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May. 17, 2021 | Monday
Editorials and Opinions
Opinion: Liberal budget shortchanges hard-hit tourism sector
MP Tony Baldinelli. (File photo/Supplied)

Tony Baldinelli
Special to NIagara Now/The Lake Report

On April 19, the federal government unveiled their long-awaited budget.

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to participate in debate in the House of Commons to respond to the budget and address its many shortfalls.

In addition to being overdue by more than two years, this budget was well off the mark when it came to prioritizing what is needed to get us out of this pandemic crisis and return life to normal as quicky as possible.

I continue to worry for those small businesses and workers involved in the travel and tourism sectors, including those in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The 2021 budget will see the federal government extend the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canadian Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) until Sept. 25 of this year, while an additional 12 weeks is being added to the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

However, the subsidy rates for both CEWS and CERS will begin to gradually decrease beginning on July 4. For the Canada Recovery Benefit, the $500 payment usually received will be reduced to $300 for the last eight weeks of the benefit.

Those who have been hardest hit in our travel and tourism industry have been asking for these essential programs to be extended right through until the end of 2021.

They provided ample warning that travel and tourism will not resume right away as if switching on a light, yet the Liberal government has chosen this arbitrary timeline, which will reduce supports all while the sector is on the verge of losing another summer tourism season.

It is as if through this budget, the Liberals simply want to wish this pandemic away and pretend we have already made it to the other side. As all Canadians know, we aren’t there yet. We are still waging this war against COVID.

It is a shame the federal government used its budget announcement as a flashy attempt to turn the channel on a devastating pandemic, at a time when it is the worst it has ever been.

Canadians deserve far better federal leadership than we are getting from this government. As your member of Parliament, I will continue to stand up for our local interests in Ottawa.

* Tony Baldinelli is the Conservative MP for Niagara Falls riding, which includes Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie.

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