The federal budget, brought down on Thursday as the first one for the Conservatives since winning their majority government, wasn’t all that it could be, yet there are those who feel it went too far in some ways, such as in cutting public servant jobs.
There are about $5.2 billion in cuts, but it will take until 2015 for them to all take effect; one reason was that the 19,000 or so public service jobs cut was over a three-year period, with the aim that attrition is to account for a good percentage of those.
The Harper government had promised a balanced budget by 2014-15, but this budget doesn’t promise a surplus until 2015, a year late.
Some of the moves that brought down in the budget include the discontinuation of the penny, which will apparently save about $11 million, and the age of eligbility for Old Age Security will rise to the age of 67, but this won’t take effect until 2023.
A puzzling move by the government is to make it better for Canadians to do cross-border shopping, as they increased the amount that can be bought duty-free for 24 hours and 48 hours, which will not gladden the heart of any retailer within driving distance of the U.S. border — and that would include a good number of the retailers in the Weyburn and southeast Saskatchewan area.
Some other cuts made include 10 per cent from the budget for the CBC, cutting the Katimavik youth program, and reducing the funding for the Canadian Armed Force while maintaining the regular force at 68,000.
There was an increase for First Nations education, and to improve the quality of water on First Nations reserves — but does it go far enough, when there are reserves facing some emergency situations with poor living conditions?
Some of the good news is that there are no income tax increases for individuals, and for the oil and gas industry, the government is streamlining the review process for major resource development projects. This has raised the ire of environmentalists, but they would not be truly happy unless the petroleum industry itself is shut down, especially in oilsands projects.
The reform on government pensions is also good, as now public servants have to contribute more. In the end, however, perhaps the Taxpayers Federation said it best when they deemed this budget as “a lost opportunity to control spending.”