The last federal budget before this October’s election short-changed Northern Ontario, and mostly missed the mark, according to the NDP’s Northern Ontario MPs, Carol Hughes and Charlie Angus.
“This is a disappointing budget for Canadians who need help right now to make ends meet,” said Hughes. “This budget is disconnected from most people’s reality and the challenges we are facing together.”
“A paltry $6 million for FedNor when the Atlantic and Northern agencies got $67 million and $95 million shows that this government doesn’t have any vision when it comes to developing Northern Ontario’s economy,” said Angus. “The money for forestry is welcome, but it remains to be seen exactly how much Northern Ontario will see.”
Hughes and Angus feel the budget was full of items that won’t help immediately and were designed to look as if the government is tackling problems that need much more attention than they were given.
“There are lots of half-measures and nice words, but the money being spent isn’t enough,” said Hughes. “The money going into broadband is a good example. The dollar amount sounds great until you realize it’s being rolled out over the next thirteen years. The north needs that infrastructure now!”
Angus said the same thing goes for issues important to First Nations who are seeing no new money for education, housing and other important needs.
“There’s no new core funding for on-reserve primary and secondary education and there isn’t nearly enough to implement Jordan’s Principle,” said Angus. “There’s no new funding for on-reserve housing, despite urgent needs and enormous backlogs for repair. These are real needs and they’re not being met. Canadians saw the realities of Cat Lake, and too many communities across the north are facing similar conditions.”
Hughes notes the government’s timid steps towards pharmacare are meant to sound like progress but won’t change things for Canadians who can’t afford the medication they need.
“This budget shows that pharmacare has been pushed off to future years,” said Hughes. “The budget does not include funding for it in its fiscal framework and the recommendations that preceded this made it clear this government is protecting insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies.”