By Lethbridge Herald on September 1, 2021.
If the federal government’s fiscal policy remains on its current course, Canada’s trillion dollar debt will weigh heavily on taxpayers’ pockets for generations to come.
In this election, voters will have to take a close look at the parties’ plans to plug this drain.
Unfortunately, the current Liberal plan would keep the federal budget in deficit territory for another half a century.
Conservatives and New Democrats have criticized the Liberal government’s record, but neither party has found a clear way to save taxpayer dollars.
Let’s look at the options, starting with the Liberals.
Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office almost six years ago, Canada’s debt has swelled.
Trudeau was elected in part on a promise to run a few “modest” deficits for three years and balance the books by 2019. But instead, Trudeau has steadily increased government spending to levels never seen before in Canadian history.
According to the Fraser Institute, Trudeau’s inflation-adjusted per capita spending was higher in 2018 than in any year of World War II or any previous recession.
And that was before the pandemic.
If Trudeau is re-elected, at the end of his next term, years after the end of COVID-19, the Liberals will increase ongoing government spending by $ 100 billion above already high levels of 2019.
Budget 2021 will nearly double pre-pandemic federal debt within a few years, but data from the Parliamentary Budget Officer shows that this is just the beginning of the bad news.
On the current Liberal trajectory, the federal government will not balance the budget until 2070.
What about the Conservatives?
Taxpayers should not hold their breaths waiting for Erin O’Toole’s party to balance the budget.
The Conservative platform vaguely promises to balance the budget over the next decade, but offers few plans to save money and no credible targets to reduce the deficit.
In fact, O’Toole is proposing to spend billions that the government does not have on new programs.
Lack of savings comes as a headache. O’Toole criticized the government less than a year ago for being “ready to bankrupt a country in order to win the next election”.
With a statement like this, the savings should be easy to achieve. But other than the end of Trudeau’s $ 600 million media bailout, you have to jump to the very last paragraph on the platform’s last page to find out where O’Toole thinks a Conservative government could save money.
O’Toole’s response to Canada’s spending problem is to turn to remote working for government employees. That’s it. Balance the budget one Zoom meeting at a time.
Rather than finding savings in an inflated budget, O’Toole is betting on the farm that he can wipe out the deficit by relying on economic growth.
But what if the reality is not so rosy? Will O’Toole find any savings or let the debt continue to swell?
Finally, there is the NDP.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh plans to increase income taxes, business taxes and capital gains taxes.
He also wants to impose a wealth tax, a tax on excess profits, taxes on luxury, a tax on foreign home buyers and a tax on the so-called Internet giants. Despite all these taxes, the NDP still offers no idea how to balance the budget.
This is a far cry from the days of former NDP leader Jack Layton, who boasted that his party had the best balanced budget record when it was in power.
In the end, none of Canada’s three major parties came up with a credible plan to deal with the deficit which adds $ 424 million to the debt every day.
Canadians deserve better.
As politicians try to avoid talking about how they will balance the books, it is up to Canadians to ask tough questions about the deficit when politicians come knocking on the door.
Franco Terrazzano and Jay Goldberg
Franco Terrazzano is the Federal Director and Jay Goldberg is the Interim Ontario Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.