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Highlights from the federal budget

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Mar 22nd, 2016

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OTTAWA – Some of the highlights of the federal budget tabled Tuesday 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 per cent 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.

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