Federal budget addresses some islanders’ concerns, falls short on others

Federal budget addresses some islanders' concerns, falls short on others

WATCH: The Trudeau government’s second budget was short on new spending, but addressed many issues concerning Vancouver Islanders. Still, critics say it falls short in some important areas. Calvin To reports.

Experts say the Trudeau government’s 2017 budget is big on talk but much less so on new spending.

The deficit is now projected to climb to $28.5 billion, putting the government in a tight financial situation.

Still, the budget addresses some major concerns for islanders. 

  • $11 billion for affordable housing over 11 years
  • $20.1 billion for transit over 11 years
  • $1.5 billion in tech innovation and startups

“It’s a very good budget for cities,” says Victoria mayor Lisa Helps. “The Federation of Canadian Municipalities worked hard with the federal government to make sure it would be a good budget for cities, and the focus on cities is very positive… I think Victoria is well positioned to ensure that we get some of the pie.”

The budget also touted by the Liberal government to promote gender equity.

  • $7 billion over 10 years to create up to 40,000 new child care spaces
  • A new option to extend parental leave up to 18 months
  • A new agency to research and measure skills development

In addition, the government says many items in the budget were analyzed for their impact on women.

Experts say it is a good first step but needs more concrete details.

“Basically what they are saying is, ‘We are aware that a lot of policies may have a differential impact,’ but then they are very vague in terms of actually going into a detailed analysis and asking what to do,” says Elisabeth Gugl, associate professor of economics at the University of Victoria.

At the same time, experts say the budget falls short for many on the island. There is $3.4 billion set aside for Indigenous infrastructure, health and education, but critics say it is billions short of what is actually needed to eliminate drinking water advisories on reserves, a Liberal campaign promise. 

“Will they put a dent in? Yes. Is that good? Yes. But trust matters here. And when you make a promise to Indigenous peoples, you need to carry through on that,” says Rob Gillezeau, assistant professor of economics at the University of Victoria.

Other changes will likely affect islanders as well.

The transit pass tax credit, brought in during the Harper era, will be phased out this year.

Taxes on alcohol and cigarette sales will increase minimally.

The Canada Savings Bond program will end.

The budget did not include any changes to person taxes or capital gains taxes.

Calvin ToCalvin To

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