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What you can expect when the federal government tables its newest budget

Last Updated Mar 22, 2017 at 7:45 am PDT

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Summary

Trudeau government may have a tough time selling its latest budget: analysis

CTF outlines its wish list as Ottawa prepares to lay down new budget

OTTAWA, ON. (NEWS 1130) – This year’s federal budget will likely be more low-key than the first fiscal plan from the Trudeau government but the Liberals may have a tougher time selling this one to Canadians.

The government sold its first budget with a lot of immediate measures to help families with tax cuts and child benefits. However, Maclean’s Magazine Ottawa Bureau Chief John Geddes points out, this budget seems to be more aimed at helping people in the medium to long-term with some investments that could take years to show some solid results. “Those are kind of abstract things. They’re not like a tax cut [or] parental benefit where someone can think, ‘This will affect me in a certain way — I’ll see more money at the end of the day.’ These are things that people will have to take a leap of faith.”

So if there aren’t a lot of direct impact measures to dangle in the window, many Canadians may not see what’s in it for them.

Geddes adds Ottawa will want to use this budget to try and grow the economy. But there isn’t a lot of new spending expected and the focus will be on the future, which means the Liberals may hit some roadblocks. “The word ‘future’ is the difficulty. There is nothing they can say, ‘Next month, next year, you’re going to see this very direct impact on your finances.'”

He points out the government likely doesn’t have the flexibility for too many goodies anyway, since it’s handcuffed by deeper than expected deficits. And there is speculation the government is holding back to see what US President Donald Trump will do stateside.

If the Liberals do keep this budget low-key, the one advantage is the opposition may have less to criticize. Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose wants to see more than just bold ideas in today’s budget. She expects to see tax increases to help pay down a deficit projected at more than $25 billion in 2016-17.

Going further into deficit continues to be a polarizing subject

Aaron Wudrick with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has his own wish list for the budget. “We’re looking for a plan to see how they are going to get us back to balance, first and foremost.”

He believes while we are waiting to see what the Trump administration does with taxes and spending, Canada should be cautious. “There are rumours they may increase the capital gains inclusion rate that would be a serious tax hike for a lot of people. It’s obviously a guessing game right now, but all signs point to it being a relatively uneventful budget.”

Helmut Pastrick with Central 1 Credit Union says while people may be worried about another year in the red, the country can handle it. “As long as the economy is growing and spending is not frivolous, then the fact there is another deficit coming, not only for the current year but probably for the next three to four years, shouldn’t be too alarming.”

He believes if the money is spent well it shouldn’t be a problem. “If it is on improving the productivity of the economy infrastructure as well as human capital, then that’s good debt.”

While the Trudeau government has increased the deficit, he doesn’t expect that trend to continue for the long-term. “I think the expectation is that we will not see excessive levels of deficit or debts in Canada. I think most modern economies are well aware that one simply cannot continue to have deficits year in and year out indefinitely. I think fiscal prudence is also a part of the government’s longer-term approach.”

NEWS 1130 will have extensive coverage of the budget with our team of reporters both on-air and online.