Blaney says federal budget doesn’t go far enough in addressing important issues like housing

‘It’s like a willful blindness to the issues that people are facing day-to-day in our communities’

MP Rachel Blaney

North Island – Powell River MP Rachel Blaney says there are things she likes in this week’s federal budget, but there were definitely some things missing.

Blaney says she was pleased to see that seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement and working at the same time will have a higher income threshold before having their benefit suspended. However, she says that doesn’t do much for seniors who aren’t still working.

“This is great news for people who can continue to work in their later years but does nothing for seniors who don’t have paid work,” Blaney says.

“With nothing in this budget for Canadians living with disabilities, what are we expecting them to do? This budget leaves many low-income seniors living in poverty and we can do so much better.”

“This is great news for people who can continue to work in their later years but does nothing for seniors who don’t have paid work,” Blaney says.

As the newly appointed NDP critic for Veterans Affairs, Blaney welcomed new funding, including $150 million over five years to process disability claims. Blaney took over the role last week from neighbouring MP Gord Johns – who has moved into the role of NDP Critic for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard – and has added it to her roles as both Critic for Seniors’ Issues and Vice Chair of the Indigenous and Norther Affairs Committee.

In 2017-2018, Veterans Affairs Canada only processed 33 per cent of their disability claims within their goal of 16 weeks, Blaney says.

“It’s too bad this didn’t happen sooner,” Blaney says. “Our veterans have been made to wait for far too long.”

Other items, such as increased funding for chronic pain research, Blaney says, are good starting points but fail to address larger issues. “Focusing too narrowly on one aspect of what our veterans experience helps fewer of them. We need a more holistic approach.”

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Blaney was also disappointed by this week’s budget’s lack of funding for the environment and climate change – aside from a credit for purchasing electric vehicles.

“This government has championed themselves as the ones who would put Canada back on track to fix our environment,” Blaney says, adding that while the government supported Johns’ motion for a framework to tackle the rising levels of plastics in our ocean, “Climate change can’t wait, we need action now.”

There was also little support for small businesses in the budget, Blaney says, especially those in rural and remote communities.

The commitment to high-speed Internet for everyone in Canada by 2030 is a good talking point, she says, but one that has been alluded to before without providing the funds or plan to get it done in the foreseeable future, and doesn’t address other rural issues like the increased costs of doing business or absence of cell service in many areas.

Finally, Blaney says she was hoping there would be more in the budget to address the ever-increasing issue of housing affordability and availability.

Aside from the new first-time homebuyer’s incentive, which allows qualifying buyers to see the government pick up part of the cost of their mortgages to lower their monthly payments and allow people whose marriages or common-law partnerships break down to dip into their retirements savings to fund the purchase of a home, there is nothing new to help create and provide needed housing.

“Many Canadians that are really struggling with issues of affordability and this budget does nothing to help that,” Blaney says.