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Tory budget draws mixed reviews

By March 30, 2012 · Updated 4:47 PM
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Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes / Photo contributed

Ottawa has slashed spending, but Shuswap reaction is mixed.

The new Conservative budget calls for $5.2 billion a year in savings by 2015 and 19,200 federal jobs will be eliminated over three years.

“I wouldn’t call it drastic. They’re cuts that were reasonable,” said Colin Mayes, Okanagan-Shuswap MP.

“Those things that will create jobs and are better for the economy are still there and in some cases, they are increasing.”

Mayes supports increased funding for research and training and he says $105 million over two years is being directed to forestry innovation and market development.

Eligibility for Old Age Security will climb from 65 to 67 in 2023. It does not impact anyone 54 or older as of March 31, 2012.

“It’s not sustainable as it is,” said Mayes of the need to change the pension program.

“If we didn’t do something, we would go from $36 billion this year to $108 billion in 2030.”

There are also changes to political pensions.

“We recognize MPs and senators’ pensions are reasonably generous. MPs will be paying more into the plan as of 2013,” said Mayes.

The budget calls for a $21.1 billion deficit in 2012/13 and a surplus by 2015.

Mayes admits more could have  been done to get Canada’s finances in order.

“We have to be realistic in the climate we’re in. People still need jobs and if we take huge cuts, that  would be a challenge.”

Nick Hodge, Okanagan-Shuswap NDP president, says sarcasm is required when considering the budget.

“I’m pleased to see that MP pensions have been protected. Working class seniors relying on Old Age Security were not so fortunate,” he said.

Hodge also says federal spending continues to increase and that will push total debt to more than $600 billion next year.

“In 2006, Colin Mayes promised supporters at a Salmon Arm meeting that he would resign if a Conservative government ever ran a deficit. This budget projects the fourth deficit in a row, with two more years to look forward to,” said Hodge.

“It is ironic that in every year between 1997 and 2008 the federal government had a surplus, but now our fiscally conservative government appears unable to manage without piling on more debt.”