Federal budget the first important moment for NDP-Liberal pact, says finance critic

By Marie Woolf
THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA – The NDP is watching to see that spending pledges made in a deal with the Liberals are honoured by the government in this week’s federal budget, says a finance spokesman.

Daniel Blaikie said the budget is “the first important moment” for its confidence deal with the Liberals, which included a number of NDP policy priorities requiring government funds.

The New Democrats want to see indications that the Liberals are moving on pledges in the deal, such as a $500 one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit and funding for dental care for low-income families, starting with children, he said.

Last month, Jagmeet Singh’s party agreed to support the Liberals stay in power until 2025 with a confidence-and-supply agreement that includes support for the Liberal budget.

In return they got Liberal backing for some of their priorities, including affordable medication in a pharmacare program.

The deal includes more immediate measures, including scaling back subsidies for oil and gas companies.

The NDP said a significant injection of cash in Indigenous housing is a priority.

It also wants more funding in home energy efficiency to cut Canadians’ bills and help the environment, it said.

The NDP said it will be watching out for a surtax on the profits of banks and insurance companies in the budget, which is expected to be tabled Thursday.

Blaikie said in an interview Sunday with The Canadian Press that the first budget following the deal “is an important moment for New Democrats and for Canadians.”

The NDP was disappointed there were not more “revenue raising” measures in the text of the pact, he said.

“We would have liked to have seen more of the tax fairness measures.”

The NDP said it favours raising taxes for the rich and to tax excess profits by companies, including oil and gas. But they could not get an agreement from the Liberals on their entire policy wish list, including proportional representation for elections, it added.

The deal, however, did include an agreement to act in “the near term on tax changes on financial institutions that have made strong profits during the pandemic.”

It also pledged to make “early moves in 2022” to “phaseout public financing of the fossil fuel sector, including from Crown corporations.”

Under the terms of the deal, the NDP will have to vote for the Liberal budget even if they do not agree with all of it, and if it includes millions in military spending.

Some Conservative MPs have expressed concerns that the NDP-Liberal pact will lead to a big increase in public spending in the budget to pay for NDP priorities such as subsidized dental care.