Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau holds a media availability in Toronto on Thursday February 28, 2019. The Trudeau government will take steps in Tuesday’s federal budget to make home-buying more affordable with changes affecting supply, demand and regulation, The Canadian Press has learned. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget of its mandate Tuesday, just seven months before the next federal election.

Here are some things to watch for:

A boost to skills training

The government says it wants to help workers adapt to the rapidly changing needs of the modern workforce. The budget is expected to announce measures to help Canadians cover their bills if they choose to head back to school to upgrade their skills or to change careers. Morneau has also said he wants to make sure workers have dedicated time off so they can get that skills training. As part of the package, the Liberals plan to create a lifelong savings account for adults after drawing inspiration from a similar program launched a few years ago in Singapore, said a government source, who was not authorized to speak publicly because the plan is not yet released. The program is expected to share traits with Canada’s registered education savings plan (RESP), but be aimed at mid-career adults rather than youth. In late 2017, Morneau’s council of economic advisers recommended such a program, which the group called the “Canada Lifelong Learning Fund.”

READ MORE: James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

Helping more millennials buy homes

The budget will include plans to help more first-time buyers enter the housing market, changes that will arrive at a time of out-of-reach real estate prices in some parts of the country. Morneau has said he’s particularly focused on helping millennials, a generation of people who are now in their mid-20s to late 30s. His budget will make home-buying more affordable with a series of changes affecting housing supply, demand and regulation, a government source said.

(Early) steps toward national pharmacare

The Liberals also plan to move toward their two main goals on pharmacare: keeping costs down and ensuring better coverage for everyone. Earlier this month, an advisory panel assembled by Ottawa released an interim report that recommended the federal government create a new agency to oversee the rollout of a national drug plan, the first part of a much broader pharmacare program. The panel, led by former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins, said the federal government should also develop a national list of drugs to ensure consistent coverage across the country. It called for funding to gather better data on prescription medications. Some have high hopes Tuesday’s budget will include an extensive pharmacare component, but a government source said any firm commitments won’t go much beyond the interim report’s recommendations.

On or off the fiscal track?

In November, Morneau predicted annual deficits of $18.1 billion in 2018-19, $19.6 billion in 2019-20 and $18.1 billion in 2020-21. After 2020-21, the annual shortfalls were expected to shrink each year, reaching $11.4 billion in 2023-24. Ottawa’s fiscal track promises to be a key issue in the October election campaign — with Liberals calling for investments to lift long-term growth and the Opposition Conservatives demanding balanced books to ensure future generations aren’t stuck with the tab.

Lifeline for the news industry

The Trudeau government is due to deliver an update to its plan to support the ailing journalism industry. Last fall, it announced new tax credits and incentives worth $595 million over the next five years. Ottawa said it would create an independent panel of experts from the journalism community to seek advice on the measures and, in particular, define which outlets will be eligible for a refundable tax credit on labour costs. But it has yet to assemble the panel, which has raised concerns in the news industry that the support is taking too long to materialize. A spokesman for Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said last week that the budget will lay out details of the measures announced in the fall.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cache Creek council votes to rejoin local transit system

Details need to be worked out, but hopes are that change can be expedited

Ashcroft residents get information at Community Forum

Water treatment plant, recycling, an Eco-Depot, the budget, and more among items addressed

Elizabeth May’s wedding will be a ‘low carbon affair’ in Victoria on Earth Day

Green party leader’s wedding party to depart in a cavalcade of electric cars

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

UPDATE: Four victims identified in deadly Penticton shooting spree

John Brittain, 68, faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select sailings

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries will be available on the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Federal government extends deadline to make Trans Mountain decision to June 18

The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on Feb. 22

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Hwang’s first MLS goal lifts Whitecaps to 1-0 win over LAFC

Vancouver picks up first victory of season

Child-proof your windows ahead of warm weather: B.C. expert

Fifteen children were taken to BC Children’s Hospital for falls in 2018

B.C. trucker pleads guilty to lesser charges in fatal Manitoba crash

Gurjant Singh was fined $3,000 and given a one-year driving prohibition.

Most Read