Budget 2019 Focuses On Jobs, Retirement And Housing Affordability

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled a pre-election budget on Tuesday that focuses heavily on jobs, a secure retirement and housing affordability.

Minister Morneau's fourth budget, which will be his last before a federal election is held this October, delivers several new programs aimed at assisting millennials, seniors and small businesses.

"There's a growing sense of uncertainty taking root around the world, and Canada is not immune to those worries," Minister Morneau said in a prepared speech that was delivered in the House of Commons after financial markets closed Tuesday.

The Finance Minister said that many young people view buying a home as an “impossibility” and the government wants to change that with a new shared mortgage program that could offset the purchase price by up to 10%. Budget 2019 also boosts the amount that can be withdrawn from RRSPs for a first-time home purchase to $35,000 from the current limit of $25,000.

Additionally, low-income seniors will see changes to the Guaranteed Income Supplement which will allow them to keep more of their income if they choose to stay in the workforce. The budget also introduces safeguards to protect pensions in the event of company bankruptcies and offers supports to community projects that improve the lives of vulnerable seniors.

A national pharmacare program had been rumoured to be part of Budget 2019, but the 460-page budget document doesn’t allocate any money to create one. However, the budget does set aside $35 million to create a Canadian Drug Agency that will build on work already done by provinces and territories on bulk drug purchasing and negotiate better prices for prescription medicines.

The single largest budget investment is in Indigenous services, providing $8.1 billion over five years for improving healthcare, ending boil water advisories on reserves and settling land claims.

Budget 2019 projects a $20 billion deficit next year, which is scheduled to fall to $15 billion two years later, then again to $10 billion in 2023-2024. Additional budget highlights include:

• The creation of dedicated real estate audit teams at the Canada Revenue Agency to tackle tax non-compliance and money laundering in the housing market.
• An total of $739 million over five years to repair water systems on Indigenous reserves.
• $1.2 billion over three years to help Indigenous children access health and social services.
• A commitment to ensure access to high-speed internet by 2030 across the country.
• A federal purchase incentive of up to $5,000 for electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with a sticker price of less than $45,000.
• Funds to support retrofits, such as hot water systems or rooftop solar panels, that make homes and businesses more energy efficient.

In his speech, Minister Morneau said Canadians are nervous about the labour market and the mismatch between their skills and those employers are seeking. In response, the budget introduces a new, non-taxable Canada Training Benefit designed to help Canadians plan and pay for skills training.