Opinion

Cannan: PM is listening to budget priority input from taxpayers

Two pre-budget roundtable discussions took place last week in our riding in advance of the federal government’s upcoming budget.

The first was hosted by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, with special guest Kellie Leitch, the Conservative MP for Simcoe-Gray (Ontario) and parliamentary secretary to Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

The second took place at QHR Technologies. In attendance were Leitch along with James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage & Official Languages, senior minister for B.C. and the MP for the Lower Mainland riding of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam.

The focus of the two roundtables involved two questions:

1. What economic and social priorities and programs are most important for the country’s future in the 2012 federal budget  and beyond?

2. Are there particular local or regional challenges for the government to be aware of while we plan our budget for sustained economic recovery?

Local stakeholders representing local government, business, education and social service organizations were clear about what the priorities of the government should be.

Those priorities included:

• addressing ongoing labour shortages through foreign worker programs and trade and skills training

• continuing focus on science and technology and research and development to support innovation

•ongoing infrastructure funding and sustaining social programs and services that support affordable living.

In fact, as MP Leitch and I sat talking with local stakeholders at the morning session, the prime minister was giving a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, laying out how the federal government intends to move forward to improve Canada’s economy.

Stephen Harper’s  speech echoed some of the very same priorities that we heard at our roundtable discussions—the need to sustain our social programs and services; our need to reform our immigration system so that it supports our labour needs while respecting our humanitarian and family reunification responsibilities; a need to cut red tape, to open new trade markets; and a need to make key investments in science and technology with more emphasis on results.

It’s as though he was listening to our roundtable discussions. In fact, it’s no coincidence.

Since 2006, pre-budget consultations with local people like you have paved the way for this government and kept us on track to sustaining economic growth, job creation and prosperity.

It’s because of local business, social and academic sectors that our government made historic investments in infrastructure, put substantial funding into skills training and extending support for workers who lost their jobs, maintained the levels of immigration that our aging labour force of the future will require, continued to pursue new trade agreements and took actions that made Canada, among G20 countries, the first tariff-free zone for manufacturers.

Under your advice, the government’s Economic Action Plan was focussed on timely, targeted and temporary measures without creating permanent new and costly programs.

As a result, our deficit is now falling, our debt to GDP ratio has already peaked, we have succeeded in creating jobs and we do not need to raise taxes.

The 2012 budget will be more of the same.

As our roundtable discussions this week proved, the strongest ideas come from talking to local people about what works,

I am confident that if we continue to listen to what local taxpayers have to say and act accordingly, we will keep improving our economic outlook and come out of the global turmoil stronger than ever.

Please note that for those who did not participate in the roundtable discussions, there is still a chance to weigh in on 2012 budget priorities.

The government has launched an online pre-budget consultation open to all Canadians at www.fin.gc.ca and I am accepting input from constituents through e-mail at ron@cannan.ca.

I would encourage you to take a few minutes and share some of your thoughts.

 

Ron Cannan is the Conservative MP for

Kelowna-Lake Country.

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