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Liberal budget fails to win public support

The Globe and Mail reports, “Most Canadians are giving the Liberal government’s second budget a thumbs down, according to a new survey for The Globe and Mail by Nanos Research. The survey found a slight majority of Canadians have a negative or somewhat negative view of the recent federal budget. When asked for their views on the budget, 22 per cent said negative and 30 per cent said somewhat negative. Only 5 per cent of Canadians said they had a positive view, while 33 per cent said their opinion was somewhat positive. Eleven per cent of Canadians said they were unsure.”

On the evening of March 22, the day the federal budget was tabled, we posted this critical commentary about it.

1- Water

Budget 2017 – “Over the last year, the Government has lifted 18 long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities, and is on track to eliminate all remaining advisories by March 2021.”

Comment – The immediate $1.2 billion infusion for First Nations drinking water and wastewater systems noted in a 2011 federal government assessment of the spending needs to address this situation is not there. The March 2021 deadline is also slightly longer than the five-year pledge Trudeau made during the October 2015 election.

2- Fossil fuel subsidies

Budget 2017 – “Budget 2017 proposes to provide a one-time payment of $30 million to the Government of Alberta to support provincial actions that will stimulate economic activity and employment in Alberta’s resource sector. This specialized workforce is necessary to generate wealth for Albertan and Canadian citizens now and in the future.”

Comment – The fossil fuel subsidies appear to remain in place despite a projected deficit of $28.5 billion in 2017-18, up from the $25.4 billion projected in the fall.

3- Health care

Budget 2017 – “In 2017-18, the Canada Health Transfer [will] grow in line with a three-year moving average of nominal gross domestic product growth, with funding guaranteed to increase by at least 3 per cent per year.”

Comment – This is Harper’s funding formula that could result in the loss of $43.5 billion in health care transfer payments over an eight year period.

4- Pharmacare

Budget 2017 – “Improving access to prescription medications, lowering drug prices and supporting appropriate prescribing through an investment of $140.3 million over five years, starting in 2017-18, with $18.2 million per year ongoing, for Health Canada, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board and the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health.”

Comment – Studies show that the patent provisions for pharmaceutical drugs in CETA could cost us between $850 million to $1.65 billion annually, while pharmacare would save about $14 billion a year.


Budget 2017 – “Canada and the EU will now complete their respective legislative and regulatory processes that will bring virtually all significant parts of the Agreement into force by the spring of 2017. This agreement sets the stage for an even stronger relationship with the EU, which will create greater opportunities for the middle class in Canada and in Europe by opening our respective markets.”

Comment – The Tufts University CETA Without Blinders study shows that CETA signatory countries would lose 230,00 jobs, and that in Canada it would transfer 1.74 per cent of national income from labour to capital (meaning any economic gains will flow overwhelmingly to owners of capital rather than to workers) and that due to rising inequality and unemployment the average income in Canada is projected to fall by $2,650 by 2023.

The Liberals have now tabled two of the four budgets they will deliver before the October 2019 federal election.