Minister of Finance Bill Morneau speaks to media after meeting with private sector economists, in Toronto on February 16, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Paternity leave, deficit, cybersecurity: what to expect in the 2018 federal budget

Federal budget to be announced on Tuesday

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said science, gender equality and preparing Canadians for the jobs of the future will be key themes in Tuesday’s federal budget. Here are some more details on what it is expected to contain:


The federal budget is expected to include a five-week, “use-it-or-lose-it” incentive for new fathers to take parental leave and share the responsibilities of raising their baby. The goal is to give parents a greater incentive to share child-rearing responsibilities so that new mothers can more easily return to the workforce. Quebec already has a policy with a paid, five-week leave for fathers that covers up to 70 per cent of their income.


The budget is also expected to include a major financial boost to basic scientific research across Canada, which would address some of the concerns outlined last year in a national review of the state of fundamental science. That review recommended phasing in $1.3 billion more for researchers, scholarships and facilities over four years. The research community also thinks the budget could include new efforts to support young and Indigenous researchers, as well as help advance the role of women in science.


Since the Liberal government feels it has checked climate-change financing off its long environmental to-do list, Ottawa is expected to shift its funding focus to other international obligations on the environment, such as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The 2010 agreement says Canada must protect at least 17 per cent of its terrestrial areas, including inland waters, plus at least 10 per cent of its oceans by 2020.


The government is expected to detail the cost of its long-held promise to achieve proactive pay equity in Canada this year. The exact figure remains to be seen, but the price tag on closing the gender wage gap in the public service and federally regulated workplaces, which together employ nearly 1.2 million people, will likely be significant.


The budget could include an effort to increase procurement opportunities for female entrepreneurs, following the recommendation of the Canada-U.S. women-in-business group created by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump. The government has already been taking concrete steps toward adjusting procurement practices to increase the diversity of bidders. Groups promoting social procurement have seen more and more encouraging signs that additional commitments are on the way.


The Liberals blew through their 2015 campaign promise to keep the annual deficit below $10 billion in their first federal budget, and their ability to stick by their commitment to return to balance by 2019 remains in doubt. The latest federal forecast, released last October, projected a $14.3-billion deficit for 2019-20 and doubts persist that Tuesday’s budget will show a revised timeline for getting back to black.


The Liberals have also put this budget through a gender-based analysis, which involves thinking about how a certain measure might affect men and women, or boys and girls, in a different ways, while accounting for other intersecting factors such as income, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation.


The budget is also expected to devote $50 million over five years to support local journalism in underserved communities across Canada, according to media reports. The Liberal government could also announce a plan to look at new business models that could allow charitable organizations to support non-profit journalism.


The budget is expected to detail how the government will deliver on its commitment to add $500 million more to the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), beginning next year. The benefit allows people typically earning the minimum wage or less to receive more income by subsidizing their wages with a tax credit.


The budget is also expected to devote big money to tackle the acute housing shortage in Indigenous communities, where homes are often overcrowded and in serious need of repairs. The Liberals have promised unique housing strategies for Inuit, Metis and First Nations communities alongside the 10-year, $225-million plan announced last year to fund groups that help house Indigenous Peoples living off-reserve.


There are high expectations from government and industry insiders that the budget will include large investments to help bolster Canadian cybersecurity defences at a time of heightened online threats around the world. The budget is set to fund a multi-departmental effort to strengthen the ability to protect and respond in the event of an attack.


The budget is expected to include almost $80 million over five years to build and operate a federal computer system aimed at ending no-fly list mismatches that have seen many innocent travellers — including dozens of children — endure anxious airport delays.

— With files from Andy Blatchford, Jordan Press, Jim Bronskill and Stephanie Levitz

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Victoria says #NeverAgain in solidarity with March For Our Lives

Youth Political Commons invites public to rally against gun violence March 24 at legislature

No injuries in single-vehicle accident on Sooke Road

Traffic moving slowly in both directions

McClure house fire saw Victoria firefighters utilize drone for first time in live situation

Aerial device feeds intel to crews to help formulate firefighting action plans

RCMP searching for man wanted on sexual assault charges

William Meers is known to frequent the Duncan area

Victoria beer leaguer turns heads as Joe Thornton doppleganger

Joe Thornton lookalike from Victoria makes it on

Submariners come home after 197-day deployment

Tears and laughter filled the jetty where emotional friends and family welcomed the HMCS Submarine Chicoutimi

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Charges formally laid against Nanaimo city manager

City of Nanaimo CAO Tracy Renee Samra charged with fear of injury/damage by another person

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

UPDATE: Former B.C. city councillor sentenced nine months for sexual assault

Dave Murray, convicted this past fall, hired a private investigator to intrude on the victim’s life.

Online threat to U.S. high school traced to Canadian teen

A 14-year-old girl has been charged in connection with an online threat against a high school

Most Read