BY BILL PHILLIPS
It’s called ‘Budget 2017: Building a Strong Middle Class.’
Ottawa tabled its 2017 budget yesterday which, judging by the title, is all about helping the middle class in Canada. So what is the middle class in Canada?
It’s a question that drew a chuckle from Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen who says the Liberal government’s idea of middle class certainly differs from that of the NDP and from most of Canada.
“Every question you ask a Liberal the answer always includes the middle class and those seeking to join it,” Cullen said Wednesday.
And, he added, you only need to look at the budget to see what the Liberals view as the middle class, or more aptly, where help is being provided.
“If you make $45,000 you get nothing in terms of a new tax cut (in the federal budget),” Cullen said. “If you make $180,000, you max out the Liberal tax cut. I guess what Prime Minister Trudeau is saying is that, for him, the middle class starts at about $150,000 or $160,000 per year, but someone making $45,000 or $50,000 per year, they’re clearly not middle class. They don’t qualify.”
Cullen said he has a clear definition of middle class. Finance Canada breaks income levels into five categories, based on percentage.
“You take the middle three 20 per cent groups, that sounds like the middle class and, by the way, that would include those who make $45,000 per year,” he said.
Cullen said the budget is being called a “backload” budget because much of the important spending doesn’t actually happen until 2022 or 2023 or later.
“(It’s) not really a commitment worth the paper it’s printed on,” he said.
He added the general state of the economy is a concern as Finance Canada revised its outlook downward again.
“This is the fourth time in a row they’ve had to do that,” he said. “Every time, since Mr. Trudeau taken office. We also know there are 1.3 million Canadians out of work.”
Cullen said NDP are disappointed the Liberals haven’t closed off a CEO stock options loophole, which they promised to do during the 2015 campaign. He said it costs the federal government nearly $800 million a year. In addition, he said, Ottawa is in court fighting against an order to spend money $150 million on First Nations child welfare.
“The Liberals have chosen to spend four or five times more money on a CEO tax loophole than they would on getting First Nations child welfare,” he said.