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New first-time homebuyer loans, worker tax benefits included in federal budget

First-time homebuyers, farmers and First Nations communities are among the top priorities in Canada’s 2019 federal budget.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the Liberal government’s budget on Tuesday, entitled “Investing in the Middle Class.”

Canadians looking to purchase their first home, especially young people, are one group expected to benefit from the government’s investments.  First-time homebuyers will now be able to borrow up to $35,000 from RRSPs, which is up from $25,000. As well, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will now contribute a small share of equity for down payments.

In an effort to help workers upgrade and acquire new skills while keeping their jobs, the Liberals plan to invest $1.7 billion over five years, and another $586 million a year after that, for a Canada Training Benefit. The benefit will include a $250 per year tax credit to pay for training programs.  The tax credit can also be utilized to cover living expenses for up to four weeks away from work.

Farmers in supply-managed industries will also benefit from the budget. The government has allotted $3.9 billion to ease the burden for farmers affected by new trade agreements with the U.S. and Asian countries

Another $1.2 billion over three years has been earmarked to improve social services for Indigenous families and children. An additional $2.2 billion will go towards First Nations infrastructure projects and infrastructure projects in other Canadian communities.

The Liberal government also intends to create a new Canadian Drug Agency, which will evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of new drugs for the whole country, rather than province-by-province.  As well, $500 million a year will be spent to subsidize the costs of drugs for rare diseases starting in 2022.

Anyone who drives electric or hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicle will also be entitled to up to $5,000 in rebates, with the government pledging $300 million over three years.

The 2019 budget projects a $19.8 billion deficit for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The deficit is $200 million higher than what was projected by the Liberals last year.  A reduction is expected over the next few years, with an $11.4 billion projected federal deficit by 2023-2024.

Following the budget’s unveiling, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of throwing money at Canadians in an attempt to distract from the controversy surrounding his office’s handling of SNC-Lavalin. Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has claimed that she was pressured by members of the Prime Minister’s Office and other government officials, to cut a deal with the Montreal-based company, which is currently facing charges of corruption and fraud related to its work in Libya.

“Justin Trudeau is trying to bury the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal under $41 billion of brand new Liberal spending, which Canadians will pay for through higher taxes if he is re-elected,” said Scheer.