What the 2024 budget means for Kitchener Centre

On the heels of last month’s federal budget, this month I’d love to share with you my take on what it means for our community. 

On the whole: while there are some positives to be found in it, the bulk of the budget includes half-measures that seem to be more about checking political boxes than solving pressing challenges folks in our community and across the country are facing – from housing unaffordability, to rising food bank usage, to the climate crisis.  

The Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) is a prime example. While the budget included funding it, the proposed application process is full of barriers and the funding level is entirely inadequate.   

This budget has capped the maximum allocation at $200 per person per month, while delaying the start date to July 2025. This is not only in direct opposition to what the government had promised and what the disability community has been calling for – it is also simply not enough to lift people with disabilities out of poverty – leaving our neighbours who rely on ODSP for their sole income $10,000 below the poverty line.  

In this budget the federal government could have funded a much more substantial CDB. One way to do so would have been tax on the record-breaking billions in pure profit the oil and gas industry has raked in by gouging Canadians at the pump. A 15% tax on excess profits from 2022 alone could generate $4.2 billion dollars – while only impacting seven corporations. Yet despite this, this budget does not include a windfall tax on Canada’s biggest polluters.   

Housing is another example. Two years ago the federal government committed to investing in deeply affordable housing co-ops for the first time in thirty years. This year’s budget promised it again, but for real this time, I’m told. And when it comes to funding non-market affordable housing that many nonprofits in our community want to build, there’s less than a million dollars allocated per riding per year – not nothing, but a pittance of what organizations in our community need to get projects built. Instead, the vast majority of measures announced rely on loans to developers where only 3% of funding results in affordable housing for lower-income Canadians.   

In all these areas, it’s clear grassroots advocacy has driven the incremental improvements we have seen up to this point. I’ll keep advocating for the measures folks in our community have called for, bringing voices from Waterloo Region to our federal Parliament.