We're told not to expect a lot of new initiatives in Budget 2014, to be tabled in the House of Commons by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on Tuesday afternoon.
Economic Action Plan 2014 is supposed to be a stay-the-course document which will ultimately allow the Harper government to achieve a surplus in 2015
The Tories released this teaser late Friday afternoon.
While the YouTube video is short on detail, we're starting to get some leaks about some of the measures — small as they might be — to be included #EAP14
Here are just a few of them.
1. High-speed Internet in rural and northern Canada
CBC News is reporting that Flaherty will announce more than $225 million to improve or expand high-speed internet for 280,000 homes in rural and northern Canada.
The Huffington Post's Sunny Freeman wrote about Canada's digital divide in December.
"The federal government declared in a 2001 report its commitment to making broadband access available to all communities in Canada by 2004. A decade later, 15 per cent of rural communities still lack access to broadband.
"Because of Canada’s vast geography and sparse population, there’s little return on investment and therefore little incentive for carriers to spend money to lay down infrastructure in rural and remote areas."
2. New infrastructure spending
On Sunday, Flaherty told CTV's Question Period to expect some new spending on targeted infrastructure projects.
"There will be money for infrastructure and very importantly major infrastructure projects in Canada," Flaherty said.
"Infrastructure is a good investment. But we have to be prudent about it.
"The infrastructure we build is built for economic purposes. It's not built to glorify somebody's ego."
The Globe and Mail notes that the government has already identified some specific projects: "the Detroit-Windsor crossing, Toronto subways, replacement of Montreal’s Champlain Bridge and Vancouver’s Evergreen Line."
3. Tackling unemployment
The government is expected to introduce a modest spending increase for programs to tackle youth unemployment which currently ranges between 13.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent.
"There will be some emphasis placed on giving people a chance, a start in life in Canada,” Flaherty said on CTV.
"We’ve looked at hundreds of issues, and some of the most important ones are relating to jobs, relating to young people, relating to apprenticeships, relating to internships, relating to getting people that first job even though they’re well educated and so on."
A 2007 study suggested that the unemployment rate for very new immigrants was almost double that of the rate for the Canadian-born population.
4. Cracking-down on charities:
Last week, Flaherty told reporters that the budget will include measures to tighten rules around charitable donations to make it more difficult for crime and terrorist groups to exploit Canadian charities.
"There are some terrorist organizations, there are some organized crime organizations, that launder money through charities and that make donations to charities and that’s not the purpose of charitable donations in Canada,” Flaherty said according to the Globe and Mail.
“We are being increasingly strict on the subject. You’ll see some more on Tuesday.”
5. Consumer-first policies:
In the government's throne speech last October, the Tories talked a lot about consumer-first measures. Flaherty told CBC's Chris Hall that Tuesday's budget will continue to push forward on that.
"The consumer part comes in mainly through things that Canadians experience in their everyday lives," Flaherty told CBC News during a weekend interview.
"It outrages a lot of people, including me, when I see the bills and when I see my son's bills.
"These are day-to-day things, but they matter and they drive up expenses for Canadians. They're not necessary so that's why we're taking action in certain areas like that."
Among other things, the throne speech included excerpts about mitigating the U.S./Canada price gap and about tackling the issue of hidden credit card fees.
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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