OTTAWA – The federal budget is again focusing attention on whether the Liberals will make good on some unfulfilled campaign spending promises. So far, they’ve delivered on one major commitment: Starting Jan. 1, the income-tax rate dropped to 20.5 per cent, from 22 per cent for taxable earnings between $45,282 and $90,563.
Here are some others that could be in play:
– Changing the rules to allow people to dip into their RRSPs more than once to buy a home.
– Bringing in a new, tax-free child benefit to replace the Conservative universal child benefit.
– Providing a refundable tax benefit of up to $150 for teachers who spend their own money on school supplies.
– Steps to increase federal infrastructure investment to almost $125 billion, from the current $65 billion, over the next decade.
– Provide $1.5 billion for public transit in Calgary as well as unspecified financing for flood control measures in the city.
– Help fund a Montreal rapid transit expansion, as well as a light-rail project on the Champlain Bridge linking Montreal to the suburban South Shore.
– Spend $3 billion over four years on home care and improve access to and reduce the cost of prescription medications through bulk purchasing.
– Establish a pan-Canadian expert advisory council on mental health.
– Spend $40 million over four years on the Nutrition North program, which is designed to help defray the high cost of nutritious food in the North. Increase the northern residents deduction by 33 per cent to a maximum of $22 a day.
– Scrap the purchase of the F-35 fighter jet and instead buy cheaper planes. Spend the savings on navy vessels.
– Spend $300 million a year to reform veterans’ benefits and delivery of services to vets.
– Put up $200 million a year for three years to help research facilities, small business incubators and exporters and invest another $100 million a year for an industrial research assistance program.
– Give $500 million to the provinces for skilled trades training, and devote $200 million for federal training programs. Set aside another $50 million to help aboriginal people improve their skills and job prospects.
– Spend about $1.5 billion over four years on a youth job strategy to help 125,000 young people find a job.
– Reduce EI premiums to $1.65 per $100 earned from $1.88. That’s less than the $1.49 rate that the Tories committed to in the 2015 budget, but the extra money would be reinvested, with $500 million going to the provinces for skills training.
– Reinstate $40 million cut from the ocean science and monitoring program at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
– Add $515 million a year to funding for First Nations education, rising through the mandate to a total of $2.6 billion. Add another $500 million over three years for education infrastructure and $50 million more a year for a program that helps aboriginals in post-secondary education.
– Provide $380 million in additional funding for the arts and undo Conservative funding cuts to the CBC.