Reaction to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's federal budget tabled March 22:
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff gave the budget a thumbs-down. "This is a government that doesn't seem to be listening to what Canadian families are telling us," Ignatieff said. "We're forced to reject this budget."
"We find that the priorities of this government are not the priorities of ordinary Canadians," Ignatieff said.
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Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe said he doesn't have confidence in the government and won't support the budget. "Absolutely not," he said.
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NDP Leader Jack Layton said families who need help didn't get it from the government. "We will not be supporting the budget that this government presented."
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Canadian Labour Congress's Ken Georgetti urged parties to consider budget carefully. He called the increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement is a "win for every senior."
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Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, head of the Canadian Medical Association, said a tuition credit and loan forgiveness for rural doctors is a good start, but they still lack the tools to serve the communities.
"There's several areas that touch on health," he said, but "what we didn't see is a concerted effort...to take healthcare and transform it."
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Peter Coleman, head of the National Citizens Coalition, said he was looking for more spending cuts. "It's a tough budget at a tough time," he said.
Coleman said he wants the government to look at wrapping some departments under one umbrella, like Veterans Affairs and National Defence. He also said he wants to see "meaningful" reductions to the civil service, arguing it's too big and keeps growing.
And he added that this Parliament has run its course and needs to have an election to re-set itself.
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Hans Cunningham, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, said the budget includes a commitment to work on a long-term infrastructure plan, something the FCM has been pushing for. He said he hopes even if the government fails, it would come back.
"It's for the good of the country. I believe all parties would support for good of the country," he said.
The budget would also enshrine into law the gas tax transfer to the provinces, something that's been lucrative for the municipalities.
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Scott Clark, a former deputy-minister of Finance under Paul Martin and now an independent economic consultant, said it's "a political budget. It reads like an election platform."
"There are no real surprises, there is not much of a visionary economic strategy set out in the budget." Clark said.
Clark noted there are 1.7 million seniors who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Tuesday's budget initiative will only affect 680,000 of them. Clark says half of the seniors wont get it because " they aren't poor enough."
He calls the budget "a dog's breakfast" because there are so many various initiatives but many of them are small, for example, $3 million for financial literacy and $5 million to support the Grey Cup. "There seems to be something for everybody" said Clark. "If there's an election, this is their platform."
Clark was also worried about the government's narrow financial buffer. "They should have had more prudence than the $1.5 billion a year that they have included."
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Craig Alexander, senior vice president and chief economist for TD Financial Group, has been monitoring federal budgets for 14 years.
"This is a stay-the-course budget, there are no big surprises. The dominant theme of this government is to eliminate the deficit by 2015-2016."
Alexander said he was concerned the government would eliminate the contingency buffer but they didn't. "That gives them $1.5 billion per year as a cushion."
He said that by increasing funding for research and development and putting in place new research chairs the government is looking to promote innovation and productivity. "This is important, because Canada has experienced a steady declione in the rate of growth of productivity. It's important to reverse that (because) it threatens job growth and the standard of living of Canadians."
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Steven Guilbeault, a spokesperson for the environmental organization Equiterre, said the extension of the Ecoenergy Retrofit program is "an interesting measure. We have been in favour of this program for many years." But, he added, "$400 million sounds like a lot, but we're investing a thousand times more money in fighter jets, so what does that say about the government's priorities?"
Guilbeault said the fact the extension is only for one year is "hugely problematic" because "there is no predictability. Basically, they killed the industry last year (by letting it lapse)."
And Guilbeault noted "there is nothing in this budget aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions." He said the government "talk about eliminating fossil fuel subsidies " but at 1 per cent this year and 2 per cent next year, "it's pathetic."
He added that according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the government is giving $1.4 billion dollars in tax breaks to the oil and gas industry. "If they were really eliminating the subsidies, they would cut $1.4 billion not $15 million this year and $30 million next year."
Finally, he noted the government is giving $400 million dollars to AECL, while the wind industry has been given $1.4 billion in 14 years. "There is nothing for wind energy in the budget, so the government's focus is on nuclear and fossil fuels."