On March 29th, Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presented the federal budget, with a deficit of $21.1 billion. Liberal Interim Leader Bob Rae criticized the Conservative budget for moving the retirement age from 65 to 67, and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair stated that the Prime Minister was putting retirement security and primary health care in peril.
Due to the Conservative majority, the opposition cannot do anything to vote down the budget. Minister Flaherty defended the budget and touted its job creation strategy.
Some highlights from the federal budget include:
- 19,200 federal public sector jobs to be cut over three years.
- Production of the penny to be discontinued.
- Limits on 24-hour and 48-hour duty free exemption for cross-border shopping to increase.
- Eligibility age for Old Age Security changed from 65 to 67.
- Funding to the CBC cut by 10% over three years.
- The Governor General will pay income taxes.
- Review period for major developmental projects will be capped at 24 months, including the already in progress review for the Northern Gateway pipeline.
- $1.1 billion over the next five years on direct research and development support.
On March 27th, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan presented Ontario’s budget, with a deficit of $15.3 billion. Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak criticized lack of reduction of corporate income taxes, while Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on the Liberal minority to increase taxes on those earning $500,000 a year or more.
At one point, the fate of Premier McGuity`s minority government was questionable. While Hudak mentioned that every member of his caucus will vote against the Liberal budget, Horwath remained the decision-maker. On April 24th, the Liberal government was spared with the NDP making the unusual move of abstaining from the vote. This meant the budget passed 52 to 37, with each member of Liberal caucus voting in favour and each member of the Progressive Conservative caucus voting against the budget.
Some highlights from Ontario’s budget include:
- A wage freeze for MPPs and other provincial civil servants.
- Mandating high-income seniors to pay more for their prescription medication.
- Implement full-day kindergarten by fall 2014.
- Corporate tax rates maintained at 11.5% until budget is balanced.
- Provincial funding for the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Luminato Festival will be reduced.
- Reducing and capping Ontario’s clean energy benefit rebate eligibility level to 3,000 kilowatt hours.
- Tax increase for Ontarians earning more than $500,000 per year.