8 key takeaways about what Budget 2024 means for your wallet – National

8 key takeaways about what Budget 2024 means for your wallet – National

Affordability is one of the key focuses for the Liberal government in its latest budget, with housing taking centre stage with billions of dollars in sweeping policies targeting major reforms and changes.

“Together, we will unlock the door to the middle class for more Canadians and renew the promise of our great country,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in the House of Commons.

Primarily focused on housing programs, this budget contains $57 billion in new spending – something Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says will further drive up the cost-of-living.

“Conservative will vote against this wasteful inflationary budget that is like a pyromaniac spraying gas on the inflationary fire that he lit, it’s getting too hot, and too expensive for Canadians,” Poilievre said.

But there are also multiple smaller initiatives and changes billed as efforts to try to ease the fiscal pinch Canadians are feeling, ranging from a boost to the disability benefit to measures tackling airline and concert fees, banking changes and making it easier to change phone or internet plans.

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Here’s what to know about how Budget 2024 could impact your wallet and family.

 The only thing that gives concert goers more ‘Bad Blood’ than scalpers in line for Taylor Swift are extra fees on tickets. The frantic race for tickets to her concerts got a cameo in Budget 2024 as the government pointed to the hunt as an example of why it is pledging to scrap junk fees for concert tickets, along with related proposals around fees in banking, air travel and other areas.

The main goals are to have all fees displayed upfront with ticket prices, improved protections around refunds when events are cancelled, and finding ways to crackdown on resellers that use bots to buy up in-demand tickets and resell them at inflated costs.

When it comes to concert and sport tickets though, the federal government will have to work with the provinces and territories on this front.

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Click to play video: 'Taylor Swift tour ticket frenzy begins in Vancouver'

Taylor Swift tour ticket frenzy begins in Vancouver

For airlines, Ottawa wants to work with the Canadian Transportation Agency to ensure airlines are more upfront with extra fees charged when booking a ticket. This includes showing the cost of extra fees, like seat selection and checked baggage, with the advertised price instead of after selecting your ticket.

For people travelling with children, the government plans to make it so a child aged 14 or younger can select a seat next to an accompanying adult at no extra charge, fulfilling a promise from the fall economic statement.

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In what’s described as a move to help low-income Canadians, the government plans to cap non-sufficient fund (NSF) fees at $10 per instance.

Currently, these NSF fees can be as high as $50.

Among extra overdraft protections, the government aims to require banks to give customers a heads up if they are approaching overdraft, have a grace period where funds can be added to an account to avoid the fee, prohibit NSF fees for overdrafts under $10 allow only one NSF charge every 72 hours.

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Further banking measures the government plans to implement, as outlined in the budget, include the ability for renters to build credit with timely mortgage payments and new tools for bank customers to manage, track and cancel monthly subscriptions.

Will switching phone, internet plans get easier?

Getting locked into a cellphone contract and seeing a cheaper plan pop-up with another carrier can be frustrating, but the government says they want to make switching easier.

Through an amendment to the Telecommunications Act, the Liberals plan on prohibiting telecom companies from charging a customer an extra fee to switch phone or internet carriers.

Additionally, carriers would be required to help customers identify plans that may be a lower cost towards the end of contracts. Telecom companies would also be required to establish a self-service online portal that allows customers to “easily” switch or end a plan.

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A new ‘right to repair’

After first promising to introduce the right to repair in the last budget, the government now says consultations on a future framework will begin in June.

Essentially, the stated goal of this would be to allow people to have a piece of technology, like an iPhone, repaired by a third party at a possibly lower price without voiding the manufacturer warranty.

Click to play video: 'Quebec moves to ban planned obsolescence, ensure right to repair'

Quebec moves to ban planned obsolescence, ensure right to repair

Ottawa will also call on the provinces to amend their own contract laws to support a right to repair – pointing to work already done by the Quebec government as an example.

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The government says they are exploring way to address practices like planned obsolesce with their framework too.

Budget 2024 includes more details on the implementation of reforms to the Canada Disability Benefit Act, which received royal assent last June. The initial funding envelope for the program is $6.1 billion over the first five years, and $1.4 billion annually afterwards.

The goal of this program is to provide financial support for low-income, working age people living with disabilities. Ottawa says this is meant to be a supplement to existing provincial and territorial programs, not a replacement.

The goal is to have payments begin to reach people who need them by July 2025. The maximum benefit is set at $2,400 annually, and estimated to go to more than 600,000 low-income people with disabilities aged 18 to 64.

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Speaking after the tabling of the budget, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said this does not go far enough in supporting low-income people with disabilities, saying he wants to hear more from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his party’s concerns before supporting the budget.

“What’s the plan to address the fact that $200 a month for people with living with disabilities is insufficient. What is the plan to address those concerns? I want to hear that from the prime minister,” Singh said referencing the amount of the monthly benefit increase.

Advocacy group Disability Without Poverty (DWP) issued a statement saying they recognize the “historic” nature of the announcement, but say it provides too little support for too few.

“If budgeted adequately, the Canada Disability Benefit would lift disabled people above the poverty line, restore their dignity and give them more autonomy,” said Michelle Hewitt, DWP chair in a statement.

“Some Canadians with disabilities will be able to access a bit more money, but they will not find themselves to the poverty line.”

According to DWP, 41 per cent of Canadians living with disabilities are low-income, with 16.5 per cent living below the poverty line. They estimate this accounts for 1.5 million people.

The budget also proposes expanding the disability tax credit so people can deduct costs of things like having a service animal, purchasing specialized computer equipment and ergonomic chairs.

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This tax credit is expected to cost $1 million annually.

Will Budget 2024 make EVs cheaper?

As part of Canada’s broader climate goals, the government wants to see all new vehicle sales be electric by 2035.

To help achieve this goal, the Liberals have spent billions to attract battery and vehicle manufacturing plants from firms like Stellantis. Natural Resource Canada has also committed $1 billion to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

To further spur this transition, Budget 2024 plans to add $607.9 million to the incentives for the Zero-Emission Vehicles program. This program offers drivers up to $5,000 when purchasing or leasing a new electric vehicle.

However, electric vehicles are still significantly more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts.

For example, a 2024 gas Hyundai Kona is listed as low as $30,687 while the electric model runs $53,887.