GUEST COLUMN: Candidates ignore federal budget on campaign trail

For example, no party has a plan to control spending or balance the budget in its first term. So regardless of who wins the election, deficits will likely persist and the federal debt will continue to grow, putting Canada’s finances at risk.

Let’s do a quick review. Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer retracted his previous commitment to balance the budget in two years. Instead, he promises a “measured approach to spending growth” but with no commitment to reach budget balance in his first term as prime minister.

The NDP has made no commitment to balance the budget. Instead, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has committed to billions in new spending for a national pharmacare program, a child-care program and 500,000 new units of affordable housing, among other plans.

Four years ago, during the last federal election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promised to balance the budget by 2019. The Liberals quickly abandoned that plan after taking office and the deficit is expected to reach nearly $20 billion this year. Trudeau has made no such commitments to return to balance should he be re-elected.

Unfortunately, recent years resemble the pre-reform era, defined by high spending and persistent deficits. Federal government spending (per person) increased from $7,740 in 2014 to a projected $8,804 this year. Indeed, in 2018 per-person inflation-adjusted spending reached its highest point in Canadian history.

Canada’s financial outlook is worrying. The country needs a new plan to control spending and restore fiscal balance. Otherwise, we risk repeating the mistakes of the past, which produced perpetual and prolonged deficits and the consequences that accompany them.