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Revised forecasts and delayed housing spending in federal 'mini budget'

Fiscal update 'mini budget'

This week in Ottawa, the federal government announced the fall fiscal update.

In recent years, this update has evolved to a mini-budget, where the government makes political announcements about programs and spending.

The spending has once again increased, as evidenced by the numbers. For example, deficits for the fiscal year 2024-25 and the following fiscal year, 2025-26, are expected to be higher than forecasted.

The revised 2024-25 and 2025-26 deficits are now $38.4 billion and $38.3 billion, respectively. The original forecasts were $35.0 billion in 2024-25 and $26.8 billion in 2025-26.

In other words, the original forecast was an attempt to reduce spending. However, as is often the case with this government, spending consistently increases.

What is also interesting is although the budget update mentioned “more housing” multiple times, in reality, a significant portion of this spending that was only announced was for programs that are still years away.

A few examples of that include $15 billion in new loan funding for an apartment construction program. However, that program will not be available until fiscal year 2025-26.

Similarly, there is an additional commitment to allocate $1 billion over three years for what the Liberals call an “affordable housing fund" for non-profit, co-op and public housing. However, that funding will also not begin until the fiscal year 2025-26.

I mention the program implementation dates because the next fixed federal election date is Oct. 25, 2025. Many of these announcements are intended to sound like the government is taking action today. In reality, it will be part of an election budget in an election year.

Apart from the future spending mentioned in this mini-budget, there was no discussion about the impact of that spending on Canadians.

According to a report by Scotiabank last week, approximately 42% of the Bank of Canada's 475 basis point increase is attributed to increased government spending. To clarify, this does not solely refer to federal government spending. It encompasses spending at all levels by government.

Unsurprisingly, the Scotiabank report states, "Overall, our results suggest fiscal policy at all levels of government has been poorly calibrated from an inflation management perspective."

Many Canadians are burdened with mortgage payments or rent they cannot afford. Similarly, there is a comparable situation with lines of credit, credit cards and other loans. And yet, despite the affordability crisis, the government, which recently exempted home heating oil from the federal carbon tax, still intends to quadruple the carbon tax by 2030 on other home heating fuels, such as natural gas and propane.

While the carbon tax in British Columbia is a provincial policy, the current B.C. NDP government intends to continue implementing it.

This week's question is:

Do you agree with Scotiabank's statement suggesting fiscal policy at all levels of government has been poorly calibrated from an inflation management perspective? Why or why not?

I can be reached at [email protected] or by calling toll-free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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Tories, NDP want federal carbon tax cut on all home heating fuels

Push for 'fair' carbon tax cut

In my Nov. 1 column, I discussed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's announcement regarding a temporary, three-year pause to the federal price on pollution (fuel charge) on deliveries of heating oil in all jurisdictions where the federal fuel charge is in effect.

I also referenced comments by Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings, responding to criticism that the change largely favoured Atlantic Canada (as the majority of those who rely on heating oil live in Atlantic Canada), while other heating choices did not receive the same exemption.

“I can tell you that the Atlantic Caucus was vocal about what they've heard from their constituents, and perhaps they need to elect more Liberals in the Prairies so that we can have that conversation as well,” she said.

In response, I received significant disagreement regarding Trudeau's handling of this policy. Many pointed out the apparent unfairness of exempting some Canadians who heat with fossil fuels from paying the federal carbon tax (where applicable), while not providing the same financial relief to others.

A similar debate is currently taking place in British Columbia, where a provincial carbon tax is in place. The official Opposition (BC United) and (other) opposition parties are now advocating for carbon tax relief for affordability reasons—however, the NDP government, which initially opposed the carbon tax in B.C. when it was in opposition, has refused to provide such relief thus far.

In response (to the federal move), Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, introduced a motion requesting the government extend the carbon tax exemption granted to home heating oil to all other forms of home heating in federal carbon tax jurisdictions. Surprisingly, the federal NDP supported the motion from the Conservatives.

However, the Liberals, with the (support) of the Bloc Quebecois, voted against this “common-sense” policy, which would have provided equal financial relief to all Canadians in areas where the federal carbon tax applies.

As an opposition Member of Parliament representing many residents who use natural gas and propane for heating, it is incredibly frustrating to see the government persistently penalize those who rely on these fuels, even though they burn cleaner than home heating oil.

Last week, Jerry DeMarco, the federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, released a report indicating the federal government is on track to fail in its goal of reducing carbon emissions by at least 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. In other words, despite causing energy poverty for many Canadians who rely on propane and natural gas for heating (but not home heating oil), its climate plan is not delivering on its promises, as many Liberals claimed it would.

The report further stated, "Canada is the only G-7 country that has not achieved any emissions reductions since 1990."

This indicates that other G-7 countries are performing better than Canada. This is especially significant considering our largest trading partner, the United States, does not have a carbon tax and has outperformed Canada in reducing emissions in recent years.

The response to the report from the federal government, as reported by CBC, was that the commissioner was correct. “There is still work to be done to meet our ambitious but achievable 2030 goal of at least 40 percent emission reductions."

Trudeau has stated only home heating oil will receive a carbon tax break in regions where the federal carbon tax applies. Those who heat with gas or propane will not receive the same tax break and will face increasing carbon tax rates.

This week's question is:

Do you think the prime minister made a mistake by not evenly and fairly applying the carbon tax break on home heating to all Canadians in federal carbon tax jurisdictions? Why or why not?

