On Wednesday, Finance Minister Joe Oliver tabled the 2015 federal budget (budget.gc.ca).
This is the 10th budget tabled since I was elected to serve the fine folks of Kelowna-Lake Country and I am pleased to say it contains positive news.
First, it is a balanced budget.
Second, Canadians are enjoying the lowest overall federal tax burden in more than half a century.
We have achieved this while transfer payments to the provinces and territories for health care, education and social programs remain at historic highs and all of the jobs lost during the recession have been recovered—along with more than 1.2 million net new jobs.
This budget notes these achievements and more while delivering additional tax savings and benefits.
One hundred per cent of lower income, single parent, and middle class families with children are benefiting from increased benefits through the expanded Universal Child Care Benefit.
In addition to our new Family Tax Cut and lower personal income tax, it is estimated that a typical two earner family of four is now realizing an extra $6,600 in savings.
Seniors living in Kelowna-Lake Country will benefit from the 2015 budget with the reduction in the minimum withdrawal for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs).
Seniors and persons with disabilities will also appreciate the introduction of the Home Accessibility Tax Credit to help with renovation costs to make homes safer and more accessible.
The national seniors’ organization CARP also praised the new budget for almost doubling the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) from $5,500 to $10,000.
This is a popular program for Canadians at all income levels who actively save for retirement, a new home, or education.
Nearly 11 million Canadians use a TFSA, more than 80 per cent with incomes less than $80,000. Both seniors and families will welcome the expansion of compassionate care benefits under the EI program from six weeks to six months to help provide caregiving to loved ones when they need it the most.
Also happy with the budget are small business owners and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business because of its plan to reduce the small business tax rate over the next four years.
Once fully implemented, our government will have cut small business taxes by almost 50 per cent, helping businesses grow and create jobs.
For those in our tourism sector, more money will be invested to attract US visitors to Canada, including the Okanagan.
Extension of the electronic travel authorization eligibility to low-risk travelers from countries like Mexico will be good news for those who rely on clients from these countries.
And for our hardworking mayors and council, who are responsible for municipal infrastructure, the new, permanent Public Transit Fund, praised by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, along with the Gas Tax Fund and the New Building Canada fund, assures stable, predictable infrastructure funding over the long-term.
Budget 2015 and the ongoing strong fiscal leadership of this government means Kelowna-Lake Country taxpayers can look forward to balanced budgets, low taxes, job creation and Canada’s economic stability for years to come.