Morneau Presents 2019 Budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau Presented his final budget before the 2019 federal election Photo Credit Twitter/Bill Morneau

By: Laura Steiner

Finance Minister Bill Morneau presented his 2019 budget Tuesday March 19.  It continued the Trudeau government’s focus of helping the middle class containing over $338.5 billion in promises.

Millennials were offered new measures to help with first-time home ownership through the First-Time Home Buyer incentive, described as using a shared equity mortgage program that would reduce mortgage payments.  Another measure is designed to allow greater use for their Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP’s). Canadians between 25-64  looking to re-train for work would be able to access up to $250/ year through the Canada Training benefit.  The budget would also lower interest rates Canada Student Loans, and make the six-month grace period interest free.  The interest rate will be lowered to prime+ 2.5%.

For seniors, the government proposes to enhance the exemption on the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) in order to allow those working to keep more of their earnings.  The budget made smaller steps towards universal Pharmacare with a proposed formation of a Canadian Drug Agency which proposes to save Canadians’ $3 billion on prescription drugs.

Municipalities get help with two top priorities.  Infrastructure gets a proposed one-time increase of $2.2 billion from the federal Gas tax fund, in 2018-19.  They’ll get help from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to make buildings more energy efficient. Budget 2019 also promises high-speed internet to all Canadians by 2030.   Car buyers are offered an incentive of up to $45,000 for vehicles with an electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell.  “These are Canadians’ priorities, and they are ones our government shares.  Budget 2019 is the next step in our plan to invest in the middle class, and build a strong economy that works for the middle-class- and for all Canadians,” Morneau said.

Conservatives Delay Budget by an hour

The Conservatives delayed Morneau’s speech by about an hour through various delaying tactics.  These included several MP’s rising on points of order.  When Morneau eventually began speaking, he was drowned out by shouts of “Let her speak,” and pounding on the desks.

The Conservative response came after Leader Andrew Scheer led his MP’s in walking out during the speech.   MP Pierre Pollievre tied the response to the ongoing SNC Lavalin scandal in comments to reporters.  He called it “The biggest and most expensive cover-up in the history of cover-ups.”  The budget contains over $338 billion worth in spending promises.

The Justice committee were looking into allegations brought by former Attorney-General Jody Wilson-Raybould.  In testimony February 27, Wilson-Raybould accused officials in the Trudeau government of pressuring her to extend a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) to the company.  SNC Lavalin  currently facing charges of bribery and fraud in connection with crimes committed in Libya.

The NDP did not engage in the same tactics.  In a statement posted to their website, they argued that the Liberals were out of touch.  “This budget shows how disconnected Trudeau’s Liberals are from Canadians’ everyday reality.  There is no sense of urgency to act on skyrocketing housing costs, unaffordable childcare, expensive prescription drug costs, and senior poverty rates,” Leader Jagmeet Singh said. This is the Liberals’ final budget before the 2019 federal election.  Canadians go to the polls October 21, 2019.