Sorenson says budget falls short
Crowfoot-Battle River MP Kevin Sorenson has big concerns for the new federal budget especially with the big debt that came with it.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered the 2016 budget, that is titled “Growing the Middle Class,” and spending is on the up. It forecasts a $29 billion deficit this year and the debt is expected to grow to $113 Billion by 2020-2021. Sorenson has grave concerns.
“The most disappointing is that even during the election we had come back to balanced budgets, and in the last budget we had a $1.9 billion surplus. We worked our way out of the recession, which was global. It was the world’s largest recession since The Great Depression and we had gone into deficit spending as a stimulus,” explains Sorenson. “We worked our way out of it. We showed that once we came out of the recession we would balance the budget.”
He says the economy is not in such terrible condition that it warrants this kind of spending.
“This is spending and it is with no plan. During the election, they said they would run a deficit, but the top would be $10 billion. We are looking at $29.4 billion in the first year and some are saying $120 billion in four years,” he said. “This is not in a time of recession, and this is a massive problem for our kids down the road.”
“The Finance Minister basi- cally said, don’t worry, interest rates are low, but we still spend a lot of money servicing that debt. If interest rates start to rise, we would be saddled with a massive debt and handcuffed to it. Social programs and everything else are at risk if that happens.” In January, it was reported that Alberta lost 10,000 jobs and has the highest unemployment rate in 20 years. There was some good news for those hit by the downturn, including a shorter waiting period for workers in hard hit areas before they begin claiming unemployment insurance. Benefits have also been extended for five more weeks.
While there was infrastructure money promised, it is not yet clear where this will be allocated. Sorenson doesn’t foresee infrastructure spending coming.
“We had infrastructure and stimulus, we had a long term plan for infrastructure,” said Sorenson. “To be quite frank, as much as they talked about infrastructure, there is not a lot in this budget that says we are going to pile on a lot more infrastructure across the country.”
“For all the talk about infrastructure, I’m disappointed.… this massive spending and we are not going to see much infrastructure."
He adds, there is not support for resource workers who have been laid off.
“There is nothing in there for anything to create jobs in
the energy field. When you say we are going to switch from fossil fuels to green, that is fine in the long term, but it is not helping anyone who is unemployed and needs a job."
“To say they are going to give people in Alberta help by giving them an extra few weeks on EI, really? When I talk to these guys they say, I am out of work but I still have my house payment and car payment, this budget doesn’t address that individual who is waiting,” said Sorenson. He sees the budget as divisive. “We lowered taxes for everyone, and said government has to live within its means. What they are doing is lowering taxes for the middle class, but adding higher taxes to the people who can afford it. I don’t like that type of politics because they are also doing it with rural and urban. It is always pitting one against the other.”
Kevin Sorenson… Crowfoot-Battle River MP