Federal budget aims to stay the course
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has introduced a stay-the-course budget that pledges to eliminate the deficit by fiscal 2015 -- but counts on strong economic growth and closing tax loopholes to help get there.
Flaherty says the deficit for the current fiscal year is projected to be $25.9 billion but will become an $800-million surplus by 2015-16.
He's predicting growth in revenues from corporate and personal income taxes and the GST of almost five per cent a year to make his figures work.
Efforts to reduce international tax evasion and crack down on tax cheats are also expected to add 6.7-billion dollars in revenue over five years.
But Flaherty's foot remains firmly on the spending brake with direct program expenses projected to plunge almost $4 billion this year and another $2.5 billion in 2014-15.
Funds for a revamped plan for skills training - a centrepiece of the budget - are being reallocated from current Labour Market Agreements with the provinces.
The $15,000 Canada Job Grant won't start until April 2014 and is contingent on negotiations with the provinces, who are expected to kick in a third of the funds, with Ottawa and the employer also chipping in $5,000 each.
In a nod to Canadians angry about paying more for the same goods than Americans, the budget ends tariffs on baby clothes and sports gear, including skates, hockey sticks, skis and golf clubs.