Liberal budget explores new avenues for media funding in digital age

Elias Hubbard
March 4, 2018

The financial budget, announced yesterday, sets out federal spending for the coming year and covers all areas of the economy. Tuesday's budget also allocates C$75 million over five years to boost trade efforts in China and elsewhere in Asia, a potential precursor to formal free-trade talks with the world's second-largest economy.

Instead, this government will keep spending, and incur an $18-billion deficit when there is absolutely no requirement to do so. "This investment is particularly timely as Canada is increasingly attracting a more diverse pool of talent to the research enterprise".

The Canadian Pharmacists Association is pleased that the 2018 federal budget commits to looking at a possible Pharmacare program, through the establishment of an Advisory Council on the topic, to be chaired by former Ontario Health Minister, Dr. Eric Hoskins. Liberals quite openly admit the possibility of their losing some western seats in the next election, but hope to compensate by picking up a number of the 38 Quebec seats they did not win in 2015.

All in all, the budget is a 367-page document composed of more aspirational statements and platitudes than tangible action steps, and numerous actions promised will make life more hard, rather than better for Canadians.

The measure forms a part of a trinity of major drug initiatives in Tuesday's federal budget, the other two being a $231-million package of steps that aims to confront Canada's escalating opioid crisis, including $150 million in emergency funding, and tax changes for cannabis-based pharmaceuticals. And it has the added benefit of selling well with progressive voters.

However, in December, Canada's finance department said its long-term fiscal projections anticipate a return to a surplus in 2045. This budget should help sustain that winning formula. The new outlook now shows an $18.1-billion shortfall for 2018-19 that's expected to gradually shrink to $12.3 billion in 2022-23, including annual $3-billion cushions to offset risks.

Canada's federal government this week unveiled a budget that will see heavy spending, new debt and substantial support for Canadian women and indigenous interests. Guy Laforest, president of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, called the budget "an important down payment" that helps to "reverse years of underinvestment" in social sciences and humanities research.

Morneau says Canada needs to play both a long game and a short game-and that the brightening economy enables the government to do just that.

Sweeping tax reform in the USA has wiped out Canada's almost two-decade business tax advantage over the US and also made the USA personal tax system even more competitive for skilled workers. Bringing in measures that make Canadians more innovative and productive are prudent and overdue. And it comes with dire consequences as governments are eventually forced to come to terms with their overspending habits by slashing programs and raising taxes.

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The budget will prevent CCPCs from being able "to obtain refunds of taxes paid on investment income while distributing dividends from income taxed at the general corporate rate", the budget says.

Declining business investment remains a critical concern for Canada, which is a signal that entrepreneurs, investors and business owners don't see Canada as a hospitable place to do business.

Those signals were conspicuously absent.

Big data: $572.5 million over five years, with $52 million per year ongoing, to implement a Digital Research Infrastructure Strategy that will deliver more open and equitable access to advanced computing and big data resources to researchers across Canada.

Other major worries are linked to the unknowns surrounding the outcome of the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the potentially greater fallout from the USA plan to slash corporate tax changes.

What he didn't say is that keeping Canada competitive would not have been consistent with the Liberal Party's cunning re-election plan.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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