Early highlights from the federal Liberal government’s 2016 budget
Federal government projects $29.4 billion deficit in 2016-17.
OTTAWA — Some of the highlights of the federal budget tabled Mar. 22 by Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau:
– A deficit of $29.4 billion in 2016-17, nearly three times the $10 billion promised during the fall election campaign, and a projected deficit of $17.7 billion in 2019-20 rather than the balanced budget that was promised in October.
– $10 billion more over two years for a new Canada child benefit, absorbing and replacing both the Canada child tax benefit and the universal child care benefit. Targeted to low and middle-income families, the government says the new benefit provides an average increase of nearly $2,300 in 2016-17.
– $2.5 billion over two years on a suite of changes to employment insurance, including reducing the required work experience for new entrants and re-entrants; halving the two-week waiting period; extending a pilot project to allow claimants to work while collecting benefits; simplifying job-search requirements; and extending the benefit eligibility window in specific regions with a higher unemployment rate.
– An end to income splitting for couples with children, the children’s fitness tax credit and the children’s arts tax credit.
– A promised cut to the 10.5% small business tax rate has been deferred indefinitely.
– $2.6 billion over five years for primary and secondary education on First Nations reserves, including language and cultural programs, plus $969.4 million over five years for education infrastructure.
– $1.2 billion over five years for social infrastructure for Aboriginal Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and northern communities.
– $10.4 million over three years for new women’s shelters in First Nations communities, and $33.6 million over five years and $8.3 million ongoing for support services.
– $5.6 billion more in benefits to veterans and their families over five years, including a disability award that increases to $360,000, retroactive to 2006, and an earnings loss benefit to injured vets of 90 per cent of pre-release salary. The government is also re-opening nine veterans’ service offices across the country and adding a 10th.
– Planned National Defence purchases worth $3.7 billion – ships, planes and vehicles – are being deferred indefinitely.
– $1.53 billion over five years to increase Canada student grants to $3,000 from $2,000 for low-income students, to $1,200 from $800 for middle-income students and to $1,800 from $1,200 for part-time students.
– $3.4 billion over five years to increase the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit by up to $947 annually for single seniors, and restore the old age security eligibility age to 65 from 67.
– $2.2 billion over five years in water and wastewater treatment and waste management as part of a 10-year green infrastructure investment plan.
– $1.9 billion over five years to support Canadian arts and culture organizations and cultural infrastructure, including the CBC and national museums.
– $2 billion over three years for a new strategic investment fund for infrastructure improvements at colleges and universities, in partnership with provinces and territories.
– $2 billion over two years for a low-carbon economy fund, beginning in 2017-18;
– More than $1 billion over four years to support future clean technology investments, including in forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agriculture, plus $130 million over five years to support clean technology research and development.
– $345.3 million over five years to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada and the National Research Council to take action to address air pollution.
– $40 million over two years for the inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
– Up to $178 million over two years for the provinces for urgent affordable housing needs.
– $38.5 million over two years to strengthen and modernize Canada’s food safety system.
– $142.3 million over five years to add new national parks and improve access during the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
© 2016 The Canadian Press