What should Morneau's budget do? We asked the experts

What should Morneau's budget do? We asked the experts
From CBC - February 24, 2018

Only a handful of people in the Ottawa bubble know for certain what's in the budget document Finance Minister Bill Morneau is releasing next week. But as always, there's no shortage of theoriesand everyone has a wish list.

There have been hintsreports that the budgetwaspassed through a gender-based analysis to test its impact on gender parity, for example. There have been strong and sustained calls for more funding for Indigenous children, rumours of a new paternity leave plan and reports of a big-money plan to boost cybersecurity.

But all else is speculation which is why CBC's The Houseasked politicians and policy experts to tell us what they are hoping to see in the Trudeau government's fiscal plan for the coming year.

AaronWudrick'spriority is no surprise: thefederal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants Morneau to roll out a plan to eliminate the federal deficitin the near term.

"What we would like to see is, first of all, a plan to get back to balance," he toldThe House. Such a plan should go hand-in-glove with efforts to reformthe tax system, he said.

The Department of Finance estimated Canada wo not be able to run a balanced budget until 2050, with thedeficit peakingat $38.8 billion in the 2035-36 fiscal year.

Wudrickadmittedfinding a faster path to balance would be a dauntingtask, but said the government should begin with tax policy, especially thecarbon tax, whichalong with other current tax policieshurts Canada's ability to compete with the United States.

"If we do everything we are supposed and other countries do not, it's not going to stop climate change," he said.

"If you were an investor with a choice between putting money here or south of the border, the big tax rate advantage that Canada used to enjoy is gone. So the government at the very least needs to start thinking about other ways to increase their advantages."

Cutting taxes

Conservative finance critic PierrePoilievreagrees, arguing Morneau should use this budget to stabilize Canada's tax policy with an eye to maintaining Canada's ability to compete in the global economy.

The mounting federal deficit and uncertainty caused by high household debt levels will worry investors, hetoldThe House.

Household debt levels in Canada are higher than those inany country included in a newOECDreport something that StephenPoloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada, admits keeps him up at night.

"Today's deficits aretomorrow'staxes," Poilievresaid.

When asked where the government couldcut back taxes, Poilievreoffered a sweeping answer: "Almost everywhere."

Canada's tax policy gives a "major advantage" to Canada's southern neighbour, he said. To keep Canadian firms from suffering in competition with American rivals, he added, the government should put its focus firmly on reducing the federal debt and keeping taxes low.

"[High taxes] make it harder for our businesses to create jobs and compete on a world stage," he said.

Paternity leave

This budget could give Canadians their first glimpse of a new federalpaternity leave policy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been toying with the idea of creatinguse-it-or-lose-it funded leave for new dads, but few details have surfaced.

Even with the limited information being made public, the Liberals appear to be in a position to finally put a plan in place, said Kate Bezanson, a social policy expert at Brock University.

All indicators suggest a comprehensive strategy on parental leave is coming, she toldThe House.

Gender parity

Affordable housing

Ending boil water advisories


Continue reading at CBC »