Budget and Throne Speech

May 30, 2011 – ‘Nobody likes surprise’s was a constant reminder by Prime Minster Stephen Harper on the campaign trail. His promise to Canadians was that if elected with a majority, the conservatives would reinstate the budget tabled before the election was called and proceed with a steady, predictable hand.

Re-appointed Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the CBC that “While minor tweaks and adjustments will be presented, this will almost exclusively restate all the same commitments made two months ago in the budget, along with some platform commitments”.

With Parliament resuming business on June 2, a Speech from the Throne planned for the following day, and the new budget to come on June 6, Canadians will be able to determine whether the new government will indeed be steady as they go.

The Throne Speech will outline the Harper government’s priorities and immediate agenda. If the campaign trail proves to be the blue print, then we can expect a focus on deficit reduction and economic recovery.

The budget, on the other hand, made a few key promises to older Canadians and their families, including a marginal increase on the Guaranteed Income Supplement, a non-refundable caregiver tax credit, and defined contribution Pooled Registered Pension Plans.

Additionally, we can expect the government to eliminate mandatory retirement rules in federally regulated industries and amend the criminal code to add vulnerability due to age to the list of aggravating factors to be considered by courts when sentencing criminals who commit offences against elderly Canadians.

CARP members should be able to assume that the new majority government will at least keep the promises in its election platform and pre-election budget. But CARP polls demonstrate that members prefer the more expansive promises made by the opposition parties before and during the election.

The NDP platform that focused sharply on seniors’ issues resonated well with members. With it’s largest mandate yet and popular promises of doubling the CPP and offering up to $1,500 a year and 6 months employment insurance to caregivers, the new Official Opposition has the opportunity to prod the government to improve on its promises to older Canadians.

A majority government means that Conservatives can act alone, but CARP and all Canadians will pay close attention to how the NDP push their agenda in the new parliament. All indications suggest that the Conservatives will stay the course, but recent events show that Canadians are not afraid of a political party that thinks big.

To read how the Government and Opposition address five CARP priorities click here

Keywords: budget, election, PRPP, mandatory retirement, crime