MP David Wilks touts federal budget benefits to Nakusp
The 2014 federal budget should provide boosts to the Nakusp area through investments in trades training, forestry and broadband access to rural areas, says MP David Wilks.
The budget was presented in the House of Commons by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on Tuesday. Flaherty himself called the budget "boring", acknowledging it didn't provide any additional tax cuts or significant spending.
The Conservative government is aiming to eliminate the deficit ahead of the 2015 election and this budget is designed to bring them closer to that goal.
In an interview, Wilks, the Conservative MP for Kootenay Columbia, touted several specific budget items as being beneficial to Nakusp area residents.
First, he pointed to the creation of the Canada Apprentice Loan program, which provides up to $4,000 to registered apprentices in Red Seal trades courses.
"The forestry industry is looking for a lot of trades people," he said. "If they're Red Seal, it can certainly help."
Wilks also mentioned the $90.4 million over four years committed to continue the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program, which helps the development of new technology in the industry.
He touted a new $3,000 tax credit for Search and Rescue volunteers who accumulate at least 200 hours of duty. It can be combined with hours accumulated as volunteer firefighters, which could help out some people who volunteer with both organizations.
Lastly, Wilks brought up the $305 million being invested in rural broadband access over the next five years. The money will go to provide communities with a target Internet speed of 5 megabits per second.
On Thursday, Wilks issued a news release re-iterating his talking points, saying the government was focused on the economy. "We’re moving forward with a positive plan that will help create jobs and grow our economy, all while keeping taxes low and remaining on track for balanced budgets in 2015," he stated.
Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko (NDP) said the budget falls short on taking significant action on the challenges facing Canadians today.
“There are 300,000 more unemployed today than before the recession, many seniors are struggling and families are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet,” he stated in a news release. “It appears that the Conservatives are delaying any new ideas until 2015, the election year.”
He did acknowledge some positive points, including the investment in broadband infrastructure, $390 million being spent on food safety programs and the creation of the apprenticeship loans program. However, he added, there was no support for rural infrastructure.
“There is no commitment to a small communities component which was a key ask of Canada’s municipal leaders," he said. "Also, I am worried that the Building Canada Fund has no real criteria which could leave municipalities at risk of missing this year’s construction season."