Canada | Federal Budget

5 things you may have missed from the 2019 federal budget

The government focused on more than just housing affordability and skills training—this year’s federal budget includes expanding vehicle charging stations, gender equality and more

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Young woman is standing near the electric car and looks at the smart phone. The rental car is charging at the charging station for electric vehicles.The 2019 budget includes investment to make it more affordable for Canadians to buy zero-emission vehicles and includes expanding the network of charging and refueling stations (Shutterstock/Scharfsinn)

The 2019 federal budget, tabled on March 19 by Finance Minister Bill Morneau, covered a diverse assortment of issues, including housing affordability, restricting the preferential treatment of stock options, adjusting research and development tax credits for SMEs and boosting investment in anti-money laundering initiatives. 

But in addition to the major announcements, the budget also covered a wide range of measures, including support for seniors and investing in zero-emission vehicles. 

Here are five measures you might have missed from this year’s federal budget:

1. CRA SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS

The budget includes new resources and investments towards making the Canada Revenue Agency more efficient and better able to serve Canadians. This includes adding resources to reduce wait times for personal tax return adjustments and tax objections, create digital services to track CRA progress on tax inquiries/requests and broaden the existing tax liaison program.

To further support this effort, the government will invest $16 million over five years to make permanent a pilot program that provides a dedicated support line for tax service providers. Under this program, tax service providers have access to experienced CRA staff who can help with more complex, interpretive tax issues than those typically dealt with under the CRA’s general enquiries service

“All of these initiatives will improve CRA services to taxpayers and their advisers, making tax compliance easier and shortening the wait time for resolution of some tax issues,” says Bruce Ball, vice-president of tax for CPA Canada.   

2. FUTURE OF TRANSPORTATION

Transportation is responsible for about one quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions—the main contributors being diesel-powered cars and trucks. The federal government points out that the future of transportation lies in the increased use of zero-emission vehicles, which will help the transition to a low carbon economy. While they aren’t common across Canada yet, the 2019 budget includes investment to make it more affordable for Canadians to buy these vehicles. The initiative includes expanding the network of zero-emission vehicle charging and refueling stations and providing $300 million over three years to Transport Canada to introduce a new federal purchase incentive of up to $5,000 for electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

3. INVESTMENT IN WOMEN’S PROGRESS

In December 2018, legislation was passed to create the new Department for Women and Gender Equality, which supports grassroots action with the goal to achieve free and full participation in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada regardless of sex or gender. The 2019 budget, in a bid to support the Department, includes an investment of $160 million over five years—with the goal to enable further community action to tackle systemic barriers. 

4. SUPPORT FOR INDIGENOUS POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

The budget includes many measures aimed at advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, who are among the youngest and fastest growing segments of the Canadian population. Yet they continue to face barriers when it comes to pursuing post-secondary education. In 2019, investments include $824 million over ten years in support of post-secondary education access and strategies for Indigenous students.

5. CANNABIS TAXATION 

The budget also provides some amendments to cannabis taxation, with clarification regarding cannabis products that will be permitted for legal sale later this year, such as edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals. For most products, namely fresh and dried cannabis, there will be no changes to the way excise tax is calculated. However, for edibles and extracts, excise tax will be imposed on the quantity of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in a final product. The new rules are scheduled to take effect May 1, 2019.

FEDERAL BUDGET OVERVIEW 

CPA Canada provides insightful analysis of changes to business, taxation, and more in its federal budget commentary.

In advance of the budget being tabled, CPA Canada released a series of three reports highlighting the need for a comprehensive tax system review—and how to get there. Read the reports: International Trends in Tax Reform: Canada is Losing Ground, Canada’s Tax System: What’s so Wrong and Why it Matters, The Best Way Forward: Designing a Tax Review for Canada.