Few perks for riding in budget, Schmale says
by Chad Ingram
Published April 4, 2017
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Jamie Schmale doesn’t believe the riding will benefit much from the Trudeau government’s second budget.
Finance minister Bill Morneau unveiled the 2017 federal budget in the House of Commons on Wednesday, March 22.
“It wasn’t an overly exciting budget,” Schmale says. “It was kind of ho-hum. There wasn’t a lot in there.”
The budget includes a $28.5 billion deficit. The deficit for 2016 was approximately $23 billion. During the last election campaign, the Trudeau team pledged deficits of no more than $10 billion a year, with plans to balance the budget by 2019.
Now, deficits are scheduled to decline over the next few years, but are still forecast in the $19-billion dollar range by 2021-2022.
Among budget highlights are $11 billion slotted for affordable housing over 11 years, $7 billion over 10 years for new childcare spaces and $8.4 billion in capital defence over the next decade and a half.
“We may see some benefit today, but for future generations, that’s going to cause issues,” Schmale says of the spending.
Among the budget’s positive components, Schmale counts the continuation of millions in funding for improvements to high-speed Internet and filling of cellular connectivity gaps, a program he’s quick to point out was started by the previous government.
“That hopefully will start making a difference for people very soon,” he says.
The Eastern Ontario Regional Network, of which Haliburton County is part, is looking for $200 million in funding for a massive project that would improve cellular connectivity throughout the eastern region of the province.
The budget also has $2 billion earmarked for rural infrastructure projects, “which, of course, the funding is always needed for,” Schmale says.
There was about $4 billion in the budget for education, training, skills and “innovation,” although Schmale doesn’t believe the riding will benefit from much of that.
Saying the government is picking “winners and losers” as it tries to steer the country’s economy in a certain direction, he believes that funding will be injected into particular parts of the country.
“They didn’t really define ‘innovation,’” Schmale says. “A lot of that money will go the tech area, the Waterloo area . . . we’re not going to see a lot of that money.”
This is the second consecutive budget where the Trudeau government has not cut the small business tax rate, something Trudeau pledged to do during the 2015 election campaign.
“Had they cut the small business tax, I’d be a little more comfortable,” Schmale says.