Budget 2017: The Play for Votes

By Laura Steiner

The budget is balanced for the first time in a decade.  At what cost? A 25% cut on electricity is a start.  But that’s balanced out by increased costs on heating oil, gas at the pumps, cigarettes, and wine.

A $465 million pharmacare plan for people under 24 years of age is sete to start January 1.  But what about young kids whose parents have a benefits package allowing for dependents? Or what about the 20-year old lucky enough to have a job worth $500,000/ year?  Millennials have been told to prepare for the reality of a gig economy.  Why not  try to go all in with this?

The Fair Housing plan proposes development charge rebates for builders who develop “purpose built housing.”  Development Charges (DC’s) are part of municipal revenues that help pay for water, and roads for subdivisions.  How will municipalities make up for lost revenue? A hotel tax won’t cut it.   Municipal  councils will be reluctant to add taxes going into an election year.

This year’s budget is a play for votes.  You give an unrestricted pharmacare plan that plays to young parents, and younger millennials.  The Fair Housing plan plays to those looking to get into the market.  The lower hydro prices creates the illusion of saving money, and that will appeal to some people.  This will get them votes.

The trick is not to fall for it.  Remember with every gift, there has been take.  The lower hydro prices, the higher on everything else.  The broken transit promises, the failure to keep up with growth.  The numerous scandals from the Sudbury by-election to the gas plants, to the Green Energy Act, to deleted emails.  Remember everything.