Nfld. & Labrador

Pocketbook issues: How Budget 2019 will change your bottom line 

Free eye exams for young children, improved access to insulin for diabetics and — oh yes — no increase to taxes or government fees.

No increases to taxes or government fees

While fee hikes and tax increases were a hallmark of the first Ball government budget in 2016, there are no such increases in the current budget. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The 2019 budget is the fourth from Dwight Ball's Liberal government, and it has a totally different tone from their inaugural 2016 budget.

Finance Minister Tom Osborne's speech — titled "Working towards a brighter future" —  highlight the four years of work done by the Liberals.

Without the new $2.5-billion Atlantic Accord deal with Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador would have had a $575-million deficit.

This budget outlines no increase to taxes or fees, and the Liberals earlier this week announced it was eliminating the retail sales tax on car insurance, but what does that mean for your bottom line?

Here are a few pocketbook items that may, or may not, change your finances.

Hello 2020, goodbye levy

The Liberals are sticking with their plan to get rid of the deficit reduction levy on Dec. 31.

That levy was brought in back in their first budget, in 2016, which was essentially a "bad news budget."

While the threshold for the levy has been changing since then, meaning fewer people have had to pay it, the levy will be gone entirely as we bid adieu to 2019.

Oil forecasts

The 2019 budget cites a continuing "volatile" oil price through the last fiscal year.

Government's forecasting for this budget as a result is based on a price of $65 US per barrel.

Insulin program changes

Government is changing the age restrictions on the insulin pump program, which previously limited the program to people 25 or younger.

Anyone coming into the program will now be covered, Health Minister John Haggie said.

"They will not age out."

However, that only applies to new people coming under the program's umbrella.

For anyone who has already aged out, Haggie said they have already entered a different management program.

Whether the province's insulin pump rules can be expanded in future to include those already aged out remains to be seen, and rely on the province returning to surplus, he said.

"We cut out cloth according to what we got," Haggie said.

Also, the Liberals have outlined 15 new drug therapy programs, eight of which will be for cancer treatment.

The rest of those programs are not itemized in the budget.

Free eye exams for kids

Parents will have a bit of relief - if their child needs glasses, at least.

The province is bringing in a new Eye See Eye Learn program, with the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Optometrists, to provide children starting kindergarten with free eye exams.

Speaking of kids ...

The budget allocates $13 million, more than double last year's funding, for education planning in the K-12 program.

It will include the hiring of 350 teachers over a three-year period, as well as more reading specialists, teacher librarians, and teaching assistants.

Also, there will be a bursary program for teachers who want to upgrade their mathematics skills.

Senior vehicles

Already, seniors have a lower rate for vehicle registration renewal, but government is bringing that charge down.

When renewing registration at the counter, it will now be under $100 - and if renewing online, it will be just under $90.

Veterans will also have a lowered fee for vehicle registration, with a 10 per cent discount.

Home energy savings

This budget expands the home energy savings program to provide $4.4 million to help low-income earners reduce their energy costs.

That expansion is to help owners who are using alternate heating sources, like oil, propane, diesel or wood, in addition to electrical.

Budget 2019 includes $1.5 million for the energy efficiency loan program for homeowners on electric heat so they can get loans to look at upgrades like heat pumps.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Stephanie Tobin is a journalist in the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador office in St. John's.

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