What the 2019 federal budget means for you
Published Tuesday, March 19, 2019 4:23PM EDT
OTTAWA – The Liberal government has unveiled its final budget before the next federal election, and as anticipated it includes a host of measures targeted at specific key voting demographics, including millennials and seniors.
CTVNews.ca has analyzed the 460-page budget from cover to cover, and here’s a rundown of the key initiatives the government is promising Canadians both before they go to the polls this fall, and should the Liberals be re-elected.
Do you want to buy your first home?
The government says it wants to make it easier for young people to buy their first home, and promises to do that through a targeted new support system.
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive will allow buyers—who have the minimum down payment for a mortgage—to finance 10 per cent on a new home or five per cent on an existing home through a shared equity mortgage with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Doing so will lower buyers’ monthly mortgage payments but like everything, terms and conditions apply. One of them: only households with combined incomes lower than $120,000 annually will qualify.
Relatedly, the government wants to increase home supply and is vowing to look into ways to monitor and target tax evaders and those who use real estate to launder money, in an effort to bring down housing prices.
Looking at long-term promises, the Liberals are vowing to build 42,500 new housing units in low-supply areas for rentals over the next nine years.
Are you concerned about job training or student loans?
The government wants to make the prospect of going back to school, or gaining new skills, more appealing.
It wants to do so through a new Canada Training Benefit to chip in a small amount towards the cost of training fees. It’s a credit of $250 a year that can accumulate to help pay for future training, up to $5,000 over a person’s career. People between the ages of 25 and 64 are eligible.
The feds are also setting up a new Employment Insurance Training Support Benefit that will allow people who want to get more training take four weeks every four years to do so, without coming up short on living expenses. They also want to work with the provinces to look at ways to allow people to leave a job to get more skills, and still have a job when they return. To qualify workers need to be making between $10,000 and $150,000. However, this promise isn’t set to kick in until the end of 2020.
The government is also putting a sizeable chunk of money towards lowering the interest on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans. The interest rates will be lowered from the floating rate to the prime lending rate, starting this fiscal year.
Do you care about the cost of medication?
If you were looking forward to the 2019 federal budget being the one that unveils a national pharmacare program, you will be disappointed. As the government put it, this budget simply “starts us down that road” with “initial steps.”
These steps include creating a Canadian Drug Agency that will be given $35 million over the next four years to look into bulk buying drugs to lower costs and determine with the provinces and territories a list of best cost per value pharmaceuticals for Canadians.
The government will also take steps towards making drugs for rare diseases more affordable through launching a “national strategy,” though the funding for this doesn’t start until 2022-23.
Are you a senior, or thinking about retirement?
In an effort to allow low-income working seniors to keep more of what they earn, the government is pledging to table new legislation to extend eligibility for the Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption.
This will come into effect in July 2020 and could mean an increase up to $2,500 a year per recipient.
They will also be automatically enrolling any Canada Pension Plan contributors who are 70 years of age or older and have not yet applied. This is estimated to see those seniors receive an average $300 more each month.
As for pension protections, the government is vowing to introduce new measures aimed at securing workplace pensions in the case of a company going out of business. This pledge is light on details or concrete steps but will include changing federal pension law.
The Liberals are also earmarking $50 million for a national dementia strategy.
Do you want to do more to combat climate change?
The government is partnering up with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to offer $1 billion towards making community buildings, homes and businesses more energy efficient.
It is also sending municipalities a one-time infrastructure top-up of $2.2 billion through the Gas Tax Fund.
Looking to get behind the wheel of an energy-efficient vehicle? The government is creating a $5,000 federal incentive to purchase zero-emission vehicles such as electric or hydrogen-fuelled cars. This will apply to vehicles with a retail value of less than $45,000 and is applicable starting today.
Are supports for Indigenous and marginalized communities important to you?
Budget 2019 includes more funding to go towards the aim of Indigenous self-determination, as well as towards health, language and cultural initiatives.
This includes $739 million over five years to keep up the promise of eliminating all drinking water advisories in First Nation communities; $1.2 billion over three years for Indigenous child welfare services; and $333.7 million over the next three years for Indigenous culture and language restoration.
The budget also announces a new Anti-Racism Strategy with the purpose of finding ways to counter racism with things like educational materials, and setting up a new secretariat within the federal government to coordinate efforts across departments. This comes with a budget of $45 million over three years.
The government is also putting an additional $20 million over the next two years for community organizations to “address unique needs and persisting disparities” among LGBTQ Canadians.
Are you a farmer, an Atlantic Canadian, or live in rural Canada?
There are also more micro-targeted and smaller-ticket regional items in the 2019 budget.
Of note among these, Canada’s supply-managed dairy, eggs, and poultry are getting new protections. The government is making an income protection program eligible, and is promising a measure to protect the value of quota investments.
Budget 2019 promises that by 2026, 95 per cent of Canadian homes and businesses will have access to high-speed internet, something many in rural Canada are still without. This promise comes with up to $6 billion over the next decade in spending to see this promise come to fruition.
There will also be $65 million heading to western Canada for more air ambulances and three new ferries being put in the water in Atlantic Canada.