Canadian Taxpayers Federation give budget a B-minusFriday, March 22, 2013 by: Kate AdamsCanadian Taxpayers Federation
• Government keeps the lid on spending – total expenses rise less than 1 per cent
• Interest costs rise $700 million to $29.7 billion or $81 million a day
OTTAWA, ON: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) gave Thursday’s federal budget a B-minus, applauding the government’s plans to overhaul job training and keep a lid on spending, while criticizing the extension of pork-barreling regional development programs and make-work projects.
“Jim Flaherty continues to take baby steps towards a balanced budget,” said CTF Federal Director Gregory Thomas. “The Prime Minister committed during the last election to balance the budget by 2014 and we want to see him keep his word. If he does, he can deliver on his promise to double the Tax Free Savings Account and extend income splitting to working couples.”
When debt charges are removed, program spending rises just 0.7 of one per cent. But the budget avoided real cuts to pork-barrel programs like the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. It also extended funding for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Development Program.
“Eastern Ontario has always had a regional handout program,” said Thomas. “It’s called the federal government. It doesn’t need another one.”
The government is closing a long list of loopholes, putting a bounty on tax cheats who hide money offshore, and reinforcing the ranks of CRA tax investigators.
“Flaherty should go further,” said Thomas. “He should shut down all his boutique tax credits and cut tax rates across the board for all Canadians. But this is a good start.”
Five straight budget deficits and $150 billion in new federal borrowing are now catching up with taxpayers: despite historically low interest rates, interest charges on our federal debt will rise $700 million this year, $500 million next year and $1.3 billion in 2015.
“We don’t want to wait until 2015 for a balanced budget because we can’t afford to waste $81 million a day paying interest on the national debt,” said Thomas.
The new Canada Job Grant announced in the budget will replace Canada’s ineffective multi-billion dollar tangle of job-training programs with up to $15,000 in direct cash assistance to young workers who want to learn a trade or a skill. Ottawa will contribute up to $5,000, or one-third of the cash.
“It’s good to see Ottawa getting training money directly in the hands of young workers so they can land a good-paying job,” said Thomas.