Categorized | Canadian Politics

The Federal Budget 2013: Why You Should Care?

Posted on 27 March 2013 by admin

By Asma Amanat

“We are paying extra money which we could be using for economy, for creating jobs .. Canadians [can get] tax cuts” – Minister Gosal

‘Canada Job Grant’ “isn’t anything new and doesn’t really address the job unemployment among young people” – NDP MP Cash

The federal budget titled “Economic Action Plan 2013” was announced last week on Thursday. This budget focuses on three areas, training people, infrastructure and manufacturing. The federal government will be investing $5,000 in training skilled workers while it insists that $5,000 should come from the province and $5,000 from the employer to train an employee. The government has also announced ‘going forward’ for municipalities over ten years. The federal government will also be making investments in manufacturing sector to create jobs.

The NDP leader Tom Mulcair had called this budget“propaganda.” The interim Liberal leader Bob Rae has termed this budget ‘Economic (in) Action Plan,’ and called Conservatives “good in marketing” and “packaging” recycled programs.

While it is true that there is about $400 million in new spending only, the government insists that it did not have to continue its funding in infrastructure and manufacturing. That money, in turn, could have been saved to eliminate the deficit sooner. Minister Flaherty had called this funding “going forward money.” He was quite blunt about it, without ‘packaging’ with a bow and a gift wrap.

South Asian Generation Next asked Minister of State (Sports) Bal Gosal and an MP from Bramalea-Gore-Malton why should an average Canadian family be excited or even be interested in this budget.

Minister Gosal noted that Canadian families invest in kids’ sports every year. The Government is providing “relief” to these families by making “sporting equipment cheaper. “ Minister of State (Sport) said that the cost of sporting goods like hockey, cricket, baseball etc “is going up all the time.” Baby clothing, he said, will also be cheaper once this budget is passed and enforced.

 “Every little bit helps,” he said.

But how will Harper Government ensure that retailers pass along the savings to consumers?

The Government “watch[es] what retailers do,” he said. MPP from Bramalea-Gore-Malton also said that the Senate did study on why the cost of the same items is higher in Canada than in the United States. He said that the recommendations of that study will be implemented and enforced “right away” once the budget is passed and implemented.

The Opposition claims that Canada is strong financially and could have afforded more spending rather than recycling the same programs. So, why is it so important for the Conservatives to eliminate the deficit in 2015?

“It’s very important. We are paying extra money which we could be using for economy, for creating jobs .. Canadians [can get] tax cuts,” he stated.

Speaking about ‘Canada Job Grant’ program, Minister Gosal said that the provinces and employers have been seeking action from the government as there is shortage of skilled labour, and jobs in certain fields were going unfilled. Nonetheless, doesn’t the Government need to do some arm twisting to get the employers and the provinces on board to its plan of $15,000 investment whereby each of the three partners will be contributing $5,000?

“The provinces have been asking that they have shortage of skills .. Employers can’t find the workers .. that is the reason that they will invest the money .. All of them are going to work with us .. [we] know that this will be a very successful program,” said the Minister.

How will the Government communicate to Canadians that so and so field has jobs available?

“We already started doing it with Employment Insurance changes .. we have been actively letting Canadians know .. what skills are needed and where the jobs are,” he said.

Minister Flaherty is hopeful that Canada Revenue Agency will be able to find more dollars from those who hide money and do not pay taxes. Will this move target average Canadian families?

“That is for people who hide money in offshore accounts,” he said. Minister Gosal said that the banks will be asking questions on large deposits [$10,000 and more] and money transfers to offshore accounts. “Banks will start notifying CRA .. they will be sharing that information with CRA to keep track of big money transfers and money laundering.”

What kind of impact will infrastructure and manufacturing investments have on the GTA?

As a response he cited Brampton Mayor Susan Fenell’s pleasure with this budget. Mayor Fennell has stated ““Brampton’s modern, creative and competitive economy depends on reliable roads, bridges and well connected public transit .. Entrepreneurs demand that people, goods and services move uninterrupted across Brampton, Peel Region and the Greater Toronto Area. It’s one of the many ways we help attract job-creating investments here to Brampton.”

Mayor Fennell has also highlighted the government’s decision to index the gas tax transfer. This measure alone – the first indexing of a municipal transfer – will add another $9 billion to the permanent gas tax fund over 20 years.

He said that the budget is based on projections, however it is based on “very very Conservative numbers .. that are very attainable.”

Minister Gosal also pointed out that South Asian community is big on adopting kids from other countries, so the federal budget has an adoption enhancement tax credit; tax credit to home care services has been expanded and there is also a super tax credit for first time donors to registered charities.

If the Federal Budget is so wonderful, why is the Opposition so much against it?

Minister Gosal says that the Opposition had voted against the budget even before it was presented. He said that the message from Canadians was “ to restrain from extra spending .. and spend money where it’s needed” and that’s what the Government did.

Andrew Cash, NDP Deputy Critic for Canadian Heritage and MP from Davenport criticized the Federal Budget 2013 for failing Canadians especially new Canadians.

Why is this budget a “propaganda”?

Harper Government and Jim Flaherty “have failed people in the GTA, take immigration backlog for example .. backlogs for citizenship applications have skyrocketed under the Conservative watch .. Long wait times are keeping families apart and is keeping the best and the brightest” out of Canada he said in an interview with Generation Next.

He added “the spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration says that the cost of processing citizenship applicants has remained the same for the last 20 years but the fee has remained the same, $200.” He said that the spokesperson has suggested increasing $200 processing fee, “ but what we have said is that you don’t try to nickel and dime new Canadians especially when you have done nothing to shorten the wait time.”

Mr. Cash says that there should have been dollars spent in departments such as CIC where people are waiting for years to hear back from the Government.

Won’t ‘Canada Job Grant’ help address employment issues?

Mr. Cash stated that ‘Canada Job Grant’ is not a new program and has an added burden of requiring two additional partners: provinces and employers.

‘Canada Job Grant’ “isn’t anything new and doesn’t really address the job unemployment among young people. 60 per cent of workers in the GTA cannot find full time stable employment, so Canadians especially new Canadians have to take several part time jobs, work as free lancers or as self employed, or get contract jobs … and these are the jobs with no benefits, no pensions, no job guarantee,” MP from Davenport said.

In terms of youth unemployment that is officially 15 per cent “and much higher unofficially” the government has done nothing except for “downloading massively on the next generation” he stated. There are 240,000 more young people without jobs today than there were pre-recession he said.

NDP Deputy Critic for Canadian Heritage pointed out that there are young people who are spending 3 – 4 hours a day just commuting from home to their postsecondary institution or place of work and the Government’s response to $6 billion loss in productivity in the GTA in gridlock is to cut federal funding in infrastructure although he admits “some of the funding is more stable.”

Investments in infrastructure and manufacturing will help communities to certain degree, won’t the NDP agree?

He said that among G-7 countries, Canada is the only country that does not have “a national public transit strategy at the federal level” and NDP is advocating to have a national public transit strategy.

NDP Critic said that the NDP’s vision is to address problems of urban economy as 80 per cent of Canadians live in urban neighbourhoods of Canada.

Will the NDP have supported a budget that had more spending, resulting in elimination of deficit at a later time?

“That is a difficult question to answer,” said Mr. Cash.

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