Martin C. Barry
Vimy Liberal MP Eva Nassif held a pre budget consultation meeting at Château Royal on the evening of Nov. 15 in preparation for the expected tabling of the Liberal government’s 2019-2020 budget in February.
“The government wants to hear from Canadians across the country and from all walks of life,” said Nassif. “We want your feedback on different issues related to Canada’s current and future economic situation.”
Suggestions for gov’t
During the meeting, constituents of Vimy shared their insights and suggestions on how the government could add to its current program, which consists significantly of assisting the middle class as well as helping those working hard to join it.
The meeting was just one of many that are taking place across the country in keeping with a nationwide consultation launched by Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Nassif began the meeting by informing the participants it was Global Entrepreneurship Week and that the World Bank recently ranked Canada second in the world for starting a business through the programs offered and by lowering taxes for small businesses.
She also mentioned that the government has signed trade deals that provide access to 1.5 billion new customers overseas. Among them was the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), which Nassif said is an important step forward.
Recent trade agreement
“The USMCA preserves key elements of this trading relationship, makes it easier for Canadians to do business in a wide range of sectors and helps maintain the global competitiveness of the North American region,” she said.
“Let there be no doubt: our southern neighbours will always be important to us. But have to look to new markets too. That’s why Canada has embarked on an ambitious trade diversification strategy.”
During another part of the meeting, she provided participants with an overview of the economic outlook for 2019, while outlining measures the government has already put in place, including the Middle Class Tax Cut, the Canada Child Benefit and the strengthening of the Canada Pension Plan.
To transform the economy
Nassif pointed out that “the challenge and the opportunity is to build on this momentum and focus on the long term, transforming the economy to strengthen the middle class and position Canada for the global economy of tomorrow.”
According to Nassif, all of the input from the meeting will be sent directly to Minister Morneau. He will be working with all Members of Parliament to build on the foundations that we will be put in place in the government’s budget for 2019, so that middle class families can help drive the economy forward over the next year and into the long term.
Among the individuals and organizations making statements during the meeting was Patricia Lagopatis, past president of the Hellenic Women’s Federation of Laval (Electra). She said she became aware of grants offered by the federal government through newsletters Nassif distributed to constituents.
“I know that there are many programs and solutions being offered to help entrepreneurs, but we don’t always know everything about them,” she said, asking whether there is a way to improve communications about them. Nassif suggested additional means for obtaining more information.
Prioritize pensions rights
Presenting a list of a half dozen suggestions to Nassif, Jean Robitaille of the Table régionale de concertation des aînés de Laval told her that federal law should be changed to recognize employees’ pension funds as being first in line to be compensated when companies go out of business.
Robitaille was also critical of “oveseas tax havens,” which allow wealthy Canadians to avoid paying income tax by keeping savings in accounts registered in low-tax nations around the world. “We hear about them, but nothing gets done,” he said, adding that the unpaid income taxes “are sums which are due to the Canadian population.”