Opposition parties are criticizing the Harper government’s latest budget, which contains few changes from the fiscal plan introduced before the federal election this spring.
In his budget speech today (June 6), Finance Minister Jim Flaherty indicated Canadians endorsed the March 22 budget by electing a Conservative majority in May.
“Through their votes last month, their voices have been heard and they said ”˜yea’ to the economic plan that was put before them," Flaherty said in his budget speech.
Libby Davies, the deputy leader of the NDP Opposition, criticized this claim.
"Yes I know they got a majority, but the fact is the majority of Canadians didn’t vote for them," she told the Straight by phone from Ottawa.
“I really feel like they’ve kind of ignored these very basic quality of life issues that more and more people are facing and struggling with.”
The Vancouver East MP said health care and housing are among those key issues.
“I’m hugely disappointed and actually hopping mad that they just don’t get it about housing,” said Davies.
“It’s not like the money isn’t there, because they’re giving away billion in these corporate tax cuts,” she added.
“It’s all about how the pie’s made up and how it’s divided.”
Davies is also concerned about the $4 billion the Harper government vows to save as a result of a departmental spending review that will take place over the next year.
Flaherty said the review will allow the government to return to balanced books by 2014-2015, on year earlier than previously announced.
“I think we will have to pay very close attention to where these cuts are and who they impact,” said Davies.
Vancouver Centre Liberal MP Hedy Fry also panned the spending review.
“We’re back to the same old temporary job creation program through infrastructure, larger ministerial budgets than there ever have been since Brian Mulroney, and yet they’re going to find $4 billion in savings, so that’s only going to come out of social programs,” she told the Straight by phone.
“And when there’s a recession on, the poor get hit worse.”
Fry called today’s budget “just as bland and just as lacking in imagination” as the fiscal plan introduced in March, and criticized its measures for job creation, health care and the environment.
“I don’t read a plan for jobs, I don’t see a plan for jobs,” she said.
“This is an opportunity after an election to say, here we are, we are now a majority government, we can do some really innovative and very exciting things in terms of job creation, and in terms of helping low-income Canadians who are really suffering.”
Fry said the elimination of per-vote subsidies to Canadian political parties announced by Flaherty today won’t impact her party.
The quarterly subsidies of $2 per vote, which were introduced by Jean Chretien in 2004, will be gradually reduced over the next four years.
“If that’s the political reform that they want, we’re quite open to it, as long as they respect the idea that there must be a level playing field for all political parties, especially small parties,” said Fry.