Quebec Lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez defends new approach – and mounting Liberal spending
As families in Quebec and other areas of Canada increasingly feel the pinch of inflation in the post-Covid economic era, last week the Trudeau government quietly announced new measures they claim will make life easier and more affordable for Canadians before the current year is finished.
During an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia earlier this week, Montreal-area Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Quebec Lieutenant in the Trudeau government, maintained that the series of proposed measures had already been well received by economists.
Justifies new dental program
He cited the beginnings of a new dental insurance program as an example of something that could pay off in the long run by providing support so that families wouldn’t have to give up some of their most important priorities to be able to afford others.
“I went to the dentist not too long ago, and my friend, you probably know this, it’s expensive,” said Rodriguez. “So sometimes people can’t afford it. Quite often, actually. So, they make that decision, then you know what? They’re going to sacrifice other stuff.”
Regarding the Liberal government’s rent subsidy program, he said they estimate it will help about 2 million people, who can expect to receive a “top up” of about 100$ very soon from Ottawa. “We’re working on the mechanism,” said Rodriguez. “We’ll have more details soon, but that’s what it is.”
Denies influence by Poilièvre
According to recent news reports, newly-selected Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilièvre claimed that his election was what actually motivated the Liberal government into finally taking decisive action against the country’s mounting economic problems, including inflation.
“We started way before the election of mister Poilièvre,” Rodriguez responded. “We don’t govern based on who’s the leader of the Conservative parties. We govern based on the needs of Canadians. So, some of the programs that I’ve mentioned, like the increase of the pension, like the kind of workers benefit that the help of housing, you know, before the top up and many other programs were put in place way before mister Poilièvre.”
The government says doubling the Goods and Services Tax Credit for six months will provide $2.5 billion in relief
Defends spending record
Despite the new Conservative leader’s further claims that the government’s massive spending over the past two and more years may actually have been feeding inflation, Rodriguez defended the Liberal record, comparing it to the results obtained in the United Kingdom, following that country’s strategy involving restrained spending.
“England, which is led by a Conservative party, didn’t spend that much, okay?” he said. “Compared together, okay, well, they have an inflation around 22 per cent. It’s crazy inflation. So no, we invested in Canadians view because we had to.
“We invested in our businesses because we needed them to stay alive. How do you want to rebuild the economy if your businesses are not there anymore, especially in small and medium size fences? So, we invested. It wasn’t perfect, we know that. But I think we invested smartly and Canada is considered among the top.”
Three new measures
According to the PMO, the government’s first pieces of the new strategy, to be introduced in the upcoming parliamentary sitting, would include the following measures:
- Double the Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC) for six months, delivering additional financial help to roughly 11 million individuals and families who receive the tax credit, including about half of Canadian families with children, and more than half of Canadian seniors. Single Canadians without children would receive up to an extra $234 and couples with two children would receive up to an extra $467 this year. Seniors would receive an extra $225 on average.
- Provide a Canada Dental Benefit to children under 12 who do not have access to dental insurance, starting this year. Direct payments totalling up to $1,300 per child over the next two years (up to $650 per year) would be provided for dental care services. This would be the first stage of the government’s plan to deliver dental coverage for families with incomes under $90,000, and would allow children under 12 to recceive dental care while the government develops a comprehensive national dental care program, as previously pledged following an agreement the Liberals made with the NDP in exchange of support in Parliament.
- Provide a one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit to deliver $500 to 1.8 million Canadian renters. This element would more than double the Liberal government’s Budget 2022 commitment, reaching twice as many Canadians as initially promised. The new one-time federal benefit would also be in addition to the Canada Housing Benefit currently co-funded and delivered by provinces and territories. The federal benefit would be available to applicants with an adjusted net income below $35,000 for families, or below $20,000 for individuals, who pay at least 30 per cent of their income on rent.
According to the Liberal government, doubling the Goods and Services Tax Credit for six months will provide $2.5 billion in relief to those who qualify for it. As well, the Canada Dental Benefit would deliver over $900 million to support dental health, starting in 2022-23.
National dental coverage
The Canada Dental Benefit would provide direct payments to eligible applicants totalling up to $650 per year per child for dental care services for applicants with a family income under $70,000, $390 for those with a family income of $70,000 to $79,999, and $260 for those with a family income of $80,000 to $89,999. However, parents or guardians of eligible children would need to apply to access payments.
The government said that a new national dental program is under development, with the goal of expanding dental coverage to under 18-year-olds, seniors, and persons living with a disability in 2023, with full implementation for all families with incomes under $90,000 by 2025.