Editorial: Collaborative budgets are better

Last week’s federal budget saw more programs and top ups announced for Canadians struggling with the higher inflationary pressures. While the core inflation rate has decreased some from its peak last year, food and housing prices are still high. To deal with this, the feds will give more money back to people to help out through a temporary increase in the GST rebate. The extra help is appreciated for families struggling to make ends meet. However there are some other ways that would help that were not considered because they were not proposed by the Liberal minority government.

On April 1, the federal Carbon Tax increased by $15 per tonne, and the federal Excise Tax increased two per cent. While the Excise Tax is lower than the original 6.3 per cent planned – it was lowered in the budget – the Carbon Tax jump will hit wallets hard. Many Canadians do receive a rebate to offset the Carbon Tax. However, the increase in the tax does not correlate to the rebate increase.

In essence, this budgetary taking with one hand and giving back with the other is nothing more than a make work project for civil servants, and not beneficial to everyone else.

The Liberal government did adopt some budget ideas from the NDP, namely the dental care program, which sees a larger roll out in the coming years. It shows that the government can collaborate with some parties, but not others. The Conservative Party of Canada called for the planned tax increases for April 1 to be scrapped, and in this case the Liberals should have taken on that idea.

Increasing taxes and then offering back some Canadians a portion is a disingenuous way of feigning help while delivering little. For many Canadians, increasing taxes on fuel when many can ill afford it is unhelpful at best. Clawing back the tax increases and leaving that money in families’ wallets, rather than gifting a small one-time rebate does not offer the kind of relief struggling families need or deserve. This is again a case where overt partisanship has stymied better governance.

Collaborative budget development is taking the best from each party’s policies and developing a cohesive plan that benefits all Canadians. In this instance, a collaborative budget process would have left more money in the family budget.

There are examples in Canadian history that show when parties work together, crossing political lines can develop great and long-lasting policies. The foundations of our health care system show that.

The ultimate goal of each party is to make Canadians, and Canada, better. Having the fortitude to step outside ones own party to look at, and adopt some great ideas, requires the political will to do so. Sadly again, with the 2023 federal budget, that that did not happen. It is a sign of the divisive times with which we live.

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