“Today, we begin to restore hope for the middle class.
Today, we begin to revitalize the economy.
Today, we begin a long-term plan that will use smart investments and an unwavering belief that progress is possible to ensure that Canada’s best days like ahead.” — The Honourable Bill Morneau, Finance Minister
Wednesday, the newly-elected Federal government tabled their first budget. It focused on the middle class, infrastructure growth, protection of Indigenous people, and climate change. Yes, the budget does leave Canada with a terribly large deficit, but sometimes you need to spend. Cities need funding for transit and infrastructure projects — projects that are necessary for the growth and development of this country. The Transit Alliance applauds the federal government for their investment in public transportation, green energy, and affordable housing. It takes a lot of courage to create a budget like this. Many people won’t be happy. But, the important thing is that the Liberal government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, took future generations into account.
Here are some of the budget highlights:
Public Transit Infrastructure Fund: The government has proposed a $3.4 billion investment in public transit over the next three years. Ontario would specifically receive 40 per cent of that investment, the equivalent to about $1.48 billion. The specific projects being funded include upgrades for the Montreal Metro, fleet replacement by the Toronto Transit Commission, and light rail lines in Greater Vancouver and Ottawa. The immediate need for better transit is blatant, and the government is promising to provide 50 per cent of eligible costs for the projects. This investment is triple the amount provided in the 2015 budget.
Investing in Green: The budget includes $5 billion, spread out over the next five years, in green infrastructure projects, including investing in electric cars and alternative transportation fuel. The government will also provide $125 million to Canadian municipalities to enhance the Green Municipal Fund, which includes the creation of Canada’s first net-zero library in Varennes, Quebec.
Addressing Climate Change: Prime Minister Trudeau has already made it clear that climate change will be a priority. The government will be investing $2.9 billion in the development of pan-Canadian Framework, which includes the Low Carbon Economy Fund. This fund will support provincial projects that reduce greenhouse gasses. “Resources will be allocated towards those projects that yield the greatest absolute greenhouse gas reductions for the lowest cost per tonne,” the budget reads.
Affordable Housing: The federal government has doubled their commitment to the Investment in Affordable Housing Initiative, which addresses local housing pressures. The proposed budget would also invest $2.3 billion towards affordable housing for 2016-17, which includes better housing for seniors, social retrofits, rent subsidies, shelters for victims of violence, and the Homelessness Partnering Strategy.
What did you like or dislike from the federal budget proposal? Let us know in the comments below.