MP Blaine Calkins

MP Blaine Calkins

Calkins laments federal budget ‘shell game’

A second straight deficit budget for the federal government is just one of the items the MP representing Ponoka has an issue with.

A second straight deficit budget for the federal government is just one of the items the MP representing Ponoka has an issue with.

Blaine Calkins, Conservative MP for Red Deer-Lacombe, lambasted the federal Liberal government for its broken promises, ballooning debt load and slight of hand tax tactics that are allegedly outlined in the March 22 federal budget.

“This budget has been widely panned as poorly constructed and has Canada wallowing in debt,” Calkins stated in a phone interview from Ottawa on April 3.

“My concern is that (the Conservative Party) had a plan that would have seen the books balanced over these past two years and the country almost debt free by 2055.”

Instead, the federal Liberals are on track to post a deficit of about $24 billion for the past fiscal year and are forecasting a $28.5 billion deficit for 2017-18.

“This government is creating massive spending while removing tax breaks and increasing other taxes. It’s simply a shell game where the government states it is giving back to the Canadian middle class, but then takes double those taxes back,” he said.

Calkins added this budget is bad news for everyone, but especially two of Alberta’s economic drivers the energy and agricultural sectors.

“There is no net job creation, no plan to reduce spending or to return to a balanced budget. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

He highlighted the increase on employment insurance premiums rising to $1.68 per $100 of insurable earnings and the hike in the so-called ‘sin’ taxes on alcohol and tobacco products as just two items that will dip into the wallets of the middle class.

“This debt is something that future generations will have to bear the cost of. No one runs their home like this and neither should a government,” he added.

While Calkins eluded to increased spending putting a strain on Canadians, the federal budget outlined several areas where Canadians may benefit from the higher spending.

These include increases such as $11.2 billion for affordable housing over the next decade, $7 billion over 10 years to extend parental leave benefits and create 40,000 new subsidized daycare spaces plus $1 billion to make student loans and grants more accessible, for an adult student loan pilot project along with support for a youth employment strategy and skills development.

Municipal effects

The federal budget also includes a few items that could be significant for municipalities such as Ponoka.

The top prospect to help growth in rural areas stems from the government’s prioritization to support green infrastructure projects. While no specific dollar amounts were mentioned, the budget explained investments will be directed at local projects that aim to reduce climate-change emissions, help adapt communities to new weather extremes and support other environmental priorities.

Rural regions were also targeted in the budget with $2 billion to create better transportation links and more reliable Internet access.

Cities and towns will also receive a more predictable, allocation-based transit funding model which is designed to help construct public transit projects that will shorten commutes, boost productivity and reduce climate-changing emissions.