March 23, 2016

OTTAWA – Today, the Liberal Government tabled their 2016 Budget in the House of Commons. After reviewing the documents Earl Dreeshen, Member of Parliament for Red Deer – Mountain View, has significant concerns with the impact on the economy, the increasing debt load and the lack of action for struggling Albertan families.

“By tabling a $29.4 billion deficit, the Liberal Budget will increase debt to GDP ratio up to 36%. This increase is not because of a major global recession, but because of a decision to borrow for the sake of spending in order to keep poorly thought out and unrealistic election promises,” said Dreeshen. Unfortunately, that number does not tell the whole story. Budget 2016 makes reference to several items without attaching a dollar figure to them including: enhancements to CPP, replacement of the CF18s, the bailout for Bombardier that the Prime Minister has alluded to, fulfilling their promise to keep door to door mail delivery for Canada Post and more.

“The previous Conservative Government was able to navigate through the worst recession since the 1930s and were able to keep the debt to GDP ratio at 33.4%, the lowest among the G7 countries,” continued Dreeshen. “And we were able to do that while increasing transfer payments to the provinces and municipalities. In fact, last year the Province of Alberta received record high transfer payments to support health care, education, and social programs. Specifically, Alberta received $5.5B in federal transfers this year – an increase of $3.2B (or 145%) from the last Liberal government.”

The Budget follows months of the Liberals undoing positive changes implemented by the Conservative Government over the past decade. Among the priorities of the new government was to end airstrikes against ISIS, cancel transparency laws for unions and First Nations, bring back 2 for 1 and 3 for 1 sentencing for violent offenders, remove the ability to strip terrorists of Canadian citizenship, and to stand idly by while our resource economy is repeatedly attacked by anti-Canadian groups and Hollywood elites.

“I was particularly disappointed that there was very little in the budget that addressed the struggles facing Albertan families aside from enhancing EI,” Dreeshen added. The Budget made minor changes to the Employment Insurance program which will increase benefits for some Albertans by 5 weeks and long tenured employees by 20 weeks. It also extended the Conservative pilot program for Working While on Claim and extended the Work Sharing Program to a maximum of 76 weeks which are positive. “Some of these measures will help a small number of Albertans bridge a gap, but we have heard that people don’t want more EI – they want jobs,” added Dreeshen.

While the Budget does little that will help Albertans in the short term, it also has committed to raising taxes in several areas which will have a negative effect on households already struggling with decreased incomes. Among the tax credits and benefits being cut are: income splitting for families, children’s fitness tax credit, children’s arts credit, education tax credit and the textbook tax credit.

In Economic Action Plan 2015, the Conservative Government committed to reducing the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% by 2019, putting an estimated $2.2 billion back into the pockets of job creating small businesses and their owners between 2015-16 and 2019-20. Although the Liberals promised to continue the small business tax cuts during the campaign, this represents another broken campaign promise to those who actually create jobs in our communities.

“I find it awfully telling that there is nothing in the Budget for the agriculture industry,” Dreeshen said. “There was no mention in the Throne Speech, no mention in the Budget. It isn’t difficult to read between the lines and see where this Government ranks agriculture producers in terms of importance. In fact, the only new support for agriculture is funding for Ottawa bureaucrats.”

The much touted infrastructure investments will be heavily back loaded to after 2020 and would only come to fruition if the Liberals win a second mandate. However, Dreeshen was hopeful that some funding will be available for Central Alberta municipalities, “There will be some money available in terms of transportation. Details are scarce, but hopefully this money would be available for municipalities in Central Alberta. I am also pleased to see that they are continuing our initiatives on broadband connectivity that will benefit rural communities.”

According to the Fiscal Monitor, which is produced by the Department of Finance, the Government was running a fiscal surplus of $4.3 billion as recently as January 31st. That is 10 months into the 2015-16 year and several months after the Liberal’s formed Government. With about 10 days until fiscal year end, they have turned that $4.3 billion surplus into a $5.1 billion deficit in just two months.

“Not only does the Budget break their promise of keeping deficits to $10 billion or less, there is no plan to return to balanced budgets ever, which represents another broken promise,” Dreeshen concluded.  “The long term forecast has the Liberal deficit moving to ‘only’ $14 billion by 2020-21. That is completely irresponsible and not at all what Canadians were sold in October.” The national debt is projected to climb from $619 billion to $732.5 billion in 2021.

Dreeshen is encouraging constituents in the Red Deer – Mountain View riding to let his office know what they think about the budget at