Abysmal Do Nothing Budget – Rafferty
OTTAWA – Thunder Bay – Rainy River Member of Parliament John Rafferty slammed the Conservative government for presenting what he calls a “do-nothing” budget that fails Northwestern Ontario.
“This was an abysmal budget for Northern Ontario,” Rafferty said. “There is no plan to create jobs for youth or adults who are struggling, there is no help for our tourism and forestry sectors, and there is no reversal of the bad policies introduced in past budgets,” Rafferty said. “The decision from last year’s budget to close our Veterans Affairs office in Thunder Bay was not reversed as many of us had hoped.”
The 2014-15 funds earmarked for the forestry sector fell well short of what the industry was asking for. The Forestry Products Association of Canada (FPAC) had asked for $500 million over 6 years for the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program, but received just $90.4 million over 4 years – a $410 million funding gap. “According to the government’s own figures Ontario has lost more than 30,000, a full 44%, of the forestry jobs in Ontario since the Conservatives came to power in 2005,” Rafferty said. “This government has failed Canada’s forestry sector for a decade and continues to do so with this budget.”
Rafferty said that while the forestry sector received less than 20% of what it needed Northern Ontario as a region fared even worse. “I had my staff search the electronic version of the budget, and they found no mention of the following words and phrases; Northern Ontario, FedNor, Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, or Ring of Fire. It’s as if Northern Ontario doesn’t even exist for this Conservative government,” Rafferty said.
Some ideas in the budget that Rafferty said he liked included the modest extension of rural broadband internet coverage and the protection of some commercial fisheries. “Like every 400-page budget I don’t oppose every single idea, but you could fit the good ideas in this budget onto about two pages,” Rafferty said. “I can’t imagine how I could support this budget in good conscience, but I will give it a full read in the coming days,” Rafferty said.
“With this budget the Harper Conservatives have walked away from the people of Northern Ontario, and in 2015 I predict that people of Northern Ontario will walk away from the Conservative Party once and for all,” Rafferty said.