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Federal Budget 2019: Highlights for Atlantic Canada

Date: March 20, 2019

Federal Budget 2019: Highlights for Atlantic Canada 

March 20, 2019

The Liberal government’s fourth and final budget before the general election this fall projects a deficit of $19.8 billion in 2019/2020. While the deficit for 2018/2019 is revised down to $14.9 billion, the cumulative deficit over the last three fiscal years is $53 billion, compared with the Liberal election platform for deficits amounting to $23 billion, with a return to balance in 2019/2020. The deficit is not projected to fall below $19 billion until 2021/2022 and is still $10 billion in 2023/2024. The proposed deficit reduction is driven by a forecast of program spending falling, as a share of GDP, while revenues remain constant.

This budget continues the recent pattern of running deficits by choosing to invest in new program spending. Budget 2019 invests $4 billion in 2019/2020 which, along with $1 billion of policy actions since the Fall Economic Statement, completely offsets the improved fiscal outlook of $5 billion since November 2018.

Municipal infrastructure benefits from a $2.2 billion top-up in 2018/2019. The biggest new items for 2019/2020 are for Indigenous communities and several measures to support jobs and training (e.g. making Canada Student Loans more affordable, expanding the student work placement program, a new Canada Training Credit). Commitments beginning in 2020/2021 include help for working low-income seniors, SMEs and innovation in the forest sector.

Other initiatives in this Budget include measures related to high-speed internet access for all Canadians, housing affordability and steps towards a new national pharmacare program. In addition, PEI will benefit from $10 million annually for people with complex health and social needs in community-based housing.

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