POLITICS
02/11/2014 05:00 EST | Updated 04/12/2014 05:59 EDT

5 Budget Promises Canadians Could See Today

CP
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is tabling the 2014 budget this afternoon. It'll be his 10th budget for the federal Conservatives. Here are five things to watch for.

1. Closing the Canada-U.S. price gap

Flaherty allowed at a news conference last week that there will be something more for Canadians to help bring prices north of the border closer to those in America. If last year's budget is a guide, he'll be dropping tariffs, import taxes on goods made outside of Canada.

The government dropped tariffs on sports equipment and baby clothes last year, though it ran into trouble when the tariff cuts didn't include everything promised. The NDP, for example, discovered the much-lauded cuts to tariffs on hockey gear didn't — at first — include helmets.

Despite the promise, however, a tariff cut doesn't guarantee lower prices: it depends on whether retailers pass on the savings to customers. 

2. Help for youth employment

Canada's youth unemployment rate has consistently and stubbornly remained in the double-digits. In this budget, Flaherty is expected to include money for internships and apprenticeships.

In an interview with the CBC's Chris Hall, Flaherty said tackling youth unemployment is a priority.

"And I agree with those who suggest there is a challenge for young people getting the first job, even [the] well-educated, well-skilled. So, we need to try to help, and we will," he said.

3. More rules for charities

Flaherty also said last week that the budget will include measures to prevent terrorist and organized crime groups from using charities to launder money.

Flaherty said there are "some terrorist organizations, there are some organized crime organizations that launder money through charities, and make donations to charities," but didn't elaborate.

The government has been accused of singling out environmental critics in order to silence them. The government says that isn't the case.

Last year, Flaherty warned environmental charities that do political work to be cautious. Charities are only allowed to use 10 per cent of their resources on political advocacy, but are never allowed to be partisan.

“If I were an environmental charity using charitable money, tax-receipted money for political purposes, I would be cautious," Flaherty said in December. 

4. Broadband internet for rural and remote Canadians

Tuesday's federal budget will include money to extend or improve high-speed internet access to 280,000 households and businesses in rural and remote areas, the CBC's Alison Crawford reported over the weekend.

The move, which was previewed in last fall's speech from the throne, is being pitched as part of the government's focus on consumers and also as part of its Economic Action Plan to stimulate economic growth and help small business, particularly in the North.

It's a long-promised measure. The Conservatives say they've already brought broadband internet to 200,000 households that didn't have it before, although critics point out they also cut a community access program that provided funding to libraries to provide internet access.

5. Infrastructure funding

Last year, the government promised $53 billion over 10 years for infrastructure, including a $14.4 billion Building Canada Fund. This year's budget might include more details of where that money will go. The City of Toronto is expecting $660 million for a subway extension, for example, and officials in Ottawa are hoping for money to upgrade its sewer system so 225 million litres of sewage don't flow into the Ottawa River every year.

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