Finance Minister Jim Flaherty proudly noted the budget “contains the smallest increase in discretionary spending in nearly 20 years.” He also said, however, that money transferred to provinces and individuals will not be reduced.
The key feature of the Conservatives’ budget is the Canada Job Grant. According the budget, the grant “could provide $15,000 or more per person” for short-term training. Only $5,000 would be contributed by the federal government, with matching contributions coming from provinces and employers.
No more CIDA
In what the government calls “international synergy,” the Canadian International Development Agency, which performs essential aid work in developing countries, will be swallowed up by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The new entity will be called the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. The government says it “will continue to serve the same functions as the old departments.
Help for manufacturers
Manufacturers are among the winners in the budget, with tax relief of $1.4 billion over four years for buying new machinery and equipment.
Tariffs will be reduced on items including baby clothing and sports equipment such as ice skates and golf clubs. It remains to be seen whether the cuts will translate to lower prices for consumers.
Closing tax loopholes
The government will eliminate “unintended tax benefits” that allow some to avoid tax by doing such things as moving money offshore. The measures include paying people who provide information about tax avoiders.
More highlights from the 2013 federal budget:
Ottawa is axing deduction that allows Canadians to claim the cost of renting a safety deposit box. Taxpayers who have investment income have typically been allowed to deduct the cost of safety deposit boxes used to store and protect papers related to that portfolio. But that deduction ends with the 2013 budget.
Commercial parking supplied by municipality, hospital, university, college or school will be subject to the Goods and Services Tax.
Rideau Hall will begin paying the GST and HST on purchases for use by the Governor General. While Governor General David Johnston voluntarily pays the tax on his personal purchases, Rideau Hall has been exempt.
Other key figures from the budget include:
$253 million over five years for affordable housing.
$44 million over two years to improve processing of citizenship applications and another $42 million over two years to enhance processing of temporary resident applications.
$8 million towards the restoration of Toronto’s Massey Hall.
$920 million over five years to renew the federal economic development agency for southern Ontario. Formed in 2009, the agency has funded 341 projects in the region. As well, the budget commits another $200 million for a new “advanced manufacturing fund” to be managed by the agency, to encourage corporate investments in new products or production methods.
$248 million over five years for better weather forecasting. The cash will enable Environment Canada to invest in radars and climate monitoring stations to produce “more timely, accurate weather warnings and forecasts.”