PETITION: Stop The Pay Hike
Canadian Members of Parliament are set to receive a pay raise on April 1st, the same day that the government plans to increase the Carbon Tax. This announcement has prompted a petition calling on Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to stop the pay hike. Currently, the petition has garnered 7,966 signatures, with a goal of reaching 10,000 signatures.
The Canadian government recently announced its intention to find “savings” of $15 billion in the upcoming budget. However, some have raised concerns that this does not necessarily mean a reduction in spending, but rather a reallocation of funds to other programs. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland clarified this during a press conference, stating, “The fiscal forecast in the budget that we tabled in the spring includes that $15 billion of savings so we could fund the programs outlined in the budget.” This clarification has left many skeptical about the government’s commitment to actually cutting spending.
The Budget 2023 document, titled “A Made In Canada Plan,” provides an estimate of federal spending at $497 billion, including the pledged “savings.” These savings are projected to come from various areas, such as $7.1 billion less spending on consulting, professional services, and travel over the next five years, and a 3% reduction in taxpayer spending on federal agencies and departments. The document claims that these measures will result in a reduction of government spending by $7 billion over four years starting in 2024.
Treasury Board President Anita Anand echoed Freeland’s statements, stating that the $15 billion of savings does not imply less overall spending but rather a refocusing of spending priorities. Anand explained, “We are refocusing our spending from pandemic-type spending to the broader economic priorities of the country.” The Finance Department anticipates $15 billion in reallocated spending over the next five years, with an additional $4 billion afterward.
However, concerns about the government’s fiscal responsibility remain. Since 2007, Parliament has not balanced a budget, resulting in successive deficits and a federal debt that has surpassed $1.1 trillion. Additionally, federal debt interest charges are expected to increase from $20.4 billion to $43.9 billion this fiscal year, almost double the national defense budget. Experts predict that these charges will continue to rise and could exceed $50 billion by 2027.
Yves Giroux, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, testified last September that increasing interest rates and the growing debt stock could double interest payments in the next four years. This projection highlights the urgent need for the government to address its spending habits and ensure fiscal responsibility.
In light of these concerns, the petition to stop the pay hike for Members of Parliament has gained significant traction. Canadians are voicing their frustrations and demanding accountability from their elected officials. The petition serves as a reminder that the government should prioritize the financial well-being of the country over its own pay increases.
As the petition continues to gain signatures, it sends a clear message to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and the government as a whole that Canadians expect responsible and transparent fiscal management. It remains to be seen whether the government will heed this call and take action to address these concerns.