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EI premiums, sin taxes, tax cheat crackdown to finance Liberal vision

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Mar 22nd, 2017

OTTAWA — The federal government is increasing employment insurance premiums and going after drinkers, smokers and tax cheats to help finance a 2017 budget long on vision — high-tech growth, job retraining, lowering barriers for working mothers — but lean on actual spending.

The budget details how $11.2 billion will be meted out to cities and provinces for affordable housing over 10 years, and an “innovation and skills plan” for six sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and clean resources.

It also details $7 billion in spending over 10 years for Canadian families, including 40,000 new subsidized daycare spaces across Canada by 2019, extended parental leave and allowing expectant mothers to claim maternity benefits 12 weeks before their due date.

The federal deficit, meanwhile, is projected to be smaller than expected: $25.5 billion for 2017-18, not including a $3 billion contingency fund, before declining to $15.8 billion in 2021-22.

EI premiums will climb five cents to $1.68 for every $100 of insurable earnings, as will taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, with annual increases tied to the rate of inflation. A crackdown on tax evaders and avoiders is also planned.

The 71-year-old Canada Savings Bonds program, long synonymous with painless, low-interest savings for risk-averse adults and gift-giving grandparents, is also being phased out.


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