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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A balanced budget with a $3 billion contingency

Published for the Prince Arthur Herald and Huffington Post Canada


Economic Action Plan 2014 wasn’t even tabled in the House of Commons before NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau complained about it. 

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s 10th federal budget, officially titled The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities focuses on delivering real results for Canadians and their families.  It supports jobs and growth; supports families and communities; and highlights the road to a balanced budget in 2015.  The 2014-2015 budget is technically balanced, but for a $3 billion contingency for unforeseen circumstances.

Just a few measures include:

-          Projects a $6.4 billion surplus in 2015-2016
-          Continuing to improve upon the Conservative government’s impressive 1+ million jobs created since July 2009
-          Saving small businesses over $2.2 billion by keeping the small business tax rate at 11 percent
-          Continuing to save the average family of four $3400 in fewer taxes they pay, only adding to the lowest federal tax burden in the last 50 years
-          $500 million for the Automotive Innovation Fund
-          $10 million for social innovation research projects at colleges
-          Implementing the Victims’ Bill of Rights
-          $25 million over five years to combat violence against aboriginal women and children, including awareness and safety programs.
-          Amending public service policies to better align with the current job market realities
-          $15 million annually for 1000 full-time internships for post-secondary graduates working at small- and medium-sized enterprises
-          $40 million for up to 3000 internships in high-demand fields
-          Review the $330 million Youth Employment Strategy budget to better align with the labour market
-          Over $438 million for aboriginal schools and education
-          Student-owned vehicles will no longer be considered in student loan assessments
-          Online casinos will be subject to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.
-          Anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regulations will be implemented for virtual currencies such as Bitcoin
-          Shifts contributions to the Public Service Health Care Plan to 50:50 employee-employer contributions.
-          $305 million to extend and enhance internet access in remote communities
-          Creates a $1.5 billion Research Excellence Fund for post-secondary institutions
-          Addresses cross-border price differences

These are just a few of the measures implemented in Canada’s 2014 budget as we get ready to return to balanced budgets in 2015 without reducing transfers to individuals or the provinces.
Although the media clung to the typical Opposition complaints, their answers and framing of simple questions were the most revealing.  It started with Peggy Nash complaining Toronto had a 10 percent unemployment rate (it’s actually 7.7 percent).  It turned to Tom Mulcair grading the budget as a D-, highlighting his incredible ability to apparently read, comprehend, and grade over 430 pages of budget documents within an hour of them being made public.

Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, was unable to answer the question, and instead launched into some weird tirade about what was wrong with the Conservative budget.  When pressed what his Liberal government budget would look like, Trudeau again dodged the question and launched into another tantrum.

One of the most striking parts of the budget release was the Opposition’s mixed messages. Peggy Nash called the budget “thin,” which, I assume mean they will be able to quickly read and pass the budget into law.  However, I’m sure this budget will be filibustered just like the NDP have favoured doing in the past.

In reality, Economic Action Plan is what Canada needs.  It’s why the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) gave the budget a “bronze medal.”

Canada’s 2014 Economic Action Plan keeps Canada on the right track back to a balanced budget in 2015.  We’re already there, but for a $3 billion reserve for any unexpected expenses.  Canada’s Road to Balance continues to support jobs and growth; supports families and communities; and highlights the road to a balanced budget in 2015 without cutting transfers to individuals or the provinces.

Read the full budget at http://www.budget.gc.ca and follow the discussion on

Facebook and Twitter at #EAP14 and #Bdgt14