Here are my thoughts on today`s budget as it relates to Edmonton Riverbend families and those in Alberta as we together face a difficult time in our province.
Quite simply, it`s my opinion that the 2016 budget is going to be a tough one for Alberta families.
For instance, the elimination of a number of tax credits such as the child fitness credit, child art tax credit, education and text book tax credit will now force families to either re-think these activities or find another way to pay for them. I can attest that I`ve spoken to a lot of families who use these credits to help encourage their kids and students. Furthermore, the elimination of income splitting for couples with children will hurt many families. No longer can families split their income at tax time. This means the families that elected to have a stay-at-home parent will now have to restructure their homes to support this immediate change in tax structure.
I was personally hoping for a job stimulus plan that unfortunately didn’t come. We’re seeing a lot of Edmontonians and Albertans out of work, more than we’ve seen in decades, however there has only been a focus on restructuring EI benefits which Edmonton is not even included when Calgary and other major cities are. The lack of a jobs plan and focus on EI benefits is a short term measure and doesn’t help get any Albertans back to work. I would assume our Edmonton Liberal MPs would have an answer as to why and I plan to ensure we get answers.
In addition the Liberal candidates around Alberta promised to lower the small business tax rate to 9% in this budget. Again, this didn’t happen and could have helped a lot of businesses in Alberta stay in business. I’m certain additional layoffs within small businesses will now become more frequent. The government also indicated there is no longer a hiring tax credit for small businesses which allowed many businesses to get an opportunity to grow or expand under the previous government. This reminds me of the campaign remark by the Prime Minister that in his opinion, “small businesses are often tax-havens for the rich.”
When it comes to infrastructure investments, we kept hearing that this would be the way to get Albertans back to work. I can tell you I was very optimistic that we may see some projects built in Alberta that were talked about here in Ottawa and during the budget round tables our Liberal MPs were having in the province. Especially when the government continues to indicate they’ll be more transparent on what types of infrastructure will be funded. However reality is that there is an immense level of uncertainty over what projects will be eligible. I would like to think the Minister of Infrastructure would have fought harder to have Edmonton LRT and other projects included in the budget when other projects across the country are included.
At the end of the day, there is now a $29.4 Billion dollar deficit and the Liberals campaigned on $10 Billion. That`s a lot of ‘change’ in just 5 months and they`re going to have to raise taxes eventually to pay for all this. It`s incredibly worrisome the direction this budget indicates the government is taking our future generations.
If you have any comments on the 2016 Budget, please pass them onto me directly at Matt.Jeneroux@parl.gc.ca or by phone at 780-495-4351
Member of Parliament, Edmonton-Riverbend