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The federal Budget tabled yesterday by Finance Minister Bill Morneau addressed a broad range of issues that impact local governments in British Columbia. Budget 2018 outlines the funding arrangement for cannabis taxation, and includes spending on rental housing, small craft harbours, the opioid crisis, community-level crime prevention and enforcement efforts, and gender equity.

This highlights package outlines elements of the Budget of interest to local governments:

Taxation:

Small Business Tax Rate

  •  Reduction of the small business tax rate to 10 per cent, effective January 1, 2018, and to 9 per cent, effective January 1, 2019.

Cannabis Taxation

  • In December 2017, the federal government reached an agreement with most provincial and territorial governments to establish duties on cannabis as the higher of $1 per gram or 10 per cent of a product price, through a federally administrated coordinated framework.
  • This tax room will be shared on a 75/25 basis, with 75 per cent of duties going to provincial and territorial governments and the remaining 25 per cent to the federal government. The federal portion of cannabis excise duty revenue will be capped at $100 million annually for the first two years after legalization.
  • Any federal revenue in excess of $100 million will be provided to provinces and territories.
  • As part of this arrangement, it is the federal government’s expectation that a substantial portion of the revenues from this tax room provided to provinces and territories will be transferred to municipalities and local communities who are on the front lines of legalization.

Housing:

Rental Construction Financing Initiative

  • To encourage a stable supply of affordable rental housing across the country, the Government proposes increasing the amount of loans provided by the Rental Construction Financing Initiative from $2.5 billion to $3.75 billion over the next three years. This new funding is intended to support projects that address the needs of modest- and middle-income households struggling in expensive housing markets. In total, this measure alone is expected to spur the construction of more than 14,000 new rental units across Canada.

Beneficial Ownership

  • To improve the availability of beneficial ownership information, the Government proposes to introduce enhanced income tax reporting requirements for certain trusts to provide additional information on an annual basis, applicable for the 2021 and later taxation years.

Community Safety:

Opioid Crisis

  • Provide $231.4 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, for additional measures to help address the opioid crisis.

Cybercrime

  •  Provide $116.0 million over five years, and $23.2 million per year ongoing, to the RCMP to support the creation of the National Cybercrime Coordination Unit. The National Cybercrime Coordination Unit will create a coordination hub for cybercrime investigations in Canada and will work with international partners on cybercrime.
  • Provide an additional $236.5 million over five years, and $41.2 million per year ongoing, to further support Canada’s new National Cyber Security Strategy.

Guns and Gangs

  • Provide $327.6 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, and $100 million per year ongoing, to Public Safety Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency. This initiative will support community-level crime prevention and enforcement efforts, build and leverage unique federal expertise and resources to advance intelligence related to the illegal trafficking of firearms, and invest in border security to interdict illicit goods including guns and drugs. 

Environment

Land, Water and Species Protection

  • Contribute $500 million from the federal government to create a new $1 billion Nature Fund in partnership with corporate, not-for-profit, provincial, territorial and other partners. The Nature Fund will make it possible to secure private land, support provincial and territorial species protection efforts, and help build Indigenous capacity to conserve lands and species.

Indigenous Relations

Clean Drinking Water on Reserve

  • Provide an additional $172.6 million over three years, beginning in 2018–19, to improve access to clean and safe drinking water on reserve. Program objective is to have all boil water advisories lifted by March 2021.

Infrastructure

Small Craft Harbours

  • Provide $250 million on a cash basis over two years, starting in 2018–19, to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to renew its network of small craft harbours and work with local governments where investments and divestitures can enhance local communities.

Critical Infrastructure Security

  • Provide Public Safety Canada with $1.4 million in 2018–19 to continue operations of the Regional Resilience Assessment Program and the Virtual Risk Analysis Cell. These programs support assessments of critical infrastructure facilities, such as energy grids, information and communication technology networks, and hospitals.

Other:

Gender Equity

  • The Government will bring in a legislated proactive pay equity regime in federally regulated sectors, which would apply to approximately 1.2 million employed individuals.
  • EI Parental Sharing Benefit where two parent families who agree to share parental leave could receive an additional five weeks of leave.
  • The Canada Workers Benefit will allow low-income workers – many of whom are single parent women – to take home more money while they work.

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