In keeping with a pre-budget tradition, federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver purchased a pair of new shoes Monday, opting for runners from the "New Balance" brand.
Oliver bought the black shoes, trimmed in Tory blue, at a store in north Toronto while journalists looked on. This year, Joe Oliver sported a pair of “New Balance” runners to tout his government’s “action plan”, and first balanced budget since the 2008/09 recessions.
The late Jim Flaherty, who delivered his final budget last year, once got his shoes resoled instead of new ones to reflect his fiscal plan to rein in spending when the world economy went sour.
The new path, fresh start for the road ahead, new shoes tradition, started in the 1950’s.
A few highlights
Economic Action Plan 2015 (EAP) supports jobs and growth, helps families and communities prosper, and ensures the security of Canadians.
Existing income splitting for families will be expanded.
The enhanced Universal Child Care Benefit will increase to $160 per month for families with children under six, and add a benefit of $60 a month for children between six and 17.
Families will also see a tax break with a $1,000-increase to the maximum amount that can be claimed under the Child Care Expense Deduction, which comes into effect next year.
For seniors, the government is reducing the minimum withdrawal required from retirement savings funds and introducing a tax credit to help cover the cost of home accessibility features such as wheelchair ramps and stair lifts.
The budget also increases the annual contribution Canadians can make to their tax-free savings account. The new limit is $10,000 a year, which targets older, more established workers with higher incomes.
The budget extends the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits from six weeks to six months. This will help Canadians caring for gravely ill family members such as elderly parents and families providing homecare.
Benefits for Veterans. They include a new retirement income security benefit for disabled veterans that extends beyond their 65th birthday, ensuring that reserve veterans get access to the same benefits as regular forces troops, and a $70,000 tax-free benefit for severely disabled and traumatised veterans. In total, the government says it is spending about $2.5 billion over six years on new benefits for veterans.
The government is committing $2.3 billion over the next four years to support affordable housing, which was a key recommendation of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Cities will be able to apply for transit infrastructure money under a new transit fund, which will provide $750 million until 2019, then $1 billion annually on a permanent basis. The government will favour public-private partnerships, and make payments over 20 or 30 years.