OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives openedthe door on Wednesday to supporting part of the Liberal government's affordability plan in one of their first moves with Pierre Poilievre as the new party leader.
Tory MPs used their first caucus meeting since Parliament resumed sitting this week to discuss the proposal, which includes the first phase of a dental-care plan and the temporary doubling of GST credits.
The Liberal government tabled two bills on Tuesday that would put about $4.5 billion towards measures to help Canadians deal with the rising costs associated with inflation.
At first blush last week, Poilievre slammed the affordability package as nothing more than reckless government spending, which could risk worsening inflation — a criticism the Liberals rejected as false, saying the measures are targeted to help those who are most in need and don't have savings to dip into to guard against cost increases.
But emerging from Wednesday's caucus meeting, Conservative MP Michael Barrett said the party may support the bill promising to double GST credits, though it won't support the legislation to create a new dental benefit for children in low-income households.
Barrett says that while Tories don't believe the GST policy is the best way to help families struggling with the cost of living, they recognize it is still one way to do so.
"We have been calling for the government to offer Canadians real tax relief and if this is what it looks like when the prime minister is starting to pay attention to the affordability crisis, we'll take it up in the (House of Commons) and may support it."
The Trudeau government struck a deal with the federal New Democrats earlier this year that would see the party support the minority Liberals in exchange for advancing certain NDP priorities, including dental care. The NDP has also pushed the Liberals to double GST rebates.
Under the proposed dental care bill, households with an annual income of less than $90,000 would qualify to receive $650 per child under 12 to cover dental care costs.
The Canada Revenue Agency has said parents will be expected to keep the receipts from their kids' dental care. The government, however, has signalled it won't go after families who don't spend every single cent on their children's teeth.
Barrett said sending $650 to families is not a dental care plan and the measure would infringe on the jurisdiction of provinces, which deliver health care.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2022.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press