Balanced budgets mean less government debt for Canadian kids and grandkids to pay back, less money wasted on interest charges and fewer tax hikes.
At best, the last Conservative Party leader paid lip service to balancing the budget. The next Conservative leader needs to make balancing the budget and bringing Canada back to financial sanity a top priority.
Based on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s last budget, the federal government isn’t expected to balance the books until 2070, according to data from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
That would cost taxpayers $3.8 trillion just to pay interest charges on the debt over those five decades of deficits. Those are trillions of dollars we can’t use to hire more nurses, reduce class sizes or leave in taxpayers’ pockets because they’re going to the bond fund managers on Bay Street through interest payments.
Each Canadian’s share of the federal debt is currently about $30,000. By 2070, that could reach $67,000. That’s a huge tab that the government is piling on the backs of future generations.
What did previous Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole do to stop this tsunami of red ink?
O’Toole wanted to spend about $50 billion more than Trudeau’s last budget.
“The Conservatives proposed government spending in this fiscal year that was higher than what we proposed,” said Trudeau’s finance minister, Chrystia Freeland.
Other than ending the government’s media bailout, O’Toole’s answer to Canada’s spending problem was to turn to remote work for government employees. That’s it: balance the budget one Zoom meeting at a time.
O’Toole said he’d balance the budget within a decade. But how could he balance the budget decades before current projections while spending tens of billions more? O’Toole’s math didn’t add up.
The next Conservative Party leader needs to offer a better vision.
Analysis from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation shows the federal government could balance its budget in 2023-24 by returning spending to pre-pandemic levels of 2018-19, adjusted upward for inflation and population growth.
That’s balancing the budget by returning spending to all-time highs. The federal government spent more money in 2018-19 – before the pandemic or any cross-country recession – than it did during any single year during the Second World War.
How would the federal government find those savings?
With the government’s massive overspending, finding savings in every area of the budget should be like finding water in the ocean.
The government will have to do the little things right. That means no more spending thousands of dollars on sex toy shows in Germany or marijuana simulation kits for the military or red carpet galas for communications bureaucrats.
The government will also have to do the big things right. No more giving 312,825 federal government bureaucrats pay raises during a pandemic while their neighbours lose their jobs and businesses.
No more giving businesses like the Ford Motor Company $295 million. Trudeau has announced more than $18 billion in corporate welfare since 2017. No more increasing the blank cheque that some premiers receive through equalization by $1 billion every year forever. And no more forcing struggling taxpayers to give the CBC $1.4 billion per year.
Taxpayers expect leadership at the top. That means MPs need to reverse the multiple pay raises they’ve given themselves during the pandemic. Political parties should be forced to repay the $3.7 million they took through the wage subsidy that was meant to help businesses during the pandemic. And former governors general shouldn’t be able to expense taxpayers for more than $200,000 every year for the rest of their lives and up to six months after their death.
There’s still ample fat left to cut in Ottawa. The next Conservative leader needs to make balanced budgets a top priority.
Franco Terrazzano is the Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.