What the Federal Budget Has in Store for Mississauga and Beyond
What’s today’s burning question: What does the federal budget mean for Mississauga and, by extension, you?
Depending on your situation, it could most certainly affect you.
A budget is usually a document outlining the priorities of an organization for the upcoming fiscal year, which usually begins in April. When budgets from governments come around, various people from all walks to life look to see what the government is putting on the table to alleviate their concerns—or what it’s willing to cut to balance the budget.
For the third consecutive budget by this Liberal government, spending is centre stage. Federal spending has been increased from a modest $5.7 billion last year to $21 billion over the next five years. For you fiscal hawks out there looking for a plan to balance the budget, it is not coming anytime soon.
Much of the focus has been how this is the first budget in Canadian history to be put through a “Gender-based Analysis Plus”, and a number of spending items certainly reflects the ‘gender lens’ in this budget, such as the following:
Increasing women’s representation in male-dominated trades through the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women and the Pre-Apprenticeship Program.
In the previous budget you were able to take additional time off for parental and caregiver care and get the EI Caregivers Benefit. This has now been extended to include maternity and sickness benefits.
Staring in June 2019, the government will offer five additional weeks of “use-it-or-lose-it” EI Parental Sharing Benefits when both parents commit to sharing parental leave. It’s available to all two-parent families, including adoptive and same-sex couples (see graphic below).
The budget’s justifications for addressing what the government felt was an imbalance between men and women when it comes to the types of professions they choose was based on the latest statistics from the census:
Do you think this is sound, evidence-based policy making, or is it more akin to a form of social engineering from the federal government?
Other “goodies” announced in the budget include:
The announcement of the creation of an Advisory Council to create National Pharmacare. Former Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has been appointed to chair the council, although no dollar amounts have been tacked onto this pending program.
Cigarette and tobacco taxes are going up. The government plans to advance the inflationary adjustments for tobacco excise duty so that they occur on an annual basis rather than every five years, and also proposes to increase the excise tax by $1 per carton of 200 cigarettes, along with corresponding increases to the excise duty rates on other tobacco products.
$1.3 billion over five years for parks and wildlife spaces. The investment will contribute $500 million from the federal government to create a new $1 billion Nature Fund in partnership with corporate, not-for-profit, provincial, territorial and other partners. The fund will make it possible to secure private land, support provincial and territorial species protection efforts, and help build Indigenous capacity to conserve land and species at risk.
The carbon tax is coming! Provinces and territories requesting that the federal system apply, in whole or in part, in their jurisdiction should confirm this by March 30, 2018. Provinces and territories establishing or maintaining their own system need to outline how they are implementing pricing on carbon pollution by September 1, 2018. The government will review each system and implement the federal system in whole or in part on January 1, 2019 in any province or territory that does not have a carbon pollution pricing system that meets the minimum standard.
Municipalities have done much in the past three years to cultivate a good working relationship with the Trudeau government, so it is not surprising to hear local mayors in Peel coming out with positive things to say about Budget 2018.
In a recent statement, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said that this budget aligns with a number of the city’s priorities, such as ongoing commitments to public transit infrastructure, continuing revenue from 2 percent of the federal gas tax, $231 million to tackle the opioid crisis, $1.25 billion over the next three years for 14,000 affordable rental units, and $1.7 billion to support scientists, grant councils and research institutes (referencing how Mississauga has the country’s 2nd largest life sciences sector).
Likewise, Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey was also pleased with the budget, particularly the investments in cybersecurity:
Watching #budget2018 and excited about Federal government's plans to invest $750M over 5 years to improve Cybersecurity. This could accelerate @RyersonU plans to build an innovation hub in Brampton - first step will be a Global Centre for Cybersecurity.— Linda Jeffrey (@LindaJeffrey) February 27, 2018
Overall, there was not anything major in terms of massive public infrastructure spending like in previous budgets. The main focus of this year’s document seems to be the prioritization of making it gender balanced and more appealing to women.
Budget 2018 therefore can be mostly seen as a transitional document ahead of next year’s budget. Since 2019 is an election year, the Liberal government will have to give something to take back to voters. So we’re more likely to see big ticket spending items next year.
The entire 2018 Federal Budget can be read here.
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