Eli Ridder | Report
Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the 2019 federal budget on Tuesday, spending billions on pharmacare, retraining workers and easing burdens hitting first-time home buyers ahead of a federal election coming in October.
The Liberal administration, bringing in more money than forecast, is projecting that the deficit will sit at $19.8 billion deficit for the 2019-20 fiscal year, $200 million more in borrowing than anticipated for a year that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the 2015 election campaign.
National pharmacare has been a projected program for years on the Liberal Party platform and the budget takes steps towards setting one up. It sets aside $35 million to establish a Canadian Drug Agency for bulk drug buying and better pricing.
“It’s a plan to set up a plan,” analysts have said on the steps towards what could be national pharmacare. It has been considered a “big spending budget” made up several small items that add up.
The big ticket item in the budget is nearly $4 billion in assistance slated for dairy and poultry farmers that have been impacted by free trade deals in the USMCA and the new Trans Pacific Partnership.
The single largest investment is in Indigenous services where the Liberals have slated $8.1 billion over five years for improving healthcare, ending boil water advisories on reserves and settling consistently contentious land claims.
Critic Chantal Herbert said on CBC News Network that the budget was one that aims to make friends and not enemies and believes it will succeed.
Analysis: Budget 2019
The budget has been described by analysts as reaching out to critical demographics ahead of the federal election this fall, and there were no major surprises when it comes to the approach taken by the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
One very specific big-ticket items is the housing initiative brought forward by the federal government targeting first-time homebuyers.
The plan is for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. to buy a 10 per cent stake in the purchased house, which reduces the size of mortgage for new owners.
In practicality, the program will push down monthly mortgage payments by several hundred dollars, which could open up the housing market to many millenials, especially those living near centres such as Vancouver or the Greater Toronto Area.
In Ontario, the government under Premier Doug Ford has made significant cuts to incentives on zero-emission vehicles, however, the federal government in the 2019 budget is offering up to $5,000 on purchases of e-vehicles.
The Trudeau administration also made room in the budget for their previously announced plan to back national journalism by offering tax breaks to consumers who subscribe to Canadian news sites.
Image of Bill Morneau from files.