Federal Budget Highlights

The Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance, introduced the federal budget on Tuesday. The budget, Economic Action Plan 2015, introduces a balanced budget with a $1.4 billion surplus this year.   The budget makes a significant investment in new public transit projects, while also focusing on tax cuts for families and seniors, as well as national security measures.

The federal budget referenced several initiatives of interest to local governments, including:

  • Investing $750 million over two years starting in 2017–18, and $1 billion per year thereafter, for a new Public Transit Fund aimed at building new public transit infrastructure;
  • Creating a new dedicated infrastructure fund to support the renovation, expansion and improvement of existing community infrastructure in all regions of the country as part of the Canada 150 celebrations (details forthcoming);
  • Maintaining annual investments of $1.7 billion for social housing for the next four years;
  • Providing $150 million over four years, starting in 2016–17, to support social housing in Canada by allowing social housing providers to prepay their long-term, non-renewable mortgages without penalty;
  • Provides $80 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, to the National Energy Board for safety and environmental protection and greater engagement with Canadians (funding to be cost recovered from industry);
  • Provides $34 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to continue to support consultations related to projects assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012;
  • Continuing to support, with $75 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, the implementation of the Species at Risk Act;
  • Provides $30.8 million over five years, starting in 2015-16, for measures to strengthen marine incident prevention, preparedness and response in waters south of the 60th parallel;
  • Investing $27 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, to enhance security measures at Canada’s federal courts and registry offices;
  • Providing $3 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to take initial steps to establish a Public Safety Broadband Network, a high-speed mobile network dedicated to emergency management; and
  • Reducing the small business tax rate to 9 percent from 11 percent by 2019.

Absent from the budget were any commitments on partnering to meet the new federal wastewater regulations that will cost upwards of $18 billion over the next 25 years.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been advocating for a partnership with the federal government on this infrastructure project.

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