The Federal Budget was finally released Tuesday afternoon by Finance Minister Joe Oliver after being delayed from February due to economic uncertainty around the plunge in oil prices.
Canada has not seen issued a balanced budget since 2007, just before the 2008 economic recession, but Oliver has once again delivered a balanced book, his first as Finance Minister.
“Best first budget ever by a Finance Minister,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he and Oliver entered the House of Commons.
Highlights from the 2015 Federal Budget:
- The 2015 budget is a $300 billion budget
- The budget features a $1.4 billion surplus, the first since 2007
- Conservatives have promised $11.8 billion for defense spending
- $18 million for RCMP, CSIS and CBSA, increasing to $92 million in 2019-20
- Tax-Free Savings Account contributions will be doubled, meaning someone can invest up to $10,000 per year
- Small business tax rate going down to 9% by 2019
- $1.33 billion over six years, starting in 2017–18,to the Canada Foundation for Innovation to support advanced research infrastructure at universities, colleges and research hospitals.
- Helping to develop the next generation of research and development leaders by providing $56.4 million over four years, starting in 2016–17, to Mitacs in support of graduate-level industrial research and development internships
- Increasing access to venture capital financing to help innovative, high-growth companies grow and create jobs.
Providing $14 million over two years to Futurpreneur Canada in support of young entrepreneurs.
Expanding eligibility for the Low – and Middle – Income Canada Student Grants to short duration programs.
Continuing to provide $5.35 billion per year on average for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure under the New Building Canada Plan.
Providing an additional $750 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, and $1 billion per year ongoing thereafter for a new and innovative Public Transit Fund — the Government’s largest targeted infrastructure program — to promote public transit infrastructure investment in a manner that is affordable for taxpayers and efficient for commuters.
Increasing transfers for health care by a projected $27 billion over the next five years
Providing up to $360.3 million in 2015 – 16 for the Canadian Armed Forces to extend its mission to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
Many are calling today ‘Day 1’ of the Prime Minister’s 2015 federal election campaign and criticize the budget as a campaign document and an election ploy.
The budget back-loads much of its spending promises to later dates, virtually telling Canadians that if they elect the Conservatives, they will receive the outcomes of those promises.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says if elected, he would reverse the doubling of the TFSA, saying that it, along with most of Harper’s budget, only serves the wealthiest Canadians.
There is also criticism around how the Conservatives were able to achieve the budget surplus. The budget includes a cut from the contingency fund used for national emergencies from $3 billion down to $1 billion.
But the Conservatives are proud of reducing the federal deficit from $55.6 billion at the height of the economic recession to a current surplus of $1.4 billion. They also say they will be introducing balanced-budget legislation that will “enshrine in law its prudent approach to fiscal planning.”
“Economic Action Plan 2015 will create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. It is a balanced budget, just as we promised, and it cuts taxes for hard-working individuals and families. It is a prudent and principled plan that will see Canadians more prosperous, more secure, and even more confident in our country’s place in the world. Canadians can rest assured that under the strong leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada’s fiscal house is in order,” said Finance Minister Joe Oliver in a statement.