Canada budget holds fire amid NAFTA clouds, focuses on women


But Gillian Barth, its president, said the government needs "to raise ambition in line with Canadians' desire for increased influence and compassion on the worldwide stage".

The budget includes Can$763 million for the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), which funds research infrastructure.

Other initiatives included a new direction for the National Research Council, with an eye to encouraging a level of collaborations with researchers from universities and the private sector, and across government departments, as well as money to upgrade federal laboratories.

The budget promises that 15 per cent of small- and medium-sized businesses that provide goods or services to the federal government will be women-owned, quickly growing their potential for additional revenue. The goal is to allow parents to handle the task of raising children more equitably.

While it didn't mention a national childcare framework, Morneau's budget did offer up a new "use-it-or-lose-it" Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit, that would promote more gender equity by providing new incentives for men to take parental leave.

In fact, total program spending increases for this fiscal year are actually 0.5% lower than originally planned, and increases over the next two years are limited to about 3% annually.

One small measure - $30 million for what's known as a patent collective - was being pushed for by the Council of Canadian Innovators as a way to help smaller business share the intel they need to develop their products.

On Tuesday, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau released the federal budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

"The hints thus far seem to be around that they are going to play to their strengths, which is smart politics when you're about a year-and-a-half out from an election", said Greg MacEachern, a former Liberal strategist with the lobby firm Environics Communications.

Dennis Darby, chief executive of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, also said more is needed to be done to help Canadian competitiveness.

The budget includes Can$323.4 billion in revenues, and Can$338.5 in program spending and public debt charges. "And with every dollar we invest, we expect $5 in recovered revenue".

Anita Huberman, CEO Surrey Board of Trade, said the federal budget contains no strategy for dealing with the USA, which is not only drastically cutting taxes but also threatening the North American Free Trade Agreement with revision or abandonment.

But Morneau, long a vocal champion of playing the long game, has all but ruled out that there will be specific measures that respond to the U.S. direction, saying last week that he wouldn't act in an "impulsive way" to the United States corporate tax cuts.

He added: "That will build more safe and affordable housing in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities". In some respects, the budget makes matters worse by continuing the government's self-destructive policies of chronic deficit-financed spending and new taxes on entrepreneurs.

Morneau has said Ottawa wants to proceed in fiscally responsible way.

"To safeguard Canadians' privacy, and protect both our digital economy and our country, we are making an investment of over $750 million in cybersecurity". "We do know that Quebec tends to top up more because it's much easier for an employer to top up when the replacement rate is 75 per cent and the top up is only 20 or 25, as opposed to trying to top up when it's 40 or 45".

Morneau said that there is still room for improvement in our universal medicare system.

An estimated 10 per cent of Canadians can't afford their prescription drugs each year, the Liberals say.

But after International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau unveiled Canada's new feminist foreign policy in June with no new money attached, she said she would continue to fight hard around the cabinet table for more funding.

Singh says that's not a plan - it's a fantasy.

Regarding protection of the environment, Morneau announced an investment of $1.3 billion to conserve more land and waters, preserve biodiversity, and protect species at risk.