The newly elected Federal Liberals will be rolling out their first budget tomorrow, and all eyes are on newly minted finance minister Bill Morneau to see what he delivers.
During last year’s election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made plenty of promises on the campaign trail, and we’ll be getting our first look on how many of those make it to the books… and what the final price tag is.
During the campaign, the Liberals pledged to keep deficits to $10-million a year. But with the oil patch stumbling and economic growth weak, Morneau has nearly doubled that estimate, and some experts say it could balloon to three times original projections.
During the campaign, the Liberals promised $60-billion over 10 years for infrastructure, $20-billion of it for transit.
That’s got both the province and municipalities salivating at the possibility of big spending on local projects from bridges to mass transit.
But how much will flow to B.C., and how specific the Liberals are about “green” projects being transit oriented are worth watching.
Local mayors are also closely watching to see if the feds will tweak the funding formula for transit projects; currently Ottawa, the province, and cities split the cost at one-third each.
With the failure of last year’s transit plebiscite and a referendum requirement for any new funding source, that’s left cash strapped Metro Vancouver municipalities in a jam when it comes to new projects.
With projects like Surrey light rail and a Broadway subway on the wish list, they’re hoping changes in Ottawa could break the impasse.
It’s a perennial hot topic in Metro Vancouver, and the feds have signaled that affordable housing will be an issue in this year’s budget.
The second $20-bn share of the Liberals promised infrastructure money is being targeted at “social infrastructure,” including housing. But the specifics of where the money might be spent and how many units of housing could be created are still up in the air.
Last month, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson offered up $250-million worth of city land, with a federal ask of $500-million over five years to build social housing on it.
We’ll find out soon if Ottawa takes him up on it.
Over the next decade, the Liberals are promising the final $20-bn from their infrastructure pledge for clean tech. $6-bn of that is being promised over the course of their first term.
That money was to be targeted in areas from clean energy to wastewater, to infrastructure designed to protect against changing climate.
Earlier this month, Trudeau promised to begin doling out some of that cash as a part of the “Vancouver Declaration” framework reached with premiers on climate change.
Tomorrow we’ll get a look at where the money will actually go.
The Conservatives’ controversial move to push the age of eligibility for old age security from 65 to 67 likely won’t survive the day tomorrow.
However, how the Liberals plan to pay for the move, with an ever aging population is yet to be seen.
The Liberals have also promised big money for home care. Trudeau pledged $3-bn over four years to cover in-home caregivers and financial supports for family care and palliative care. They also promised to make EI compassionate care benefits more flexible.
The Liberals targeted young voters aggressively in the last election, and that focus looks likely to carry through tomorrow as well.
They’re promising $750 million to bump grants for low income students to $3,000 for full time and $1,800 for part time students.
But it’s not a win for all students – the Liberal plan calls for paying for the move by cancelling education and textbook tax credits which.
Students looking for a first job are also in line for a little help.
The Liberals have pledged $40 million a year for co-op placements for students in innovation sectors and $10-million for apprenticeship programs.
They are also waiving employer paid EI premiums for the next three years, when companies hire youth 18-24 to full time positions.
Parents will be interested in the Trudeau Liberal changes to childcare benefits.
The Conservatives’ Universal Child Care Benefit is being phased out and replaced with the new tax-free Canada Child Care Benefit, which will boost payments to households earning under $200,000, and scale it more heavily toward income.
The new benefit should kick in July 1st, and we’ll get a look at the full details of the plan tomorrow.
In question period today, Prime Minister Trudeau promised “Historic investments in First Nations and Indigenous Canadians,” across the country, particularly in the most vulnerable communities.
We know that Trudeau has already promised $2.6-bn in funding for k-12 education, along with another half billion to build and renovate First Nations schools.
In the wake of the shooting tragedy in La Loche and widely reported suicide and mental health crises in First Nations communities across the country, watch for targeted money for health and social services.
Also worth watching is how much money the Liberals dedicate directly to housing, water, and sanitation for First Nations communities.