Budget highlights: Small measures for many

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has delivered a stay-the-course budget that holds the line on taxes, while offering a broad mix of minor tax credits to families and business.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has delivered a stay-the-course budget that holds the line on taxes, while offering a spate of tax credits to a wide range of groups and keeping to the plan of getting rid of the deficit by 2015-16.

Among the budget highlights:

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On the economy:

  • No tax hikes or cuts, no major new spending programs and no substantial spending cuts.
  • Keeps government on track for a balanced budget within six years through the combination of economic growth and spending restraints. The end of the federal stimulus program, by itself, will cut the 2011-12 deficit to $27.6 billion from a revised $40.5 billion in 2010-11.
  • Economic growth (real gross domestic product) of 2.9 per cent, based on the average outlook of private sector economists.
  • Government acknowledging risk of global uncertainty by downgrading predicted growth in nominal GDP to $10 billion over previous year, from economists' projection of $20 billion.

For families and seniors:

  • A family caregiver tax credit of up to $300 for people caring for infirm spouses, common-law partners and children.
  • A tax credit on children's art programs, amounting to $75 on $500 spent
  • A top-up for the lowest third of seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement, up to $50 a month for singles and $70 a month for couples

For communities and cities:

  • Tax credit equal to $450 a year for volunteer firefighters in rural areas
  • Forgiveness of student loans of up to $40,000 for new doctors and $20,000 for nurses in remote and rural areas
  • Legislation to enshrine as permanent the annual $2 billion Gas Tax transfer for municipal infrastructure

For business and workers:  

  • A hiring credit that provides a one-year EI break of up to $1,000 for 525,000 small businesses.
  • Continuation of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance on machinery and equipment
  • A "Helmets to Hardhats" program to help ex-military members to find work in the construction industry.
  • Elimination of mandatory retirement for federally regulated employees
  • Creation of 10 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs at universities and 30 industrial research chairs at colleges and polytechniques
  • No change in plan to cut corporate taxes to 15 per cent by 2012.

Other initiatives:

  • Return — for one year — of the ecoEnergy Home Retrofit program to encourage residential energy efficiency
  • Renewal of the $22-million Own the Podium program to support elite Olympic athletes.
  • $100 million over five years for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to improve food inspection capacity.