One hundred billion dollars in new spending. The promise of a “green recovery.” Money for youth to prevent a “lost generation.” All items in the Liberal budget delivered Monday, and all ready-to-go election slogans. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may claim he doesn’t want to go to the polls, but he apparently failed to tell that to his finance minister.
The Liberals’ plan hits all its target voter groups — and then some. Its child-care plan — $30 billion over five years and child-care fees halved by 2022 — is designed to appeal primarily to women, who have disproportionately lost their jobs in the pandemic. Small-business assistance is geared to entrepreneurial “blue Liberals,” as well as Conservative voters who are lukewarm on their party’s prospects. For left-leaning Liberals and NDP switchers, there are some tax-the-rich items, including levies on fancy boats and cars, and a $15-an-hour minimum wage for federal workers.
And for the senior set, there’s a one-time $500 payment in August 2021, as well as a permanent 10-per-cent increase to old-age-security payments for pensioners aged 75 and over starting in July 2022. That will put an extra $766 in the pocket of full pensioners and “impact” 3.3 million seniors — a cohort that traditionally boasts a high voter turnout.
Then there’s what’s not in this budget. There’s no universal basic income — despite the fact the idea was endorsed at this month’s Liberal party policy convention by a vote of 491 to 85. There’s no new money for pharmacare, despite the Liberals championing this initiative in the last election. And there is no new capital gains tax on primary residences to cool the housing market, despite the fact that Canadian house prices have on average ballooned by an astronomical 30 per cent in the last year.