OTTAWA – New Democrat Member of Parliament John Rafferty (Thunder Bay –Rainy River) said he will vote against the federal budget as presented to parliament because it fails to address the key needs of families, seniors, and the economy in Northwestern Ontario.
“We [New Democrats] asked that some very modest and specific proposals be included in the budget to help make life more affordable for families by removing the HST from home heating and $700 million to lift every senior in Canada out of poverty, but these proposals were not included in the budget,” Rafferty said. “These were responsible, affordable, and effective proposals and they were rejected by the same Conservative government that introduced the HST and blew $60 billion on corporate tax cuts.”
The struggling forestry sector in Northwestern Ontario was also left out in the cold by the federal budget. “The forestry sector, which is the largest industrial sector in the country and still in a slump, was offered just $60 million when the industry said it needed $1 billion,” Rafferty said. “We’re losing 1,000 jobs a month in the Ontario forestry sector, and there is still no plan to help stem the losses and position the industry for the future.”
Rafferty also took issue with the fact the Conservative government chose to include funding of the Cyclotron at the Thunder Bay Regional Institute in the budget instead of simply providing the funding as they have for other projects. “This project should be funded, clearly, but the Conservatives are playing politics with the issue by including the money in a budget,” he said. “They could write a cheque today for the Cyclotron just as they have for other projects, but they’re playing politics instead of helping our region and the patients who will rely on these important medical services.”
Despite the stalemate on the budget as presented, Rafferty said he is hopeful the Conservatives will be open to amending their budget to avoid an election. “We don’t have to have an election. The Conservative government could listen to the amendments of the other parties, or even offer amendments of their own, but they are refusing to do so thus far,” he said. “The precedent is there. If Mr. Harper wants to address some of our priorities around making life more affordable for families and seniors then we may be able to still get something done, but that ball is in Mr. Harper’s court.”