Budget 2011: What it means for you

Whatever your walk of life, here are specific budget proposals that affect you.

What the proposed 2011 federal budget means if you’re a …

Family of four: The good news for Canadian families is that they won’t be faced with any new taxes. According to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the average Canadian family of four will actually save $1,300 per year via tax cuts. Parents can expect a rebate of $75 for spending $500 or more on arts-related classes for their children. A family of four — specifically a family of two parents and two children — could receive up to $300 back for spending $2,000 or more on arts- or sports-related lessons. The budget also offers a family-caregiver tax credit consisting of a 15% non-refundable credit of $2,000 for caregivers of spouses, common-law partners and minors. This credit is designed to assist the more than 500,000 Canadians caring for unwell partners and children with disabilities or severe illnesses. This is the most expensive new feature in the budget, at a cost of $680 million over the first five years. The government also says it will spend $200 million a year, for two years, to continue the ecoENERGY Retrofit program, which offers Canadians a financial incentive to green their homes in ways such as updating air conditioners or furnaces with energy-efficient alternatives.

Senior citizen: The budget offers single seniors who make up to $2,000 a year a Guaranteed Income Supplement of up to $600 annually, and senior couples making $4,000 or less $840 annually. The budget also gets eliminates mandatory retirement for federally regulated employees, and provides an additional $5 million a year to senior support programs. Collectively, the new budget measures for seniors will improve the financial security of 680,000 Canadians.

Medical professional: To encourage medical practitioners to disperse throughout the country, the budget will forgive student loans of up to $40,000 for new doctors and $20,000 for nurses practicing in remote and rural areas.

First Nation: The new budget will provide $52 million for aboriginal programs, including helping to replace fuel tanks on reserves.

Small-business owner: To encourage the government to hire more Canadians as part of the Economic Action Plan, the budget proposes a hiring credit, which offers a one-year Employment Insurance break of up to $1,000 for firms with premiums below $10,001 in 2010. That credit can be applied against the increase in 2011 EI premiums over 2010. About 525,000 small businesses in Canada will benefit. Roughly the same number of small businesses will also be eligible for a temporary hiring credit. This new break will reduce their collective payroll costs by about $165 million for 2011. Another big win for small business is the extension to 2014 of the 2007 allowance allowing manufacturers to write off machinery and equipment quickly. The budget also proposes to spend $80 million on a new three-year Industrial Research Assistance Program that will help colleges partner with small and medium enterprises on projects that relate to new information and communication technologies.

Professor: Over the next five years, the budget pledges $53.5 million to create 10 new university-level Canadian Excellence Research Chairs. Some of these positions specifically involve digital innovation, and there are 30 industrial research chair positions at colleges and Quebec polytechniques. A three-year pilot project called the Industrial Research Assistance Program will give $80 million to fund colleges and small and medium enterprises collaborating on projects relating to information and communications technologies.

Student: A $2.2-million annual investment in the budget means part-time students with higher family incomes will still be eligible for Canada Student Loans. It also reduces the in-study interest rate for part-time students, saving them approximately $5.6 million per year. The budget helps full-time students earning more by doubling the in-study income exemption to $100 per week from $50 per week, and exam fees for Canadians needing to certify their skills in fields such as carpentry and medicine will be tax-deductible. The budget offers added relief to students who are looking to find employment in Canada’s emerging digital economy. For them, the budget proposes $60 million in spending over the next three years. This cash will be used to boost enrollment in these programs.

Former soldier: The budget suggests the government plans to work to help veterans find jobs when they return home. The plan, called the Helmets to Hardhats program, will work with Veterans Canada to help former soldiers find construction work.

Unemployed Canadian: The budget includes $420 million to fund a one-year renewal of two pilot projects that aim to help the unemployed. The first allows those claiming Employment Insurance to earn extra income on top of their benefits, and the other inflates benefits for claimants in regions with high jobless rates.

Volunteer fire fighter: The budget offers these volunteers in rural Canada up to $450 a year for their service, if they dedicate at least 200 hours to the cause.

Olympic athlete: The government plans to renew the $22-million Own the Podium program to support Canadian Olympians.