Governing Tories expected to keep promise to balance books by 2015
In a writeup on the government's web page, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the governing Conservatives are dedicated to “keeping taxes low, so you can keep more of your hard-earned dollars, while investing in programs and services that are important to you and your family.
“Canada continues to fare better than other nations, despite uncertain global economic times,” Flaherty writes. “Both the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over this year and next.”
Flaherty has been finance minister for the last eight years, and was part of the Mike Harris government in Ontario in the 1990s.
Some major new spending has already been announced ahead of the budget, primarily $1.9 billion in new spending on education in First Nations communities. Flaherty is also expected to announce measures to address chronically high unemployment among young people in Canada, steps to stop price gouging on goods from the U.S., as well as an initiative to bring high-speed Internet to rural areas of Canada.
The Opposition New Democrats, meanwhile, are calling on the Tories to re-open offices dedicated to serving veterans, who have been protesting the closures that have forced them to try and get services at Service Canada kiosks.
“The cuts and insults hurled against Canada's veterans have deeply hurt the very people who put their lives on the line for us,” said Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault in a release. “New Democrats are calling on the government to reverse the Conservative cuts to veterans’ offices.
“We are also putting forward practical proposals to help Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet.”
The NDP also wants the government to cap ATM and credit card fees and bring back the popular EcoEnergy retrofit program.
Traditionally, the budget is the key policy document of the federal government, defining how priorities detailed in election commitments and the Speech from the Throne will be implemented.
Flaherty is expected to confirm the government's target of balancing the budget next year. The annual operating deficit last year was around $18.9 billion.