Jan 19, 2016

No shortage of compelling ideas for Finance Minister Bill Morneau

By CarpathianPrince/ Shutterstock.com
CarpathianPrince/ Shutterstock.com

New federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has invited Canadians to submit their ideas and priorities for the next Federal Budget. People are welcome to share their suggestions via email, a survey and social media on a site the government has created here.

The finance minister says, “I am embarking on an intensive cross-Canada conversation with Canadians to shape our first budget,” and he has indicated the government is especially keen to hear people’s ideas for infrastructure projects that can get up and running as soon as possible. Good stuff.

Of course there is no shortage of great ideas in the CCPA’s 2015 Alternative Federal Budget, and the 2016 AFB will be out soon.

There is of course an urgent need for more social housing, and here in BC I’d love to see a federal commitment in this area that pushes our provincial government to get back into the business of building social housing (hopefully they wouldn’t let a cost-sharing opportunity in this sector pass us by). Other areas of social infrastructure are also high priority, such as long-term care facilities for seniors, and new child care spaces.

Post-Paris, a clear focus should be placed on new green infrastructure, so that we can make real our commitment to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. As the Leap Manifesto has called for, we need:

  • Expanded transit and light rail across Canada.
  • Investments in energy efficient homes and the retrofitting of existing buildings.
  • Support for community-owned renewable energy projects, with Indigenous communities first in line.
  • Investments in local food systems to counter the high price of imports.

And, as I outlined here, if the government plans to keep its commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies, then it ought to rescind the tax credit the Harper government promised to the LNG sector (the previous Conservative government had accepted the LNG industry’s dubious argument that it should be treated as a manufacturing industry, qualifying it for a generous capital cost allowance tax break).

The CCPA’s Marc Lee has produced an excellent list of key climate priorities for the new federal government here, many with implications for the next budget. And I’ve offered similar ideas here.

This next budget is a chance to jump-start Canada’s transition off fossil fuels and to advance a justice-based clean energy vision, as outlined in the Leap Manifesto and the CCPA’s AFB.

Here’s hoping.

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