Federal Budget May Mean Improvements for People in Northern Regions Like Nunatsiavut

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s budget announcement yesterday contains a big surprise: a 29.5 billion dollar deficit this year, and 29 billion dollars next year.

The Liberal government was previously forecasting a 10 billion dollar deficit for 2016 and 2017 during the election campaign.

Several proposed changes would result in the large deficit.

New monthly tax-free Child Canada Benefits payments start July 1 to replace the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB).

Child Canada benefits will be up to $6400 a year per child under 6, and $5400 a year for ages 6 to 17.

Families with less than $30,000 in net family income will receive the maximum benefit.

Families with over $30,000 net income will receive less than the maximum benefit.

How much less will depend on their net income.

According to the federal budget released yesterday, Budget 2016, low and middle income families will receive more benefits than under the current system, while those with higher incomes (over $150,000) will receive lower benefits.

Meanwhile, changes to Employment Insurance will make it easier to qualify for benefits.

Legislative changes will be proposed so that starting in 2017, the waiting period for EI benefits will be reduced from two weeks to one.

Other proposed changes would see EI benefits extended by 5 weeks in the 12 EI economic regions that have experienced the highest increases in unemployment.

That would include regions in Newfoundland and Labrador and parts of Alberta.

Another proposed change is to offer an additional 20 weeks of EI benefits to long-tenured workers in the same 12 economic regions, up to a maximum of 70 weeks of benefits.

The proposed changes to EI would take effect in July 2016.

Budget 2016 also proposes to increase the Northern Residents tax deduction from $16.50 to $22 daily.

That means more tax savings for people living in Northern regions like Nunatsiavut.

Budget 2016 proposes to invest 8.4 billion over 5 years to help indigenous peoples, including 2.6 billion to improve primary & secondary education on reserves.

Budget 2016 also proposes to allocate 40 million dollars over two years toward the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

OK Radio will have more on the federal budget after the Easter break.