6 Ways The Feds Are Promising To Make Life More Affordable For Canadians In 2023
From grocery rebates to support for students.👇
Earlier this year, the government of Canada tabled the 2023 federal budget , which it described as a "plan to build a stronger, more sustainable, and more secure Canadian economy."
One of the key focuses of this year's budget is affordability, and how the government can make life cheaper for Canadians.
From enhanced support for students to a new Tax-Free First Home Savings Account and a grocery rebate , the feds have laid out a number of strategies that they say will take some pressure off Canadian wallets.
Here's a look at some of the key inflation relief support measures laid out in the most recent budget — and how they could impact you.
The Grocery Rebate
One of the most talked-about announcements to come out of the 2023 federal budget is the new Grocery Rebate.
Under current plans , the one-time payment will deliver targeted inflation relief to as many as 11 million low-and modest-income Canadians and families.
It will offer up to $234 for a single person with no children, up to $467 for a couple with two children and around $225 for senior citizens.
The purpose of the rebate is to support those hit hardest by rising food prices, although it's said that the government does not intend to oversee how the payments are spent and won't require the money to be used specifically for groceries, CBC News reports.
Further details about exactly who will qualify for the payment and how it will be calculated are yet to be confirmed, although it's expected that the rebate will be facilitated through the GST credit.
Exactly when Canadians can expect to receive the money is also still up in the air, as the feds must first get the legislation to implement the budget passed before any major moves can be made.
Officials have said, however, that it will be rolled out "as soon as possible following the passage of legislation."
The expected cost of implementing the rebate is around $2.5 billion.
Junk fees crackdown
Another way the feds say they'll work to make life cheaper for Canadians is by cracking down on so-called "junk fees."
As part of this year's budget, the government has committed to taking stronger action on unexpected, hidden or additional fees — from things like internet overage charges and roaming fees, to extra airline charges, event and concert fees, excessive baggage fees, and more.
It says it will work with regulatory agencies, provinces, and territories to tackle these junk fees, so that Canadians will pay less for the services they access often.
Right to repair
Another affordability strategy laid out in the 2023 budget is improving Canadians' right to repair their broken appliances or devices.
The feds say that right now, high repair fees and a lack of access to parts mean Canadians are often "pushed" into buying new products, as opposed to repairing the ones they have.
"This is expensive for people and creates harmful waste," the budget says.
In an effort to make it easier for products and electronics to be repaired when broken or damaged, the government says it will work to implement a "right to repair," with a specific framework for home appliances and electronics in 2024.
The budget says that this would, for example, enable somebody with a broken phone to get it fixed easily and cheaply at a local mall, as opposed to directly with the phone manufacturer.
The budget also proposes a potential standardization of chargers, which would prevent people with electronic devices from different manufacturers having to buy multiple different chargers.
Enhanced student support
This year's budget also included more support for students, including an increase to Canada Student Grants and an expansion of the interest-free Canada Student Loan limit.
In the budget, the government acknowledged that "the higher cost of living still means that students still need support to afford an education."
To this end, it proposed a 40% increase to the amount of money students can get via Canada Student Grants. If approved, this would enable eligible students to get up to $4,200 for the academic year to help cover expenses.
What's more, eligible students with disabilities and those with dependents will also receive an increase in Canada Student Grants.
A plan to raise the interest-free Canada Student Loan limit from $210 to $300 (per week of study) was also laid out, as well as a plan to waive the requirements for students aged 22 or older to undergo credit screening in order to qualify for federal student grants and loans.
If given the go-ahead, around 1,000 additional students would likely benefit from federal aid in the upcoming year.
"These changes will allow post-secondary students to access up to $14,400 in enhanced Canada Student Financial Assistance for the upcoming school year," the budget explains.
Changes to Canada's Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) were also proposed, including increased limits on certain withdrawals and changes to who can open an account for their children.
Tax-free home savings account
As announced as part of the 2023 budget, the new Tax-Free First Home Savings Account (FHSA) was launched as of April 1.
The account allows prospective first-time home buyers in Canada to save up to $40,000 in total, with tax-deductible contributions and non-taxable withdrawals.
Designed to help prospective homebuyers save more money towards their first home and get onto the property ladder faster, the account is different to the pre-existing Home Buyers Plan as the funds do not need to be paid back.
While the FHSA has officially been given the go-ahead by the government, a number of banks and credit unions were not ready to offer the account as of April 1. So, don't be surprised if you've struggled to open an account so far.
As part of budget 2023, the feds laid out their plans to continue to invest in the new Canadian Dental Care Plan.
It said it will move forward with a "transformative investment" of $13 billion to Health Canada over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $4.4 billion thereafter.
Per the plans , this will provide dental coverage for Canadians without insurance who earn an annual family income under $90,000.
There will also be no co-pays for those with family incomes under $70,000.
Administered by Health Canada and supported by a third-party benefits administrator, the Canadian Dental Care Plan is expected to begin providing coverage by the end of this year.
Additional details on eligible coverage will be confirmed at a later date.
Of course, it's worth keeping in mind that the feds must get the legislation to implement the budget passed before any of the proposals are given the go-ahead.
So, it might be a little while longer before you see that Grocery Rebate in your account, or the extra 40% from Canada Student Grants.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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