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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Highlights from 2013 Federal Budget

Everybody was expecting the worst. This was going to be an austerity budget: no handouts, no tax breaks and no sugar coating. But instead it seems that there was room for some sugar, or at least the government had the ability to make the budget a little sweet for some.
On the face of it though, this is a very low key budget. All-in-all, there's only a 0.7 per cent increase in spending, the lowest amount of new spending in any budget since the mid-90s. Basically, the Feds are aiming to get budget back to the black sometime in the next couple of years, and are even predicting surpluses again in the not too distant future. Of course, this is the same government that was still predicting surpluses in its 2008 budget, but not a lot of fortune telling foresaw the crash of '08.
As for the details, here's what specifically was in the budget in terms of highlights:
  • A new three-way funding proposal for skills training shared between the federal government, provincial government, and private industry.
  • $900 million in new spending, no new taxes or tax cuts
  • $400 million in revenue from closed tax loopholes and enforcement
  • New 10-year, $14.4 billion infrastructure fund starting in 2014
  • $241 million over five years for First Nations skills training
  • $1 billion over five years for aerospace industry and research
  • Snitch line and rewards to catch international tax cheats
  • Canadian International Development Agency wrapped into renamed Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
  • Gas tax fund for cities to increase two per cent each year
  • For small business, extension of EI credit for new hires
  • $119 million over five years to transition homeless off the streets
  • Expanded tax credit for adoption-related expenses
  • Sick leave on the table in public sector labour talks
  • Refund for veterans’ funerals and burials doubled to $7,376
  • Deficit grows to $18.7 billion – up $2.2 billion from November update
  • Cheaper sporting goods and baby clothes - The government is eliminating import tariffs on these items, effectively making them cheaper. Perhaps the most obvious bit of election-like outreach in the budget as this is going specifically appeal to the type of middle-class families who gave Stephen Harper his majority government.
  • First-Time Donor’s Super Credit - a supplement to existing charitable tax credits to allow new donors an additional 25 per cent tax credit, up to $1,000 of donations.
  • Reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program - The changes are unclear, but the government wants to encourage companies to try harder to hire Canadians first to fill vacancies before looking abroad. 
  • Safety deposit boxes are no longer tax deductible.
  • Funding for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is renewed for another five years at a cost of $920-million.
  • $57.5-million over five years to support the country’s aquaculture — fish farm — sector.
  • $124.9-million to build a temporary bridge-causeway over the St. Lawrence during the construction of the permanent, new bridge that will replace Montreal’s Champlain Bridge
  • For VIA Rail, $54.7-million to support operations and investment and $58.2-million to maintain access to remote communities. No new money was offered to restore services cut in last year's budget, but no further cuts were made either.
  • The budget promises more money to restore the Parliament Buildings, but doesn't offer a specific amount.
  • Nunavut will receive $100-million over two years to build 250 housing units.
  • $5-million for the construction of a permanent visitors’ centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France will receive, probably in time for the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
  • $8 million to help support the restoration and revitalization of Massey Hall in Toronto
  • $50-million to support the “economic diversification”of Quebec towns dependent on the asbestos industry.
  • $36-million for First Nations and Inuit policing, including $3-million for 10 additional police officers “to focus on contraband tobacco.”

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