Chrystia Freeland's budget has something for everybody. Michael Harris goes into the details:
The star of this 739-page budget? The federal government will also spend $30 billion over the next five years on a national child-care program. That is something that the Liberals have been promising since 1993, when it was a key plank in their campaign platform document, the Red Book.
This marks the second time a Liberal government has introduced a national child-care program. The first one was created by former prime minister Paul Martin. That short-lived program was barely up and running when incoming prime minister Stephen Harper cancelled it. Harper replaced the national plan with a $100-per-child payment made directly to parents.
The finance minister also announced a new hiring credit for employers, which can be used to hire new staff or raise the wages of existing employees. The federal government will cover as much as $1,100 of a worker’s pay every four weeks.
Addressing the crisis in affordable housing, the budget included a new tax on absentee foreign property owners speculating in the Canadian housing market. Faced with an over-heated real estate market, Ottawa will also invest in incentives for first time homebuyers, and generous tax credits to homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. A total of $4.5 billion will go into that program in the form of $40,000, interest-free loans to participants.
Canada’s minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour.
The provinces got a $7 billion top-up in health-care transfers.
Pensioners get a $500 cheque this summer, and a ten per cent increase annually starting in July 2022.
There is $57 million for farmers who had to pay to quarantine offshore workers coming into the country.
Employment insurance sickness benefits have been extended from 15 to 26 weeks.
The doubling of Canada Student Grants has been extended for two years, and there are also interest payment breaks for students with outstanding loans.
Freeland also set aside $18 billion for safer communities for Indigenous peoples.
She has tweaked a few taxes:
including a tax on luxury cars, boats and private aircraft. The tax will be between 10 and 20 per cent on cars and planes worth more than $100,000 and yachts valued at $250,000 or more.
Other new measures include a sales tax for online platforms and e-commerce warehouses, and a digital services tax on big web companies.
But the budget focuses on spending, not taxes. It will drive deficit hawks crazy. Will it survive? Harris believes that, in the end, the NDP will support it.
Image: The Toronto Sun