The federal Liberal government delivered it’s fourth and final budget today, before an election this October.
Here are the top ten takeaways from a budget that covered a wide-range of topics including pharmacare and easing the burden on first-time home buyers:
1. Help for young people looking to buy a home
The First-Time Home Buyers Incentive reduces the down payment requirement for an insured mortgage in a shared program with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The net result: on a $360,000 mortgage, the monthly savings equals $228 a month or $2,736 per year.
The catch: the program is restricted to households with incomes of less than $120,000 — roughly $50,000 more than the median household income as calculated by Statistics Canada — effectively pricing out a large number of people.
2. Modernizing the Home Buyers’ Plan
The budget makes provisions to raise the amount a first-time home buyer can withdraw from an RRSP from $25,000 to $35,000.
3. More money for municipalities
With more tax revenue coming in this year, cities and towns will get a one-time top-up of $2.2 billion for current repairs and local infrastructure projects.
4. The creation of the Canada Training Benefit
Canadian workers aged 25 to 64 (with an income of less than $150,000 per year) will accumulate $250 per year, up to a lifetime limit of $5,000, to be used for skills training.
Workers will be required to claim college or university tuition fees on their tax return.
The total cost of the program is estimated to be $710 million over five years.
The Canada Training Benefit includes provisions to ensure workers can get leave from their current place of employment to pursue skills upgrade training. It also includes access to employment insurance for training support, including to cover living expenses for up to four weeks away from work.
5. Lowering the costs of student loans
Budget 2019 proposes a reduction in the floating interest rate, fixed interest rate and interest free grace period on student loans.
The average borrower could save about $2,000 over the lifetime of their loan.
6. Taking steps toward national pharmacare
With the creation of the Canada Drug Agency, bulk buying of prescription drugs and reducing costs for high-priced drugs for rare diseases the budget has outlines steps towards national pharmacare. This could effectively save $3 billion per year once implemented.
7. Advancing reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous communities
An additional $4.5 billion over 5 years is set aside to continue to close the gap of living conditions between non-Indigenous peoples and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people, totalling $17 billion for 2021-22.
8. Enhancements to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
The government claw-back of GIS payments will be reduced for low-income Canadian Seniors who choose to stay in the workforce.
9. New incentives for the purchase of electric or hydrogen fueled vehicles
The budget includes new incentives for buyers of electric or hydrogen fueled vehicles of up to $5,000 for cars with a price tag up to $45,000. (Tesla’s start at $47,000)
10. High-speed internet for all
Through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, the budget promises high-speed internet access to all Canadians.
Support program for Canadian journalism
Last fall, the Trudeau government announced new tax credits and incentives worth $595 million over the next five years to support the ailing journalism industry. The support program has been pushed back as the government is setting up an independent panel of experts to assist in the implementation of the funding, including the establishment of criteria for who will be eligible.