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What does the Federal Budget Mean for Toronto?


Unless you actively shy away from the news, you've seen a lot about yesterday's Federal Budget announcement. A little something for everyone in there, as part of the Conservatives long-term economic plan dubbed Advantage Canada.

Jim Flaherty announced over 14 billion in new spending, and 22 Billion going towards paying off the national debt in an overall attempt to restore fiscal balance to the country.

But what does it mean to the people in this city? Spending is nice, if it has a beneficial effect to you and me. Breakin' it down after the jump.

There were a lot of general announcements made that could be potentially beneficial to Canadians, but not a whole lot that was GTA specific. So let's start with the general points:

New Child Tax Credit. Families will now receive up to $310 per child in their household to help with raising kids.
Marriage Penalty ended. Single parent families will receive the same child benefits as a household with two parents.
RRSP holding extended. Seniors can now wait until the age of 71, up from 65, to cash in their RRSPs.
Automobile Environmental Incentives. A new $2000 rebate for buying a certified "fuel efficient" car. As well, a new levy of $4000 will be slapped on to "gas guzzlers". In effect starting today.
No change in income tax brackets.
New Registered Disability Savings Plan. $140 million to establish a new RDSP fund.
New drinking/clean water regulations. Tough new regulations on water quality to major water basins including the Great Lakes.
Child Care Spaces Incentive. Up to a 25% tax credit to business that invest in or create new child care spaces.
New Post-Grad Scholarships. $17.5K for masters, $35K for PHD students over 3 years.
Investments in health care. Investments to create electronic health records, and $600 nationally to help reduce wait-times.

So what about Toronto? Well, like a lot of cities across Canada, the GTA officials aren't overjoyed about the budget. There was no real talk of investing in cities, save for some extra dollars for infrastructure renewal.

The only two points of interest specifically for Toronto (that weren't even in the speech):

TTC Investment.
Announcement of $600 million ear-marked for the extension of the University line to York.
Extention of the gas tax. The city will be able to collect an estimated $8 billion in the gas tax, which has been extended another four years.

Mayor Miller doesn't see the fight being over though. He intends to continue the drive for the one-cent GST kick-back cities were promised in the last budget (that still hasn't come to fruition).

It might also be worth pointing out two other ramifications of yesterday's announcement. One: this makes the province look good. Going into their own election, the Liberals will be able to say that they are coming to the GTA's aid whilst Ottawa again turns its back on the cities.

Two: a federal election may be in the offing. The Liberals and the NDP are already on record saying they will not support the budget as it stands. A failed budget vote means an election. On the other hand, a well received budget may prompt the Harper government to call a snap election in an attempt to pick up a majority government.

One thing is for certain. This budget has the potential to affect our lives in a lot of indirect ways here in ol' TO.

What do you think? Have I left out anything that benefits Toronto? Do you think the budget is a good thing, or just trouble in the making? Comments are welcome.


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