Joe Oliver pledges more tax cuts for working families

Finance Minister Joe Oliver is promising more tax relief for working families, possibly in a fall economic update, he said in a press conference Tuesday.

Finance minister optimistic about economy after meeting with private-sector economists

Finance Minister Joe Oliver is promising more tax relief for working families, possibly in a fall economic update.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday in Toronto, he refused to give a date for that update or any hint as to what form the tax relief might take.

“There will be tax relief because we are confident we will have surplus next year. We are in a position to fulfil our election promise of tax relief for hardworking Canadians,” Oliver said.

Oliver reiterated his confidence that the federal government would have a surplus this year, despite signs of a global economic slowdown and falling oil prices that could hurt Canada.

The Harper government has begun announcing tax goodies for Canadians leading up to a 2015 election.

So far, there has been a cut in employment insurance premiums for small businesses and an enhancement of the child fitness tax benefit.

One of the ideas put forward by the Harper government is income-splitting, which would allow families with one stay-at-home parent to save on taxes. Oliver refused to say if that benefit was coming.

Oliver asserted that middle-class Canadian incomes are higher than incomes for the American middle class.

“The Canadian middle class is now among the richest in the world,” he said.

Asked about a leak of potential tax measures made by the Finance Department last week, Oliver said he was “very concerned” about the error and had begun an internal investigation.

“We don’t believe there were matters disclosed that will move markets, but we will be looking into that,” Oliver said.

The finance minister had met with private sector economists in Toronto earlier in the day. He said they seemed confident about the prospects for the Canadian economy, despite indications of a worldwide economic slowdown.

IMF head Christine Lagarde spoke about the economy slipping into a “new mediocre” because of weakness in Europe and Japan.

But Oliver was confident the U.S. economy, fuelled by a boom in shale oil and gas, would continue strengthening and pull Canada along.

“At the same time IMF downgraded global economy, it upgraded the projection for Canada and the U.S.,” he said.