‘All talk and no action’ was how North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney summarized the Liberal government’s 2018 federal budget.
In a Feb.28 conference call, Blaney not only reacted to the budget, which was released on Feb.27, but also addressed how it will affect the North Island communities.
“I was very happy to see that Port Hardy and Powell River were actually mentioned in the budget,” she said, referring to the Liberals promising $250 million over two years for improvements to small harbours across Canada and naming those two communities specifically. “So happy to see those two were on the list, but I will continue to do the work with the other communities across the riding who have talked to me about these concerns and advocate for them.”
Despite the improvements for small harbours, Blaney said she saw “A lack of understanding of what rural communities are experiencing” in the Liberal government’s budget.
She explained, “A lot of communities, like Port Hardy, have made a lot of revenue in resource development that fed the province and fed the country and it’s important that we are remembered during these important times.”
Blaney noted two areas of concern for the North Island in the budget were a lack of support for small business and that there was nothing in the budget for cell towers in rural areas.
“There was some money in the budget around broadband — that is a step in the right direction, however, there was nothing in the budget about cell towers,” she stated, adding cell reception is also important for tourism and creating a robust economy.
She pointed out the parts of Highway 19 north of Campbell River where cell service is unreliable. “That can be a huge safety concern and I know a lot of constituents have brought that to my attention.”
While the small business tax rate will go from 10.5 per cent to 10 per cent for 2018 and nine per cent in 2019, Blaney added there is still “not enough recognition of the important role that small business play in our riding and across Canada. We know in rural and remote communities where the larger industries have had challenges — they are still there but not to the extent they once were — we need to make sure we have small business be successful.”
This is the third budget for the current Liberal government since Trudeau was elected in 2015.
The government will continue posting annual deficits with the new outlook showing an $18.1 billion shortfall for 2018-19.
To view the full 2018 Federal Budget click here.