We asked what you wanted to see in the March 4 federal budget and you responded in droves. Within days, there were more than 150 suggestions posted about what Ottawa should include in its next federal blueprint in order to start cutting the deficit and easing the burden on everyday Canadians.
Over the next week, we will start compiling your suggestions in line with a number of themes. A full list of suggestions will always be available on this page. Just go down to our comment section and scroll through for a complete collection of our readers' suggestions.
The following is a small selection of comments from our readers about what they want the federal government to do with the country's finances:
1) Raise the GST. A surprising number of people called on Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to take back cuts to the federal goods and services tax, which now stands at 5 per cent. Here's what you had to say:
- Fix the irresponsible mistake made by the current government in lowering the GST while we carried a huge federal debt. It needs to be raised back to 7% immediately, and never again consider lowering it until we have that debt lifted from our shoulders.
- Bring back the GST to 7% or to 6%. It won't show too much on my bills and it will increase government revenue by %6-12 billion a year.
- Although the GST ought to be increased 1 point per year over 2 years - and possibly beyond 7 % on a temporary and reviewable basis once the deficit is licked. The Auditor General's office can police this on behalf of citizens.
- Raise the GST to 10% and lower personal income taxes an equivalent amount.
- When it comes time to cool down the overheating economy (that time will come, sooner or later) don't raise interest rates. That will only raise the national debt as debt service payments increase. Raise the GST. That cools down the economy, but the money doesn't go into the pockets of the bankers.
- Allow people to pay whatever rate of GST they wish at the time of purchase. Then those calling for an increase can do it.
2) Income splitting. Some readers want to see it extended beyond allowing seniors to split eligible pension income.
- I think income splitting should be available all Canadian couples, not just pensioners. This is a tax fairness issue.
- income splitting for families with young kids
3) Restore the home renovation tax credit, which expired at the start of February. This idea was popular with many people on the comment board. Some offered suggested tweaks to the plan too.
- I would like to see the home renovation tax credit increased but made contingent on renovations related to a certified energy audit. This would encourage green renovation effectively saving energy and by increasing the demand would stimulate employment for the trades.
- Keep renovation tax break but only for green retrofits
- Extension of the renovation tax. It is priming the economy and putting people to work. An added benefit is it cuts down on the underground economy by encouraging people to report their payments
4) Income trusts. Easily one of the most requested fixes. Many people also cited the Marshall Savings Plan as a possible replacement. Here are just a few of the many thoughts readers had on the subject:
- Revise the plan to change the way income trusts are taxed. There are plans available that would leave trusts very much as a source income without any tax leakage.
- Eliminate the proposed tax on Income Trusts. This proposal has been an absolute disaster, and the government has failed to prove that there will be any tax loss resulting. In the meantime it has made Canadian Trust businesses weaker and subject to foreign takeovers
- Marshal Plan - The solution for seniors who frantically search for income on their retirement savings is the Marshal Plan. The solution was Income Trusts but Flaherty killed that. Interest rates are too low to provide retirement income and dividends are double taxed in sheltered accounts (RRSPs, RRIFs). The Marshal Plan is a great solution to overcome these challenges for seniors.
- Cancel the Income Trust Tax Betrayal and end the Double Taxation in RRSP's...the Marshall Plan will do both and the government will get a windfall in taxes from happy seniors
5) Miscellaneous. Many of you had novel ideas on how to bolster the government's coffers. Here are a few of those:
- I want some sort of tax reduction for membership to a gym. I have been paying gym memberships for 30 years. So what you ask? Well I am now 78 and have not become a burden on our medical system. Surely exercise should be encouraged to fight obesity.
- Increased taxes on alcohol, casinos , cigarettes, soda, unhealthy foods like doughnuts.
- They should sell off the post office. The mail business is dead in 10 years.
- Add a luxury tax to personal vehicles costing over $50,000.
- Reduce the largest ever cabinet of ministers down to 12.
- Time to make massive cuts to the federal bureaucracy. Do what Ralph Klein did in Alberta back in '93 (although since abandoned)is make MP's give up there massive, sickly pensions. They always have jobs waiting for them when they're done politics anyway. While us ordinary folk scrap through garbage cans to get our next meal and collect pop and liquor bottles to pay next months rent!
- I would honestly like to see a minimization of the number of public servants that will be given the boot. They've been traditionally targetted as easy cost saving measures (and everyone likes to demonize public servants, boo hiss!), but the human cost is quite severe- higher unemployment and an additional draw to EI. I could see this as having a negative impact on the economic recovery.
- How about a tax credit for NOT using the medical system OR a user fee for "non emergency" visits to hospitals.This should encourage people to THINK before they rush to emergency to have a sniffling nose checked.May also cut down in waiting times at emerg
- Withhold a tax on all lottery winnings, based on the value of the winnings, at a rate matching the combined sales taxes in the province of the winner, and give the tax money exclusively to that province
6) Funding for the Arts - some of you argued that funding for arts and culture shouldn't be the first thing to go when times get tough:
- Comprehensive support for the arts and sciences. This is not the time to pull the plug on the very things that feed a country's soul and mind, not to mention employ tens of thousands of Canadians. We are more than hockey in this country, we are more than fields of grain and oil sands. We are, we have been and still can be, a nation of ideas and artistic achievement. But it can't continue without government funding.
- The government can still support arts without having the wasteful Telefilm Canada around. If they would just get rid of this wasteful pink elephant and do something like just double the Federal tax credits for films and TV shows then everyone gets a fair chance at getting their projects done instead of non-creative government employees who should not be involved in creative decisions regarding the arts. It's all about the velocity of money. So just shut down Telefilm and double the tax credits.
- Reinstate funding to The Arts and establish a housing program to take responsibility for the huge deficit in our country. Canada's homeless and people who are in this awful gut-wrenching situation without a job and those expecting to be any day.
7) Lose the penny! One commenter suggested dropping the coin to cut costs:
- Drop the penny it's a pain in the neck!
8) The environment:
- I would like to see a carbon tax and a high tax on toxic chemical pollution; I would like to see subsidies for fossil fuels removed and incentives for alternative energy and conservation; I would like to see incentives for small organic farmers and subsidies for public transit.
- I think that tuition fees should be treated just the same as RRSPs- fully deductible and able to be carried forward indefinitely. The same should be done for student loan interest. This would facilitate faster student debt reduction and earlier and greater economic participation by these graduates. Education is expensive and students should be rewarded for increasing their income as a result of their education
10) Public service - Many have ideas how Ottawa can bolster its coffers by adjusting the federal civil service:
- I would like to see a major reduction in the cost of the public service. There should be a rationalisation across the whole system; from spending habits of departments to the value of maintaining departments; include pension reform with immediate shift to Defined Contribution Plans for both public servants and politicians, reduction of the costs of the political system and across-the-board cuts to all federal departments...incorporate accountability at both departmental and individual levels.
- Change the strike laws for public employees. They have a monopoly on services, so strikes do not provide a fair chance to the public to negotiate. The current process does not work. That's why public employees have higher wages and benefits than the private sector. Allow subcontracting of any services during a strike Make it illegal (it is anyway probably unconstitutional) to have seniority rights in contracts. This is highly discriminatory against young people. Institute a law that if a strike lasts longer than 6 months, any employment contract is considered void.
- I would like the see the federal civil service reduced by 25% over the next 4 years.
In coming days we will be expanding this list as suggestions continue to come in. Please check back for updates. In the meantime, you can always refer to our comment board for a full list of what people are saying about the budget. (Note: Comments used in this list have been printed as posted. However, spelling has been corrected and, in some cases, where words have accidentally been repeated, small edits have been made.)
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