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Some of the key highlights from the Liberal government's 2024 federal budget

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced the 2024 federal budget on Tuesday. Some key highlights:

Housing

In hopes of building nearly 3.9 million new homes across Canada by 2031, the government plans to:

— increase the capital cost allowance rate for apartments from four to 10 per cent, allowing builders larger tax writeoffs;

— extend the mortgage amortization period to 30 years for first-time homebuyers purchasing new builds;

— make more public lands available for home construction, including Canada Post and National Defence properties, and lease land to developers;

— spend $250 million over two years to address the "urgent issue" of encampments and a shortage of shelter space for homeless people.

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Taxes

High-worth individuals, corporations and trusts will pay more in capital gains taxes. The inclusion rate increases to 66 per cent, up from 50 per cent, on capital gains above $250,000 for individuals and on all capital gains for corporations and trusts. The change is expected to yield an additional $19.4 billion over four years.

Excise taxes on tobacco and vaping products are going up: $4 on a carton of cigarettes and by 12 per cent on vape supplies — for a total of nearly $1.7 billion in revenue over five years.

Students

The government will spend $48 million over four years and $15.8 million thereafter to forgive the loans of early childhood educators.

Another $253.8 million over four years, plus $84.3 million a year thereafter, will go towards loan forgiveness for a host of health and education workers, including hygienists, pharmacists, teachers and social workers.

Public safety and justice

The government plans to amend the Criminal Code to create new criminal offences for auto theft involving violence or with links to organized crime.

They also plan to take steps to criminalize the possession or distribution of electronic devices used to steal cars and regulate such devices.

It will cost $52 million over five years to enact and enforce the new Online Harms Act, which requires large online platforms to act responsibly, and creates a new commission and ombudsperson for digital safety.

There's new money to combat hate, including:

— $273.6 million over six years for community outreach, law enforcement, counter-radicalization and victim support;

— $32 million over six years and $11 million a year thereafter for the Security Infrastructure Program, which funds physical security for community and religious hubs;

— $7.3 million over six years for each of the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism and the Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia.

Environmental policies

More than $900 million over six years for greener homes and energy efficiency programs.

Ottawa also plans a national flood insurance program by 2025, providing $15 million to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

And it is creating several new parks and wildlife preserves, including in British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and Windsor, Ont.

For businesses:

— A 10 per cent tax credit for the cost of buildings used for key parts of the electric-vehicle supply chain over the next 10 years;

— A 15 per cent tax credit over the same period for eligible investments in new equipment or refurbishments for clean electricity;

— A new tax credit for about 600,000 small and medium-sized businesses worth $2.5 billion that disburses fuel charge proceeds dating back to 2019.

Health care

The first programs to cover contraceptives and diabetes medication and supplies, part of the government's new pharmacare plan, are expected to cost $1.5 billion over five years.

The budget also includes $150 million over three years for an Emergency Treatment Fund to help municipalities and Indigenous communities deal with the opioid crisis.

It also provides $6.1 billion over six years and $1.4 billion a year thereafter for the Canada Disability Benefit and related costs.

On mental health, the government will:

— set up a $500-million fund to help community health organizations give more mental-health care to young people;

— legislate a "right to disconnect" for federally regulated workplaces;

— put $630 million towards access to mental-health services for Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous Peoples

The budget includes up to $5 billion in "sector-agnostic" loan guarantees for resource projects undertaken by Indigenous communities.

It's spending close to $1.2 billion on primary and secondary education and infrastructure in First Nations reserves, and $918 million for housing and infrastructure.

The government is also developing an alert system for missing Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people.

Foreign policy and defence

The Liberal government plans to boost military spending to 1.76 per cent of GDP by 2030, including $8.1 billion over the next five years and $73 billion by 2044.

The budget earmarks $1.6 billion over five years for lethal and non-lethal military aid for Ukraine.

It includes $350 million over two years to respond to large-scale humanitarian crises and $159 million over five years to support the "transformation" of Global Affairs Canada.

Foreign credentials

An additional $50 million over two years will bolster the foreign credential recognition program to help workers in construction and health care.

Ottawa also plan to spend $77.1 million on integrating internationally educated health-care professionals with new training positions.

Asylum claimants

The budget includes $1.1 billion over three years to extend a housing assistance program for asylum claimants, plus $274 million over five years for immigration and refugee legal aid.

It also includes $743.5 million over five years to strengthen the asylum system and streamline the claims and removal processes .

Artificial intelligence

Ottawa is setting aside $2.4 billion in the upcoming budget to build capacity in artificial intelligence.

The bulk of the money — $2 billion — is going towards improving access to computing capabilities and technical infrastructure.

Another $50 million over five years will support workers who could be affected by artificial intelligence, including in the creative industries.

The government also plans to fund a new AI Safety Institute of Canada and Transport Canada technology to use AI to screen Canada-bound air cargo.

School food program

Ottawa is spending $1 billion over five years on a national school food program that aims to provide meals for 400,000 additional children.

Loans for child-care centres

The Liberal government plans to provide more than $1 billion in low-cost loans, grants and student loan forgiveness to expand child care across Canada.

Public service

The federal workforce will shrink by about 5,000 full-time employees because of "natural attrition" over the next four years, part of an effort to cut costs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2024.

The Canadian Press