Federal Budget 2017: Transit Credit Cut, Uber Taxed

By Laura Steiner

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s dug into consumers’ pockets for his second budget.  It introduced measures allowing Uber, and other ride-sharing services to charge HST/GST on fares similar to the way cab companies already do.

It hiked taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, known as “sin taxes.”  It breaks down to two cents/ litre of spirits, five cents for a case of 24 beer, and 53 cents for a carton of 200 cigarettes. It is expected put an additional $85 million into government accounts.  These increases will take effect beginning March 23, 2017.

The big change for consumers would be the Public Transit Tax Credit (PTTC).  The credit was introduced in 2006, and allowed transit-users to get back 15% of transit passes costing over $80/month.  The cut takes effect July 1, 2017.

A new caregiving benefit will allow workers up to 15 weeks off to care for an injured or ill family member.  Additionally the three current tax credits available will be combined into one.  The government says it will help more people.

This was considered the first “gender sensitive” budget.  It begins offering 18 months’ parental leave, and increased funding.  $7 billion of a previously announced $81 billion will be allocated to early learning and childcare.

According to the budget only 44% of the participants in job training programs were women.  Funding for these has increased by $2.7 billion with a renewed pledge to increase the participation of underrepresented groups. “Canadians welcome more training opportunities- but they expect them to lead to good full-time work,” said NDP Finance Critic Alexandre Boulerice,”

Morneau said it’s a budget focused on the future. The next step in our plan for Canada’s economy is making the smart, responsible investments we need to be innovative and competitive, while improving the health of our communities, ensuring a better future for our kids and grandkids,” he said.

During the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to keep their deficits to $10 billion/year over the first three years of their term.  This year Morneau forecasts a $28.5 billion deficit.  Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose worried over what that would mean to the future.  “That means a Canadian turning 18 today won’t see the Liberals balance the budget until they’re in their 50s. It’s a terrible legacy to pass to the next generation, and it’s the heart of Justin Trudeau’s economic plan,” she said in a Facebook post.