Canadians are increasingly wary of hidden costs and rightly so.
Hidden fees and surcharges have become so normal that retailers advertise pledges of “no hidden fees” to assure us that the price presented is what we pay. Whether we are shopping for a vehicle, cell phone plan or a vacation, Canadians continuously press retailers and service providers on the true cost of a product or service. Before we make a choice, we want to know what the total cost will be because with our choices we accept their costs.
Similar questions of the costs of political choices are just as important, if not more so. Take for instance the three consecutive deficit budgets delivered by the Trudeau government. During the 2015 federal election, the Conservative and New Democratic Party platforms included promises to keep the federal budget in balance while Trudeau promised to deliver “a modest short-term deficit” and a balanced budget by 2019-2020.
More precisely, Trudeau committed to run three deficits less than $10 billion in the first three years of his mandate. The reality is that in the past three years, Trudeau has delivered $54.9 billion in deficits- nearly double the maximum deficit figure he presented in 2015. What’s more, the government’s own analysis shows that under the Trudeau fiscal plan, the budget will not be balanced next year as promised. In fact, the budget is not expected to balance until 2045.
Yes, we were also told that the deficit spending would “prime the pump” of Canada’s economy yet the government’s economic growth projections are unfulfilled while other policies have chased much-needed capital investment out of Canada. Trade negotiations have failed to eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers that are undermining our trade and manufacturing sectors- important drivers of Canada’s economy.
Meanwhile, other gaffes have created new needs for government funding. Trudeau responded to the practice of illegal border crossing by welcoming it on Twitter. The Prime Minister’s reckless abandon created significant new costs and delays for Canada’s established, orderly and compassionate process for immigration, thus undermining it. On November 29, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that these irregular border crossings represent a total variable cost of $340 million in 2017-18, rising to $396 million in 2019-20.
You don’t need to be an economist to understand that more debt today means higher taxes tomorrow. The $54.9 billion borrowed by Trudeau thus far to fund deficits and interest charges must be repaid by all of us, both today and in the future by our younger generations. Last year, Canada’s net debt reached an all-time high of $670 billion, or $47,612 per Canadian household. This is the true and growing cost of Trudeau’s policies.
As 2019 approaches, so too does the federal election and the choice all voters will make at the ballot box. As we approach that choice, let’s be mindful of the true cost of our choices for us and generations to come.
Mel Arnold is the MP for North Okanagan — Shuswap.