MP Blaney doesn’t like direction of federal government on environmental issues

The North Island’s rep in Ottawa was commenting on last week’s federal budget

MP Blaney doesn’t like direction of federal government on environmental issues

The federal government is not doing enough to address climate change and is using the same enviromental assessment processes as the former Conservative government, say opposition MPs.

North Island MP Rachel Blaney said while she was pleased with some of the measures detailed in the federal budget last week, she was disappointed with how the Liberals are treating climate change.

“We need to urgently deal with this issue and we have a budget that is cutting,” said Blaney. Her NDP colleague went even further in his comments about how Justin Trudeau’s government is dealing with environmental and climate issues.

“After promising real change, Justin Trudeau adopted Stephen Harper’s environmental assessment process and climate change targets,” said Burnaby MP Kennedy Stewart said. “This budget shows British Columbians the Liberal government is more of the same.”

Blaney said she was also concerned about how the federal government was going to deal with coastal issues.

“We’ve had not one, but two spills recently in the area,” she said. “There were a lot of concerns about the capacities the coast guard had and the communities.”

The budget revealed the federal government’s new national housing plan, which promises about $1 billion a year for the next decade to help bring housing costs into reach for more Canadians.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s second budget, revealed Wednesday, promises a “renewed partnership” with provinces, and an additional $11.2 billion over 11 years to increase housing affordability.

That is on top of last year’s budget commitment to fund “low-cost loans and new financing tools to encourage municipalities, housing developers and non-profit housing providers to develop more affordable rental housing units.”

“I’m really interested to see what that (housing plan) looks like and how they are implementing it,” said Blaney. “(Housing issues) are something that that’s growing in (North Island) communities, something we are hearing loud and clear in the riding.”

Other budget details:

• Employment Insurance premiums are going up five cents next year, while parental leave can be extended to 18 months, at a lower rate of one third of average weekly earnings.

• Operating deficits continue to soar in the federal government’s plan, projected to go from $23 billion in the current fiscal year to $28 billion in 2017-18. The budget forecasts the government would still be in the red $19 billion by 2021-22. Trudeau campaigned in 2015 on a promise to run deficits no larger than $10 billion a year and balance the operating budget by 2019.

— With files from Tom Fletcher