Any flicker of hope the Trudeau government will ever balance the budget has vanished
You know you’ve been in Ottawa too long when you forget what saving money means.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland claims she is “exercising fiscal restraint” and “reducing government spending by more than $15 billion.”
Here are the numbers in Budget 2023.
In 2022, spending was $470 billion. In 2023, it will be $491 billion.
Spending will climb to $509 billion in 2024, $523 billion in 2025, $538 billion in 2026 and $556 billion in 2027.
Does that look like saving money to you?
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For politicians reading this in Ottawa, here’s a clue to answer that question: if you increase spending by $85 billion, you’re saving money wrong.
Freeland pinky promises to save money on consultants and travel, across department budgets and Crown corporations. But 97 per cent of those savings won’t begin until 2024. If you promise to start your diet next year, are you taking that diet seriously?
The government doesn’t need to wait until next year to stop serving bureaucrats beef Wellington or stuffed pork tenderloin on flights. Freeland doesn’t need to wait until next year to stop hiring luxury chauffeurs when she books a hotel in the wrong city. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should stop billing taxpayers $6,000 per night hotel rooms right now.
Bureaucrats don’t need to wait another year to stop giving themselves $200 million in bonuses when they barely meet half of their own performance targets. Crown corporations – like the Bank of Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the CBC – should cut the bonus party today, not next year.
Cutting back on consultants and travel and finding savings in departments and Crown corporations is needed. But the government is promising to use a scalpel to slice a gram of fat tomorrow when it should be pulling out the STIHL today.
Budget 2023 is like a bad episode of the Oprah Show. Instead of a prize for everyone in the audience, there’s special taxpayer treatment for every business with green in its name.
“The government is offering major tax credits to companies promising lower-carbon technologies,” the Post reported. “A senior government official estimated the value of the credits at roughly $80 billion over the next decade.”
The government is also putting taxpayers on the hook for $15 billion through a corporate slush fund dubbed the Canada Growth Fund. The government still won’t tell taxpayers how many billions of dollars it’s giving Volkswagen.
Any flicker of hope the Trudeau government will ever balance the budget has vanished.
The deficit will be $40 billion in 2023. That’s almost $10 billion larger than the deficit Freeland forecasted five months ago. The best this government can do is promise to bring the deficit down to $14 billion by 2027. But even that may be wishful thinking for a government that hasn’t met a budget target it couldn’t miss.
The debt will total $1.2 trillion by the end of the year. That’s about double the $616-billion debt Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started with.
More debt means more money wasted on interest charges. Interest charges on the federal government credit card will cost each Canadian an average of about $1,000 this year. Annual interest charges will hit $50 billion in 2027.
Budget 2023 contains $11.6 billion in new taxes over the next five years. For context, Freeland outspent her own budget by $18 billion last year. The government could win the lottery every day and still run massive deficits if it doesn’t stop overspending.
The biggest sting will come through higher gas, heating and grocery bills as the government increases the carbon tax in April. The carbon tax will cost the average family up to $710 this year, even after the rebates.
Budget 2023 is proof this government doesn’t care about fiscal restraint or helping taxpayers.
Franco Terrazzano is the Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
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