Last week, the Liberal Government issued their second federal budget. The focus of this year’s budget is similar to last years and will affect all corners of Canada.
After reading the nearly 300 page budget, I picked the most important parts of the federal budget that will impact you!
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Parent can now choose to take a longer parental leave at reduced benefits. Parents can now take 18 months of parental leave at 33% of their average weekly earnings or 12 months at 55% of the same earnings. Maternal leave can also begin up to 12 weeks before their due date. This is an increase from 8 weeks.
It will now be easier for households to apply to the Canada Learning Bond and the Additional Canada Education Savings Grant. These benefits are offered to low-income households that open RESPs. Previously, the primary caregiver could only apply for this benefit, but now spouses and common-law partners can also apply.
A new tax credit for families that have expenses related to fertility treatments. This treatment is a medical intervention to help parents conceive children.
An additional $7 billion dollars is being spent over a ten-year period for more high quality and affordable child care spaces. This investment is projected to yield 40,000 new subsidized childcare spaces.
The federal government is pledging $100.9 million over 5 years to address gender-based violence. This funding will immediately establish a national strategy that will align existing resources to help combat this very important issue.
One of the big themes of the 2017 budget was to increase the competitiveness of Canada’s workforce and to help Canadians adjust to a changing labour market. Increased funding has been allocated into education and skill improvement programs.
To help youth and millennial, the federal government is advancing the “Youth Employment Strategy”. Under this strategy, $395.5 million will be spent over 3 years on a variety of training programs that target those aged 15-30.
To increase the skills of older workers, many changes and new programs are being implemented. Including, increased funding to increase eligibility to EI training and employment services.
Steps are also being implemented to protect and grow the rights of employees. Increased funding has been allocated into compliance and enforcement of labour laws. Also, unpaid internship in federally regulated sectors is being targeted with increased limits and enforcement.
Individuals that are caring for critically ill or injured family members will see many helpful changes.
Caregivers will now be able to qualify for up to 15 weeks of EI when they take care of an ill or injured family member. Qualifying requirements have also been eased to allow improved accessibility.
Three previous caregiver tax credits were also consolidated into the new Canada Caregiver Credit. The non-refundable tax credit available is described as an improved benefit with increased eligibility. This tax credit allows a family member to claim expenses that occur from taking care of a dependent relative with an “infirmity”. The max tax credit is now up to $6,883 for a dependent relative and $2,150 for a dependent spouse/common-law partner. The amount received is based on the dependents annual income.
$11.2 million will be spend over 11 years to build, renew, and repair Canada’s stock of affordable housing.
These funds will be issued in partnership with provinces and territories to reduce homelessness, better living conditions on indigenous communities, increase federal land for affordable housing construction, and implement other measures to expand affordable housing for Canadians.
Funding is also being implemented to increase educational participation across many demographics. Such as increasing the access to educational grants for students with dependents and part-time students will beginning during the 2018/19 school year. To implement this, qualifying income thresholds for both groups will increase.
Funding for adults that are returning to school will also targeted. The federal government is creating a pilot project to focus on this , and larger future changes are expected.
The Federal Government is continuing it’s environmental pledge of spending $21.9 billion over 11 years into a wide-array of green programs that includes a carbon pricing strategy, green infrastructure, the ocean protection act, and more.
One big pledge is to implement a federal carbon pricing strategy. This program will force provinces and territories to accept a policy of either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade. The federal government is projecting to have a national carbon price by 2018.
The federal government is continuing their pledge to invest in public transit. Pledging $20.1 billion dollar in a joint provincial and territorial partnerships, many large scale projects are progressing in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and more.
In the Greater Toronto Area, we see continued support for Metrolinx, the Go Regional Express Rail System, the Smarttrack project, and more. Specifically, we are going to see the construction of six new stations and an integrated fare network.
No More Canada Savings Bonds
After over 70 years, the federal government has officially cancelled the Canada Savings Bond program. Interest in the bonds has been declining over past decades amongst more competitive products and unattractive rates.
Tax On Uber
Beginning on July 1st 2017, Uber will now be charging their passengers GST/HST on fares. This aligns the ride sharing service with the taxation on taxis.
Cigarettes and Liquor Taxes
Excise duties on cigarettes will be increased to $21.56 per 200 cigarettes from $21.03. Similarly, excise duties on alcohol will be increasing by two percent and will be adjusted for inflation every year following.
Eliminated Tax Credits
Beginning on June 30th 2017, Canadians will no longer be able to claim the public transit tax credit.
The first-time Donor’s Super Tax Credit is also on target to fully expire in 2019.
The federal government has focused on combating the current opioid crises by pledging $100 million dollars spent over 5 years. A portion of these funds will immediately be issued to BC and Alberta to issue urgent care.
Other healthcare changes include improved access to medication, increased subsidies on medication, measures to increase prescription accuracy, and increased digitalization of healthcare services.
Close Tax Loop-Holes and Combat Evasion
In a strong message, the federal government to close tax loop-holes and persecute tax-evaders. Colourful tax loopholes like using derivatives or corporations to defer taxes will be targeted. Beyond, the government will continuously study, identify, and address future loopholes.
$523.9 million will be spent over 5 years to prevent tax evasion. These funds will be used for various purposes that include hiring more auditors, improving verification processes, and more.
These increased spending programs are predicted to increase governmental revenue above their costs.