Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising his government’s first budget will deliver “historic” investments for Canada’s indigenous peoples, help for the middle class and make good on election pledges such as improvements to employment insurance.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair pressed Trudeau whether Tuesday’s budget would deliver new funding for First Nations’ health, water and education.
“First Nations children across the country are living in crisis because the federal government does not provide them with the same resources other Canadian kids get,” Mulcair said Monday in the Commons.
But Trudeau replied that the government intends to make good on its promise to make vulnerable communities a priority.
“(Tuesday’s) budget will feature historic investments in First Nations and indigenous Canadians right across the country, to begin to make it right, which we have not done for so many decades in this place,” Trudeau said.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Tuesday afternoon will stand in the Commons to deliver the first budget for the Liberal government, which was elected in October.
Expectations are running high among students, seniors, municipal leaders, the unemployed, the middle class and indigenous peoples, all groups who were promised a helping hand in the Liberal election platform.
Canada’s First Nations in particular are viewing the budget as a test of Trudeau’s vow to forge a new relationship. The government promised an extra $300 million a year to improve the education of First Nations children and committed to lift the 2-per-cent cap for services and program spending.
He said investments are vital to help indigenous communities close the gap and improve the quality.
“I want to hold leaders to what they promised . . . we want to make sure that First Nations issues and priorities weren’t put to the side,” he told reporters Monday.
But Conservatives MPs are already hitting the Liberals for the potential cost of making good on their election pledges — spending, they charge, that will drive the country deeper into deficit.
“We are now on the brink of causing what I believe is real and long-term damage to our economy,” Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose told a lunch crowd Monday in Toronto.
“Canadians are going to want answers . . . where is this money coming from? How are we going to pay back the debt?” Ambrose said in a speech to the Economic Club.
Later in question period, Ambrose went after Trudeau on the same topic, saying that budget day promises to be “expensive” for taxpayers.
But the prime minister swept aside the early criticisms of the budget, saying Canadians voted last October for the Liberal promises to help the middle class and invest in the economy.
“That is exactly what we are going to be delivering in tomorrow’s budget,” Trudeau told the Commons.