Inside Politics

UPDATED - Tories slap NDP-backed initiatives with $500 million price tag

So, remember how back in March, the Order Paper was hit with a sudden flurry of Conservative backbencher-posed queries on the cost of various New Democrat-backed private members' bills?

Well, the responses have started to show up -- and to the surprise of pretty much no one, the projected per annum price tag for just four of the NDP proposals tagged for assessment works out to just over half a billion dollars in lost revenue.

The itemized list, as calculated by the government and harvested from Hansard:

  • Removing the GST from reading materials, 'both printed and electronic': $280 million
  • Refunding 100% of the GST to school authorities: $170 million
  • Exempting all death-related expenses -- including funeral services, coffins, headstones and 'any other property related to the funeral, burial or cremation of an individual' from the GST: $90 million
  • Allowing veterans deduct legion or other veterans' organization membership fees: $15-36 million


As for New Democrat MP Mylene Freeman's subsequently defeated bid to fund septic system upgrades in remote communities, the answer notes that such matters are regulated at the provincial/territorial level, and as such, the government has no information on what such an initiative would cost.

As noted, those are just the first four NDP bills on the to-do list.

Still outstanding: the estimated cost of providing free passports to veterans, Mounties and their respective spouses or common law partners and/or a 50 percent discount for those 65 or over, exempting affordable and low income housing from the GST, restoring the federal apiarist position at Agriculture Canada, restoring the refugee health program and a host of other NDP-backed initiatives.

Stay tuned! At this rate, we should have the full set of answers within days. 

UPDATE: At least one New Democrat is challenging the numbers provided by the government: Francois Pilon, the sponsor of C-480, which -- as he notes -- would not, in fact, exempt all funeral-related expenses from the GST, but instead allow the retirement of up to $2,500 from an RRSP to pre-pay for service arrangements. 

The real figure, according to Pilon's office and backed by Library of Parliament analysis, is closer to $132,400 a year, which works out to less than 1 percent of the $90 million estimated by the government. 


 

 

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