Wild Rose MP touts spending cuts
Blake Richards, Conservative MP for the Wild Rose constituency, spoke at the meeting of the Rotary Club of Airdrie on Feb. 19 explaining how the federal government will reduce the deficit.
In keeping with the Conservative Party’s policies, he called tax increases a “non-starter” and said the federal government would not be raising taxes in order to decrease the deficit.
“When you look at tax increases, what that does is it creates a drag on economic growth and what that does is it hurts the economy, it hurts the businesses, it hurts job creation,” said Richards. “I don’t think that’s the way to do it. I think you have to find a way to tighten your belt as a government and that’s what we’re doing.”
Richards went on to say the federal government would reduce the deficit by reducing the size of the public service and finding “efficiencies” within government departments.
“Finding ways that we can find things that are unnecessary or redundant or can be eliminated, have served their usefulness,” said Richards. “There’s ways to find those spending efficiencies and I think that’s the way we’ll do it.”
He added essential services such as health care would not be part of those efficiencies.
“We’ve been very clear that… front-line services, that’s not where we will make our spending reductions,” he said. “Spending reductions will be on programs, things that are duplicated or redundant or no longer necessary.”
Richards also spoke at length about the labour shortage experienced in Alberta compared to other jurisdictions.
According to Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education’s website, unemployment in Alberta stood at 4.5 per cent in January, compared to a national average of seven per cent.
Overseas, that number is even higher. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s website, the most recent unemployment statistics available for Europe show a rate of 9.4 per cent.
“There are opportunities to attract people who want to come and contribute to our economy and do so and help us grow the economy,” said Richards. “I believe that is something we can capitalize on.
“I do believe in things like the skilled-worker initiative. Things like ensuring that there is ability to access temporary foreign workers where Canadians aren’t interested in those jobs or aren’t available for those jobs. Those kinds of things can help to alleviate that.”
Richards said in speaking to groups such as the Rotary Club, he’s communicating with some of the community’s employers and business leaders, which is one of his primary focuses in his role as a legislator.
“I always believe, as a member of Parliament, your first focus is really to try to make sure that you’re representing, the best you can, the interests of your communities,” said Richards. “So obviously to come and meet with people in Rotary who are leaders in the community, it’s a good chance to have some two-way conversation and hear some of the thoughts on their minds.”