Busy and Chaotic Times
It's been a very busy few weeks on many levels. Even now as I write this I'm watching the news just trying to keep tabs on all that has happened in recent days. From the terror attack in Britain, to the failure of the Republicans to repeal Obamacare, to the release of the Canadian federal budget, this has truly been a busy week around the world. However, let's put everything aside for a moment and focus on only the big Canadian updates.
Money Money Money
All anyone could talk about on Parliament Hill in recent weeks was just how much money the Liberals were going to spend in their second official budget. On Thursday we finally got all the answers as Finance Minister Bill Morneau released the federal budget for 2017.
The budget was not overly exciting and primarily provided more clarity surrounding previously announced spending plans. Some of the key takeaways that you should know about:
- Federal deficit forecasted to be at $28.5 billion by the end of 2017
- The government has axed the public transit tax credit
- Starting July 1st carsharing services such as Uber will be taxed with GST/HST
- Families will be allowed to take 18-month parental leave (same overall income, just more time)
- $50 million will be used to help children in school learn how to code (computer coding)
And the Winner is...
While most of the provinces had money on the mind, the people of Alberta were also heavily focused on who would win the Progressive Conservative leadership race. After the first vote, and to very little surprise, Jason Kenney was named the leader of Alberta's PC party. Kenney, a former federal cabinet minister under Stephen Harper, received 75% of the votes after running for the leadership position despite not currently being an MLA. Kenney campaigned on the concept that he alone could merge the PC Party and the Wildrose party to form a new united party that will defeat the Alberta NDP. We will be sure to keep you posted on his situation as things progress.
No Patience for Hate
The government finally passed Motion 103 which called on the House of Commons to condemn Islamophobia and "all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination." We had previously discussed the controversy surrounding this motion in a recent opinion post regarding the use of the term Islamophobia. Nevertheless, the motion received nearly full support from the Liberals and NDP with 201 votes in support and just 91 against. While this motion does nothing in terms of law, it does signify that the government is taking a stand against discrimination and feels Islamophobia is something that needs to be addressed.
What do you do when you're going broke?
You stop spending and try to save like there's no tomorrow. - This is exactly what the province of Saskatchewan is currently doing as it announced numerous cutbacks and tax increases in its latest budget. The budget included a $250 million reduction in public service compensation including a 3.5% wage rollback for many government workers with a further 200+ layoffs. Some of the other more notable changes include increasing the PST from 5% to 6%, increasing alcohol tax by up to 6.8%, cutting post-secondary school funding by 5%, and cutting public library funding by 50-60% across the board... It's safe to say things are not looking good financially for Sask.
What to yell when you slice the ball?
Fore! - Similarly the BC NDP are yelling 'four!' as they continue to be four points ahead in recent polls with just over forty days until the BC election. It would appear the BC Liberals have heard the cheers and have continued to announce more election goodies in a bid to steal some of the attention. The latest goodies include $150 million toward education and a promise to cut MSP premiums in half. While the new funding may sound like a nice gesture, in reality it has more to do with a Supreme Court of Canada ruling than it does with goodwill. The MSP premium cut also falls short of longstanding calls by the NDP to eliminate the premiums altogether. However, we are sure to see even more election goodie announcements in the next few weeks.
Want to learn more about some of the topics mentioned above? Be sure to check out the latest podcast from PolitiCoast as they dig deeper into these issues.