Harper’s federal budget cuts pennies and services
By Dylan Hackett, News Editor
[dropcap]F[/dropcap]inance Minister Jim Flaherty presented the federal budget report to the House of Commons last Thursday, outlining continuing cuts to health care, the CBC, Elections Canada, and the termination of the Katimavik youth program and the one-cent coin. The cuts were less austere than expected by analysts, but still significant to many struggling and overburdened services. Flaherty defends his budget as fiscally responsible, a view disputed by critics on both the right and left of the political spectrum.
“In this budget our government is looking ahead not only over the next few years but also over the next generation. We are taking major steps forward to build on the strong foundation we have laid since 2006,” Flaherty stated. “We are avoiding foreseeable problems while seizing new opportunities in the global economy. The reforms we present today are substantial, responsible, and necessary. They will ensure we are focused on enabling and sustaining Canada’s long-term economic growth.”
Newly-minted NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair criticized the budget, especially the major heath care cuts, billed to worth be $31 billion in the 2012-2013 budget year.
[quote style=”boxed”]The cuts were less austere than expected by analysts, but still significant to many struggling and overburdened services.[/quote]
“The Conservatives ran an entire election campaign without saying a word to Canadians about their plans to cut OAS or health transfers,” Mulcair stated.
Critics from the fiscal right, like economists Niels Veldhuis and Charles Lammam, also condemn Flaherty’s budget, claiming the cuts not to be enough and that, “departments and programs ought to be eliminated rather than reduced by a small nominal amount. To that end, government spending needs to be prioritized so that important areas are spared deep cuts while lower priority areas carry a greater burden of the spending reductions.”
The budget also contains cuts to federally-mandated environmental assessments (such as oil sand facilities and the Northern Gateway pipeline), which will now only require two years of environmental assessment, causing outcry from environmental groups.
“What was also revealed in the budget was the government’s clear intent to act in the service of a narrow set of major industrial interests, particularly oil and gas, while ignoring the broader economy and the enduring jobs and healthy communities that innovation could generate. This explains how in a budget full of cuts to core services, including cuts to clean tech research and development, billion-dollar subsidies to the oil and gas industry remain,” criticized the David Suzuki Foundation.
The 2012-2013 federal budget is the Harper government’s second budget to be passed without conditions and provisions from opposition.