by Colin Smith
Seniors and small business people are among those who will particularly benefit from the recent federal budget, according to Rona Ambrose, MP for Edmonton-Spruce Grove.
But the budget announced Apr. 21 will be good for everyone, said Ambrose, Minister of Health in the cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“I think it’s a fantastic budget for people in the Morinville area and for all Canadians,” she said in an interview with the Morinville News.
“We have balanced the budget, which is no small feat. At the same time, we have reduced taxes.”
Ambrose pointed out the reduction of the deficit has been from $55.6 billion at the height of the global economic and financial crisis to a projected surplus of $1.4 billion in 2015–16.
“Prime Minister Harper put in a lot of hard work getting that done.”
Some critics have decried a lack of budget measures to promote job creation. Here in Alberta continuing lower prices for oil have resulted in job losses.
There are budget measures that will help people who are affected deal with this situation, Ambrose believes. “I think anytime you can support Canadians by giving back money it’s a good thing,” she said.
Taking into account a variety of measures introduced since 2006, a typical two-earner family of four will receive tax relief and increased benefits of up to $6,600 in 2015, according to budget figures.
These include the Family Tax Cut, the Universal Child Care Benefit, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate reduction, the introduction of new credits, such as the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, and broad-based income tax relief including the reduction in the lowest personal income tax rate.
Ambrose also sees doubling of the Tax-Free Savings Account annual contribution limit to $10,000 as beneficial, although others argue that it only benefits the rich.
The budget also supports many initiatives to support training and education programs that workers who have lost their jobs can take advantage of, and also moves to improve the Employment Insurance system, she said. “There is a big challenge but there is a lot of support.”
Small business people in Morinville and area will benefit directly from the budget. “We reduced the small business tax from 11 to nine per cent,” said Ambrose. “This is going to put a lot of money in the pockets of entrepreneurs.”
Other measures include increasing the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption to $1 million for owners of farm and fishing businesses and funding for exploration of export opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses, notably in the agriculture and agri-food sector.
The budget introduced a new Home Accessibility Tax Credit for seniors and persons with disabilities to help with the costs of ensuring their homes remain safe, secure and accessible.
“This is a tax credit to help seniors stay in their homes,” Ambrose said. “It gives them help financially so they can retrofit, such as put in a ramp or a stairlift. It’s very important in a region like this where people often don’t want to leave their homes. Maybe they don’t want to have to move to Edmonton. I thought that was a great thing.”
Also announced in the budget was the extension of Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits from six weeks to six months for people caring for gravely ill family members.
“Something really important to me as health minister is the extension to six months of the compassionate care benefit,” stated Ambrose. “When somebody is sick in your family it’s not just good for the loved one to be able to care for them at home, it’s good for the whole family.”
As part of celebrations of Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, for which $210 million has been allotted, a new dedicated fund is being set up to support the renovation, expansion and improvement of existing community infrastructure throughout the country.