with files from the Canadian Press
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's new federal budget calls for total spending of 278.7 billion dollars in the fiscal year that starts April 1st -- up one per cent from 2010-11.
Here are the highlights:
- Improved pension benefit for lowest-income seniors of up to 600 dollars a year for singles and 840 dollars for couples, starting in July.
- New caregiver tax credit worth a maximum of 300 dollars a year starting in 2012.
- New initiative to attract health-care workers to rural and remote communities by forgiving up to 40-thousand dollars in student loans for doctors and 20-thousand for nurses.
- 400 million dollars to extend for an extra year the ecoENERGY program giving homeowners grants of up to five-thousand dollars for energy efficient improvements.
- New children's art credit worth up to 75-dollars a year starting this year.
- One-time Hiring Credit for small businesses of up to one-thousand dollars to offset Employment Insurance increases this year.
- New tax credit worth up to 450 dollars for volunteer firefighters who perform at least 200 hours of service.
- Deficit projected to fall from 40.5 billion dollars in fiscal 2010 to 29.6 billion in fiscal 2011 and to be virtually eliminated by 2014-2015.
- Total debt rises to 586 billion dollars in 2011-2012.
- Legislation to make the two billion dollar Gas Tax Fund permanent to provide predictable infrastructure funding for municipalities.