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North Island-Powell River MP: Budget included disappointments

Federal document failed to address some key issues, according to Rachel Blaney
MISSING ELEMENTS: North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney provided a rundown on the federal Liberals financial plan, saying that the government did not take enough action on taxing the ultrarich or addressing corporate greed.

Some federal budget details were disappointing for North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney.

Liberal finance minister Chrystia Freeland detailed the budget on April 16, and missing from it was measures addressing corporate greed, according to Blaney.

“We saw a little bit of increase in the tax for the ultrarich, but it was a miniscule amount and won’t deal with the broader issue,” said Blaney. “Of course, it did nothing to address specific corporate greed that is impacting Canadians. By that, I mean the grocery or the multinational companies that own the grocery stores were not held to account with the price gouging. Their profits are far higher than what is explained by inflation.

“Also, there is the oil and gas industry, which has seen the biggest return on investment in more than 30 years. We know that is a big part of the challenge for everyday Canadians and we didn’t see anything in the budget to address it in a meaningful way.”

Blaney said there were budgetary measures implemented by the Conservatives when they were in government, and when the Liberals were elected in 2015, they indicated those measures would be fixed. She said the Liberals haven’t fixed the budget.

Blaney said regarding the high prices of groceries, plus oil and gas, she understands profit, but to make profit at the expense of everyday Canadians is not acceptable.

She said the budget has more investment in housing, so that has her interest.

“We see there is more money going into the housing accelerator fund, but again, one of the challenges with the fund is we are hearing from small municipalities competing against bigger cities such as Toronto and Vancouver and it didn’t feel good to them, so we really need to make sure that money is spent more equitably,” said Blaney. “We’ll be working on that. It’s good to see the student housing investment.”

Blaney said as the MP representing Royal Canadian Air Force 19 Wing in Comox, there is the prospect of opening up national defence properties to look at working with civilian organizations’ building projects.

“I did find that particularly interesting,” said Blaney.

She added that it’s good to see there is money in the budget for the framework of how to move forward with pharmacare, so diabetics can receive their medications and devices for free, as well as the free distribution of contraception.

“Those two things have been a big win for Canadians,” said Blaney.

Another feature she was “pretty happy about” was the doubling the tax claims for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue members. Blaney said it wasn’t the amount she was hoping for but the budgetary allocation noted there is a heavy reliance on volunteer firefighters and search and rescue personnel to keep Canadians safe.

She was also pleased to see funding for the school food program.

“The provinces across the country have been saying the federal government needs to pitch in,” said Blaney.

There has also been money allocated to the Red Dress Alert, which is a program similar to Amber Alert, to notify people when an Indigenous woman, girl or two-spirited person has gone missing, said Blaney.

“This is something the Indigenous community has been asking for, for a long time,” added Blaney.

There is also a commitment to extend the Canada Student Loan forgiveness program for people in health care who are willing to work in smaller communities, said Blaney.

“We know how desperate we are for dentists, nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners and other health-care providers,” she added. “It will help communities address the staffing issue. I have heard from communities that are frustrated in attracting people to an area. Retaining people can also be a challenge. Hopefully, we can see some action on that.”

She said if the NDP was in power, she would like to see more money for housing. She would also like to see some of the profits of big corporations reinvested in Canada, helping out everyday Canadians who are struggling.

Blaney said the ultrarich have too many loopholes to get out of paying their fair share of taxes, so those are some of the things she would like to see in a federal budget. She would also like seniors to get more help through increases in old age security and guaranteed income supplement.

“If it was an NDP budget,” said Blaney, “it would be very different.”

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