Kenora MP Eric Melillo says he’ll be watching the federal government’s spending ‘closely’ after the release of Canada’s new federal budget.

Deputy Prime Minister Chystia Freeland unveiled the 2022 federal budget, A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable, at Ottawa’s House of Commons yesterday afternoon.

“What stands out to me most in this budget is the $113 billion deficit for this year, and there’s no plan to get back to balance in subsequent years,” explained Kenora MP Eric Melillo. “We know this spending will continue to drive inflation and make life even more unaffordable for Canadians.”

Overall, Canada’s deficit is expected to drop to $113.8 billion. That’s an improvement over previous projections, where the 2022 deficit was expected to be about $154 billion as of the 2021 budget. Deficits are expected to drop to $52 billion by 2023 and to about $8 billion by 2027.

“There’s certainly some good ideas and programs in this budget, but there’s no plan to pay for these programs or a debt management strategy to ensure the sustainability of them,” adds Melillo.

The budget includes $10.2 billion in funding to build more affordable homes and help people finance their first homes through a tax-protected saving program, as well as $475 million for a one-time $500 payment to Canadians facing ‘housing affordability challenges’. Ontario’s Municipal Affairs Minister, Steve Clark, later praised the moves.

Melillo notes this is the first major document since the announcement of the Liberal and NDP’s ‘supply and confidence’ agreement, and the budget did include the NDP’s long-awaited national dental care program, starting for youth under 12 with a household income of under $70,000.

That’s expected to begin by the end of 2022. Dental care will then be expected to roll out to those under the age of 18, seniors and those living with a disability sometime in 2023, if they have a household income of under $90,000 annually.

The government is also looking to create a $25 million Menstrual Equity Fund that would help more people access and afford menstrual products, and will invest $625 million over four years to help develop and enhance childcare centres across the country.

Other initiatives include helping make zero-emission vehicles more affordable, to remove systemic barriers for Indigenous people in receiving social services, to fund research at the Experimental Lakes Area, to reduce plastic waste, to battle the ongoing opioid addiction crisis and to develop a plan to support LGBTQ2 rights.

“A promise is truly only as good as the plan to fulfill it,” adds MP Melillo. “I’ll be watching very closely how the government intends to follow through on its commitments, and obviously going to be holding them to account throughout the next couple of years.”

As well, more taxes are coming for nicotine vaping products. The federal government says they plan to implement a previously announced duty on vape fluid containers, ranging from an extra $1 per two millilitres of vape fluid to up to $5 per 10 ml of fluid. They’re also calling on provinces to add their own taxation to vaping products.

The budget includes an increase in Defence spending, after repeated requests from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO had called for all members to spend at least two per cent of their Gross Domestic Product on defence, while Canada previously only spent about 1.4 per cent.

There’s no word yet on what percentage of its GDP Canada is now spending on defence, but the government has pledged an additional $8 billion over five years to better equip the Canadian Armed Forces, with funding to support a change in culture and to improve cybersecurity measures.

Ottawa is also providing Ukraine with up to $1 billion in new loan resources for the Ukrainian government.