Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presents the 2024-25 federal budget. (Photo provided by cpac/Youtube)

Federal budget promises to fund housing, tax wealthy

The Liberal government says it's targeting Canada's highest earners in the latest budget, as it aims to make life more affordable for younger generations.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the $535 billion budget in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

"We are acting today to ensure fairness for every generation," said Freeland "We are moving with purpose to help build more homes, faster. We are making life cost less. We are driving the kind of economic growth that will ensure every generation of Canadians can reach their full potential."

The document includes just under $53 billion in new spending over the next five years, as the Liberals attempt to create more housing, launch the Canada Disability Benefit, provide carbon rebates to small businesses and fund the new National School Food Program.

In order to help fund these goals, the feds announced a higher capital gains tax, as well as excise taxes on cigarettes and vaping products. The new measures are projected to create nearly $22 billion in additional revenue over the next five years. According to government data, only 0.13 per cent of Canadians are expected to be impacted by the capital gains tax.

"Before they complain too bitterly, I would like Canada’s one per cent — Canada’s 0.1 per cent — to consider this: what kind of country do you want to live in," said Freeland. "“Do you want to live in a country where you can tell the size of someone’s paycheque by their smile? Do you want to live in a country where kids go to school hungry? Do you want to live in a country where a teenage girl gets pregnant because she doesn’t have the money to buy birth control?"

The budget devotes $8.5 billion more toward housing, which the government says will drive the creation of roughly four million more homes by 2031. That includes topping up the Federal Housing Accelerator Fund and providing $6 billion for infrastructure projects to support new housing. They're also planning to utilize federal land, including converting underused federal offices into homes and building on Canada Post properties.

Unsurprisingly, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre blasted the budget, sticking to the refrain that the carbon tax needs to go.

"This is like a pyromaniac spraying gas on the inflationary fire that he lit," he said. "It is getting too hot and too expensive for Canadians and that's why we need a carbon tax election to replace him with a common sense Conservative government."

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Liberals ignored the opportunity to take on corporate greed.

“We forced Justin Trudeau to build more homes and protect renters, to make birth control and diabetes medication free and to help feed hungry kids at school,” said Singh. “This is a glimpse of what an NDP government could do – but this is not an NDP budget."

The $535 billion budget for the upcoming year will result in a projected deficit of $39.8 billion, a slight decrease from last year.

Other highlights of the budget include:

- Funding of $6.1 billion over six years, beginning this fiscal year for a new Canada Disability Benefit, that will provide a maximum benefit of $2,400 per year for low income individuals with disabilities.

- Creating a new refundable tax credit that will return fuel charge proceeds from 2019-20 through 2023-24 to businesses with less than 500 employees.

- $9 billion in new funding for Indigenous communities over the next five years

- An $8.1 billion increase to Canada's defence budget over the next five years.

- Promises to extend increased student grants and interest-free loans, at an estimated total cost of $1.1 billion.

- Earmarking $500 million for a new youth mental health fund.

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