Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivers budget speech in the House of Commons Tuesday.

Opposition blasts Liberal borrowing, spending

Borrowing to cover tax cuts, extra EI spending and more grants for transit and other infrastructure

  • Mar. 22, 2016 5:00 p.m.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has handed down his first budget with a massive deficit of $29.4 billion – three times what had been promised during the election campaign – as the new Liberal government embarks on a stimulus program.

The budget forecasts more than $100 billion in deficits for the next five years, contrary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election promise to balance the budget in four years. Morneau billed the budget as a plan to “revitalize the Canadian economy” and deliver a tax break to nine million taxpayers, and a more generous, tax-free child benefit.

Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said the finance ministry reported on budget day that the Liberals inherited a $4 billion surplus.

“There was still a surplus in January, and they’ve blown through that in the first 100 days,” Ambrose said. “What we’re seeing now is reckless spending without a job creation plan, and no actual plan in the budget to return to a balance.”

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair took aim at Morneau’s plan to target additional Employment Insurance coverage to areas of the country hit hard by the slump in oil and commodity prices.

“Right now there are 850,000 people who have lost their jobs who are not even eligible for EI,” Mulcair said. “The budget only takes care of 50,000 of them.”

Metro Vancouver mayors hoping for big infrastructure grants for rapid transit expansion may be disappointed that much of the future stimulus money will be back-end loaded in a second phase of grants after the next federal election.

A $370-million initial investment for Metro Vancouver transit is included and will assist TransLink in improving bus service and SkyTrain across the region.

The budget also indicates Ottawa can contribute up to 50 per cent of future capital funding, instead of the one-third from each senior government that was the practice in the past.

Big ticket items in the budget include the reduction of middle class tax rates – from 22 to 20.5 per cent for the $45,000 to $90,000 income bracket. Only part of that is offset by an increase in the tax rate for income over $200,000 from 29 to 33 per cent.

The budget also includes $8.4 billion for aboriginal communities.

 

Just Posted

Coun. Fred Haynes to run for mayor against Mayor Atwell

Haynes to go head-to-head with Atwell for Saanich mayoral seat in 2018

Bob Heyes back behind Shamrocks bench for 2018 season

Art Webster, Mike Simpson, John Hamilton will also return

UPDATE: Driver escapes from crash in Sidney

Town truck and another vehicle collide, causing van to roll over

Victoria Women’s March draws hundreds

Pink pussy hats aplenty as demonstrators took to downtown streets

FISHING ADVENTURES: Winter fishing season in full swing

Upcoming fishing events include Local Pub’s Salmon Superbowl Derby and Victoria Boat Show

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Reynolds, Edward Milne capture titles at Esquimalt hoops tournament

Host Dockers take fourth in senior girls draw

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Road conditions wreak havoc for Comox Valley drivers

Icy road conditions early Monday morning kept first responders very busy throughout… Continue reading

Most Read