Budget 2016: Catalyst for Change

New Government, new hopes, new promises, new ideas, new beginnings.

Justin Trudeau, our charming new Prime Minister has changed the perception of Liberals throughout the election process and continues to do so. This week’s budget   is an attempt to recreate a party that’s very progressive with hefty commitments.

A lot of things have already been written and spoken about what the Government should and can do or shouldn’t and cannot do. Indeed, every segment of the community has expectations. Nobody wants to pay more in taxes but almost everyone wants more and better services. Even in the best of times, budget-making is a very difficult exercise. Keeping these in mind, the budget that has been unveiled has something for everyone.

The focus of the budget is especially for families with children, and there are new benefits for them.

New monthly tax-free payments start July 1 to replace UCCB (Universal Child Care Benefit) and other tax measures: up to $6400 those aged 6 to 18. This amount begins to claw back for households with an income of over $30,000 and is eliminated totally for incomes over $190,000.  Changes to E.I make it easier to qualify for benefits. Guaranteed Income Supplement increased by up to $947 annually.

For veterans, nine service offices will reopen, there will be an increase in amounts payable to injured veterans and some benefits will be indexed to inflation.

The retirement age will remain at 65. The government will invest $3.4-billion in transit over the next three years, with Ontario receiving almost $1.5-billion of the new funding, followed by Quebec at $923-million.The budget proposes to increase Canada Student Grant amounts by 50 per cent: students from low income family can expect to receive $3,000 instead of $2,000; middle income families can receive $1,200 instead of $800; and part time students can receive $400 more that is 1,800 from $1,200.

To create jobs for youth, $165 million would be spent this year and additional investments will be made over the next two years.  $113 would be funneled into summer jobs program each year for the next three years.  To help employers create more co-op placements for students in science, engineering, technology, math and business studies, $73 million has been pledged over the next five years.

$1.9 billion over 5 years for arts and culture organizations, including the Canada Council, Telefilm Canada and the National Arts Centre.  For indigenous peoples, there is a proposal of $8.4 billion over five years, with $2.6 of that to improve primary and secondary education on reserves. Other funding for drinking water and housing, as well as family and child services.

All these highlight high expectations – right from students to seniors. On the face of it, the measures announced are in the right direction. There’s allocation of $120 billion over 10 years focusing first on public transit, water and waste management. However, the impact of investment on infrastructure may take more time because of the long gestation period of such projects. Moreover, the impact also depends on the efficacy of implementation.

Big risks, bold decisions trigger hope. Prospects of a brighter future for Canadians. Optimism in the air..

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