March 19, 2019 / 9:12 PM / 8 months ago

Highlights: Key measures in Canada's 2019-20 federal budget

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Tuesday presented the Liberal government’s final budget before the October election..

Following are the key measures announced in the 2019-20 fiscal budget.

HOUSING PERKS

The government is creating a program allowing first-time buyers to finance a portion of their home purchases through a shared equity mortgage with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The incentive can be used to finance 10 percent on a new home or 5 percent on a resale home, with the CMHC sharing in any upside benefit or downside risk, a move the government said would incentivize the construction of much-needed new housing supply.

The budget also boosts the amount first-time buyers can borrow from their registered retirement savings for a down payment to C$35,000 from C$25,000.

The government said it would help build 42,500 new housing units across Canada, with a particular focus on areas of low rental supply.

TRAINING BENEFIT

The government introduced a training benefit that allows workers aged 25 to 64 to retrain for the jobs of the future.

The measure, which comes into force in 2020, will give individuals up to C$1,000 every four years toward tuition and up to four weeks of paid leave from their current jobs to complete an educational program.

The program will cost C$1.7 billion over the next five years, and C$586.5 million a year thereafter, the government said.

STUDENT LOANS

The government would spend C$1.7 billion over five years to make student loans more affordable, which includes lowering the floating interest rates on student loans to prime from the current rate of prime plus 2.5 percentage points.

SENIORS

Enhancing the Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption to allow low-income seniors to earn more income before suffering a reduction in benefits, at a cost of about C$1.8 billion over four years.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

The government would spend C$1.2 billion over three years for indigenous children to access health, social and educational services and more than C$1 billion over five years to improve essential services on reserves, including clean drinking water and fire protection.

GREEN

Providing C$300 million over three years to encourage more Canadians to buy electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

HIGH-SPEED INTERNET ACCESS

Plan to deliver at least C$5 billion in investments in rural broadband over the next 10 years.

STOCK OPTIONS

To apply a C$200,000 annual cap on employee stock options grants that may receive tax-preferred treatment for employees of large, long-established, mature firms, which moves toward alignment of employee stock option tax treatment with that of the United States.

TAX COMPLIANCE

C$150.8 million over five years to help the Canada Revenue Agency combat tax evasion and tax avoidance.

CANNABIS

The government to allow sale of new classes of cannabis products, namely edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals later this year.

Cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts, including cannabis oils, and cannabis topicals will attract excise duties depending on the quantity of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in a final product.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Denny Thomas and Peter Cooney

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