Budget 2015: A Financial Sleight Of Hand Balances the Books

As promised, Finance Minister Joe Oliver has balanced the Budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, delivering on a central tenet of the Conservative Party’s 2011 campaign platform. While the government was able to achieve its balanced budget goal within its four-year mandate, the surplus – initially reported as $1.9 billion last fall – was whittled down to $1.4 billion following the drop in the price of oil. The budget was ultimately balanced by accessing the government’s $3 billion contingency fund.

Entitled Strong Leadership: A Balanced-budget, Low-tax Plan for Jobs, Growth and Security, Budget 2015 marks the beginning of the unofficial re-election campaign, with Conservative focus on key demographics via tax credits for families and seniors; support for small business; and funds to shore up national security. Most, if not all of these programs were announced piecemeal over the past six months, so there was very little by way of surprises.

BudgetBudget infographic


Although the primary focus of the 2015 Budget was in the key areas listed above, the government’s financial roadmap did make significant inroads in a number of other areas:

Health and Life Sciences Highlights

  • Targeted research investments targeted to support health system research, anti-microbial resistance, and aging and brain health
  • Renewed 10 year mandate for the Mental Health Commission of Canada
  • Support for Canada’s innovation ecosystem, including investments in the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Council of Canadian Academies
  • Confirming that the Canada Health Transfer will grow on the sustainable and predictable path first outlined by the Finance Minister in December 2011.

 Natural Resources and Environment Highlights

  • The extension of the maximum length of natural gas export licences from 25 years to 40 years to improve regulatory certainty for exporters
  • The extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance (ACCA) for LNG equipment and facilities
  • Costs associated with environmental studies and community consultations will be eligible for the Canadian Exploration Expense treatment
  • The Mineral Tax Exploration Credit will be extended through to 2016

Transportation and Infrastructure Highlights

  • A new Public Transit Fund worth $750 million over two years starting in 2017-18 and $1 billion per year thereafter for large cities
  • $210 million over four years towards a new dedicated infrastructure fund for Canada`s upcoming 150th celebrations
  • $3 million over three years for the International Maritime Centre in Vancouver
  • $30.8 million over five years to enhance the safety of marine transportation both in the Arctic and south of the 60th parallel

 Agri-Food & Consumer Products Highlights

  • The agri-food sector received a pledge of $18.1 million to increase international trade
  • $5 million over five years to the Competition Bureau to facilitate investigations into alleged cases of unjustified border pricing discrimination
  • An exemption to the income tax withholding requirement for qualified non-resident employers
  • The creation of an Internal Trade Promotion Office within Industry Canada to address domestic issues
  • $491.8 million over five years to the Chemicals Management Plan in order to support current assessments and manage ongoing risks and analysis of new and existing chemical substances

 Cultural Industries Highlights:

  • Copyright protection of sound recordings and performances in the Copyright Act has been extended from 50 to 70 years
  • Canada’s 150th anniversary will see a $210 million investment over four years, starting in 2015-16. This will support local community festivals, concerts and enhanced Canada Day celebrations
  • Canada’s Olympians and Paralympians will receive $20 million over four years, starting in 2016-17. These funds are contingent upon matching funding from the private sector