Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled his sixth budget in Parliament today. You can find plenty of print, broadcast and online coverage in the mainstream press but if you are so inclined, you can read the entire 352-page document here. For readers who would rather undergo a root canal than read a budget document, here are the highlights of measures that directly impact your pocketbook:

A summary of measures that will directly affect your pocketbook can be found on Page 10. They include: higher transfer payments to seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), forgiving loans to health care workers in remote communities, new Family Caregiver, Children’s Arts and Volunteer Firefighters tax credits, an extension of the ecoENERGY retrofit program.

The Government is proposing a ban on unsolicited credit card cheques to assist consumers in managing their debt levels (Page 87).

A New Guaranteed Income Supplement Top-up

Effective July 1, 2011, single seniors who are receiving an annual income (other than OAS and GIS) of $2,000 or less will receive additional annual benefits of $600. The top-up will be gradually reduced and completely phased out at an income level of $4,400. For senior couples, the additional benefits are worth $840 and the bottom and top thresholds are $4,000 and $7,360 respectively. (Page 109).

New Tax Credits

A $2,000 non-refundable Family Caregiver Tax Credit (worth $300) for caregivers of infirm dependants who currently receive one of the following dependency-related credits: the Spousal or Common-Law Partner Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Eligible Dependant Credit, the Caregiver Credit or the Infirm Dependant Credit. The measure will apply for the 2012 tax year. (Page 114).

Eliminate the $10,000 limit currently applicable for claims under the Medical Expense Tax Credit for the 2011 tax year. (Page 115).

A $500 (worth $75) non-refundable Children’s Arts Tax Credit for children under the age of 16 years registered in a qualifying supervised activity. Despite the name, the credit will apply to eligible “artistic, cultural, recreational or developmental” activities. For children eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, the age limit is 18 years and the tax credit is increased by an additional $500. (Page 118).

A $3,000 non-refundable Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit (worth $450) for volunteer firefighers who perform at least 200 hours of service in a year. (Page 119).

The budget contains numerous measures that tweaks the rules concerning RESPs, RDSPs, Tuition Tax Credits and Charitable donations. We’ll look into these in future posts.

This article has 10 comments

  1. Thanks CC. Where we are keenly interested is the ecoEnergy rebates. We spent over $10,000 during 2010 when the CDN government said we could no longer get their contribution. We’re hoping we get some rebates! We wrote about the retrofit program and our improvements on our site in a few articles. Getting the FED side of the rebate would be cool as we got the ON portion applied to our retrofit already.

  2. I think these are all moot points since it appears as though we’re heading into an election.

  3. The point of the concessions is to get the NDP on board to stop an election being called – at least with regards to the budget proposal.

  4. When asked this morning whether he thought there was any chance there would not be a spring election, Bob Rae replied, “I think the fat lady has sung.”

    How does this work:does the federal bureaucracy just soldier on without a budget until early summer when the new government entrenches itself?

  5. @sustainable I would hardly call those concessions. The “concessions” were just enough that the Conservatives could try and use them against the NDP in a campaign but a long way from being enough for the NDP to vote for given the mandate the NDP has from their voters.

  6. My biggest concern is that none of the political parties are co-operating with one another – and the polls indicate what I fear most – that after spending another $220 million on yet another federal election, we’re going to have the exact same result, another minority Conservative government…

    But now none of the parties are willing to work together. Even if the polls magically swing to a minority Liberal government, we’re still pooched because of the same problem. No minority government can function without working collaboratively with the opposition.

  7. @Sustaniable PF: I’m not sure whether expenses made in 2010 will qualify for new ecoENERGY rebates.

    @Phil: The budget is moot only if the Government doesn’t get reelected. It looks like the Tories will reform Government as of now though a week is a long time in politics.

    @Ben: Yes, I think an election is all but certain now. I think for us taxpayers, we continue with existing rules until a new Government passes a budget in Parliament. I would think that the bureaucrats will be in a holding pattern until a new Government is sworn in.

    @James: From the Conservatives point of view, it is all about optics. They see that an election is all but inevitable (given the other scandals going on) and want to fight an election on the budget. But they can’t be seen picking a fight, so they put in just enough to say to the electorate that they are trying their best to accommodate the opposition. It’s all very cynical but that’s politics.

  8. @CC – I did call and they don’t know whether they will be covered yet. They said the budget has to pass before those details are explained. The wording is interesting however with the use of the terms extending and extension. I would be surprised if the Tories didn’t give access to all of those precious Ontarian votes they want/NEED who took advantage of the fact the ON govt didn’t cancel their twin-program even though the Feds did. PC needs ON votes – my guess is they’ll cater to those who did the retrofit in 2k10.

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