OTTAWA — Highlights from the 2017 federal budget tabled Wednesday by Finance Minister Bill Morneau:
— Employment insurance premiums are going up five cents to $1.68 per every $100 of insurable earnings, up from $1.63 — the maximum allowable increase under the Employment Insurance Act.
— The deficit is at $23 billion, down from $25.1 billion in the last fiscal update, and is projected to reach $28.5 billion for 2017-18 — including a $3 billion contingency fund — before declining to $18.8 billion in 2021-22.
— The 71-year-old Canada Savings Bond program, first established in 1946, is no longer cost effective and is being phased out.
— Higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco products: the excise duty rate on cigarettes goes up to $21.56 per carton of smokes from $21.03, while the rates on alcohol are going up two per cent. Both will be adjusted every April 1 starting next year, based on the consumer price index.
— The public transit tax credit, which allows the cost of transit passes to be deducted, is being eliminated effective July 1.
— The budget dedicates $11.2 billion to cities and provinces for affordable housing over 10 years as part of the second wave of the government's infrastructure program, $5 billion of which is to encourage housing providers to pool their resources with private partners to pay for new projects.
— An "innovation and skills plan" to foster high-tech growth in six sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and clean resources
— $523.9 million over five years to prevent tax evasion and improve tax compliance, including more auditors, a crackdown on high-risk avoidance cases and better investigative efforts.
— $7 billion in spending over 10 years for Canadian families, including 40,000 new subsidized daycare spaces across Canada by 2019, extended parental leave and allowing expectant mothers to claim maternity benefits 12 weeks before their due date.
— $2.7 billion over six years for labour market transfer agreements with the provinces and territories to modernize training and job supports, to help those looking for work to upgrade skills, gain experience, start a business or get employment counselling.
— A national database of all housing properties in Canada, known as the Housing Statistics Framework, to track details on purchases, sales, demographics and financing, as well as foreign ownership.
— $400 million over three years through the Business Development Bank of Canada for a "venture capital catalyst initiative" to make more venture capital available to Canadian entrepreneurs.
— A comprehensive spending review of "at least three federal departments," to be named later, to eliminate waste and inefficiencies, as well as a three-year review of federal assets and an audit of existing innovation and clean-tech programs.
— $59.8 million over four years, beginning in 2018-19, to make student loans and grants more readily available for part-time students, and $107.4 million over the same period for assist students with dependent children.
— $287.2 million over three years, starting in 2018-19, for a pilot project to facilitate adult-student access to student loans and grants.
— $225 million over four years, starting in 2018-19, for a new organization to support skills development and measurement.
— $395.5 million over three years for the youth employment strategy.
The Canadian Press