Federal budget 2015: 8 winners in the Conservative pre-election budget
Parents, students, seniors and caregivers among those who will benefit
This last federal budget before the fall election represents a large swath of Stephen Harper's Conservative campaign platform. The pledges unveiled Tuesday target different groups — from students to small-business owners to seniors.
Here's a look at some of the voters they are appealing to with this budget.
- Read the full 2015 budget document tabled by Finance Minister Joe Oliver
- Budget's supporters and critics sound off on Oliver's election-year plan
The government already had announced the enhanced universal child care benefit of $160 per month for children under the age of six, and added a new benefit of $60 per month for children age six through 17. These benefits will be retroactive to January, with the first cheques set to arrive by early summer. That just happens to be months before the beginning of the campaign.
Also announced earlier were a doubling of the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000 and increasing the child care expense deduction by $1,000.
As of January 2016, people eligible for compassionate care benefits through the employment insurance program will see the amount of time they are covered extended from six weeks to six months.
Post-secondary students (and their parents)
University students and their parents are also getting some help in this budget starting in 2016. Changes to Canada's student loan program will mean parents won't have to contribute as much money to trigger the flow of student loans.
There are also changes coming around a penalty that applies to students who work while receiving a student loan. Under the existing system, students who work while receiving a student loan see their financial assistance reduced for every dollar they earned above a $100 per week threshold. Those students can now work while they're studying without worrying about a reduction in their loans.
Changes to the Canada student grants program are also coming.
Right now, eligible students can only obtain grants if they're enrolled in a program that runs for at least 60 weeks. The changes outlined in the budget will reduce the length requirement to include programs as short as 34 weeks, with the aim of helping students with "short duration post-secondary programs that focus on practical skills and provide a quick transition from education to employment."
Seniors with savings
Changes in the way seniors are required to draw down savings from their registered retirement income funds (RRIFs) are also coming.
Under current rules, at the age of 71 seniors have to begin withdrawing a minimum of 7.38 per cent of the money in their RRIF and pay taxes on it. The Conservative government is reducing the initial required withdrawal to 5.28 per cent at age 71. The percentage increases as seniors age, until age 95 when the percentage that seniors are required to withdraw annually is capped at 20 per cent.
"By permitting more capital preservation, the new factors will help reduce the risk of outliving one's savings," the budget says.
People with disabilities
Seniors — and anyone with an eligible disability — could also qualify for a tax credit when they make upgrades to their homes aimed at increasing accessibility.
The proposed home accessibility tax credit would offer a 15 per cent non-refundable income tax credit that would apply on up to $10,000 of eligible home renovations per year and provide up to $1,500 in tax relief a year.
Eligible renovations, like installing wheelchair ramps, grab-bars or walk-in tubs, would make a home "more mobile, safe and functional within their home."
People with money to save will also see some benefits in this budget. The government has increased the contribution limit to tax-free savings accounts from $5,500 to $10,000 a year. Government numbers show that 70 per cent of those who contribute the maximum allowable amount are 55 and over.
Canadians with families abroad
Canadians who send money to families and loved ones abroad are also in the budget, which includes a pledge to support measures to provide "safe, reliable and lower-cost" services for people sending remittances abroad.
This new measure will include a "remittance price comparison website" that will let people compare information on fees. The government says it will also gather more data on remittance and "work with financial institutions to evaluate possible collaboration opportunities to expand access to lower-cost remittance services."
The Conservative budget has promises for small business owners, too, pledging to "reduce the small business tax rate from 11 per cent to nine per cent by 2019."
There are also proposed changes to the employment insurance program. As of 2017, the government wants to implement a "break-even EI premium rate setting mechanism" that would return any surplus in the operating account through lower premiums.
- This story has been updated to make it clear that 70 per cent of those who contribute the maximum allowed amount to their TFSAs are 55 and older. An earlier version said 70 per cent of those who contribute are 55 and older.Apr 22, 2015 9:22 AM ET