Relaxed ‘junk fees,’ dental care for all and universal charging ports: Here’s what you may have missed in this year’s federal budget
Published Tuesday, March 28, 2023 5:20PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 28, 2023 5:20PM EDT
The Liberal government unveiled its $491 billion budget on Tuesday afternoon, prioritizing spending on health care, green energy and affordability for Canadians dealing with high prices from inflation.
This is the first budget since 2020 which does not feature pandemic recovery at its centre. Instead, some of the budget’s most significant expenditures address the rising price of groceries for low- and modest-income Canadians, increasing clean resources and manufacturing in Canada and improved health care for those who need it most.
The national deficit is now set to reach $40 billion, up from a projected $30.6 billion. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said she will find $15 billion in savings by scaling back government travel, use of outside consultants and a review of departmental spending.
Also included in the budget are promises to appeal to Canadians from all walks of life, from grieving parents to small business owners. There’s even a line for mobile device users who might be frustrated by the ever-changing charging ports on their phones.
Here’s what you may have missed in this year’s budget.
- $2.5 billion grocery rebate: The government presented a one-time rebate in the form of doubled GST payouts, meant to address the rising cost of groceries in Canada.
- $13 billion for dental care: Addressing one of the NDP’s key asks when the Liberals entered into a confidence-and-supply agreement last year, this budget indicates $13 billion in spending over the next five years for public dental coverage. According to Freeland, the rollout will include coverage for up to nine million uninsured Canadians.
- Bye, ‘junk fees’: The government will amend the Competition Act to protect Canadians from excessive fees on everything from checked bags to concert tickets. This promise follows what’s been a tough year for Ticketmaster, including a U.S. Senate hearing following botched ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.
- No more travel days from hell: The government has promised $1.8 billion over five years to improve airport operations and passenger screening, and to address a backlog of complaints to the Canadian Transportation Agency. There will also be stronger rules around compensation for Canadians whose travel plans have been disrupted by airport delays.
- Anti-scab legislation: The government has tabled a proposal to prohibit the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout.
- Leave for pregnancy loss: The budget includes a Canada labour Code amendment which will create a stand-alone leave for workers in federally regulated sectors who suffer pregnancy loss.
- Payday loan restrictions: Payday lenders will no longer be allowed to charge more than $14 per $100 borrowed. As well, the maximum interest rate payday lenders can charge will be lowered to an annual percentage rate of 35 per cent.
- Mandatory USB-C ports: Buried in the budget is a pledge from the federal government to “work with international partners and other stakeholders to explore implementing a standard charging port in Canada.” This line follows the European Union’s 2022 promise to standardize USB-C charging by 2024.
- Suicide hotline: $158 million has been set aside to create and operate a new 9-8-8 suicide prevention phone line, which will help to address the “mental health crisis” unfurling on the streets of Toronto.
- A battery manufacturing plant in St. Thomas: Volkswagen will build a battery manufacturing plant, called a “gigafactory,” in St. Thomas, Ont. The exact cost of this measure, as well as number of jobs to be created, has not yet been revealed.
With files from The Canadian Press