Budget 2018: a progressive agenda with proposed billions in new spending

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Titled “Equality and Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, the recent federal budget was a contradiction. On one hand thoughtful in its vision for a better Canada but with a proposed $21.5 billion in new spending over five years, lacking a sense of fiscal responsibility.

The Trudeau government continued to push for women’s rights. Women are disadvantaged in the work force and earn about 70% of what a man earns in an equal position.

The budget also introduced the idea of a national pharmacare program that would expand access to prescription drugs at no charge. Having a “free” health care system that can diagnose illness when a large number of Canadians cannot afford to purchase their own drugs, is a mistake in the system.

These are progressive ideas. It would not surprise me if in the future additional progressive ideas continued, including better healthcare support for mental illness which is largely underfunded. And someday extending free education for four years after high school for academic and/or occupational training.

All of the ideas put forward in the budget, and any new ideas that appear in future budgets, must make economic sense. These benefits and services have to be paid for.

When new programs are introduced there must be economic reality, and that means cutting costs in other areas. Perhaps some government programs can be eliminated and our government must be encouraged to be more efficient and cut costs.

These same economic realities are the very basis for capitalism — all companies have to balance their books. Money, even for the federal government, does not grow on trees.

The Canadian economy has had many years of positive growth. People have jobs, investment portfolios have increased in value, and many Canadians are feeling prosperous.

Unfortunately, in the normal course of an economic cycle there will be a downturn in the economy. Economics 101 would suggest the government not commit to extra spending just because tax revenues have increased due to a robust economy.

The government deserves credit for introducing some new and bold ideas. Unfortunately, from a financial perspective they get a failing grade.