Federal Tourism Minister and Associate Finance Minister Randy Boissonnault was in Kelowna April 6 promoting the Liberal government’s budget.
Boissonnaault, a guest at the Kelowna Chamber’s Speaker Serries, touched on a number of items in the budget.
Boissonnault said inflation is still too high and referred to comments by Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem that Canada needs to get back to zero to two per cent, preferably by the end of the year.
“Because you business owners here, social agencies, counsellors, you know that inflation hurts the vulnerable the most.”
Boissonnault added that government must maintain its AAA credit rating, and not make Macklem’s job more difficult.
“We cannot inject so much money into the system that it would cause the Bank of Canada governor to raise rates.”
Feeling The Pinch
“It’s simply not possible…for us to take away all of the pinches that people are going to face with inflation, but we will help those who need it the most,” he said.
Boissonnault referenced the grocery rebate and that the federal government will include low-income seniors in the dental plan laid out in the budget.
“The grocery rebate, over $2.5 billion for 11 million people…and the dental supports are going to help people. Those families that have kids that have benefitted from childcare, it’s thousands of dollars a year per child that British Columbians are now having in their back pocket.”
Boissonnault reminded the audience about how a doctor and nurse shortage and wait lists dominated the news just two months ago. The result of a stressed healthcare system coming out of a pandemic he said.
“We’ve stabilized that now $196 billion every 10 years, and $27 billion of that is coming to B.C.”
He added provinces will be reporting back to the federal government annually on where the money is being spent.
“So we’re going to know where the mental health supports are going to go, and long-term care and doctors and nurses.”
Boissonnault commented on a question about disappointment over meaningful investment in the budget for Indigenous tourism.
“If we look back to budget 2022 there was an Indigenous tourism fund dropped right into the budget, $20 million, and that’s working its way through government systems.”
Boissonnault added Indigenous tourism is a critical part of Canada’s tourism strategy.
“Guess which province has led the way in authentic, Indigenous tourism?” he asked. “This province. British Columbia is literally the leader in Indigenous tourism in the country.”
Boissonnault said there is $158 million in the budget for tourism, with $108 million for regional development agencies in B.C.
What’s Ahead For Canada
“I do see a few more tough months for people who are on fixed incomes,” said Boissonnault. “But I do see…a future for Canada unlike we’ve ever seen before.”
He noted that the country’s deficit is less than it was last year and will keep coming down.
“We are the best fiscal managers in the G7 right now bar none.”
Boissonnault added even European Central Bank President Christine Legarde was impressed with Canada’s fiscal management.
“She said…every single member of the European Union would give the shirts of their back to have your balance sheet,” said Boissonnault.