More work, fewer restrictions in budget

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce and MP Alex Atamanenko air their views on the federal budget.

Alex Atamanenko, MP for B.C. Southern Interior, is not impressed with the direction taken by the Conservative government in the 2012 federal budget.

Atamanenko says the government’s plan to raise the eligible age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 will force seniors to work two years extra while denying jobs for younger workers longer. It also forces low-income seniors in B.C. to live two more years on degrading rates of social assistance.

The budget also short changes the Provinces by $31 billion with unilateral changes to the funding formula for federal health transfers, opening the door wide to privatization and two-tier health care.

The BC Chamber held a very different view, and welcomed the federal budget as addressing many issues that have been holding back B.C.’s potential to grow and create new economic activity.

“Our members across the province have been clear; our ability to prosper and create jobs is being hampered by our inability to find skilled workers and to move major resource projects through the Byzantine regulatory approval process,” states John Winter, President and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce. “Budget 2012 lays out a vision to address these challenges.”

Atamanenko, however, was unimpressed by the federal government’s attempts to streamline processes for resource projects.

“It seems the government’s only job creation strategy is to facilitate super tankers and dirty oil pipelines over our most pristine land and waterways while gutting environmental assessments,” declared Atamanenko, referring to Conservative plans for sweeping legislative and regulatory changes to environmental assessments and over $100 million in funding to hurry resource extraction.

“Once again this government is taking care of its big business friends.”

“New Democrats have called for a reduction in the small business tax rates, real protection for retirement security and stable Health Care funding for the provinces,” concluded Atamanenko.  “Instead we are seeing the reckless gutting of Canadian programs and a budget that actually plans for unemployment to grow.”