Ottawa – Today in Ottawa, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled the 2011-2012 Federal Budget.  This represents the next phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, a balanced approach designed to keep Canada’s economy on the right track in the midst of a turbulent global economy.

Conservative MP Pat Davidson is supporting the next phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, saying it will have positive benefits for families, seniors, and job-creating businesses across the riding of Sarnia-Lambton. It also contains a focused approach to a balanced budget by 2015, as planned.

“This budget hits all the right notes, with a special focus on helping our seniors, students, families and businesses” said MP Pat Davidson. “It covers a wide spectrum of important issues and will have an immediate impact on our community, in a very positive way.”

The federal budget contains a variety of measures designed to spur innovation in the Canadian economy, to create jobs, to ensure that the jobs of tomorrow are in place for young professionals and a response to the need for greater financial assistance for Canada’s seniors and students.

A breakdown of the federal budget finds spending highlights in the following areas:

Supporting Job Creation 

  • Extending the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance
  • Renewing the “Best 14 Weeks Program” and other programs to assist the unemployed find work
  • Providing a one-time credit of up to $1,000 to encourage additional hiring in the small business sector

Strengthening our Families and Communities

  • Enhancing the GIS for low-income seniors, including an increase in benefits of $600 dollars to single seniors and up to $840 for couples – this will help 680,000 seniors across Canada and literally hundreds if not thousands of seniors in Sarnia-Lambton
  • A new family Caregiver Tax Credit of $2,000 for caregivers of loved ones with debilitating health issues, including for the first time, spouses, common-law partners and young children
  • the introduction of the Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit, providing tax relief for volunteer firefighters who bravely serve their community and country
  • Student Load Forgiveness for Doctors and Nurses Working in Rural and Remote Areas, a new program through the Canada Student Loans Program to forgive a portion of student loans for new doctors and nurses, in an effort to encourage more to practise in Canada’s rural areas

Investing in the economy of Tomorrow

  • Providing $80 million in new funding over three years through the Industrial Research Assistance Program to help small and medium-sized businesses accelerate their adoption of key information and communications technologies through collaborative projects with colleges.
  • Establishing 10 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs, some of which will be active in fields relevant to Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy.
  • Extending and expanding Canada Student Loans and Grants for part-time and full-time post-secondary students.

Investing in Canadian Farmers

  • Announcing a two-year, $50-million Agricultural Innovation Initiative to support knowledge creation and transfer and increased commercialization of agricultural innovations.
  • Providing an additional $100 million over five years to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to improve food inspection capacity.
  • Providing $24 million over two years to extend the Initiative for the Control of Diseases in the Hog Industry

Background

Supporting Job Creation

  • Providing a temporary Hiring Credit for Small Business to encourage additional hiring by this vital sector.
  • Supporting the manufacturing and processing sector by extending the accelerated capital cost allowance rate for investment in manufacturing or processing machinery and equipment for two years.
  • Legislating a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the Gas Tax Fund to provide predictable, long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities.

Supporting Families and Seniors

  • Enhancing the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for those seniors who rely almost exclusively on their Old Age Security and the GIS and may be at risk of experiencing financial difficulties. This measure will provide a new top-up benefit of up to $600 per year for single seniors and $840 per year for couples. This measure represents an investment of more than $300 million per year and will improve the financial security of more than 680,000 seniors across Canada.
  • Attracting more health care workers to under-served rural and remote communities by forgiving up to $40,000 of the federal component of Canada Student Loans for new family physicians and up to $20,000 for nurse practitioners and nurses.
  • Introducing a new $2,000 Family Caregiver Tax Credit amount that will provide tax relief to caregivers of infirm dependent relatives including, for the first time, spouses, common-law partners and minor children.
  • Introducing a $3,000 Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit amount for volunteer firefighters who perform at least 200 hours of service in their communities.
  • Providing nearly $870 million over two years to address climate change and air quality, including the extension of the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program that will help homeowners make their homes more energy efficient and reduce the burden of high energy costs.

