On Wednesday, March 22nd, the Federal Government of Canada revealed their second budget to the House of Commons. Among the updates, the Honourable Bill Morneau, Finance Minister of Canada, revealed additional funding for affordable housing, the illicit drug overdose crisis, as well as mention of Stage 2 of Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) project along with much more.
I would like to take a moment to go over some of the highlights from the presentation and what they mean for the City of Ottawa and other municipalities at large.
I am pleased to see that one of the weightiest items of the budget was designated to the protection and well-being of some of our most vulnerable Canadian families. The budget has allocated $11.2 billion in funding to cities and provinces to produce affordable housing projects over 10 years and $7 billion to support Canadian families with 40,000 new subsidized daycare spaces by 2019, extended parental leave and the allotment for expectant mothers to claim maternity benefits 12 weeks before their due date.
In addition, $59.8 million will be invested over four years, beginning in 2018-19, to make student loans and grants more readily available for part-time students, and $107.4 million over the same period for assist students with dependent children. $287.2 million will also be invested over three years, starting in 2018-19, for a pilot project to facilitate adult-student access to student loans and grants. Investing in our youth is an important initiative and I am happy that the education and caretaking of our children is considered a priority in this year’s budget.
As Chair of the Board of Health, I was also excited to hear that the Federal Government has added an additional $35 million in funding to overdose prevention strategies as a reaction to the recent illicit opioid crisis that has affected Canadians at all corners of our country. This is in addition to the $65 million previously announced in February.
Likewise, $9.6 million will be invested over the next five years for Marijuana education with $1 million a year to be invested each year following. It is my hopes that this additional funding will help to bring more awareness of the subject to Canadians and in doing so, save lives.
Higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco products will hopefully deter unhealthy habits and promote more healthy lifestyles within Canadians.
I am thrilled to hear the Federal government speak with a renewed interest on Stage 2 of Ottawa’s ongoing LRT project. Ottawa’s largest strategic project in history will create jobs, stimulate economic growth and reduce green house gas emissions within our City by taking 14,000 vehicles off the road during rush hour.
In addition, $20 billion towards public transportation projects over the next 11 years; however, officials also elected to remove the public transit tax credit which allows the cost of transit passes to be deducted (as of July 1st). Additional federal revenue will also be generated from a new GST tax to be implemented on ride sharing companies such as Uber.
Overall, I am happy to see a budget which has diverted a significant focus on projects which give back to the residents.
Investing in Canada’s cities is one of the surest ways to strengthen our country’s economic growth and to ensure our long-term prosperity. I have been advised that over the coming days, staff at the City will read over the budget details and analyse any potential impact on City services.
To read the budget in its entirety, please click here.