Soren­son says bud­get falls short

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Patrick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

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

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