Liberals unveil first budget, $29.4 billion deficit

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Ottawa, March 25 (CINEWS): To many it was a budget designed to make everyone happy. A populist budget which in many cases went beyond the expectations of the recipients of the stimulus packages and sops to the middle-class. But to others, it is the large deficit with no timeline given to balancing the budget that is troubling.

PM Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau show off their first budget

Here are the 2016 budget highlights:
• Deficit: $29.4 billion this year, $29 billion the next before falling – but no surplus forecast before the next election.
• Debt: Expected to grow by $113 billion by 2020-21, but debt-to-GDP ratio to stay mostly flat at around 32 per cent.
• Growth: Deficit based on 0.4% annual growth – much lower than economists predict.
• Canada Child Benefit: New monthly tax-free payments starts July 1 to replace UCCB and other tax measures: up to $6,400 a year per child under 6, and $5,400 those aged 6 to 18. But this amount begins to claw back for households with an income over $30,000 and is eliminated entirely for incomes over $190,000.
• Tax credits: Children’s arts and fitness tax credits phased out by end of 2017. But teachers get a $150 credit for teaching materials.
• EI: Changes make it easier to qualify for benefits, and extends benefits for workers in 12 hard-hit regions. Plus: a bigger-than-expected cut in EI premiums next January.
• Infrastructure: $120 billion over 10 years, focusing first on public transit, water, waste management and housing infrastructure.
• Indigenous Peoples: $8.4 billion over five years, with $2.6 billion of that to improve primary and secondary education on reserves. Other funding for drinking water and housing, as well as family and child services.
• Student grants: Increased 50%, to $3,000 for low-income and $1,200 for middle-income students.
• Arts: $1.9 billion over five years for arts and culture organizations, including the Canada Council, Telefilm Canada and the National Arts Centre. $675 million to “modernize and revitalize CBC/Radio-Canada in the digital era.”
• Seniors: Guaranteed Income Supplement increased by up to $947 annually.
• Veterans: Reopens nine service offices, increases amounts payable to injured veterans and indexes some benefits to inflation.

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