Local MP disappointed by budget

Gord Johns says Liberals created further class divide

Gord Johns believes this budget’s a bust.

“The Liberals made a lot of promises and of course they didn’t deliver. We kind of knew that would happen,” the NDP MP for Courtenay-Alberni told the Westerly News after Canada’s federal budget was announced last month.

“It’s like being in the desert from the last [Conservative] government and getting thrown a bagel; people are happy to see something, but it’s certainly far from what the promises were.”

The big-spending budget is projected to rack up a roughly $100 billion deficit over the next five years—$30 billion from 2016-2017—and Johns said he was shocked by its lack of economic stimulus.

“They don’t create a lot of jobs in our communities and they failed to tackle growing inequality,” he said.  “We don’t see a lot here to help grow the economy.”

He said the tax breaks the Liberals handed to Canadians earning $45,000- $200,000 failed locals because Canada’s median income is around $31,000 and in Alberni-Clayoquot it’s closer to $26,000.

“You have to earn $45,000 just to see the beginning of that tax break and the break goes up as you earn more, so someone who’s earning $100,000 a year starts to see a real benefit; well that doesn’t tackle inequality. It doesn’t help support the middle class when the median income is far from that threshold,” Johns said.

“Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau has repeatedly said, ‘We want to help those who aren’t in the middle class join the middle class.’ This does exactly the opposite. This creates more and more inequality.”

He stressed the budget fails to create fairness.

“They still didn’t close the tax loophole for CEO’s that cost Canadians $800 million annually, which continues to fuel inequality,” he said. “Every Canadian is going to have to borrow money, because this budget is running us a deficit of almost $30 billion so that we can give a tax break to those who don’t need it.”

He was happy to see seniors receive a boost to their guaranteed income supplements but lamented over the Liberals failure to improve their healthcare.

“We’re super disappointed that there was no mention of homecare for seniors, nothing at all in the whole budget,” he said.

He added the budget ensures the gender wage gap would remain intact.

“Infrastructure is really important to business, but 89 per cent of those jobs will be created for men,” Johns said. “Homecare could have been a great opportunity; it’s a need, it’s necessary with an aging population, and that would have created a lot of jobs for women, so [the budget] failed to tackle gender equality as well.”

He said the budget also failed small business.

“Small business was completely left out of this budget. There’s nothing for small business. Small business got left behind,” he said. “In fact, this government just carried on with the Conservative practice to support huge tax breaks for Canada’s largest corporations.”

He said he was happy to see investment in transit services but wondered how BC Ferries was left off that list.

“We want to make sure, of the $3.4 billion that they’ve allocated for public transit, that BC Ferries is not excluded from that money,” he said. “So far it is excluded, so that’s super disappointing.”

He suggested waiving the tariff on foreign ship builders was shortsighted.

“They’ve waived the 25 per cent tariff to import ships from out of the country, which will help with immediate needs but, in the long-run, it’s going to cost jobs in the ship building sector,” he said.

“We could have taken that tariff and built capacity in places like Port Alberni where they’ve got a deep sea port and aspirations to have a floating dock and get into the ship building game; well, it’s going to make it harder for them to be able to do that with the removal of the 25 per cent tariff.”

He said the $50 million investment in tourism marketing should have been closer to $150 million.

“This is the time to invest in tourism which is a low hanging fruit right now…They had an opportunity in this budget to quickly invest and inject cash into the Canadian economy,” he said.

“There’s a start with $50 million on the table, but with our low currency that money’s not going to go as far as it would have…We actually needed to really boost that up. When we look at players that are having success in the world of tourism, France, Australia, they’re investing. We can join those nations and be competitive and we’ve got a great product to offer.”

He added the Liberals failed to bring back the West Coast’s Coast Guard.

“The Liberal budget says they’ll spend almost $46 million on navigational aids for marine communication and traffic services when they should just be keeping the centre that they have already in place in Comox and reopening the Tofino station in Ucluelet,” he said.