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Index for my Toronto Budget 2004 project
Today's Federal Budget and the New Deal for Cities
23/03/2004

Well, there wasn't a whole lot of news today on the New Deal. Most, if not all, of what was in today's budget had already been announced, or at least hinted at.

The biggest benefit from the feds is the GST exemption. For some reason they insist on describing it as saving "$7 billion over 10 years". This allowed Jack Layton the opportunity to be witty. From the Toronto Star's review of the budget's impact on cities:

"They wrap it up in this big package and say it's $7 billion over 10 years. I mean, why not say it's $700 billion over . . . 1,000 years?"

He's got a point there. Every program these days is announced as some sum of money over several years. Then it gets re-announced each year. You need an accountant to keep it straight.

The other sizeable benefit to cities is an acceleration of infrastructure spending. I believe this includes $350-million for the TTC over 5 years, as was rumoured. Martin also will continue to negotiate with provinces to find some way of transfering money reliably to municipalities without the provinces clawing it back.

That's it, other than a few little things that you can read about in the Star. I'm not disappointed, though since it's Queen's Park that I think ought to make some real changes.

Anyway, other things I noticed about the budget include:

I'll give the last words to Paul Wells. He points out that after slamming John Manley and Jean Chretien, this budget builds on their legacy. The only difference is that Kyoto got canned. Overall, he says, we should be reasonably happy. We're in good shape fiscally.

UPDATE: Here are the details on the air safety charge.


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