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Falk frets over Liberal budget

By: Grant Burr

Posted: 03/2/2018 1:00 PM

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Continued high deficits and ongoing concerns about funding changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program were just a couple of concerns on the mind of Provencher MP Ted Falk as he reviewed Tuesday’s federal budget presented by the Liberal government.

In a budget that presented another $18 billion deficit, Falk found few positive takeaways, including a move by the Liberals to relax some of the requirements planned for small businesses.

He noted the government will still move ahead with a plan to adopt a scale to measure how the small business tax will be applied to individuals with passive income (income earned from investments or savings, not business revenue) but have backed away from other plans.

"It's certainly a win for small business, for professionals, it's actually very, very good news."

That was one of the few bright spots for the local MP, who also took note of the $173 million in costs to process asylum seekers entering Canada as an important topic for local residents.

"That's just processing costs, that's not the cost of having them here."

He also pointed to $180 million for women and girls under a larger package of support for international gender-based aid.

"The last time they did something like that, it had a lot to do with reproductive rights, which would certainly be in keeping with some of the things they have done in the last several months like Canada Summer Jobs."

Falk remains hopeful that the Liberals will backtrack on the jobs program rules that require applicants to sign off on their support for reproductive rights and that the change isn’t a sign of further restrictions on funding under other programs.

"I'm deeply concerned about that. That's a real and present danger, if you want to call it that."

The Liberal budget also addressed other gender related issues like pay equity, a move Falk said is worth supporting for federal employees.

"As Conservatives we would very much support equal pay for equal work. We don't think it should be a gender issue, it should be an issue of whether someone is competent in doing the work that's required. If that's the case, it shouldn't matter if you’re male or female. If you're doing the job, you should get paid what the job deserves."

Extending parental leave for an additional five weeks, from 35 to 40, was another move from the government. Falk didn’t oppose the move but wondered about the Liberals’ stated intent, "to expedite women getting back into the workforce."

"I would always be a fan of new mothers being able to spend as much time at home, rather than encouraging them to get back into the workplace prematurely," he said.

Falk said another of the budget’s big announcements, a study in a national pharmacare program, is a subject he is interested in seeing more detail on.

"Some say it could save our government $4 billion a year in drug costs, if we could have a national pharmacare program," he noted.

"I've heard there's merit for it. I'd like to see the study and what people think it would cost and save."

He added that the lack of focus on agriculture and rural infrastructure, two topics of importance to Provencher residents, was disappointing.

Finally, Falk spotted a nugget of interest that he has been a strong advocate for, allowing credit unions to continue using banking terminology after the government issued a notice last June preventing the practice.

Falk said he found good news in a notation within the budget that indicated credit unions will now continue to be allowed to use generic banking terms.

"From my perusal of the document, I thought, hey, hey, hey, I got a win. Credit unions got a win...all their members got a win," he said.

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