OTTAWA: Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner says the federal government’s newly-drafted budget contains some solid investments for the Strait area.
On February 27, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled Canada’s Federal Budget for 2018. Cuzner said the document includes several items that are of interest to his riding.
“It includes a nice investment in small craft harbours,” said Cuzner. “Obviously my riding is quite coastal, and with $250 million for small craft harbours, we hope to get into some places that have been neglected for a number of years.”
The budget also includes an investment of $74.75 million over five years to prevent the spread of spruce budworm. Cuzner said the move will help protect Nova Scotian forests from the insect that has been causing damage in Quebec and New Brunswick.
“The decimation that we saw last time we had spruce budworms in the province is still very much in the minds of anybody in the forestry sector,” said Cuzner. “It’s far too important a sector to let that happen.”
Cuzner was also pleased to see an investment of $100 million over five years to support technological innovations such as low earth orbiting satellites, which have the potential to improve Internet access in rural communities.
“It’s pretty much essential now that you have access to reliable Internet,” said Cuzner. “They’re developing the site in Canso so that they can launch this type of satellite, so it’s pretty cool that we’re supporting this type of technology.”
On a broader level, Cuzner said he was pleased to see investments in gender equity and indigenous programming. The budget also proposes a $3.8 billion research investment which Cuzner says could benefit local educational institutions.
“I know that StFX, Cape Breton University and Nova Scotia Community College Nautical School will benefit from that type of investment,” said Cuzner. “They’re already on the cutting edge of some pretty neat work and this will augment that.”
As part of the budget, the government announced the creation of an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.
“Some people are making the tough decision as to whether to fill their prescription or fill their oil tank,” said Cuzner. “I think it’s a wise move forward, so hopefully for the next budget we’ll have something that we can present to Canadians.”
The budget has met with criticism from some opposition members. In a statement last week, NDP Leader Gary Burrill said that although the mention of universal pharmacare is encouraging, the budget does not go far enough.
“Without dedicated funding, people who need coverage now will remain stuck in limbo,” Said Burrill.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer pointed out that the budget’s $18 billion deficit is triple what was promised by the Liberals during the 2015 election. He expressed concern over how the government’s spending will impact taxpayers.
Cuzner said he believes that the spending outlined in the budget will help to stimulate the economy. He pointed out that since the liberals’ first budget, over 600,000 new jobs have been created and Employment Insurance is at a 40 year low.
“We still have the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio of all the G7 countries and it continues to decline,” said Cuzner. “I think when we grow the economy then the fiscal picture nationally will inevitably improve.”