Key measures include:
* A new $2,000 child tax credit that will provide up to $310 of tax relief for each child under 18
* The Working Income Tax Benefit, which is intended to assist low-income Canadians who are making the transition from welfare to the workforce.
* $140 million over the next two years toward a Registered Disability Savings Plan
* Resources to the Canada Revenue Agency to detect and close down tax avoidance through offshore tax havens
* A rebate of up to $2,000 to buyers of fuel-efficient cars
* A levy of up to $4,000 on fuel-inefficient vehicles, which does not extend to gas-guzzling pickup trucks
* An increase in the age limit to 71 from 69 for registered retirement savings plans and registered pensions
* $300 million toward offering a vaccine to protect women against cervical cancer
* An end to the marriage penalty by increasing the spousal and other amounts to provide up to $209 of tax relief for a supporting spouse or single taxpayer supporting a child or relative
Thanks to continuing strong employment growth and high corporate earnings, Canada is expected to post a budget surplus in 2006-2007 of $9.2 billion.
Overall government spending next year will total $233.4 billion, up about 7 per cent compared to this year.
The finance minister also committed to pay down at least $3 billion a year on the $472 billion national debt.
About two-thirds of the budget is going toward resolving the so-called fiscal imbalance while the remaining one-third is committed to tax reduction and other spending initiatives, Flaherty said.
I haven't had the chance to review everything yet and the opposition responses aren't in at the time of this writing. I'll add them once they're available.
I hesitate to add this because some might think it's selfish or that I'm unable to see the impact on society of some of the larger measures announced but, as a mid-40s woman on permanent disability living well below the poverty line, there's nothing I can see in these announcements that will have a directly positive impact on my daily life or standard of living. It's been that way every year for a long time now. I think too many of us are too often forgotten...
Opposition party reactions:
Budget fails to close prosperity gap: NDP
Liberals: Conservative Budget Fails Canadians
Bloc likes Canada budget; government may survive
More from Duceppe:
Duceppe had this to say: "He (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) went around Canada last week saying he doesn't want an election ... he should say thank you to us."
I caught a bit of an interview with Elizabeth May who said her Green party certainly wouldn't have supported this budget either.
First Nations response from Phil Fontaine on CBC: "I'm extremely disappointed and seriously frustrated."
And what was that I heard Andrew Coyne say on CBC? That this Conservative finance minister was the biggest spender in the history of the country? That doesn't sound very "conservative" to me.
Via The Globe & Mail:
The rapid spending growth brought concern from economists and business groups, who noted Mr. Flaherty is promising restraint later, but spending big now.
"We are certainly overspending," said Nancy Hughes-Anthony, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "I'm concerned because the level is not sustainable."
"We're spending on everything from the CFL to truckers' lunches."
Truckers' lunches? I missed that line item...