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Federal Finance Minister talks elections, health care, and spending deficits

In advance of the federal election this fall, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau spoke to NEWS 95.7 about some hot topics
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20160810 Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau KA 01
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to media during a meet and greet August 10, 2016. (Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday)

In advance of the federal election this fall, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau spoke to NEWS 95.7 about some hot topics.

The minister first tackled the issue of health care in the province, after it was announced that one third of Nova Scotia's emergency rooms would be closed at some point this week.

"I'm hearing from my colleagues in Nova Scotia that they are seeing real challenges in the system here," says Morneau.

He explains that the federal Liberals are trying to take leadership with the new health accord, but understands that it's still a provincial issue.

"I was personally involved in coming up with the new health accord, which not only increased the amount of funding going to provinces and specifically to Nova Scotia, but also directed some places where we can make a real difference," says Morneau. "We know that we're going to have to continue working with the provinces to see how we can make a real difference."

Morneau says that he is worried about the Conservative's plans to make cuts to health care if they get into power.

"Ontario's a great example. Doug Ford's government in Ontario came in and said we're not going to make any cuts to health care, and they turned around and they got into office and they made cuts to health care," he adds.

The minister says that the Liberals will stay focused on investing in the things that they believe are important to Canadians.

"We needed to invest in more health care, we needed to invest in mental health care," he explains.

Although this may not solve the spending deficit dilemma that the government is currently in, Morneau says the deficit will be resolved slowly, rather than all at once.

"What we'll do is reduce out deficit every single year, and we'll reduce our debt as a function of our economy every single year," he explains.

The minister thinks that resolving the deficit spending all at once would have a negative effect on Canadian families, and cuts would have to be made.

"These investments that we made in families, lowering taxes on middle class families but at the same time increasing benefits, this is critically important," Morneau adds.

In terms of support from the provinces, Morneau says the Liberals will work to prevent Conservatives sweeping through the Maritimes.

"We're going to have to come out to people in Atlantic Canada and across the country to talk about what we plan on doing over the next four years," he says. "What we've done over the last four years has gotten us into a position where in a city like Halifax we are doing much better."

Morneau says an uptick in the employment rate as well as wage growth are indicators of the positive effects on the East Coast, but there is still work to be done.

"We know that there are many people in Halifax and across the Maritimes, across the Atlantic provinces, that are concerned about affordability, and worried about their family's future," he adds.

Morneau knows the 2015 promise of electoral reform was a major promise for Canadians that the Liberals never brought to fruition.

"We continue to want to do this but we just did not get enough support," he says. "We're going to make commitments that we intend on following through with, and if there's ever anything that can't happen, for reasons that are not predictable, we will tell people exactly why that happened."

The minister also touched on other issues, including decreasing the retirement age, improving Canada Pension Benefits, and rural high-speed internet for rural Nova Scotians.

"Those are really important for people in this part of the country, and we're going to keep making those investments," he adds.

Going forward, Morneau says that in the lead-up to the federal election, the Liberals will be focused on gathering public support.

"We've shown [Canadians] we have their back, and the Conservatives have shown that they're focused on cuts," he says. "We want the people who've supported us for the past four years to keep on supporting us."




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Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

After graduating from journalism at King's, Victoria Walton now works in the film industry and as HalifaxToday.ca's weekend editor.
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