The 2024 federal budget continues the Trudeau Government’s legacy of excessive spending, bloating bureaucracy, high taxes, and doing nothing to reverse Canada’s withering economic productivity and competitiveness, says the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA), one of Canada’s largest business associations.

“The torrid pace of spending by Ottawa and the growth of government is simply breathtaking,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President and CEO. “The Trudeau Liberals are doubling-down on a very bad idea – that government is the centre of everything and that there is no challenge facing Canada that billions and billions in new spending, ever-higher taxes, and overregulation will not solve.”

Housing was a prime political focus of Budget 2024, but ICBA – Canada’s largest construction association – remains highly skeptical that the Trudeau Government’s spending will do much to move the needle on housing affordability. The supply shortage is so acute that government cannot simply spend its way out of it – it must unleash private sector builders.

“A federal go-it-alone approach to housing will not work,” said Gardner. “The sheer volume of pre-budget announcements on housing and the billions committed by Ottawa reveals the sense of panic that has gripped the federal government. The policies are disjointed, ill-conceived, confusing, and often conflict with those of not only other levels of government but also of Ottawa itself. None of this is going to deliver any meaningful relief to Canadians being crushed by the weight of the affordability crisis.”

The Trudeau Government missed its opportunity to address the inherent systemic problems holding back Canadian prosperity.

“Canada faces a trifecta of closely linked economic problems: stagnant productivity, a pattern of weak business investment, and declining global competitiveness. Unfortunately, there is little in Budget 2024 that tackles these problems in a meaningful way,” said Jock Finlayson, ICBA Chief Economist. “Expanding the size and cost of government won’t reverse the negative trends that are weighing on living standards and sapping Canada’s economic vitality.”

Running massive, ongoing deficits to try and pay for the government’s wild spending is especially concerning to ICBA and will further hamper economic growth.

“What Canada desperately needs is more private sector investment in productive assets such as machinery, equipment, buildings and other structures, advanced process technologies, intellectual property products, and transportation, communications and engineering infrastructure,” said Finlayson. “Budget 2024 suggests the federal government falls short of addressing this enormous challenge.”