The Budget is Coming

Tony Kappen - 1B Computer
Posted on: March 9, 2018

Another year and another budget; on February 27, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled his budget, detailing federal spending for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This budget, like the one before it, keeps our finances securely in the red with a 15.6 billion dollar deficit plus an additional 3 billion in the event of any unforeseen catastrophes, for a total of a cool 18.6 billion dollars. The liberals justify their spending spree by pointing to the total ratio of debt to GDP as the truly important metric. This number has, in fact, dropped—down to 30.1 % from 30.4 % last year. So it seems all is still just fine and dandy.

With the preliminaries out of the way, let’s get into the nitty and gritty of just where the federal government intends to empty its coffers. Of the 15.6 billion deficit, 12 is spent continuing already existing government programs. The remaining 3 billion is spent on new policy directives.

These directives are split into 4 main sections which Morneau has chosen to label as Growth, Progress, Reconciliation, and Advancement. I’ll go over the key plans in each one.

Let’s start with Growth. This section—labeled as such because it is intended to grow the economy—introduces the Canada Worker’s Benefit, allocating 170 million dollars for the new policy. The Canada Worker’s benefit is intended to provide a tax benefit to low-income workers who comprise the working poor. By the government’s estimate, it is expected to lift roughly 70,000 members of the working poor out of poverty.

The federal government also allocates 68 million dollars to improve the place of women in the workplace, arguing that a more equal workplace will grow the economy overall. They intend the money to be spent on improving pay transparency, supporting community women’s organizations and in programs engaging men and boys to promote gender equality. They also intend some of the money to be spent gathering evidence on the effectiveness of these programs.

This section also includes 115 million dollars for skills training and employment programs. For all of you wondering what the government has planned for when the robots take all of our jobs, never fear: skills training is here. This money will be spent to fund the Canada summer jobs fund to encourage companies to hire students, help improve the responsiveness and effectiveness of employment insurance, and help more women enter the trades. Overall, its meant to make the process of finding a job just a tad bit easier.

Now let’s move onto the second big section. This section, titled “Progress,” is intended to move Canada forwards in terms of science and technology and make us more innovative overall.

It dishes out a total of 340 million dollars for Canadian scientists and research organizations. This includes organizations like the Canada Research Chairs and the Research Support Fund. There’s no money for the IQC at UWaterloo this year (but there should be 5 million coming next year).

There’s an additional 124 million being spent on a variety of federal science institutes such as the National Research Council and a whole variety of federal laboratories.

Finally, the biggest chunk of money from this section, totaling at 434 million dollars, goes to programs meant to encourage entrepreneurship and business innovation. This includes Innovation Canada, The New Women Entrepreneurship strategy, a new intellectual property strategy, and in improvements for rural broadband internet.

The third section, titled “Reconciliation,” regards investments being made to improve the quality of life for indigenous Canadians.

1 billion dollars will be spent to address issues such as clean drinking water on reserves, employment and training programs for indigenous people, increased health support for residential school survivors, indigenous sports, and more.

An additional 320 million dollars will be spent to improve the quality of local government for indigenous peoples. This is done through initiatives like improving the ability of local government to collect and analyze the data of its citizens, as well as create the structures needed for collaboration between indigenous governments.

The last section, Advancement, focuses on spending that is intended to advance our shared values. The first of these values is a clean and sustainable environment. 249 million dollars will be allocated to protect national parks, marine life, introduce a carbon pricing scheme, support clean growth initiatives, adapting current weather and water services to climate change, and a lot more.

174 million will be spent in foreign aid to improve the lives of women and girls abroad, and to support sustainable development initiatives all around the world.

165 million dollars will go to address the opioid crisis and 10 million to sustain local journalism.

The 2018 budget also includes a few measures to increase government revenues. The most prominent is a crackdown on tax loopholes and evasion, which is predicted to add an additional 435 million dollars to government coffers (included in the revenue calculation for this year).

The 2018-19 budget also seeks to add some fundamental changes in the way governments, present and future, formulate policy. The most prominent of these is the introduction of gender-based analysis. This directive will force the federal government to analyze the impact of any policy it makes from the perspective of gender equality; they must determine how policy will impact men and women, boys and girls together. Any future governments will also have to abide by this directive (unless of course, they decide to change it themselves).

With the 2018-19 budget, the government attempts to update and grow our industry and society. In order to do so, they have brought us deep into the red, betting that the necessary investments now will pay dividends later. Only time will tell if they succeed. Here’s to hoping they do.

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