Investing in Innovation, Education and Training

  • Providing $80 million in new funding over three years through the Industrial Research Assistance Program to help small and medium-sized businesses accelerate their adoption of key information and communications technologies through collaborative projects with colleges.
  • Establishing 10 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs, some of which will be active in fields relevant to Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy.
  • Extending and expanding Canada Student Loans and Grants for part-time and full-time post-secondary students.
  • Encouraging skills certification by making all occupational, trade and professional examination fees eligible for tax relief.

Preserving Canada’s Fiscal Advantage

  • Delivering more than $500 million in new ongoing savings from the 2010 round of strategic review.
  • Protecting the integrity and fairness of the Canadian tax system by closing loopholes.
  • Launching a comprehensive one-year Strategic and Operating Review of departmental spending across all of government in 2011-12.

Helping Canadian Farmers

The Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan continues our Conservative Government’s strong  record of supporting for Canada’s farmers and farm communities and new initiatives such as:

  • New Agricultural Innovation Initiative $50 million to help Canada’s farmers remain on the cutting edge of agriculture innovations
  • Control of Diseases in the Hog Industry $24 million to fund national bio-security and best practices initiatives to combat hog diseases.
  • Plumb Pox Virus Strategy: $17 Million to contain Plumb Pox Virus in a peach, plum, apricot and nectarine trees in the Niagara region
  • Strengthening the Food Safety System: $100 Million for inspector training, additional science capacity and tools for front line inspectors to ensure Canada has the safest food possible.
  • Extending the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance: This measure will help reduce costs for new investments in machinery and equipment in the agriculture industry

 

Supporting Canada’s Seniors

The Next Phase of the Economic Action Plan builds on the support in place for seniors by announcing new measures to improve the quality of life and expand opportunities for older Canadians, including those living in Ontario:

A new Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up benefit targeted to the most vulnerable seniors. Effective July 1, 2011, seniors with little or no income other than OAS and the GIS will receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. Single recipients with an annual income (other than OAS and the GIS) of $2,000 or less, and couples with an annual income of $4,000 or less, will receive the full amount of the benefit. Above these income thresholds, the amount of the top-up will be gradually reduced and will be completely phased out at an income level of $4,400 for singles and $7,360 for couples.

$10 million over two years to increase support for the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which provides funding to organizations that help ensure that seniors, including those in Ontario can benefit from, and contribute to, the quality of life in their communities through active living and participation in social activities.

Proposed amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and Canada Labour Codewill ensure that federally regulated employees across Canada, including those in Ontario will be able to choose how long they wish to remain in the labour force based on their individual circumstances.

Promoting Education & Training

The Next Phase of the Economic Action Plan is enhancing Canada’s student financial assistance to ensure that more students are able to upgrade their existing skills and education qualifications so that they can make the most of their abilities and prosper in today’s changing economy.

The Next Phase of the Economic Action Plan will enhance and expand eligibility for Canada Student Loans and Grants for full and part-time post-secondary students. Post-secondary students from across Canada, including those in Ontario will benefit from:

An increase in the in-study income exemption from $50 per week to $100 per week. This will benefit approximately 100,000 students each year. This represents an ongoing investment of approximately $30 million per year.

The budget will also extend tax relief for skills certification exams.  This will make all occupational, trade and professional exam fees eligible for tax relief through the Tuition Tax Credit.

The budget will provide a higher income eligibility threshold for part-time Canada Student Loan recipients. The eligibility threshold for loans will be increased and harmonized with the threshold used in calculating need for full-time students. This represents an ongoing investment of $2 million per year and means that more part-time students will have access to Canada Student Loans.

An increase to the income eligibility threshold for part-time students used to determine eligibility for the Canada Student Grant to align it with the threshold for full-time students from low-income families. The new parameters will result in an ongoing $2.2-million investment per year.

In addition, the Next Phase of the Economic Action Plan provides approximately $5.6 million per year to reduce the in-study interest rate for part-time Canada Student Loan recipients from prime plus 2.5 per cent to zero. This brings it in line with full-time students, making part-time study more affordable for more Canadians.

The Government of Canada will work with its provincial and territorial partners to put these improvements in place as soon as possible. The Government’s goal is to have benefits flowing to students in the 2011 academic year.

