Canada’s rising debt-to-GDP ratio and increased spending with no plan to pay down the national debt are key reasons why Kootenay-Columbia Conservative MP Rob Morrison says he is panning the recently announced federal budget.
The 2023 budget was announced by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland earlier this week, which includes $59.5 billion in new spending over the next five years, a raft of tax credits for clean energy policies pegged at $83 billion over 10 years to help develop Canada’s green economy, and $13 billion to develop a federal dental benefit — a key ask from the federal NDP.
“I have never been more optimistic about the future of our country than I am today,” said Freeland, in a news release announcing the plan. “Budget 2023 will deliver new, targeted inflation relief for the Canadians who need it most; stronger public health care, including dental care for millions of Canadians; and significant investments to build Canada’s clean economy. At a challenging time in a challenging world, there is no better place to be than Canada.”
Other items included the previously announced $49.4 billion in health transfer funding to the provinces for 2023-24, as well as a one-time $2.5-billion inflation relief payment colloquially referred to as a ‘grocery rebate’ that would provide up to $467 for families and $234 for single Canadians.
The projected federal deficit this year is estimated at $40.1 billion.
Morrison slammed the federal government for presenting a fiscal plan that doesn’t do enough to address inflation and curb spending.
“Our debt-to-GDP has to decrease, which means we have to have less debt and more growth to pay the bill,” said Morrison, reacting to the federal budget plan on Thursday, during a media availability at his constituency office in Cranbrook.
“We’re going the other way. Our debt is climbing up and our GDP is dropping and that means higher inflation, higher interest rates. That’s the only way you can pay for that.”
Morrison lamented that not enough was being done to support low-income seniors and took issue with the federal government response to the drug poisoning crisis, taking particular aim at safe supply initiatives while advocating for more treatment-based approaches.
With a significant element of the budget dedicated to transitioning to the green economy, Morrison acknowledged the importance of metallurgical coal mining to the Kootenay region, as well as the oil and gas sector to the national economy.
“We are not ready yet to transition away fully from fossil fuels,” Morrison said. “We will be, and we need to be, but right now, why are we not selling natural gas to Europe to help them so that they don’t have to buy from Russia, who can, at any time, stop the flow?”
The federal NDP have signalled it will support the Liberal budget as a confidence and supply measure, meaning there will be no immediate election.
“It’s absolutely no surprise because I don’t think the NDP can do an election right now and they have to hold hands with the Liberals,” Morrison said.
With files from the Canadian Press
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