OTTAWA – New Democrat Member of Parliament John Rafferty (Thunder Bay – Rainy River) says “The Conservative budget tabled in the House of Commons today is an attack on the middle class who are seeking jobs and looking forward to their retirement in Northwestern Ontario”.
“Budgets are always about choices, and the Harper Government has chosen to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class,” Rafferty said. “Two of the biggest industries in our region are public services and forestry. Well Harper and Flaherty are cutting 19,200 public service jobs and slashing investment in the forestry sector by 95 percent. They’re even making the people who can actually find work in our region, work longer. And, where are all these savings going? Fighter jets, prisons, and corporate tax cuts to oil and gas companies.”
Rafferty said the Conservative’s cuts to the Old Age Security (OAS) program, to be phased in over 6 years, is nothing more than the unprincipled downloading of budget costs from one generation to the next. “Boomers like me will be fine, but if you are under the age of 54 then this government has just handed you a $22,000 bill that you didn’t think you’d have to pay upon retirement. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said, clearly, that the OAS system is fiscally sound so this is nothing more than a sneak attack on the middle aged and the middle class.”
The Conservative government’s decision to cut $28.1 million in funding to FedDev, which replaced FedNor and is the federal economic development agency for Ontario, also raised eyebrows in Ottawa and throughout the region. “FedDev, is a regional economic development agency, so it is an investment vehicle that delivers jobs to the Northern Ontario and dividends in the form of tax revenue to the federal government. Cutting this agency during an economic downturn or recovery simply makes no sense,” Rafferty said.
Rafferty said he was also disappointed that there was no additional money put aside to help First Nation communities that are in various stages of crises. “I was hoping to see some investment or at least a plan to address the many crises we see unfolding in First Nation communities,” Rafferty said. “We have a housing crisis in Attawapiskat, a clean water crisis in Kashechewan, and a suicide crisis in Pikangikum near Kenora. A little money to address these issues would have certainly gone a long way, but there is nothing in this budget.”