question Period was cancelled as leaders, instead, from all political parties, took time to share memories of Hillyer.

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