Canadians should decide what to do with their money—not politicians and bureaucrats

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Appeared in the Winnipeg Sun, April 24, 2024
Canadians should decide what to do with their money—not politicians and bureaucrats

Since taking office in 2015, the Trudeau government has expanded the federal government’s role in making decisions for individuals and families, rather than letting Canadians decide on their own. And with its latest federal budget, which it tabled last week, it once again decided that politicians and bureaucrats should determine what people want and need, rather than the people themselves.

Indeed, during its tenure the Trudeau government has introduced a slew of new programs (e.g. national dental care, $10-a-day day care), which have contributed to an expected $227.4 billion increase in annual federal program spending (total spending minus debt interest costs) from 2014/15 to 2024/25. And according to the budget, due to new programs such as national pharmacare, annual program spending will increase by another $58.4 billion by 2028/29.

In many cases the impetus for these new programs has been to increase people’s access to certain goods and services (most of which were already provided privately). But the Trudeau government has consistently ignored the fact that there are always two ways for the government to help provide a good or service—tax and spend to directly provide it, or lower taxes and leave more money in people’s pockets so they can make their own decisions—and instead simply opted for more government.

Consequently, Canadians now pay higher taxes. In 2014/15 (the year before Prime Minister Trudeau was elected), total federal revenues represented 14.0 per cent of the economy (as measured by GDP) compared to 16.6 per cent in 2024/25—meaning taxes have grown faster than the economy.

More specifically, the total tax bill (including income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and more) of the average Canadian family has increased from 44.7 per cent of its income in 2015 to 46.1 per cent in 2023. That means the average family must work five extra days to pay off the additional tax burden.

And families are feeling the burden. According to polling data, 74 per cent of Canadians believe the average family is overtaxed. And while the Trudeau government did introduce tax changes in 2016 for middle-income families, research shows that 86 per cent of these families ended up paying higher taxes as a result. Why? Because while the government reduced the second-lowest federal personal income tax rate from 22.0 to 20.5 per cent, it simultaneously eliminated several tax credits, which effectively raised taxes on families that previously claimed these credits.

Finally, many Canadians don’t believe their tax dollars are being put to good use. When polled, only 16 per cent of Canadians said they receive good or great value for their tax dollars while 44 per cent said they receive poor or very poor value.

Simply put, the Trudeau government has consistently empowered politicians and bureaucrats to decide how Canadians should use their hard-earned money, rather than allowing individuals and families to make those decisions. With its 2024 budget, once again the Trudeau government has demonstrated its belief that it knows best.

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