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Economic Action Plan 2013 Keeps Canada on the Right Track

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Published for the Prince Arthur Herald

On March 21, 2013 Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled Canada's 2013 budget, Economic Action Plan 2013, with a continued focus on jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for Canadians.

Budget 2013-2014, minister Flaherty's eighth budget as Canada's Finance Minister, demonstrates our Conservative government's ongoing commitment to fulfilling immediate, medium-, and long-term promises.

Yes, the budget will be balanced by 2015-2016, with a slight surplus. Yes, the environment will continue to see world-class policies developed and enforced to protect important wetlands and watersheds. And yes, these and many other promises will be accomplished even while continuing to cut taxes for Canadians.

In fact, there's something for just about everyone in the 2013 budget:

For students, the federal government will subsidize over 5000 paid internships for post-secondary graduates.

Young students will see $330 million pumped into the Youth Employment Strategy

For skilled tradespeople, the Canada Job Grant will give up to $15,000 per individual undertaking education in the skilled trades, sciences, technology, mathematics, and engineering

For small businesses, the government is once again extending the Hiring Credit for Small Businesses: savings of $225 million in 2013 alone, which encourages small businesses to hire the employees they need.

For the manufacturing sector, over $200 million to help the sector expand, innovate, and become more competitive.

Cross-border shoppers will see $76 million in tariffs eliminated on items such as hockey equipment, skis, golf clubs, and baby clothes.

For Canada's cities and municipalities, the Building Canada Plan combines $32.2 billion over 10 years in transfers to cities and municipalities with $14 billion over 10 years for desperately needed infrastructure upgrades. This makes history as the largest single infrastructure investment in Canada's history. It's no surprise the Federation of Canadian Municipalities called Budget 2013 a "success" for Canada's cities.

Canada's veterans will see the Funeral and Burial Program doubled, to give our brave men and women the honourable funeral they deserve.

Looking inwards, the federal government will continue to save Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars per year by streamlining efficiencies at government departments and by cutting departmental travel budgets by five percent.

Canada's farmers will see the Restricted Farm Loss Reduction Limit doubled, allowing farmers to claim increased losses due to unforeseen environmental circumstances.

Tax cheats will soon see loopholes closed, saving us $4.4 billion over 5 years.

Of course, these additional measures come on top of the Conservative government's already remarkable record when it comes to providing needed relief for Canada's families and businesses. This government has reduced or eliminated over 150 taxes since 2006, all the while creating 950,000 net new jobs since July 2009.

The average family of four is paying $3220 less in taxes today than when Canadians were under Liberal rule prior to 2006.

The list of extremely positive benefits contained in Budget 2013 goes on and on.

The weeks ahead will (continue to) demonstrate the desperation of the Liberals and New Democrats. They will shout half-truths and lies onto the airwaves, hoping someone - anyone - will listen.

They will continue to level distorted criticisms and attempt to distract from the important initiatives this government has enacted, and will continue to enact with the 2013 budget.

They will predictably demand higher taxes on Canadian families.

Let's not allow the Liberals or NDP to tell us for even one second that the budget contains any sort of "hidden agenda" or that the Opposition has become so overburdened by the massive budget that they cannot accurately or properly review it. (Believe me, those claims are coming.)

Indeed, an alternative title for this article could have just as easily been "Harper government confirms hidden agenda - in completely open and transparent manner!"

In reality, that "hidden agenda" has been entirely detailed on the federal government's own website. Budget 2013 is no different: here are the Main Estimates for 2013-2014 (or, if you'd prefer, the 2013-2014 Main Estimates by Strategic Outcome); here is Budget 2013 in full; and here is the costing breakdown for all existing and new federal government spending.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has demonstrated time and time again that his Conservative government is committed to jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, and Economic Action Plan 2013 continues that commitment.

Economic Action Plan 2013 is yet another positive step for Canadians.

You can discuss the 2013 Budget on Twitter by using #EAP13 and #Bdgt13