Federal Budget 2017: How does it affect students?

poor_studentBudget provides more for Indigenous, parents, and innovators

By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor


Led by Finance Minister Bill Morneau, the Liberal Party presented their 2017 federal budget in the House of Commons on March 22.

At a glance, the budget appears to offer less than its 2016 predecessor, and focuses on fewer areas.

The budget also delivered a $28.5 billion deficit, almost $10 billion over its predicted $19.4 billion deficit that was projected in 2016. The 2017 budget brings $1.5 billion less of a deficit than its predecessor.

Yet what does the 2017 budget bring to students?

Indigenous students can expect a $219-million increase in funding towards their post-secondary and trade education over the next five years. The money for the education comes out of an overall $3.4 billion of additional funding delegated towards improving Indigenous livelihoods.

However, there was no other programs announced directly for other students—a disappointment after so many student programs were introduced in the 2016 budget.

Still, there may be a benefit to students who bear and care for children. In fact, the 2017 budget is seemingly the most beneficial for parents and families.

Maternity leave may be extended up to 12 weeks, while parents may now extend their 12-month parental leave up to 18 months. The old parental leave system allowed 12 months leave on a 55 per cent rate on employment insurance. Should parents opt for the extended leave of 18 months, the employment insurance rate is dropped down to 33 per cent.

When parents do finish their leave, they will have the opportunity to access new child care spaces in 2018, with $7 billion allocated towards building child care spaces over the next 10 years.

Future business owners may qualify for federal funding in the near future. Over the next three years, $400 million will be delegated to business start-ups.

Those who find their calling in research and innovation may soon be able to call in for cash. The government will be allocating $950 million towards innovations, especially if said innovators work in the tech sector. In addition, there will be a new agency focusing on skill development opening in 2018 or 2019.

Young students across the country will be given the chance to grow up with an increasingly critical skill—coding. Over the next two years, $50 million will be delegated towards programs that will teach children to code.

Despite these potential opportunities for students, there is a downside.

Those who were claiming the transit tax credit, which reimburses the cost of unlimited-travel passes, will no longer be able to do so, since the transit tax credit is being phased out. While uncertain if the credit would even be effective for U-Passes, it may have been helpful for students who took a semester off and needed to rely on full-priced passes.

In addition, those who have been rejoicing at the incoming ride-share services may be disappointed to hear that GST will be applied to the costs of ride-share trips. And yes, that does include Uber.