By Trevor Busch
The Harper Conservatives have been fiscally aggressive in ensuring the nation posts a $1.4 billion surplus in 2015 as a lead up to a fall election campaign. A report card issued to Canadian voters on the last four years of a Conservative majority in Ottawa, the 2015 federal budget is a showcase of moderate tax cuts and new benefits for small business and families.
“I think it’s a really good budget for Canadians, whether they’re parents or individuals, or business, because we have some very positive stuff in there for business as well,” said Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne. “Some things that I’ve been working on for some time, probably the last three years or so, is capital gains for farmers and ranchers, up to $1 million, so that’s a very positive move.”
Handed down in late April, the budget reveals total revenue for 2015 rings in at $290.3 billion, with total expenditures topping 288.9 billion. The projected 2015-2016 budget surplus is $1.4 billion.
“The other thing I’ve been really working on for quite a while is the accelerated capital cost allowance,” said Payne. “I’ve been pointing out to Finance, that in order for companies to actually take advantage of that, they need at least a minimum of a five year window, because you have to plan that, you have to do the finances, and the engineering and drawings, ordering of equipment, and then construction. That doesn’t happen overnight, so I was pretty happy about that.”
According to the federal government, a typical two-earner family can save up to $6,660 in 2015 due to tax cuts and increased benefits. Those caring for gravely ill family members will also be able to qualify for up to six months of Employment Insurance benefits, a huge increase over the previous six weeks allowance.
“Certainly, the tax benefits for families — basically all Canadian families with children are going to benefit from this, as well as benefitting seniors, and people with disabilities that have to stay in their home,” said Payne. “There’s also some additional benefits for veterans as well.”
A reduction in the small business tax rate, from 11 per cent to nine per cent by 2019, is expected to reduce taxes for small business by $2.7 billion from 2015-2016 to 2019-2020.
“There’s going to be a reduction in the small business tax rate, and we’re going to be reducing EI premiums in 2017 — when you have a balanced budget with a projected surplus of $1.4 billion, there’s some positive things that can happen as a result of that,” said Payne.
Some $1.3 billion over six years, starting in 2017-2018, will be funnelled into the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, for research infrastructure at colleges and research hospitals. The Conservatives have also announced an $11.8 billion boost to defence spending over the next decade through increasing the annual escalator in the department’s budget to three per cent, starting in 2017-2018.
“Our government has certainly taken the approach that the money that citizens are giving to the government, if we can reduce the amount that the government requires, it’s better for every Canadian — more money in their pockets, they can decide how to spend that money — better in their hands than in the government’s hands, because we’ve seen what happens with bloated bureaucracies, and these special programs that end up not doing a whole lot but build up the bureaucracy,” said Payne. “That’s one of the things we’ve been fighting since we became the government.”
A projected increase to health care transfers to the provinces will amount to $27 billion over five years, while $750 million will be pumped into a new Public Transit Fund in 2017-2018, which will increase to $1 billion in 2018-2019.
“Roughly four million families are going to get benefits through the universal child care benefit,” said Payne. “So families with kids under six, their increase in their payment is going to go up by $60 per month, and families with kids up to age 17, now they’re going to get $60 per month on top of that. There’s also families that will be allowed to split some income, which is very positive, and that really helps to level the tax field for working couples, and some may want to stay home to take care of the kids, and that will help them.”
Being invested over five years, $292.6 million has been allocated for intelligence and law enforcement agencies for counter-terrorism resources, while $210 million is being rolled out to support activities and events in celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017. A further $60.4 million will be spent over three years to beef up security measures on Parliament Hill.
“Small business is 85 per cent of the engine for the Canadian economy, they hire most of the people, and so that’s an important aspect,” said Payne. “Reduced tax levels make them far more competitive. Reducing EI premiums will also help them hire more employees. Those are things we want to see the direction take, and we’ve seen it in the past that by reducing those taxes, it does create more opportunity, more employment, for people operating a business. At the same time, it helps create jobs and grows the economy.”
Spread over five years, $200 million has been set aside to improve First Nations education. Invested over five years, $27 million is being allocated to enhance security at federal courts, registry offices, and the Supreme Court of Canada, while another $12.5 million will be spent over five years to double the budget of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) which oversees Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
Already on an election footing, Payne went on to attack the policy positions of both the federal NDP and Liberals, suggesting both parties intend to raise taxes.
“When you think about it, we’ve had I don’t know how many organizations praise the budget as a very friendly budget, and it helps people and organizations right across the spectrum across the country. I think people are seeing they have more money in their pockets, and it’s much better for them. I see it as very positive, and certainly from an election standpoint, it’s pretty hard to fight against this budget.”