Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s Fall Economic Update looked at how the federal government is faring in regards to its 2023 budget with a focus on housing and affordability.
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney said she was disappointed in the update. To Blaney, the measures put in place to help alleviate the two crises don’t go far enough.
“What’s frustrating for me is that so many Canadians are struggling so profoundly. I would love to see more money going out to people who desperately need it,” Blaney said.
While she sees that steering a federal government’s finances is not an easy task, Blaney thinks that the way it has been steered does not do enough to alleviate the issues faced by the people she represents.
“The things that I feel optimistic about are the ones the things that (the NDP) put in there,” she said, referring to the measures that her party pushed for as part of their confidence and supply agreement with the Liberals established in 2022. “Some of our hopes absolutely have been met … I definitely can tell you there’s a big difference between what an NDP government would do and what a Liberal government does when there’s just 25 of the NDP forcing them to do things.”
Freeland’s affordability measures included strengthening competition through the Competition Bureau, enabling it to “crack down on abuses of dominance by bigger companies, such as predatory pricing,” and in particular “enhancing competition in the grocery sector.”
“I am fully supportive of doing all that we can (in regards to grocery prices). There are some very very smart things that we can do,” Blaney said. “But right now what the Liberals are doing is inviting them in and asking, ‘can you please start stop charging such ridiculously high prices?’ That does not give me a lot of confidence.
“We know for a fact that a lot of these big grocery chains are seeing a profit … so this is after inflation … that is higher than they have seen in a very long time,” she said. “We haven’t seen a significant decrease across our constituency or across Canada. So their asking isn’t working.”
One suggestion Blaney had would be to drastically strengthen the Competition Bureau and to take the issue out of government hands. Another suggestion Blaney floated would be to increase the corporate tax rate.
“In the early 2000s, corporate tax was at 28 per cent,” she said. “It is now down to 15 per cent. The ultra wealthy are just collecting and collecting more money while every day Canadian small business owners are struggling.”
She also said that such a tax would help towards balancing the budget.
“We could follow the examples set by the UK government who has imposed a windfall tax,” she said. That tax is set for corporations “that have a significant increase in their revenue, and taxing them a bit to help pay for the reality that we’re facing in this country.”