The Liberals no longer plan to balance the books by 2019, and are instead planning to spend billions on tax benefits and infrastructure over the next four years. In his first budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced $23 billion to bring in the new Canada Child Tax Benefit.
“Families with children under 18 will receive the benefit starting in July. That’s money in the pockets of mom and dad; money that can go directly to eating healthier food, paying the rent, or buying clothes for going back to school.”
The benefit is expected to give an average increase of nearly $2,300. It replaces the income tax splitting for couples with children, the universal child care benefit, and children’s fitness and arts credits.
Morneau also announced changes to employment insurance, making it easier to apply and extending benefits in hard hit regions like parts of Alberta. That’s one aspect Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is happy with.
“This will help struggling Alberta families and unemployed workers right away. The EI program is becoming for responsive to rapid shifts in the labour market. The five extra weeks of EI benefits will be a big help to Albertans who are unemployed, as will the extra 20 weeks for long-tenured employees, as well as the reduced waiting period from two weeks to one.”
Notley estimates the E-I change will be worth roughly $380 million to Albertans. The one disappointment the premier notes is that Edmonton is not included in the extension of those benefits.
She believes that like Alberta, the government is strategically investing in the economy while protecting essential supports. Notley says she’s cautiously optimistic that Alberta will get a fair share of infrastructure funding.
The federal deficit is projected to be $29.4 billion dollars in 2016/2017.