Monday’s federal budget announced big-ticket items around child care and employment supports, but here are some things that may be initially missed in the 740-page document:

Monday’s federal budget announced big-ticket items around child care and employment supports, but here are some things that may be initially missed in the 740-page document:

$15 minimum wage for federal sectors

Ottawa plans to boost the minimum wage for the narrow set of private industries it regulates, including banks, airlines, postal services, broadcasting and some agricultural jobs to $15 per hour, a threshold that would boost salaries for roughly 26,000 workers.

It could put pressure on provinces to raise their respective minimum wages; Manitoba’s is currently $11.90 an hour.

Rural broadband boost

The Liberals are again topping up the Universal Broadband Fund, a plan they announced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that has been slow to actually fund projects in Manitoba, which has some of the worst Internet speeds in Canada. 

The federal government has earmarked another $1 billion to this fund, with most of the funds set to flow in 2022, on top of an existing $1.75 billion.

Pharmacare on hold

The prescription for a fully public drug plan remains unfilled with Ottawa instead opting to continue its quest to help make high-cost drugs for rare diseases more affordable.

A national pharmacare program wasn't announced Monday. (Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press files)

A national pharmacare program wasn't announced Monday. (Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press files)

More northern energy funds

A proposal to link Manitoba Hydro with Nunavut got a mention in Monday’s budget as part of a $40-million fund to support feasibility for northern energy projects.

Officials are still exploring the project, which would buy energy from Manitoba dams and bring fibre-optic Internet to mines and Inuit hamlets.

MMIWG plan

Monday’s budget includes the Liberals’ long-awaited plan to respond to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The plan earmarks $2.2 billion over five years, and then $161 million annually for items such as tackling racism in the health-care system, restoring Indigenous language, making food affordable and weeding out bias in the justice system.

The inquiry issued its final report in June 2019.

Life sciences

Ottawa has earmarked $2.2 billion for bio-manufacturing, including Canadian research labs and genomic sequencing.

The funding will likely help boost this sector in Winnipeg, where the National Microbiology Lab has helped anchor training programs and research grants.

Monday’s budget had no news about a possible investment in a proposal by Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics to make components for a COVID-19 vaccine that would be combined and filled at the Emergent Biosolutions plant in Winnipeg.

The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is shown on May 19, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is shown on May 19, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Help for student loans, summer gigs

The federal government plans to extending the interest waiver on student loans through to March 2023, and raised the threshold for repayment to $40,000.

The government is also doubling down on a plan to expand the decades-old Canada Summer Jobs program, in which MPs help select summer gigs at businesses and non-profits.

Ottawa is planning to fund 220,000 summer jobs for this and next summer combined, in addition to boosting subsidies for student work placements.

Helping aerospace take off

The federal government is earmarking $250 million over three years for an Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative, which will help small- and medium-sized aerospace firms boost productivity, marketing while reducing their environmental footprint.

The idea is to preserve businesses providing components for aircraft in places such as Winnipeg, where the global collapse in air travel has halted supply chains.

Cash for cutting red tape

Ottawa seems to be heeding Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister’s call to cut down on fees and cumbersome regulations that hinder interprovincial trade.

The budget earmarks $21 million for ongoing projects to collect data and harmonize regulations, plus unspecified "new or renewed discretionary federal transfers to provinces and territories."

Officials could not specify how much money would be involved, nor how this would be structured.

Cleaner Lake of the Woods

Ottawa is earmarking $2 million to be spent by next spring, for projects meant to reduce algae blooms in the lake that straddles Ontario, Minnesota and Manitoba.

Ottawa is earmarking $2 million for projects meant to reduce algae blooms in Lake of the Woods. (Tom Thomson / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Ottawa is earmarking $2 million for projects meant to reduce algae blooms in Lake of the Woods. (Tom Thomson / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Quarterly carbon tax payments

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled carbon taxes to be constitutional, Ottawa will be shifting the so-called Climate Action Incentive from an income-tax top-up to a quarterly payment.

That means Manitobans can expect a cheque every three months from Ottawa, at a rate determined by household size, unless the province implements its own levy.

Support for seniors

It’s not just Pallister cutting cheques to seniors. The federal Liberals’ budget proposes issuing a one-time payment in August to any OAS recipient who will be 75 years old as of June 2022.

That same age cohort will also get a $766 annual boost, which rises with inflation, starting the next year.

Home-retrofit loans

The federal government has proposed offering homeowners up to $40,000 in interest-free loans for energy retrofits, from better insulated windows to installing solar panels to replacing an oil furnace with geothermal heat.

Yacht tax

Ottawa expects to rake in $600 million over five years by charging a levy on luxury cars and personal aircraft that cost more than $100,000, as well as boats that cost more than $250,000, starting in 2022.

 

Carbon-tax flip-flop for farmers

After acrimony from farmers over how tasks such as grain drying aren't exempt from the federal carbon tax, the Liberals say they will now rebate the levy collected on propane and natural gas.

For the first year, that should amount to roughly $100 million for Ontario and all three Prairie provinces combined.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca