Budget filled with re-announcements, broken promises: MPs

Rachel Blaney is deeply concerned about the federal seniors file

North Island-Powell River NDP MP Rachel Blaney says it’s a “bit of a timid budget” the federal government announced Tuesday in Ottawa, containing too much talk and not enough action.

Blaney, who serves as the Critic for Seniors, continues to harbour a number of concerns about the seniors file. She said the budget is filled with re-announcements but contains no financial commitment to a national seniors strategy.

“We really need to have a plan,” she said in a media teleconference Wednesday, noting one in four Canadians will have reached their senior years by 2036. “A lot of people are falling through the gaps.”

Especially senior women left to tend for themselves without a pension.

Fellow NDP MP Gord Johns, who represents Courtenay-Alberni, notes that 30 per cent of senior single women in Canada are living in poverty.

“That is unacceptable,” he said in a Wednesday interview.

Blaney is encouraged about investments into the opioid crisis, broadband (though nothing for cell towers) and dementia. There was also an announcement about a new national pharmacare program, though Blaney said the Liberals made the same commitment in 1997.

“I’m disappointed that pharmacare is something we’re talking about again,” she said. “It’s time for action.”

“We’re the only country with a universal health care plan with no universal pharmacare,” Johns said.

He is also disappointed with “broken promises” made to military veterans, only about 100 of whom are eligible for full funding by next year.

“The veterans are very disappointed,” Johns said. “Why should someone who served not get the same amount as someone else?”

The budget contains some allotments for gravesites and cemeteries, and for service delivery, but Johns said 29,000 veterans with disabilities are waiting to have their applications processed.

“It needs to be at zero,” he said.

Overall, Johns feels the Trudeau government missed an opportunity to build an economy. He and Blaney feel the Liberals need to close tax loopholes for the super rich and crack down on international tax havens.

“This is a Bay Street budget,” Johns said.

He applauds the efforts of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce for recommending changes to the small business tax.

“They mobilized their members and held that very important panel last year to raise concerns,” said Johns, who relayed comments and concerns to the federal government.

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