Feb 12, 2014

By Scott Walker

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Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has delivered a budget with no surprises, few gifts for taxpayers, and no praise from Ontario or the opposition parties.

There is money for infrastructure, and for jobs training — although the federal government is treading on provincial toes by taking over the training itself.

Ontario finance Minister Charles Sousa is also angry that Ottawa is cutting transfer payments to the province by $641-million. He points out that Quebec is getting $1.8-billion more, and Alberta is getting an additional $1.4-billion.

But Flaherty says equalization payments are calculated on a formula, and when a province does better, it receives less from Ottawa.

Both Mayor Rob Ford and Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly praised the budget for coming closer to balancing the books. Kelly says the infrastructure funding that will help pay for the Scarborough subway is welcome, but he would have liked to see more.

CARP — a new vision of aging — is disappointed that there was no mention of help for caregivers and dementia care, which were both promised in the throne speech. And the opposition parties complain there is nothing for the middle class or ¬†unemployed young people.

Smokers will pay more. Public servants will have to pay for half of their health insurance. There’s money for food safety, veterans, and research and development.

The budget carries a deficit of $2.9-billion, although it sets aside three billion for contingencies. That means, if there are no unexpected expenses, Flaherty could announce a balanced budget as early as the fall.



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