TORONTO — Finance Minister Joe Oliver says the government’s budget fulfills its promise to balance the books while cutting the tax burden for Canadians.During a speech Monday to the Canadian Club of Toronto, Oliver referred back to his first speech as finance minister 13 months ago, when he told the same group that his priority would be creating jobs and stimulating growth across the country.The April 21 budget includes proposals to lower the small business tax rate by two percentage points, nearly double the contribution limit on tax-free savings accounts, and expand tax breaks for seniors and families.Oliver highlighted the government’s promise for a new public transit investment fund worth $1 billion per year by 2019 as part of a solution to transit woes in Toronto and across the country.He also repeated his promise to bring in balanced-budget legislation, which he said would ensure future fiscal discipline.The budget also includes more than $11 billion in new funding for the Canadian military, as well as nearly $300 million to the RCMP, CSIS, and the Canadian Border Services Agency.Oliver said the new money was a clear demonstration of the government’s resolve to fight terrorism.The Canadian PressTerence Corcoran: When it comes to deficits, Finance Minister Joe Oliver has it rightPeter Foster: Read Joe Oliver’s New Balance shoes
She also threw her weight behind Jeremy Hunt, who has become a hate figure for many opponents of the new contract, calling him as an “excellent Health Secretary”.Describing the new contract as “safe for patients”, Mrs May said: “The Government is putting patients first, the BMA should be putting patients first – not playing politics.”A statement from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said: “We know there are genuine concerns about the contract and working arrangements, but we do not consider the proposed strikes are proportionate.“Five days of strike action, particularly at such short notice, will cause real problems for patients, the service and the profession.”Niall Dickson, chief executive of the doctors’ regulator the General Medical Council, said the strike represented a “serious escalation”.“It is obviously a matter of great concern for everyone, especially for patients, and when so little time has been given for the NHS to make contingency plans,” he said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The medical profession are at war with junior doctors accused of putting patients at risk after confirming a series of monthly five-day strikes running up to Christmas.The leaders of Britain’s royal medical colleges condemned as disproportionate the industrial action announced by the British Medical Association, which will affect an estimated one million appointments and 125,000 operations.The plea to rethink the programme of strikes came as the BMA faced criticism after chairman Mark Porter refused to give details of the vote which authorised the action after initially failing to deny that it was as close as 16-14. Five days of strike action, particularly at such short notice, will cause real problems for patients, the service and the professionAcademy of Medical Royal Colleges Jeremy Hunt decided to impose the contract after the deal was rejected in a referendumCredit:Neil Hall As well as the September strike, junior doctors will stage a full withdrawal of labour between the hours of 8am and 5pm from 5 to 7th October and on 10th and 11th October, from 14th to 11th November and from 5th to 9th December.The action can proceed without a fresh ballot of junior doctor members, because the decision to stage fresh action falls within the statutory time period since the last ballot in November.Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the strikes were a “disaster for patients” and would cause misery and said it was “odd” that the BMA was now calling threatening to stage the “worst strike in NHS history” in opposition to a deal it previously supported.Yesterday Theresa May made her first intervention in the long-running dispute when she accused junior doctors of “playing politics” with patient safety. It has been reported that only a third of junior doctors were in favour of the current programme of rolling, all-out strikes. Documents leaked to the Daily Mail showed that in a secret ballot earlier in the summer, only 31.5 per cent supported full walkouts.Six strikes have already taken place across England during the lengthy dispute, causing disruption to hundreds of thousands of patients who have had appointments and operations cancelled.In May the Government and BMA achieved a breakthrough agreement the dispute after both sides agreed to a new deal.Then in July, the Government announced it would impose a new contract after junior doctors and medical students voted to reject the contract brokered between health leaders and the BMA.The BMA said it will call off the strikes if the Government agrees to stop the imposition. “We recognise the frustration and alienation of doctors in training and indeed their right to take industrial action.“However, we issued advice earlier in this dispute to senior doctors and doctors and training, and we will now consider wither further guidance is needed.”The GMC guidelines issued in May said that if during a strike NHS employers became concerned for patient safety and asked junior doctors to return to work, then the medics should comply.A GMC spokesman said each individual doctor had a responsibility not to harm the care of their patients regardless of industrial action.Playing down suggestions of a split at the top of the BMA, Dr Porter said:“The council, as is the rest of the BMA, is absolutely behind the decision that has been taken.”There is not a considerable number of members of the council who don’t support this,” he added. The new leader of the BMA junior doctor committee faced criticism for hypocrisy last night, as sources close to the May negations said she had enthusiastically proposed a number of the features of the contract she now opposes.Owen Smith, the Labour leadership contender, yesterday called on Hunt to be “sacked immediately”, and branded him the “worst Health Secretary in the NHS’s history”.“It is simply astounding that on the day Theresa May walked into Number 10 one of the first decisions she made was to keep Jeremy Hunt in post,” he said.Mr Smith, however, refused to reveal whether he supported the strike action announced by the BMA, saying he agreed with the “fundamental right” to strike, adding “this strike doesn’t need to happen.