Miller touts responsible budget
The 2014 federal budget has been touted as one with very few new major funding announcements, something that is just fine with Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller.
“I am a fiscal conservative and I have always believed that you pay as you go,” said Miller. “There are times when you make investments, but right now is the time to get back to balanced budgets so I am really happy about that.”
The budget released on Tuesday aims to further reduce the deficit with the goal of balancing the budget by 2015. The plan released on Tuesday brings the projected deficit down to $2.9 billion in the fiscal year 2014-15 and forecasts surplus of $6.4 billion in 2015-16.”We are committed to getting out of deficit and unless something really goes off the rail it looks like we will have a $6 or $7 billion surplus next year,” said Miller.
Miller said there are a number of line items from Tuesday’s budget that may benefit his riding. “There are a number of what I would call smaller things that mean big things for the riding,” said Miller.
One area was a commitment of $40 million over two years to accelerate repair and maintenance work at small craft harbours across Canada and $33 million to support divestiture of and operation and maintenance of regional ports.
Miller said in the recent past small craft harbours in Lion’s Head, Tobermory, Wiarton and Meaford have benefitted from funding.”That has always been a tough one to get as it can easily be overlooked,” said Miller.
Miller is hopeful local outdoors clubs will take advantage of $15 million over two years for Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships, a fund local clubs have used in the past to manage and preserve local fish habitat.
Miller is also pleased to see $10 million over two years to improve and expand snowmobile and recreational trails.”We got a great snowmobile trail system in Bruce-Grey and I hope our part of the world is able to access some of that money,” said Miller.
There was just under $400 million over five years to Parks Canada for improvements to highways, bridges and dams located in national parks and along historic canals.In a statement to The Sun Times from Parks Canada it said additional details about the funding will be provided in due time.
“Federal infrastructure plays a critical role in enabling the safe and efficient movement of people and goods, creating employment opportunities in many communities and supporting economic growth,” the Parks Canada statement said.
The budget also includes a provision of $305 million over two years to expand broadband infrastructure to rural and remote communities.
Grey County Warden Brian Milne said the commitment by the federal government is an important acknowledgement of the need for rural broadband.”We will wait to see if any of that money will be coming our way to work on that initiative,” Milne said.Milne said bringing broadband to rural areas is something that has been given high priority by the Western Ontario Warden’s Caucus.”Everyone acknowledges that the broadband is very important,” said Milne. “That is one of the underpinnings of the prosperity, or the potential prosperity, of this area.”
Owen Sound Mayor Deb Haswell was also appreciative of the funding for fibre optic and broadband internet infrastructure.”One of our goals as a community is to see dedicated fibre optic into every home and every business,” said Haswell. “Perhaps this is some good news in that department and that may be the tipping point that gives some of the private sector companies a bit of a boost to get that rolling.”Haswell said the city is about 75% covered by broadband internet, but there are some key areas of the city that are still not covered, such as the industrial park.
The Owen Sound and District Chamber of Commerce also applauded the money set aside for broadband.In a statement by chamber president Steven Coffey posted on the organization’s website it said the local chamber has been advocating for updated broadband services.”We see this as vital to ensure our local businesses can stay competitive and also attract more businesses to locate to the area,” Coffey said in the statement.