Nanaimo MPs differ on budget

Nanaimo's two MPs each have descriptors for Monday’s federal budget, but it’s not surprising they are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Jean Crowder, Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP, calls it a “not-enough” budget, lacking support for new housing, small business, employment and seniors.

Crowder, the NDP's human resources and skills development critic, said it is essentially the same budget as the one tabled but not passed in March, with some tweaking.

“They had a period of the election and post-election to actually reflect on the budget that they proposed and make some changes based on what they heard on the election campaign,” she said. “It actually would have been nice if there had been some response to some of the issues raised.”

The budget provides additional annual top-up benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples under the Guaranteed Income Supplement, but Crowder said more can be done.

“What they’ve done is increase the GIS so that single seniors will get another $600 a year. That’s 50 bucks a month,” she said. “Although it’s welcome, it’s not enough. People on GIS are not doing well.”

She said the glaring gap in the budget is no new money for housing.

“It’s particularly important in our riding,” she said. “As housing costs continue to go up with the lack of rental housing being built, people are really being squeezed.”

James Lunney, Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative MP, said it is “still the right budget for the right time”, strong on health care, local job growth and continuing the next phase of the government’s economic action plan.

“It’s not a grandiose budget with a lot of new spending,” he said. “We’ve heard people saying it’s not enough, that we should have done more. I’m particularly pleased with the GIS benefits bump, but people have to realize Canada is in a demographic shift with the working people shouldering the majority of the costs. Money does not come off of trees and we have to consider everyone.”

Lunney said B.C. will see record-high federal transfers for health care and social services, while phasing out the $2 per vote political party subsidy will amount to about $30 million in savings.

“It’s a good thing for parties to have to raise their own money,” he said. “It will likely affect the Conservative Party the most.”


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