Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has released the following statement on the Liberals’ 2021 federal budget:
“In the Liberals’ first budget in two years there are heavy spending commitments and promises to continue federal financial supports to help Canadians through the recovery. What’s unfortunate is that the Liberals have been making similar promises for decades.
“It has been nearly three decades since the Liberals first campaigned on commitments to affordable childcare and a pharmacare program. Having run on a platform on delivering childcare and pharmacare in both the 2015 and 2019 elections, I applaud the investment in childcare and sincerely hope that Trudeau’s Liberals follow through. Regretfully, Budget 2021 contains no new investments on universal pharmacare.
“Vancouver Island communities know firsthand that the pandemic has only exacerbated the opioid epidemic. I’m pleased to see $116 million allocated over two years to support a range of innovative approaches to harm reduction, treatment and prevention at the community level. However, Budget 2021 fails to treat addiction as a health issue: there are no decriminalization measures for drug possession or the establishment of a regulated safe supply, unnecessarily costing more Canadians’ lives.
“As Canadians, and particularly Indigenous peoples, continue to struggle to find affordable housing, I am disappointed to see that the new investments in affordable housing outlined in Budget 2021 only scratch the surface compared to the need. I will continue advocating for a national housing strategy and an increase in funding that meets the urgency of the housing crisis.
“In my new role as critic for the newly-announced B.C. Regional Development Agency, I am pleased to see Budget 2021 provides for $553.1 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $110.6 million ongoing, to support the new agency and ensure businesses in B.C. can grow and create good jobs for British Columbians.
“While they fall short of what New Democrats had hoped for, Budget 2021’s extensions to federal COVID relief programs such as the Canada Recovery Benefit, the EI sickness benefit, and the Emergency Wage Subsidy are laudable. However, what’s missing in this year’s budget is how the government is going to pay for these programs. By failing to address Canada’s growing income inequality, increasing tax on the ultra wealthy and closing tax-haven loopholes, Prime Minister Trudeau is effectively telling everyday Canadians that the cost of the pandemic will ultimately fall on them. This is completely unacceptable.
“Canadians should not have to keep settling for less. My NDP colleagues and I know there’s more to do and we’ll keep fighting to make sure more people get more help faster.”