Lesser budget measures cover array of issues, from dead dollars to PTSD

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau walks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, before tabling the budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA - Beyond the usual headline-grabbing, big-ticket items, the federal budget Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced Tuesday includes a variety of smaller fare, from a plan to phase out obsolete currency to the funds to fight a persistent forest pest. Among them:


The budget offers a tax break for the costs of keeping a psychiatric service dog. There is already a break for service animals like guide dogs for the blind, but the government is extending the benefit to cover dogs specially trained to help people with conditions like post-traumatic stress.

The 15-per-cent, non-refundable tax credit covers costs including food and vet care.

It does not, however, apply to a regular pooch that might provide comfort or emotional support.

The budget does not include any specific details about how much the measure will cost.


Veterans Affairs will get $24.4 million over five years to help finance repairs and restoration work at the gravesites of military veterans.

The department last year reported that about 45,000 such graves needed work, a job that would take 17 years to finish with existing funding.

The new money will do the job in five years, the budget says.


The budget includes an effort to improve the way political leaders engage in televised debates during election campaigns, earmarking $6 million over two years to support a new process.

Leaders' debates have been run in the past by a consortium of broadcasters, but in recent years the process has become inconsistent and controversial, with some leaders being excluded and others opting not to take part.

The budget says the government will offer proposals for debate formats over the coming months and may bring in legislation.


The budget provides funding for six new Superior Court judges in Ontario and a new appeal court judge in Saskatchewan.

As well, the budget allots money to expand unified family courts, providing 39 new judicial positions in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

There is also money set aside for additional administrative support to the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court.


Prison farms at Joyceville and Collins Bay, Ont., which were closed down by the previous Conservative government, will be re-opened, the budget says.

It sets aside $4.3 million over five years to restart the operations.

The farms will be run by a Correctional Service rehabilitation agency.


The budget includes up to $74.75 million over five years to fight the forest-threatening spruce budworm in Atlantic Canada.

The destructive pest is one of the greatest threats to spruce forests.

The money will be spent on a 60-40 basis with the federal government taking the larger share and provinces and industry handling the rest.


The Bank of Canada long ago stopped printing a number of paper bills, from the humble $1 note to the rarely seen $1,000 bill, although they remained legal tender.

The federal budget says that will come to an end with new legislation covering $1, $2, $25, $500 and $1,000 bills.

While the notes will no longer be legal tender, the Bank of Canada will continue to honour the bills and exchange them at face value.


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