The federal Conservatives tabled a budget without any income tax increases, with a promise to have balanced budgets once again by next year, which will also be the next election year.
There were some measures included to encourage job growth, and the government has moved to address the perennial problem of Canadians being charged more for identical items as found across the border in the United States.
According to the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce, the budget was graded as an eight on a scale of 1-10, as more could have been done to help small businesses which continue to struggle with finding enough employees to fill their job vacancies.
The promise to bring federal budgets back to a balanced state was welcome, but there is a question why this wasn’t done this year, with this budget containing a deficit of $2.9 billion, with a $3 billion contingency fund.
The Finance minister, Joe Flaherty, said the federal government is erring on the side of caution with this contingency fund, pointing to recent years when the government needed to lend a hand to provinces dealing with natural disasters, such as from forest fires in Alberta last year, and flooding damages in 2011 throughout the country, including southeast Saskatchewan. In this regard, the government is making a smart move, because in the event there are no major expenses due to major weather events or other disasters, then that contingency money could in fact go towards reducing this year’s deficit, or a portion could go to the provinces to bolster the amount set aside for the crumbling infrastructure.
Saskatchewan will likely not be receiving very much this year to deal with infrastructure needs, which is only going to increase the growing deficit of infrastructure problems that need dealing with.
A piece of good news for Saskatchewan, particularly rural residents, was funding to improve broadband Internet access for remote and rural areas, and a National Disaster Mitigation Program.
Also of concern is that war veterans are being provided with assistance for funerals, but service offices that directly help veterans with their needs are being shut all across Canada, in spite of widespread alarm and concern raised by veterans with the minister.
The government can be commended for resisting the temptation to implement a larger spending program, further increasing the deficit, as the NDP and Liberal opposition wanted them to. However, there could have been more focus on job creation, and helping out small businesses.