The 2004 Federal Budget Report

1276 words - 6 pages

The 2004 Federal Budget Report The liberal government under Paul Martin released its 2004 federal budget. The budget attempted to cover all needs and necessities of Canadian equally, in terms of importance and availability. As with the presentation of any federal budget of the past decade there are areas to be criticised and areas to be praised. There have been some noticeable improvements in: health care, education, the environment, defence, and debt reduction. It is in general impassible for a budget to fit in with the priorities of all people. Citizens are extremely quick to judge federal budgets negatively but when asked a more suitable solution, ideas are few. The new federal budget increased spending for health care by 2 billion for provinces and territories as well as $665 million in this year for public health emergencies. Some argue that this dedication is too large a sum and some argue it is too little, one can never truly judge the effect of spending until they see the result of it. Also a larger sum of money given to health care has also been labelled as simply a reparation for the previous year. For many years and to this day Canada's health care system ranked far higher than many other countries. Although many groups argue that health coverage is not detrimental if waiting hours can stretch to the unreasonable times of seven to eight hours. Interest groups believe that a larger portion of health car spending should be diverted to training more medical staff but if so where should said money be taken from? equipment? Ambulances?. The current Health Care system has many very positive sides. If it were not for Medicare who knows the amount of suffrage Canadians would have to endure at the cost of medical insurance costs. An amount of two thousand dollars has been given to children from low income families born after the year 2003 for post secondary education. This is open to criticism because the common fact is that two thousand dollars is barely half the cost of tuition in Canada each year. If the government wants Canadians to be successful it will have to dedicate a far larger portion of the budget to aiding youth in tuition costs. On the other hand a new grant of up to $3,000 for first year university or college students and $2,000 for students with disabilities is a valuable addition. The will also be a ceiling increase on student loans to $210 per week from $165 per week. The Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale announced in his budget that $350 million will go to sites the Federal Government is solely responsible. Goodale called it the largest environmental investment made by any Government in history. Many argue that such a large investment would be better utilized if it were spread evenly across each department in need. 60% of this investment will be spent to clean up sites in northern Canada. Ottawa is currently held responsible for about 3,800 contaminated sites in Canada. Another $500 million has been diverted for sites where responsibility is shared between Ottawa and other environmental groups. Cleaning contaminated sites is beneficial to all of society, it does make Canada a much better place to live, but many argue it is a problem caused by the Liberal Federal Governments of the past and should not be paid for in such a large amount with tax payers money. A very significant argument again is that the money being put towards this cleanup should be put toward education and defence where finance is needed the most. Perhaps such environmental cleanup should be taken from salaries of Government officials related to this problem. On the topic of industry a large factor is the awaited sale of the federal governments remaining shares in Canada's oil companies. This is expected to net the government $2 billion. A part of this money is said to go towards investments for new environmental technologies. This decision has been highly criticised by a handful of interest groups, the point being that the public will be pleased to see money going toward environmental technology but such technology is not available without an abundance of educated professionals. They interject by saying if this money went toward education or price freezes on tuition costs, then a more valuable contribution to environmental technology would be possible. The federal government will spend $300 million on the military operations in Afghanistan and Haiti. $250 million will be spent over the next two years on Canada's role in Afghanistan while $50 million is dedicated to Canada's participation in the United Nations multinational force in Haiti. The Finance minister also announced that soldiers will no longer pay income tax for periods when they are serving high risk operational missions overseas at an estimate annual cost of $30 million. Military official argue that while this feature may seem appealing to them in the long run the amount of money they will actually save is rather minute and insignificant. Also a well established professionals in the field of political commentary and reform, Rick Mellor, stated in a heated discussion with his class that such tax breaks were inevitably useless and ridiculous. Despite the aforementioned criticisms this is a positive improvement to Canada's defence budget, although a much greater sum is deserved, the government simply cannot afford it. The present Prime Minister Paul Martin has promised a new deal for Canadian cities which will include a full rebate on the GST that cities pay for goods and services. This will cost an estimated $7 billion over the next decade. Many label this a very positive goal but are doubtful it will follow through in the time periods claimed. The Government has said it will cut the federal debt-to-GDP to 25 percent from the current 42 percent in 10 years. Arguing that a slow and steady reduction of the debt is the only plausible way of achieving such a large and important goal. Most Canadian's would like the debt to be addressed and dealt with as opposed to pushing financial burdens onto future generations, but they also don't want to see drastic cut backs in other areas, somewhat of a double standard. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says it believes Canada will have the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio among G-7 countries in 2004. This will be a positive change for the economy and will be detrimental in making Canada a better place to live for future generations. As a whole the newly introduced federal budget has been highly criticised, with a fair amount of prejudice. Canadians perceive Canada to be such a vastly rich country with endless funds to fit their needs and wants. The cold hard truth is that Canada is not what it is believed to be and our federal budgets must properly disperse our funds to cover those area essential to Canadians. In doing this of course many interest groups will complain, services will be lost or downsized, and governments will be frowned upon. The 2004 federal budget properly manages the funds Canada has. Although perhaps minor changes could be made in general the budget is a fine example of the proper management of a countries funds.

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