The Silence Is Deafening
As I sat in the House of Commons listening to the Finance Minister brag about this latest federal budget, we received a 369 page book that contained the fine print.
At this moment, aside from looking at the major themes and announcements, every Member of Parliament quickly flips through the pages to see how the latest budget will address specific and urgent needs in their communities.
I searched high and low and not once did the budget mention Calgary. Then I searched for Edmonton and again found no references. Alberta’s two major cities did not get mentioned a single time in 369 pages. (Toronto is referenced 11 times and Vancouver 8 times. Ontario was mentioned 37 times, Quebec – 33 times and Alberta – 9 times.)
While it is true the budget contains measures that will have some impact in Calgary, we will not be getting specific or targeted help to address urgent local needs like flood infrastructure and high unemployment levels.
When the current government was elected in 2015, the Calgary unemployment rate was 7% which was the same as the national average. Since then, the national rate has dropped to 5.9% while Calgary’s rate climbed as high as 10.2% and currently sits at 7.5%. When Calgary’s rate is 27% higher than the national rate, that needs specific attention and we did not see any.
Our Mayor said he was “happy to hear” that tax revenue from marijuana sales will be coming to Calgary to help cover the costs of enforcement, but accurately pointed out we will still be short funding to deal with urgent matters like the opioid crisis and affordable housing.
This is all so disappointing because the federal government is spending far more than it can afford, but it is spending money on the wrong things. We are passing on a legacy of debt to future generations with nothing to show for it.