March 2019
2019 Federal Budget Update

2019-03-21 1:39:07 PM

CATEGORIES: Advocacy, Finance

On Tuesday, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the 2019 federal budget with a projected $19.8 billion deficit. 

This budget spending plan targeted the middle class and focused largely on investments in infrastructure, including affordable housing, broadband access, and energy efficiency. There are also a number of investments targeted at specific groups, including new home buyers and Indigenous communities.

This budget is being well-received by the municipal sector due to the elevated importance it places on federal-municipal partnerships. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) noted that the budget “delivers major results for Canadians directly through their local governments” and that it puts “community-building tools directly in local hands.”

There are a number of measures in the budget that will be of interest to the municipal sector in Ontario and across the country. While AMCTO will continue to review the budget in greater depth over the coming days and weeks, below is a brief summary of some of the highlights for the municipal sector. 

Gas Tax Fund

  • One-time transfer of $2.2 billion through the federal Gas Tax Fund to address short-term infrastructure priorities in municipalities and First Nation communities.

  • The federal government has identified several service areas as eligible for the funding, including:

    • Local roads and bridges

    • Highways

    • Public Transit

Energy Efficiency 

  • $1.01 billion invested in 2018-19 to increase energy efficiency in homes and buildings through the Green Municipal Fund to be delivered by FCM. This funding will be financed through three initiatives:

    • Collaboration on Community Climate Action ($350 million): provide municipalities with financing and grants to retrofit and improve the energy efficiency of large community buildings and community pilot and demonstration projects in various Canadian municipalities.

    • Community EcoEfficiency Acceleration ($300 million): financing for municipal initiatives to support home energy efficiency retrofits.

    • Sustainable Affordable Housing Innovation ($300 million): to improve energy efficiency in new and existing housing and support on-site energy generation.

  • Invest $60 million in FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Capacity Fund to help small communities get skills training on how to inventory, grow, and maintain infrastructure assets over five years.

Broadband Access

  • Up to $6 billion in new investments in rural broadband over the next 10 years.

  • $1.7 billion over the next 13 years to establish the Universal Broadband Fund.

  • The Government’s goal is to ensure that 95 per cent of Canadian homes and businesses will have access to internet speeds of at least 50/10 Mbps by 2026 and 100 per cent by 2030, no matter where they are located in the country.

Affordable Housing

  • $300 million to launch a Housing Supply Challenge, to find new solutions to the housing supply public policy problem in consultation with municipalities. 

  • First-Time Home Buyer Incentive: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) would provide up to $1.25 billion over three years to eligible home buyers by sharing in the cost of a mortgage.

Disaster Management

  • Investment of $15.1 million over five years to improve emergency management and $9.28 million per year going forward.

  • $260 million over two years to support provincial and territorial disaster relief and recovery through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements Program.


  • Provide $80 million over four years, beginning in 2020-21, to support three or more Canadian cyber-security networks across Canada that are affiliated with post-secondary institutions.

Harm Reduction and Treatment

  • $30.5 million over 5 years and $1 million in ongoing funding to support efforts to expand access to a safe supply of prescription opioids along with improved training for police and community workers.

Carbon Pricing

  • Proceeds from the federal carbon pollution pricing system will be allocated to various proposed energy initiatives.

  • For Ontario, where there is no current carbon pricing system in place, the Government will return all direct proceeds from the fuel charge in the jurisdiction of origin, with the bulk of direct proceeds going to residents.

Canadian Drug Agency 

  • To help make prescription drugs more affordable for more Canadians, the Government is proposing to work with provinces, territories and stakeholders to create the Canadian Drug Agency that would:

    • Assess the effectiveness of new prescription drugs.

    • Negotiate drug prices on behalf of Canada’s drug plans.

    • Recommend which drugs represent the best value-for-money for Canadians and, in cooperation with provinces, territories, and other partners, identify which drugs could form the basis of a future national formulary.

  • This is part of a wider goal of the Government to introduce a universal pharmacare program in the future.

Talent & Innovation

  • Invest $35.2 million over the next five years to make the Global Talent Stream a permanent program to allow Canadian businesses access to global talent when Canadian workers are unavailable.

  • Employers will be referred by Designated Referral Partners, including provincial and municipal governments.


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