You can reach me at [email protected] or by calling toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



MPs unite to form all-party cancer caucus

MP addressing cancer care

One important area I have dedicated more time and attention to as a Member of Parliament is the subject of cancer care in Canada.

The Canadian Cancer Society has published estimates that show about one in five Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime and about one in four are expected to die from cancer. That means in 2023, an estimated 239,100 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer and 86,700 are expected to die of the disease.

Although healthcare is primarily a provincial responsibility, my ongoing discussions with oncologists, healthcare administrators and those involved in clinical trials have highlighted the various roles the federal government can play. I believe if these areas are not addressed, they will have an increasingly negative effect on a healthcare system that is already under tremendous strain.

As our population continues to increase and grow older, our susceptibility to cancer naturally rises. Our aging demographics are facts we, as Canadians, must inevitably face.

Compared to other similar countries, Canada is slow in approving new cancer drugs. Additionally, the paperwork required by Health Canada to gain access to new drugs or therapies is burdensome and time-consuming. This burden creates a situation for doctors where helping these patients comes with the risk of drawing precious time away from burgeoning caseloads.

Federal investments in reviewing controversial breast cancer screening guidelines have also caused considerable consternation. The task force has faced criticism from patients and experts for relying on studies that are 60 years old and do not consider newer technologies or the changing demographics of the population.

To address these issues, I have partnered with Liberal MP Peter Schiefke, a cancer survivor, to create an all-party parliamentary cancer caucus. This caucus aims to engage with health professionals, organizations and patient advocacy groups to discuss and advocate for changes that will make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians.

The discussions I have had while meeting with various individuals and organizations have been positively received nationwide. As a local Member of Parliament, I am excited to bring some of these discussions to my riding by hosting a community forum. The forum will take place Monday, Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Capri Hotel in Kelowna.

I will be joined by local experts who will share their personal stories and expertise on topics like lung and breast cancer. During the event, I will also provide more details about the work being done by the cancer caucus and welcome feedback from the public on this important issue.

To ensure appropriate seating, attendees are encouraged to register at danalbasmp.ca, by clicking on the events tab.

It is my hope that with better understanding by parliamentarians and the public, we can make progress on this increasingly challenging health issue.

My question to you this week:

Are you supportive of this work? Why or why not?

I can be reached by email at [email protected] or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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Remove carbon tax on all home heating fuels says MP

Extend home fuel tax break

As a loyal member of the official Opposition since 2015, I have encountered many interesting situations in which I held the Trudeau government accountable on behalf of the (residents) of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

However, this week, I am writing about a situation I never expected to occur. The situation is related to a surprise announcement made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, stating he would remove the carbon tax on home heating oil.

Specifically, the prime minister announced a "temporary, three-year pause to the federal price on pollution (fuel charge) on deliveries of heating oil in all jurisdictions where the federal fuel charge is in effect."

It is no secret many Canadians face financial difficulties due to the high cost of groceries, gas, heating and interest rates. As a result, I received numerous calls from residents seeking relief, especially from the carbon tax.

It is important to clarify the carbon tax in B.C. is imposed at the provincial level and falls under provincial jurisdiction, not federal jurisdiction. The province of British Columbia has decided to align their carbon tax with the rate unilaterally set by the federal government, increasing it to $170 per tonne by April 1, 2030 (the current rate for 2023 is $65 per tonne).

Media headlines quickly reported what many perceive as a flip-flop on the carbon tax by the prime minister. The National Post headline read, "Trudeau removes carbon tax from home heating oil as poll numbers drop in Atlantic Canada." The headline was based on the fact Atlantic Canada has a higher proportion of (residents) who use home heating oil compared to other regions of Canada. Currently, since 2015 Atlantic Canada has largely elected Liberal Members of Parliament rather than members from other political parties.

I mention that because many people have understandably asked why this financial relief, aimed at helping low-income (residents) who use home heating oil, is not offered to low-income (residents) in other parts of Canada, who use cleaner-burning natural gas or propane as their heating fuel.

To the surprise of many, Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings recently stated if people in other regions were unhappy their heating choices did not receive the same exemption, “Perhaps they need to elect more Liberals in the Prairies so that we can have that conversation as well.”

"I can tell you (the) Atlantic caucus was vocal with what they've heard from their constituents.”

This statement is remarkable, suggesting if you vote for the Liberals, you might not be subjected to the carbon tax on your home heating bill. Similarly, regions of Canada that do not frequently vote for the Liberals will continue to face the consequences of the carbon tax.

The prime minister has stated no other regions of Canada will receive a break on the carbon tax for home heating using natural gas or propane. This carbon tax break will only apply to those using home heating oil.

The Conservatives Opposition has long suggested removing the carbon tax on home heating. In fact, a motion was tabled last year to exempt all forms of home heating from the carbon tax, but the government rejected it.

It is important to note supporters of carbon taxes have also expressed concern about this sudden announcement, as it undermines the overall credibility of carbon taxation. As an Oct. 30 Globe and Mail editorial stated, "The Liberals' credibility on the carbon tax has gone up in smoke."

From my perspective, this abrupt change in carbon tax policy is extremely unfair to the numerous Canadians facing financial difficulties but are being penalized solely because they use propane or natural gas for home heating. This is why the common sense Conservatives, led by Pierre Poilievre, believe the carbon tax must be removed fairly and equally on all home heating sources across Canada and have pledged to immediately support legislation that will accomplish this.

My question this week is:

Is it fair to remove the carbon tax on home heating oil but not on cleaner-burning fuels like natural gas or propane? Why or why not?

I can be reached at [email protected] or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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