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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.
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.