Mar 22, 2016

By Michael Kramer

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The Trudeau government’s maiden budget is a deficit booster.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau projects a $29.4 billion dollar deficit this year — three times the promised shortfall of $10-billion dollars.

Morneau also projects a $17.7-billion dollar deficit in 2019-20 – the year the books were supposed to be balanced.

The document includes $2.7 billion dollars in infrastructure spending – which is way less than the $5 billion the Liberals had promised for phase one – but totalling $120 billion over the next decade.

For younger families, the government will introduce a new Canada child benefit – giving them a single, tax-free payment each month – geared to income.

And Ottawa’s eliminating the children’s fitness tax credit, the children’s arts tax credit and income splitting for couples with children – all previously introduced by the Harper Conservatives.

There wasn’t much for Zoomers.

Wanda Morris, VP of Advocacy for Carp-A New Vision of Aging says she thinks members will be disappointed. The group’s “feet to the fire” campaign has only yielded promises and not immediate action. As an example, Morris offers – enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan, access and affordability of prescription drugs – and $3 billion promised in investment in home care.

Morris says these items were mentioned in the budget –  but in the context of a promise that there will be further consultation.

As for the arts – –

A thumbs-up from The Canada Council for the Arts – which will see its annual budget nearly doubled within five years – although it’ll see only $40 million extra this coming year.

The Canada Council provides funding to artists and cultural projects across the country. In a statement, the council says 671,000 Canadians are already employed by the arts and culture sector – which contributes $47.7 billion to Canada’s GDP.

The government also says it is reversing past cuts – and investing $675 million over the next five years to modernize CBC and Radio Canada, in the digital era.

There’s also new money for museums – to address maintenance and operating costs – with $105 million pledged over the next five years.

Other highlights for the arts include: $22 million for Telefilm Canada over five years…$13.5 million for the National Film Board and almost $80 million for the construction of cultural and recreational centres.. in First Nations communities.

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