South Okanagan-Kootenay MP calls federal budget ‘not bold enough’

Richard Cannings, MP for South OK and Kootenay communities says budget missed the mark

Not surprisingly, Richard Cannings MP for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay thinks the Liberal government missed the mark on environmental climate action initiatives rolled out in the Federal budget Tuesday.

During a phone call from Ottawa, the NDP MP said he was “happy” to see a $5,000 rebate program for buying electric vehicles in the budget, but thought the initiative would be hampered by lack of charging infrastructure.

“People won’t buy until the infrastructure of charging stations is there,” he said noting in previous budgets the Liberals had a robust funding stream for charging stations, which has now been reduced.

Related: 2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

“Now they are going to spend 20 per cent of what they did over the next few years. I was really hoping they would step it up. It’s a good thing (rebate) but I’m not sure how many people will jump out there and use it if there isn’t the infrastructure.”

Continuing on with climate action initiatives, Cannings mentioned he was hoping again this year that the government would reinstate a the eco-energy retrofit program that allowed people to upgrade their homes to be more efficient.

“Instead that fund goes to municipalities to administer,” he said. “As far as we hear the municipalities didn’t want to manage this program. I think the federal government had a program that was in place and all they had to do was to start it up again and instead they’ve chosen this very backwards way of doing it.”

Related: Ottawa’s housing strategy offers $1 billion a year

Cannings said he needed more detail before weighing in on plans to help to young buyers enter the housing market.

The Liberals unveiled a multi-pronged approach that would mean $885 million over five years to make homes more affordable for first-time buyers from allowing a per centage of RRSPs to be used and a fund to borrow almost interest free for those eligible from CMHC.

“I was talking to a business owner recently that was having a hard time hiring because of the lack of housing. I want to see the details on this,” he said.

Cannings was upset that despite the Liberals talking about a pharmacare plan there was not one in the budget.

Related: BUDGET 2019: Liberals to create national drug agency for pharmacare plan

“The big thing that is missing in the budget is pharmacare. They’re talking about merging two government agencies to create more efficiencies but there is no extended coverage for the people that really need it,” he said.

The budget did announce funding to it would create an agency to assess drug effectiveness, negotiate prices, and setup a list of drugs of that all Canadians could access.

Despite an election promise, the Liberals were unable to balance the budget by 2019 and will run near-terms deficit of about $20 billion.

Cannings called the budget overall “not robust enough.”

“You invest spending, have these deficits, that’s fine as long as it stimulates growth in the economy, as long as it’s giving people what they need and taking care of the environment. I think a lot of this spending is not bold in the right areas.”

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