The Road to Balance – Staying the Course for the 2014 Canadian Federal Budget
Published on: 22/02/2014
On February 11, the federal Conservative Party published its proposed Budget for 2014. Budget 2014 is the ninth such document of the Stephen Harper-Jim Flaherty era and is projected to run the smallest federal deficit ($2.9 billion) since 2007. It is a rather bland document, largely staying the course on spending priorities of previous years, with no new major initiatives (or taxes) announced. It is, however, being regarded as a "set-up" budget for 2015.
The projected $2.9 billion deficit for 2014 is down from the $16.6 billion deficit that was run last year, and down from a recession high $55.6 billion deficit in 2009. Based on the projections in this Budget though, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the Conservatives expect to run a surplus of $6.4 billion in 2015, their first in eight years (just in time for the tentatively scheduled federal election in October 2015). To reach the goal of a balanced budget next year, Budget 2014 introduced a blueprint based on restrained spending and focuses on business development, consumer protection, and training for workers.
Infrastructure spending and apprenticeship training each received significant attention in the Budget; however the investments that were referenced were largely the continuation of commitments made in previous years. The focus of federal infrastructure investment will continue to be roads, bridges, and public transit, as well as sewers and watermains (though with little of this investment focused in Ontario). Infrastructure investment announcements included:
• significant funding for northern development, resource mining, energy, and agricultural infrastructure;
• $391.5 million over five years to the Parks Canada Agency for improvements to highways, bridges and dams located in national parks and along our historic canals;
• support for municipalities to move towards a comprehensive asset management planning system;
• $470 million over two years for procurement and project delivery for the new international crossing between Detroit and Windsor;
• moving forward with planning on the Pickering lands project, including the division of the existing federally-owned lands for park, airport and economic development;
• $165 million over two years to advance the construction of a new bridge for the St. Lawrence; and,
• $378 million over two years on a cash basis to advance the repair and maintenance of federal bridges in the Greater Montreal Area, including the Champlain Bridge to ensure it is properly maintained until the new bridge for the St. Lawrence opens.
These investments are all part of the larger Building Canada investment plan introduced in 2013, which committed $53 billion in federal infrastructure spending over the next 10 years (money raised from the indexing of the Gas Tax, GST rebates for municipalities, and the Building Canada Fund, among other initiatives).
The Budget also continued with the federal promotion of apprenticeship training, including the introduction of the Canada Apprentice Loans program to help registered apprentices in Red Seal trades with the costs of technical training. The Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training pilot project was also announced as a program to explore and expand the use of innovative approaches for apprentice technical training.
Additional items of interest include:
• the promotion of public-private partnerships (P3s) to deliver federal infrastructure projects costing more than $100 million; and
• the Expression of Interest (EOI) economic immigration system, which is expected to provide priority for permanent entry to foreign trained immigrants in high demand occupations.
If you are interested in reviewing the wider components of the Budget, http://www.budget.gc.ca/2014/home-accueil-eng.html
If you have any questions about the 2014 federal Budget, please feel free to contact Patrick at OSWCA at 905-629-8819 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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