Finance Minister Jim Flaherty gave his budget speech yesterday in what has been interpreted as a pro-business budget. The Budget document runs to 498 pages and is entitled Economic Action Plan 2012. You can find the full budget document on the Canada page under Links as well as a short version very soon.
Meanwhile the official press statement concerning the budget reads as follows:
The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, today tabled Economic Action Plan 2012, a comprehensive agenda to bolster Canada’s long-term economic strengths and promote job growth.
“In this budget, our Government is looking ahead not only over the next few years but also over the next generation,” said Minister Flaherty. “The reforms we present today are substantial, responsible and necessary. They will ensure that all across government we are focused on enabling and sustaining Canada’s long-term economic growth.”
Economic Action Plan 2012 takes important steps to address the challenges and help take advantage of the opportunities of the global economy, while ensuring sustainable social programs and sound public finances for future generations.
Supporting Jobs and Opportunities
The Government is focused on boosting economic growth and job creation—innovation, investment, education and skills. Economic Action Plan 2012 will support jobs and growth by:
• Making major investments of over $1 billion to support science and technology.
• Providing $500 million to spur the growth of innovative start-up companies.
• Ensuring responsible resource development by moving to “one project, one review” within a clearly defined time period for major economic projects while continuing to protect the environment.
• Opening new markets and expanding international trade, bringing Canadian goods to the world.
• Extending the Hiring Credit for Small Business for one year to make it more attractive for small businesses to grow and hire more workers.
• Providing $150 million over two years for the new Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund.
• Providing $5.2 billion over 11 years to renew the Canadian Coast Guard.
• Better focusing Employment Insurance on promoting job creation by removing disincentives to work and supporting unemployed Canadians by connecting them more quickly to jobs.
• Providing $275 million over three years to support First Nations education and build and renovate schools on reserve.
• Building a fast and flexible economic immigration system to attract immigrants with the skills and experience our economy needs.
Sustainable Social Programs
In order to ensure Canada’s social programs are there for when future generations need them, we are taking responsible action to prepare today for long-term demographic pressures. To this end, Economic Action Plan 2012 will:
• Gradually increase the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits from 65 to 67, starting in April 2023, to be fully implemented by 2029.
• Allow Canadians to defer the take-up of their OAS pensions so they can receive a higher pension later.
• Put in place a proactive enrolment regime for OAS and GIS to reduce the burden on seniors of completing application processes and reduce the Government’s administrative costs. Proactive enrolment will be implemented in a phased-in approach from 2013 to 2015.
Responsible Expenditure Management
Economic Action Plan 2012 is our plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. An important part of our low-tax, low-debt plan is returning to a balanced budget in the medium term. Over the past year, we have found fair, balanced and moderate savings measures to reduce the deficit. These measures will achieve ongoing savings of $5.2 billion, representing less than 2.0 per cent of expected federal program spending in 2016–17. Over 70 per cent of the savings found are in operational efficiencies.
“We will stay on course, to keep creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth for Canadians,” said Minister Flaherty. “We will not raise taxes. We will maintain our consistent, pragmatic and responsible approach to the economy, and take the necessary next steps to build confidence in our future.”