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O’Toole urges need to get spending ‘back under control’ ahead of federal budget

Click to play video: 'Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole defends his party’s pitch to price carbon' Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole defends his party’s pitch to price carbon
WATCH: Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says the government needs a plan to get spending under control – Apr 18, 2021

As the country awaits the first federal budget in more than two years, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says the government needs a plan to get spending under control.

In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, O’Toole said the government should steer clear of any increases of personal costs to Canadians and that moves such as imposing changes to the capital gains tax are not the way to go.

“Mr. Trudeau has spent half a trillion dollars and now wants to reimagine the entire economy, and he’s tripling the carbon tax and will raise it even further. Canadians should be very worried,” he said.

“We have to have a plan to help people, but get it under control over the next 10 years.”

Read more: Liberals expected to spend big on federal budget as pandemic lingers, election looms

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The federal Liberals are poised to present Budget 2021 on Monday.

It comes as coronavirus pandemic spending has sent the deficit soaring to roughly $382 billion, and as the government has so far provided no hint as to how it plans to bring it down.

In particular, the government has faced questions over plans for a recovery program it has billed as costing between $70 billion and $100 billion over three years, and about extensive spending programs it has said will need to stay in place until “deep into 2021.”

Read more: Fiscal guardrails will be ‘anchored’ by the time recovery plan rolls out: Freeland

At the same time, expectations are high that the budget will include new spending promises around plans to roll out some form of a promised national childcare and early learning program.

Preet Banerji, a Toronto-based personal finance adviser, said he would expect to see spending of several billions of dollars if the Liberals do include a plan for childcare in the budget.

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Ontario gets federal pandemic aid as Ottawa preps for budget – Apr 18, 2021

Read more: Trudeau dangles national childcare system in throne speech with few hints of fiscal restraint

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He said it’s important to keep in mind that many of the problems targeted with such a program — namely, the loss of women in the workforce during the pandemic due to lack of childcare — pose long-term problems and any programs to solve those problems will need to be long term as well.

“There are a lot of people trying to figure out, ‘Well, do I stay at home or do I pay for child care and go back to the workforce?'” he said.

“One of the things to consider is [if] you have more people working, more people paying taxes on their income and more spending, then, yes, it is quite possible that these programs pay for themselves in the long run because you would have increased GDP over time.”

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has said the government views the pandemic as a “window of political opportunity” to address the urgent lack of affordable childcare across the country.

Women — specifically working mothers — have been hit especially hard economically by the pandemic, with one-third reporting they have mulled quitting their jobs to fulfil childcare or caregiving needs after the pandemic shut down schools and raised the risks of using paid help.

The Royal Bank of Canada reported last year that the pandemic has plunged the number of women in the workforce down to levels not seen in roughly 30 years.

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Click to play video: 'Freeland says COVID-19 has created ‘window of political opportunity’ to address national child care' Freeland says COVID-19 has created ‘window of political opportunity’ to address national child care
Freeland says COVID-19 has created ‘window of political opportunity’ to address national child care – Apr 8, 2021

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