Balancing the federal budget has a lot in common with balancing the family budget. We've been through some tough times, so we've had to take out a line of credit to avert emergencies, and we've been working diligently to get back to balance by setting clear priorities and taking care of the things that are most important: our children's education, our family's health and well-being and protecting the most vulnerable.
We've found savings in the running of our house and ways to make it more efficient and we've kept an eye on the future to ensure that we continue to be productive.
According to Chapter 4.2 of Budget 2014 (budget.gc.ca) here is where your tax dollars go:
- Elderly benefits: $43.8 billion;
- Employment Insurance benefits: $17.7 billion;
- Children's benefits: $13.2 billion;
- Major transfers to other levels of government including support for health and other social
programs: $44.7 billion;
- Fiscal arrangements: $19.4 billion;
- Cities and communities (gas tax fund): $2 billion;
- Other: $200 million;
- Other transfer payments total $113 billion;
- Public debt charges: $29 billion.
With total revenues of $276.3 billion and total expenses of $279.2 billion, we have posted a deficit for this year but we will return to budget balance next year.
We'll be able to pay more down on our debt and ensure Canada is prepared for any economic challenges that might come our way.
Our focus on Canada's labour market will also continue to be of primary importance.
As the report, The State of the Canadian Labour Market, released by the Department of Finance (also available at budget.gc.ca) says, "Canada's labour market has generally succeeded in meeting recent challenges and performs relatively well in a number of areas, including job creation and post-secondary educational attainment.
"Canada's economy has outperformed other G-7 countries in job creation in the recovery and over the last seven years. Canada's labour force participation rate is high by international standards and Canada enjoys a fairly mobile population that responds well to economic opportunities."
Nevertheless, as the report indicates, there are areas that could be strengthened.
So, we are launching the Canada Job Grant and an enhanced Job Matching Service to help connect Canadians with available jobs; we are introducing a new Canada Apprentice Loan to help registered apprentices in Red Seal trades with the cost of training and we are investing more in programs to help older workers and persons with disabilities access the labour market.
We are also creating thousands of new paid internships for young Canadians entering the job market; we are investing more into aboriginal education and training; and we are providing
$1.5 billion over the next decade for the Canada First Research Excellence Fund for post-secondary research.
Last Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the New Building Canada Plan, which will provide $53 billion in support of infrastructure in Canada over the next ten years.
It disappoints me to hear the Opposition suggest that Budget 2014 is a "do-nothing budget" since it also suggests your tax dollars are doing nothing. Yet, higher taxes mixed with big spending, especially on government, is not the recipe for the
effective use of taxpayers' money.
As with any family budget, being frugal can seem difficult, but there are times when it is necessary. Even when the economy is firing on all cylinders, we should remain prudent.
Maintaining balanced budgets, keeping taxes low, paying down the debt, supporting job creation and protecting the programs most important to us is a better recipe for success.
Ron Cannan is the member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country. Email him at