Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government have unveiled a three-pronged plan to help Canadians hurting from the inflation and affordability crisis across the country, while critics are questioning the expected $4.5 billion price tag.
On September 13 at a Liberal caucus retreat in New Brunswick, Trudeau detailed the new $4.5 billion plan – which includes the first step towards a national dental care program, an increase to the GST tax credit and a one-time boost to Canada’s Housing Benefit.
“We are retaining fiscal firepower and at the same time ensuring that those who need support don’t get left behind,” said Trudeau. “The help we’re announcing will make a big difference for the people who get it in a targeted way that will not stoke inflation.”
Trudeau notes that this plan and these three pieces of legislation are not passed, and will need to be approved by the House of Commons when the fall sitting begins later this month.
If passed, youth under the age of 12 with a family income of less than $90,000 would have up to $650 in dental coverage by December 1, with an expansion to 18-year-olds, seniors and those with disabilities by 2023. By 2025, the Liberals say it would be available to all families making under $90,000.
As well, renters with net incomes below $35,000 for families or $20,000 for individuals could see up to $500 in a one-time rental support payment through the Canada Housing Benefit, and a six-month hike to GST rebates which are paid out four times a year for Canadians who make under $50,000.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh notes much of these promises came from the Liberal and NDP’s Supply and Confidence deal signed earlier this year, wherein the NDP supports the Liberals on their key issues in exchange for support for items on the NDP’s agenda.
Jagmeet Singh campaigned on a promise of a national dental care plan during his previous two federal elections as party leader. The NDP has also spoken about the need for a national pharmacare plan for all residents.
From the opposition’s view, new PC leader Pierre Poilievre says the $4.5 billion in extra spending is only worsening Canada’s situation.
“The problem with spending more money as a solution to inflation is that it simply pours more gasoline on the inflationary fire, and that is exactly what Justin Trudeau continues to do.”
Sharing the sentiment from Poilievre, Kenora MP Eric Melillo with the Conservatives says Trudeau’s new plan is simply too late and too late for residents and communities across the country.
“It’s been much more difficult, even impossible for many to continue to afford what they have, never mind look at buying new vehicles or houses. That’s why my party has been calling for an affordability plan for months now,” said Melillo, in an interview with the Q Morning Show.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve gone all summer with no action from the government to make life more affordable. The bills keep piling up for Canadians. I’m looking forward to looking in depth at the solutions being proposed,” Melillo adds.
Trudeau’s plan was scheduled to be released on September 8 but was delayed due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The federal budget currently includes $3.1 billion of the proposed $4.5 billion of projects.