Watts: 2017 Liberal Budget Falls Short on Infrastructure

March 27, 2017

Surrey, BC – Last week, the Liberal Government tabled a Budget that raised taxes on Canadians, fell short on infrastructure expectations for Canadian municipalities and included no plan to return the budget back to balance. Dianne Watts, the Member of Parliament for South Surrey – White Rock and the Official Opposition’s Critic for Infrastructure, Communities and Urban Affairs, expresses her concerns with several pieces of the Liberal 2017 Budget:

“Justin Trudeau has raised taxes on hardworking Canadians yet again, with no plan to bring the Budget back to balance,” said Watts. “We already knew that the Liberals were planning to take billions away from communities to pay for their Infrastructure Bank, but now we learn that they’re also going to cancel the Public Transit Tax Credit starting July 1, 2017. This will discourage the use of public transit and will make it more expensive for low-income workers, seniors and students.”

Budget 2017 also referenced the Vancouver Broadway public transit project but made no mention of Surrey’s proposed LRT project. Furthermore, the amount of money provinces and regions will receive under the Public Transit fund will continue to be based on the number of people that ride existing public transit systems. This formula was first introduced by the Liberal Government in Budget 2016.

“I was deeply disappointed to see that the 2017 Budget did not take into account the Official Opposition’s calls to remove the ridership allocation model for Public Transit funding,” added Watts. “By allocating funding based on ridership, the Liberal Government is disadvantaging Canada’s growing communities in favour of already-developed urban centres. Growing municipalities like Surrey (who arguably need more public transit funding to accommodate booming populations) will be receiving less money than places like Toronto or Vancouver because they have less people who use public transit. Canadians can’t use public transit systems that don’t exist. The Liberal Government should be assisting growing communities in building out their public transit, rather than rewarding large municipalities like Vancouver or Toronto for already having highly developed public transit.”

While Budget 2017 announced significant social infrastructure funding, the bulk of these funds will be locked away until after 2022, with only $20 million in new funding for 2017/2018.

“The Lower Mainland has a serious affordable housing problem, but there is only $10 million in affordable housing allocated for the entire country this year,” noted Watts. “Nearly $4 billion of the $5 billion National Housing Fund won’t be spent until after 2022. Canadians deserve solutions to the challenges they face right now, not expensive programs for years down the road.”

“Since the Liberal Government took office, 94% of announced infrastructure projects have failed to start construction. This means the jobs are not being created and the economy is not being stimulated,” added Watts. “Furthermore, young Canadians have been severely impacted: in the last year, Canadians aged 15-24 lost 42,000 full time jobs. Instead of raising taxes and hosting more photo-ops, Justin Trudeau should focus on supporting policies that will create jobs for young Canadians.”

“Municipalities need good infrastructure, but they need programs that are easy to access, provide predictable funding, and do not leave small and rural communities behind. As the Opposition Critic for Infrastructure, Communities and Urban Affairs, I will continue to hold the Liberals to account and push for open, transparent, and accountable infrastructure funding for our communities.”

-30-

 For more information:
Alla Drigola
Office of Dianne Watts, MP (South Surrey – White Rock)
Dianne.Watts.A1@parl.gc.ca
613-299-2982