Backgrounder on Key Measures Included in Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1

These changes will take effect as of the 2017 tax year.

Home Care and Mental Health Services

The Government is committed to meeting Canadians' demand for health care services. The demand for home care services is growing. Today, approximately 15 per cent of hospital beds are still occupied by patients who could and would prefer to receive their care at home, or would be better off in a community-based setting. In addition, a majority of those Canadians who have taken on the responsibility to care for their loved ones are still in the workforce—and most are women.

Scientific research has made great strides to improve our understanding of mental illness and its prevalence. Today, we know that an overwhelming number of Canadians will be affected—directly or indirectly—by mental illness at some point in their lives. Science has also shown that it is essential for those struggling with mental illness to have access to timely and appropriate mental health services. Yet, in certain regions, wait times to see a mental health specialist are up to 18 months.

With the passage of the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 (BIA 1), the Government will provide funding to provinces and territories for home care and mental health services in 2017–18 as an immediate down payment to provinces and territories that have accepted the federal offer of $11 billion over 10 years.

Employment Insurance

Every Canadian family is different—and has different needs when it comes to how they manage work and family responsibilities. Working parents need more flexibility to navigate the challenges that come with a growing family.

BIA 1 would allow parents to choose to receive Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits over an extended period of up to 18 months at a lower benefit rate of 33 per cent of average weekly earnings. EI parental benefits will continue to be available at the existing benefit rate of 55 per cent over a period of up to 12 months.

BIA 1 also proposes to allow women to claim EI maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before their due date—expanded from the current standard of 8 weeks—if they so choose.

Greater Support for Canada's Veterans and Their Families

Canada's women and men in uniform have served our country with bravery, honour and dignity—putting their lives at risk to protect the values we cherish most. Our veterans deserve our greatest recognition and respect for their service.

BIA 1 would help veterans transition from military service to civilian life and better support the families of ill and injured veterans, including caregivers.

In addition to providing more money for veterans to go back to school, BIA 1 proposes to amend legislation to enhance the Career Transition Services Program. This measure will equip veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members, survivors, and veterans' spouses and common-law partners with the tools they need to successfully navigate and transition to the civilian workforce.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank

In its 2016 Fall Economic Statement, the Government announced plans to establish a new Canada Infrastructure Bank, an arm's-length organization that will work with provincial, territorial, municipal, Indigenous and private sector investment partners to transform the way infrastructure is planned, funded and delivered in Canada.

The Bank will be responsible for investing at least $35 billion in revenue-generating infrastructure projects that are in the public interest, and attracting private sector capital to those projects so that more infrastructure can be built across Canada. These investments will be made strategically, with a focus on large, transformative projects such as regional transit plans, transportation networks and electricity grid interconnections.

Leveraging the expertise and capital of the private sector, the Canada Infrastructure Bank will provide better results for middle class Canadians. Public dollars will go farther and be used more strategically, maximizing opportunities to create the good, well-paying jobs needed to grow the middle class now, and strengthen Canada's economy over the long term.

BIA 1 includes enabling legislation for the Canada Infrastructure Bank, with the goal of having the Bank operational in late 2017.

The Canada Caregiver Credit

The Government is taking steps to help improve the current caregiver credit system that applies to Canadians who are caring for their loved ones.

BIA 1 simplifies the existing system by replacing the Caregiver Credit, Infirm Dependant Credit and Family Caregiver Tax Credit with a single new credit: the Canada Caregiver Credit. This new, non-refundable credit will provide better support to those who need it the most, apply to caregivers whether or not they live with their family member, and help families with caregiving responsibilities.

The new Canada Caregiver Credit will provide tax relief on an amount of:

  • $6,883 (in 2017) in respect of expenses for care of dependent relatives with infirmities (including persons with disabilities)—parents, brothers and sisters, adult children, and other specific relatives.
  • $2,150 (in 2017) in respect of expenses for care of a dependent spouse/common-law partner or minor child with an infirmity (including those with a disability).

Families will be able to take advantage of the new Canada Caregiver Credit as soon as the 2017 tax year.

Extend Eligibility for the Tuition Tax Credit

The Government is firmly committed to helping Canadians of all ages receive the training and skills they need to succeed in the economy of today and tomorrow. The Tuition Tax Credit plays an important role in this effort by recognizing the cost of enrolling in post-secondary and occupational skills courses.

Currently, students who take occupational skills courses below the post-secondary level (e.g., training in a second language or in basic literacy and numeracy to improve job skills) at a college or university cannot claim the Tuition Tax Credit, but those who take similar courses at a non-post-secondary institution can claim it.

To improve fairness, BIA 1 will expand the range of courses eligible for this credit to include occupational skills courses that are undertaken at a post-secondary institution in Canada, and allow the full amount of bursaries received for such courses to qualify for the scholarship exemption (where conditions are otherwise met).

Artificial Intelligence

The Government is positioning Canada at the leading edge of a changing economy by helping to ensure that Canadians are able to access the jobs of the future.

From smartphone applications that can understand human speech to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence is changing the way that people interact with each other and our world. It has the potential to drive strong economic growth, by improving the way we produce goods, deliver services and tackle challenges like climate change. Artificial intelligence opens up possibilities across many sectors, from agriculture to financial services, creating opportunities for companies of all sizes, whether technology start-ups or Canada's largest financial institutions.

With the passage of BIA 1, the Government will provide $125 million to launch a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy for research and talent, which will help retain and attract top academic talent, and increase the number of post-graduate trainees and researchers studying artificial intelligence and deep learning. The Strategy will promote collaboration between Canada's main centres of expertise in Montréal, Toronto-Waterloo and Edmonton and position Canada as a world-leading destination for companies seeking to invest in artificial intelligence and innovation.