Federal Budget 2016: 5 things P.E.I. should take note of

Here are five things for Islanders to take note of in this year's federal budget.

P.E.I. won't see benefits from extended E.I. benefits, will see increased money for infrastructure, ferries

The federal budget includes investments to the ferries that service P.E.I.

The Trudeau government delivered its first budget Tuesday, which forecasts big deficits over the next five years to finance increased spending on infrastructure, employment insurance benefits, child care, and the arts — to name a few.

Here are five things for Islanders to look for in this year's federal budget.

1. Infrastructure

The budget provides for $11.9 billion towards infrastructure spending over five years.

"That will go some distance in terms of helping P.E.I. with water, sewage, roads in the smaller communities with those needs to kind of build the foundation in terms of the infrastructure going forward," said Malpeque Liberal MP Wayne Easter.

Of that, $5 billion will be invested nationally in water, wastewater and green infrastructure projects.

Another $3.4 billion will go towards social infrastructure across Canada — including affordable housing, early learning and child care, cultural and recreational infrastructure and community health care facilities on reserve.

P.E.I will also see $660,000 in funding as part of the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.

Charlottetown's 2016 budget relies on $20 million in federal funding to get some of its projects off the ground.

2. Changes to EI

This year's budget includes an overhaul of the employment insurance regime.

Among the changes is a plan to reduce the waiting period before a claimant can collect EI from to one week from two, which would be effective Jan. 2017.

The budget also proposes extending EI benefits by five weeks for all claimants in 12 regions and by up to 20 weeks to long-tenured workers. P.E.I. is not among those 12 regions.

3. Ferry funding

Part of the funding for infrastructure improvements will go towards ferry services in Atlantic Canada, including the ferry between Souris, P.E.I., and Îles de la Madeleine, Que., and the one between Wood Islands, P.E.I., and Caribou, N.S.

The new budget proposes $51.9 million in this fiscal year to support the operation of these ferries as well as the ferry between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Part of that money will go towards the safe disposal of the MV Princess of Acadia, which was retired from the route between Saint John, N.B., and Digby, N.S.

4. Reopening Veterans Affairs offices

The budget proposes to re-open nine previously closed Veterans Affairs offices, including the one in Charlottetown.

The federal government has earmarked $78.1 million over five years for re-opening these offices, as well as opening a new office in B.C., hiring additional case managers, and expanding services for veterans in the north.

5. Funding for national parks

The new budget has proposals to invest in national parks.

One of the highlights is free admission to all national parks in 2017 to mark Canada's 150th birthday, and free admission for visitors under 18 starting in 2016. To realize that, the budget proposes up to $83.3 million over five years.

Overall, up to $142.3 million over five years has been set aside for Parks Canada and Natural Resources Canada to invest in parks, which includes improvements to existing parks and developing new ones, and new programming.


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