Tuesday, 22 March 2016

2016 Federal Budget

2016 Canadian Federal Budget

It was budget day today in Canada and the Liberal government came out and told us where they would be spending their dollars in the coming years...and spending they are! During the election, Trudeau had campaigned on a promise of some pretty big deficits but ending the term with a balanced budget. Those days are gone, the deficit has grown from what he was initially suggesting and there is no sign of a balanced budget. I voted for the Liberal's, based a lot on their economic platform and I'm (mostly) ok with running deficits but I would have liked to have seen a clear cut plan for getting back in the black. One thing I think is important to note though is that their projected GDP amounts are actually pretty conservative; for example, their calculations are based on oil at a $25/barrel level which is lower than it has been even in this recent slump. 

Let's take a look at a few of the highlights from the budget and see where some of that money is going. 

  • The Canada Child Tax Benefit will start up July 1, 2016 and families with children will receive monthly payments based on household income. Maximum amounts will be $6,400 for kids under 6 and $5,400 for kids aged 6-18. Household incomes over $30,000/year will receive reduced payments and you're over $190,000 you wont get anything. This will replace the existing Universal Child Care Benefit, income splitting for families, and the children's fitness/arts tax credits. 
  • $8.4 billion over the next five years has been set aside for indigenous people's for bettering education on reserves, access to clean drinking water, housing, etc. There will also be $40 million (over two years) going towards the inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. 
  • Over $3 billion will be set aside for green initiatives including a low-carbon economy fund and research development for clean technologies.
  • $1.9 billion is going to arts and culture over the next five years.
  • The age to begin collecting OAS is being bumped back from 67 to 65.
  • EI benefits will be increased in 12 regions (not Edmonton) across the country that have been hit with high unemployment rates by lengthening the amount of time you can be on EI to 70 weeks for long-tenured employees. Starting in July the number of hours worked before being eligible for EI will be decreased and wait times will be decreased to one week in the New Year. 
  • Grants available to low income students will be increased from $2,000 to $3,000 and from $800 to $1,200 for middle income students.
  • GIS will be increased by up to $947 for single seniors.
  • A $5.6 billion dollar increase in benefits for veterans and their families and nine veterans service offices will be re-opened across the country.
  • Affordable housing initiatives will be getting $2.3 billion over the next two years to build new and renovate old. 
  • As promised during the election, infrastructure spending is being amped up to $11.9 billion over the next two years. The first phase of spending that will start right away includes public transit, water and waste management, and affordable housing projects. 
  • No tax cut for small business owners. The Conservative's had planned to decrease the small business tax but that has been taken off the table. 
  • National Defense purchases totaling $3.7 billion are being put on hold indefinitely.  
2016 Canadian Federal Budget

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Spring Bucket List

It may not officially Spring yet but it looks like the Spring like weather in Edmonton is sticking around so I'm looking ahead. We were able to check off most of the things on my Winter Bucket List so I'm reading to start planning some new adventures. The one thing that was missed was an Oil Kings game so I might have to carry that one over or get it done in the next couple of weeks before the calendar actually says Spring. 

Here's a look at what I've got in the works for the next few months.  

Weekend Getaway to Canmore
We've been talking about getting out of town for a weekend for awhile since we weren't able to go anywhere warm this winter and last night I bit the bullet and booked a hotel in Canmore at the beginning of May. The details still need to be worked out (hooray for free cancellation) but it shouldn't be an issue and the price was way right! I like to get to the mountains at least once a year and our last couple of trips have been to Banff so Canmore isn't too different but it's far enough to feel like something new. If anyone has some good restaurant picks in Canmore I'd love to hear them! Other than eating we'll likely head out on a hike and but we don't have much organized at this point. 

Sherlock Holmes Exhibit
The Telus World of Science is bringing the much-hyped Sherlock Holmes Exhibit to town and it looks like it will be pretty great. The exhibit is set to open on March 25th and will run right through the summer until September 5th. I'm planning on getting there sooner rather than later as the end dates always seem to creep up on me (memories of JUST making it to the ice castle). Tickets are already to buy online and there's lots more information about the exhibit here. They are going to have adult-only nights every Thursday after 5pm, so if you don't have kiddos to bring you might want to scope that out...we sure will be, gives you a better chance of getting into the interactive displays ;)

Get Gardening
It's just about that time of year to get your garden planned out and seeds planted. I am lucky to have a nice, big backyard with quite a bit of room for planting and I really want to take advantage of it this year. I planted veggies last year but the only thing that did really well were my tomatoes...I'm working on my green thumb. I'd like to take some more time this year to get organized and not just planting what sounds good. Hopefully this will better my results and keeping us eating well all summer long. Time to get some research done! What have you guys had good luck with in the garden? 

Concert Season
I guess these aren't exactly bucket list items since I've already bought tickets but I'll be going to both the Rihanna concert in April and the Beyonce concert in May. I was excited about the Rihanna concert but Beyonce...that's a whole other level! I cannot wait to see her play Commonwealth Stadium, and on the Friday of May long weekend no less, such a huge get for Edmonton. I was shocked when I heard the announcement during the Superbowl, pretty much made that game worthwhile for me. I'm just hoping it doesn't snow...we've had a pretty amazing winter but May long is always so sketchy when it comes to the weather! 

Start Running Outside
Every year I get the bug to become a runner but my motivation always waivers when the summer heat rolls in. I'm going to give it another go this year though and hopefully make a bit more progress. I'm never going to be a marathon runner but it's such a great (and cheap!) way to exercise when the weather warms up. My fitness level is not nearly where it should be so I'll probably start over with the Couch to 5k program that I found really helpful last year. I also want to start walking to work. One of the best things about living central is being so close to so many things and my work is definitely one of those. My plan is to leave the car behind and soak up the fresh air a little more often this Spring.