Some critics have called this anything but a budget while others have hailed it as progressive.
Titled “Equality + Growth, A Strong Middle Class,” the 367-page budget document offers no sign of balancing the budget, neither is there any new increases in taxes or new revenue streams, but there is new cash to tackle the opioid crisis and to cope with a surge in asylum seekers crossing the border from the United States and improve living conditions for Indigenous people.
But women are the big winners, with money targeting new parental supports, gender equality and anti-harassment initiatives, as well as measures to promote pay equity.
There’s also a pledge for a new national pharmacare program, but the budget says nothing about what that might cost.
Here below are highlights of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Budget 2018:
• $21.5bn in new spending over 6 years, including the fiscal year just ending
• $18.1bn projected deficit for 2018-19 (including $3B for risk), falling to $12.3bn by 2022-23
• $750mn over 5 years to improve cyber security
• $231mn over 5 years to address the opioid crisis, including $165mn this year
• 5 weeks extra leave for two-parent families under the EI Parental Sharing Benefit (June 2019)
• Legislation promised this year on federal pay equity – but no price tag yet
• $172.6mn more over 3 years for clean drinking water on reserves
• $1.4bn over 6 years in new funding for First Nations Child and Family Services
• $2bn over 5 years in additional foreign aid under the Feminist International Assistance Policy
• $10mn over 5 years for an RCMP unit to review 25,000 cases of sex assault deemed “unfounded”
• $1.3bn over 5 years to conserve land, waterways and wildlife and protect species at risk
• $100mn over 5 years to develop rural broadband innovation, including low-earth-orbit satellites
• New judges, 6 for Ontario, 1 for Saskatchewan, and more money to help ease court backlogs
• $173mn to address irregular border-crossings and asylum seekers
• $6mn for a new process to hold federal leadership debates during election years
• $50mn over 5 years to one or more independent organizations to support local journalism
• $30mn over 3 years to promote women and girls’ participation in sport
• Free admission for kids to national parks will be made permanent
• Creation of advisory council on implementing national pharmacare – but no money yet – CINEWS