Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approach to making life more affordable is like giving somebody a bike after totalling their car and then waiting for a big thank you.
Instead of reversing his recent tax hikes, Trudeau’s latest crack at making life more affordable includes GST rebates and borrowing another $2 billion to cover some rent and dental bills.
The GST rebates are a nice gesture for the Canadians who get some money back after being overtaxed at the till. But two-thirds of Canadians won’t receive a rebate. And if the government acknowledges that Canadians are better off keeping more of their own money, then why not just cut taxes?
The announcement shows the Trudeau government isn’t serious about making life more affordable for Canadians. Hard-working Canadians need meaningful tax relief.
Most Canadians probably don’t know how much the taxman takes from them through income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, liquor taxes, taxes on taxes and the myriad of other taxes and fees governments charge. The Fraser Institute added up every tax Canadians pay and estimated that the average family’s total tax bill rang in at $35,000 in 2020.
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That’s more than the average family spent “on basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing combined,” according to the Fraser Institute. Bringing that bill down to 1961 levels, adjusted for inflation, would save an average family $20,000 per year, according to the Fraser Institute.
All aspects of life, including groceries, gas, dental bills and rent, would be more affordable if politicians left families with thousands of extra dollars to spend every year. Governments could make that a reality if politicians weren’t ignoring all the waste in their budgets like the hundreds of millions of dollars announced for companies like Bombardier, the pay raises for 300,000 bureaucrats during lockdowns or the thousands of dollars spent funding a sex toy show in Germany.
Trudeau is also ignoring the unaffordable elephant in the room: his tax hikes are driving up the cost of living.
Higher pump prices are the goal of Trudeau’s carbon tax which increases the price of gas by 11 cents per litre and will increase the price by nearly 40 cents by 2030. Even with rebates, Trudeau’s carbon tax costs the average family between $300 and $670 this year, depending on the province.
If you’re making more than $40,000 this year, your federal income tax bill is also going up, thanks to the fourth annual payroll tax hike in a row.
Trudeau claims his latest announcement is about helping low-income Canadians. But these are the people most impacted by the government’s inflation-inducing policies.
Take the impending second carbon tax that will raise gas prices by up to 13 cents per litre by 2030 through fuel regulations, for example. The people who will feel the most pain are “lower and middle-income households,” along with Canadians living in “energy poverty,” “single mothers,” and “seniors living on fixed incomes,” according to the government’s analysis. There are no rebates for the second carbon tax.
If that drives you to drink, just know the feds increased taxes on your favourite case of beer and bottle of wine three times since the beginning of the pandemic.
Trudeau’s latest affordability announcement won’t help most Canadians. That’s a shame because he could make life more affordable today. Trudeau could cut gas taxes and immediately save every driver between 18 and 30 cents per litre depending on where they fuel up. Or he could cut the payroll, income, excise, sales, business and import taxes his government charges.
Regardless of which tax the government cuts, the key point is that Trudeau could provide meaningful relief. But by raising taxes and then giving peanuts back to some Canadians, Trudeau shows that he isn’t serious about the inflation that’s keeping struggling Canadians up at night.
Franco Terrazzano is the Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
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