MP Murray Rankin shares thoughts on 2018 federal budget

OTTAWA - Member of Parliament for Victoria Murray Rankin shared his initial thoughts on the 2018 federal budget today.

“On balance, I am disappointed. While there are some aspects of the budget I applaud, I do think it leaves much to be desired,” said Rankin.

“While it’s nice to see that once again the government has recognized the need for pharmacare, I really would have liked to see a more concrete plan. It’s something the NDP has been pushing for decades. Even Prime Minister Chrétien called for this as far back as 1997,” said Rankin.

Just this past fall, the Parliamentary Budget Officer announced that a national pharmacare program would save Canada $4.2B. However, the Liberal government today announced yet another study to be undertaken by yet another advisory council. The Liberals voted against an NDP motion last fall that would have required the Liberal government to begin negotiations with the provinces in order to implement a universal pharmacare program.

“I don’t think another study is useful or necessary,” said Rankin. “Canadian seniors need immediate access to prescription drugs. We’re the only country with a universal medicare program that still doesn’t have a pharmacare program.”

“On the other hand, I am very happy to see that Canadians will be able to enjoy free access to Canada’s National Parks. As long as resources are provided to protect and maintain our national parks, I think it’s a great thing,” said Rankin.

MP Rankin was also happy to see a $1.3 billion investment in the protection of land, inland waters and oceans in Canada. However, he was disappointed that only seven per cent of that $1.3 billion would be expended prior to the next election.

“I don’t see how the Liberals are going to maintain their promise of protecting at least 17 per cent of land and inland waters and 10 percent in Canada’s oceans by 2020 by investing so little,” said Rankin. “I think one of the most effective things the Liberals could do to protect our oceans would be to not proceed with the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project.”

“I’m also sad to learn that the Liberals included nothing new to crack down on those who use tax havens,” added Rankin.

MP Rankin has been a strong advocate for closing loopholes that allow major corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by stashing billions of dollars in offshore tax havens. The Liberals campaigned on addressing the issue, but have failed to take real action to achieve concrete results.

“It’s been estimated that Canada loses hundreds of millions to several billion in revenue each year due to tax havens,” said Rankin. “That’s money we could put towards universal childcare, pharmacare, infrastructure or affordable housing.”

MP Rankin introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons last spring that, if passed, would make it more difficult for corporations and wealthy Canadians to hide money in offshore accounts. The bill has not yet come up for debate in the House of Commons.

MP Rankin will be hosting a community town hall next Tuesday, March 6th at 7:00 at Cook Street Village Activity Centre to discuss his bill, as well as tax fairness issues and the 2018 budget more generally. He will be joined by Diana Gibson from Canadian for Tax Fairness and Prof. Lindsay Tedds, a tax policy specialist and associate professor at the University of Victoria. This is a free event and all are welcome.


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