Federal Budget 2014 Highlights – Special
On February 11, 2014 federal finance minister Jim Flaherty presented Canada’s budget for 2014 with a focus on skills training, infrastructure projects and a handful of consumer-friendly measures that will largely be paid for by hiking cigarette taxes by $4 a carton. There are no major tax cuts , and spending falls for the third year in a row.
Here are the main budget highlights:
Job Training – Jobs training measures include: $75 million over three years to expand the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers program; $40 million for the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program for entrepreneurs creating new businesses; $40 million over two years for up to 3,000 internship positions in “high-demand fields; $15 million over three years to connect persons with developmental disabilities with jobs; $11.4 million over four years to expand vocational training programs for Canadians with Autism Spectrum Disorders. .
Infrastructure – More than $392 million over five years to repair and maintain highways, bridges and dams in Canada’s national parks; $237 million over two years to repair and maintain federal bridges in the Greater Montreal Area, including the Champlain Bridge; $48 million over two years for a new bridge over the St. Lawrence; $40 million over two years to repair and maintain small craft harbours across the country.
Consumers – $305 million over five years to extend and enhance broadband high-speed internet access for rural and Northern communities; a bill to cap domestic wireless roaming rates; introducing legislation “to address price discrimination that is not justified by higher operating costs in Canada.” (whatever the heck that means); legislation to end Pay-to-pay billing, or paying a fee to continue to receive a paper bill.
Charities – Introduce measures to to crack down on terror groups or states that fund terrorism from using Canadian charities to launder money.
Veterans – Allocate $6 million over two years in funding for veterans’ funerals, and $2.1 million to enhance a web-based tool for veterans to access services
Deficit – Overall, the new spending totals $1.8 billion, most of it to be paid for by an increase in tobacco taxes of some $4 per carton, or .50 cents per pack. The government expects the budget deficit to be $2.9 billion this year, and expects a surplus of $6.4 billion in 2015-16, taking into account a $3 billion risk cushion. However, factoring in that risk fund, the books will appear set to balance this year.
Other Budget Measures
– Retired public sector workers will pay twice as much for voluntary medical benefits.
– $10 million more over 2 years for snowmobile and recreational trails.
– Government will bring regulation to Bitcoin, the virtual currency, to ensure it isn’t used for money laundering.
– Legislation promised to stop suspended senators from accruing pension.
– Creation of a DNA-based missing persons index.
Full Details in Tomorrow’s Newspapers
Source: Federal Department of Finance.