Supporting Vibrant Communities

The Next Phase of the Economic Action Plan provides $15 million in ongoing funding to the Canada Periodical Fund to continue to support the distribution of publications in Ontario, and across the country.

The Next Phase of the Economic Action Plan provides $60 million to the CBC/Radio-Canada in 2011–12, to provide radio and television services in French and English, in Ontario and across the country.

The Next Phase of the Economic Action Plan provides $52 million over the next two years to support programs for Aboriginal communities across the country including those in Ontario. These investments include support to assist First Nations upgrade and replace their essential fuel tanks on reserve, and support for the First Nations Policing Program which supplements existing policing services in First Nation communities.

First Nations in Ontario can also benefit from the commitment in this Budget to reallocate up to an additional $20 million over two years to support the First Nations land management regime, which improves conditions for economic growth on reserve for participating First Nations.

Aboriginal Canadians in Ontario may also benefit from the announcement of $8 million over two years to promote clean energy in Aboriginal and northern communities.

Investing in Innovation, Education & Training

Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy, to be released this spring, responds to nationwide consultations held in the summer of 2010 to seek the views of Canadian industry, creators and consumers on how Canada can build a globally competitive digital economy by 2020. The Next Phase of the Economic Action Plan announces new and renewed initiatives that will set the stage for the strategy, and will provide support for communities across the country, including
Ontario:

$80 million in new funding over three years for a pilot initiative, delivered through the Industrial Research Assistance Program, to support collaborative projects between colleges and small and medium-sized businesses to accelerate their adoption of information and communications
technologies;

$60 million in funding reallocated over the next three years by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) to: promote increased student enrolment in key disciplines related to the digital economy such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates; and

$100 million per year to the Canada Media Fund, which invests in the creation of digital content across multiple platforms, and includes television and leading edge applications for Internet, wireless and other emerging platforms.

In addition, as part of the Government’s effort to strengthen Canada’s Research Advantage, the Next Phase of the Economic Action Plan proposes to invest $53.5 million over five years to support the creation of 10 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs. Some of these research chairs will be active in fields relevant to the Digital Economy Strategy.

The Government is also renewing the Community Access Program for an additional year.

Federal Transfers to Provinces and Territories

In addition to these measures, Ontario will continue to receive support through increased federal transfers in 2011-12.

Federal support to provinces and territories will reach an all-time high of over $56 billion, which is almost $2.2 billion more than last year. Total amounts for each major transfer will see year-over-year growth again in 2011-12.

For Ontario, this totals $17.7 billion in 2011-12 or $1,326 per capita. This long-term,
growing support helps ensure that Ontario has the resources required to provide essential public services, and contributes to shared national objectives, including health care, post-secondary education and other key components of Canada’s social programs.

Almost $2.2 billion through Equalization; an increase of over $1.2 billion from last year.

Over $10.7 billion through the Canada Health Transfer, an increase of $707 million from last year. CHT will continue to grow annually through a 6 per cent escalator.

Close to $4.5 billion through the Canada Social Transfer. For Ontario, this payment represents an increase of almost $1.3 billion since 2005-06 – an increase of 41.0 per cent – due mainly to the move to an equal per capita cash allocation of the CST.

Ontario will also benefit from continued direct targeted support in 2011-12, including:

$197 million for labour market training as part of a commitment of $500 million a year in new funding to provinces and territories, beginning in 2008-09.

$97 million for the wait times reduction fund as part of the 10-year Plan to Strengthen Health Care.

Reducing the Tax Burden on Canadians

Building on the ambitious agenda of tax relief implemented by the Government since 2006, the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan takes additional steps to reduce taxes for Canadians and Canadian businesses.

These tax relief measures will provide taxpayers in Ontario with approximately $970 million in tax relief over 2010-11 and the following five fiscal years. This includes a new Family Caregiver Tax Credit which will provide almost $320 million in relief and a new Children’s Arts Tax Credit which will provide almost $246 million in relief.

The Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan also takes steps to improve the fairness, neutrality and integrity of the tax system, close tax loopholes and limit tax planning opportunities.