Federal Budget: Focus on Employment Insurance, Indigenous Communities, Green Technology, Infrastructure

Begins to “restore hope for the middle class” and revitalize the sluggish economy

The Trudeau government’s first budget increases spending on such things as infrastructure, employment insurance, Indigenous communities and Green technology – much of which it campaigned on during the election campaign. However, much of the spending is spread out over longer periods than was promised and there is no firm  end in sight for deficits. The most optimistic forecast for balanced budget is by 2020.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the budget begins to “restore hope for the middle class” and revitalize the sluggish economy.

For Families and Seniors:

  • $10 billion more over two years for a new Canada child benefit, 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 will provide an average increase of nearly $2,300 in 2016-17
  • An end to income splitting for couples with children, the children’s fitness tax credit and the children’s arts tax credit
  • $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

For Affordable Housing:

  • Up to $178 million over two years for the provinces for urgent affordable housing needs

For Food Protection:

  • $38.5 million over two years to strengthen and modernize Canada’s food safety system

For Business:

  • A promised cut to the 10.5 per cent small business tax rate has been deferred indefinitely

For the Jobless:

  • $2.5 billion over two years on 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

For Indigenous Communities:

  • $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
  • $40 million over two years for the inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.

For Veterans:

  • $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

For the Military:

  • Planned National Defence purchases worth $3.7 billion – ships, planes and vehicles – are being deferred indefinitely

For Students:

  • $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

For Infrastructure:

  • $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
  • $142.3 million over five years to add new national parks and improve access during the 150th anniversary of Confederation

For Green Technology:

  • $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