MP Alex Atamanenko can’t get behind a budget that has nine times more cuts than job creation tactics, he said Thursday after the Conservative government introduced the 2012 federal budget in the House of Commons.
The budget puts some 19,200 pubic servants out of work with an estimated 12,000 of those cut and the remaining positions eliminated through attrition.
“It seems the government’s only job creation strategy is to facilitate super tankers and dirty oil pipelines over our most pristine land and waterways while gutting environmental assessments,” he said, referring to the government’s plans for sweeping legislative and regulatory changes to environmental assessments and over $100 million in funding to expedite resource extraction.
Job stability wasn’t the only concern he had for his Southern Interior riding.
The New Democrat says the government’s plan to raise the eligible age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 will force seniors to work two years extra while denying jobs for younger workers, all while making low-income seniors in B.C. live two more years on degrading rates of social assistance.
He attributes the majority of the approximate $24 billion deficit, which is being whittled away through cuts, to the government’s corporate tax breaks in years past.
“I think we always have to keep reminding folks about that,” he said. “They’re saying they’re scrambling for money – cutting back here and there, people are being laid off, 12,000 people will lose there jobs and have to go on unemployment insurance or scramble to try and find work somewhere – and yet we’ll have given $220 billion out of our budget to corporations who really don’t need the money. If you look at it like that, it doesn’t make any sense.”
The budget also shortchanges the provinces by $31 billion, he said, with unilateral changes to the funding formula for federal health transfers, opening the door wide to privatization and two-tier health care.
“These are massive cuts and the provinces cannot afford it,” said Atamanenko “It is shameful that this government will balance the books on the backs of seniors who want to retire in dignity and make it a certainty that more families are left without a family doctor.”
He said a shop local campaign by most small communities will suffer now that the government will allow cross-border shoppers to bring back $200 worth of goods free of duty or taxes, an increase from just $50, and $800 for those who’ve been gone for more than 48 hours as of June 1.
“That could really hurt our communities,” he said. “Our businesses in our border communities are already struggling with people heading across the line.”
Atamanenko is hopeful that the Southern Interior will see some of the $105 million over two years to support forestry innovation and market development.