Feds’ Budget Aimed at the Everyman

Last Liberal Budget Before Election Titled "Investing in the Middle Class"

A real focus on the middle class in the latest Federal budget, the last to be tabled before the October election.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the budget today, titled Investing in the Middle Class, and contains plenty of spending that could soon become campaign platforms. Morneau today highlighted the $22.8 billion in new spending, along with a projected deficit of $14.0 billion deficit. The budget describes the creation of a Canadian Drug Agency for the bulk-buying of drugs, along with a six per cent annual rise in elderly benefits over the next five years.

About $1.25 billion over three years has been earmarked for a First Time Home Buyer Incentive, with other measures outlined to ease into the housing market. Just over five billion is being devoted to bringing broadband internet to all Canadians by the 2030, while there is a $1.7 billion new skills training tax credit built into the 2019-2020 budget. Nearly $600 million is being earmarked to support local journalism.

Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard calls it a “Kathleen Wynne, we’re stuck in a scandal, let’s throw money at everything” budget. Brassard says the budget is unsustainable and those who will be paying for it are Canadian families; that whatever the government gives with one hand it has to take back in taxes with the other.

Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman was able to take a look at the budget, and likes certain aspects for sure.

While the budget was tabled at the appointed time of 4:00, the traditional speech accompanying it was delayed, as the opposition parties protest the Liberal majority’s decision to end the SNC-Lavalin investigation at the Commons justice committee.

Highlights:

HEALTH

  • Creation of the Canadian Drug Agency to negotiate prices, development of a national list of prescribed drugs, and $1BN over 2 years for a national strategy for “high-cost drugs for rare diseases.”
  • Creation of a National Dementia Strategy.
  • Creation of a “pan-Canadian database for organ donation and transplants.
  • GST/HST relief for human ova and in vitro embryos.

SENIORS

  • Enhanced GIS earnings exemption to start in 2020.
  • Proactive CPP enrollment for contributors 70 or older, but who have yet to register for benefits.
  • An additional $100 million over five years for the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

INTERNET AND INFRASTRUCTURE

  • A national target of 95% of Canadian homes and business with access to 50/10 Mbps Internet by 2026 and 100% by 2030.
  • Between $5 and $6 billion in rural broadband funding over the next decade.
  • A one-time $2.2-billion gas tax transfer to “address short-term priorities” for municipalities and First Nations.

JOBS, TRAINING, AND EDUCATION

  • Introduction of the Canada Training Benefit, a non-taxable training credit and EI training support benefit for learning new skills. The cost is pegged at $1.7 billion over the next five years and $587 million ongoing.  
  • The Canada Training Credit would be eligible workers age 25 to 64, with income below $150,000. They could accumulate $250 per year, up to $5,000 total.
  • The EI Training Support Benefit would provide up to four weeks of income support every four years.
  • For Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans, the floating interest rate will to be lowered to prime, from the current prime plus 2.5%. The fixed interest rate will be lowered to prime plus 2%, down from prime plus 5%.
  • No student loan interest will apply during the six-month “grace period” after leaving school.

THE HOUSING MARKET

  • The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive would be a “shared equity mortgage program” with CMHC that would “reduce the mortgage payments required to own a home” for Canadians with household income under $120,000.
  • The maximum RRSP withdrawal for the Home Buyers’ Plan will be raised from $25,000 to $35,000.
  • The Home Buyers’ Plan will be extended to those buying homes after the breakdown of a marriage or common-law partnership.

THE FISCAL OUTLOOK

The federal deficit is projected at $14.9 billion in 2018-19 / $19.8BN in 19-20 / $19.7BN in 20-21 / $14.8BN in 21-22 / $12.1BN in 22-23 / $9.8BN in 23-24.

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