By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With us in the midst of tax season, the Canadian federal government released their newest budget for the year so we could see all the things that our tax money is going towards. With this new budget Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, took the opportunity to share his views.
“It’s $40 billion money spent versus income,” said Shields, before touching on some elements of the budget that he agrees with. “One of the things that’s been an issue over the years has been the Great Lakes. There’s been a lot of algae bloom, a lot of challenges.”
“Americans have been spending some money from their side, and Canada hasn’t spent much from our side and working in environmental cleanup. I think from the point of view of money being spent to clean up the Great Lakes — I think we’re coming to the table with the money, that’s a positive in the sense of the Great Lakes.”
Following this Shields went on to discuss aspects that he viewed were negative about the budget.
“The basic tenant of the budget is you collect money and then you spend,” said Shields. “The budget is a projection of what you would do. Last fall the government said they were predicting a $10 billion deficit. When they brought the budget in this time it was up to approximately $42 billion that they’re over spending. That’s problematic in the sense of how you run your business, how you run your family, your personal budget in the sense of if you’re going to be continue to overspend. That is very problematic and eventually that catches up to you. Then the interest that you then pay on the debt that you have doubled in seven years of this government, been from about $600 billion to $1.2 trillion. The amount of interest you now pay which is approximately $50 billion takes away from what you could be spending on. We believe that there’s lots of things that $50 billion could be spent on if you haven’t been in a deficit for seven years. It’s pretty negative when you overspend, and you go that much over your budget, in the sense of what you are predicting to spend.”
From here Shields also went into one of the more specific elements of the new budget that he disagrees with.
“The amount of staffing at the federal level is now 30-some per cent higher,” said Shields. “They continue to expand the workforce of the federal government, (but) do we see a 30 per cent productivity from the federal government? And that’s the problem. Your increase in your workforce by 30 per cent, where is the increase in productivity? Individually, I think people are working hard, but I think when you’re creating jobs, and increasing the amount of people it takes to do regulations, red tape, which I think we could reduce. Increasing our workforce over seven years by 30 per cent, that is huge. When we’re talking about people in business in our area that are trying to decide what we need versus what we want because their paycheques are shrinking, businesses are not making enough money. Then it’s a challenge to suggest increasing the staff level of the federal government by 30 per cent is a good thing. Our suggestion would be then you reduce that cost and quit hiring, quit introducing regulations, and red tape, or you just stop carbon tax which we asked them to do. Which we asked them to do just say, ‘ok, that’s it. Don’t raise it this year just cap it right there,’ but they didn’t, they increased it.”