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Canadian government unveils Investing in the Middle Class 2019 budget

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Staff Writer | March 20, 2019
The Canadian government on Tuesday unveiled its 2019 budget titled "Investing in the Middle Class" with a total spending of 22.8 billion Canadian dollars (about 17 billion U.S. dollars) in new spending over the next five fiscal years.
Canadian street
Canada   The government is projecting a deficit of 19.8 billion Canadian dollars
The government is projecting a deficit of 19.8 billion Canadian dollars (about 15 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019-2020, which is scheduled to fall to 15 billion Canadian dollars (some 11 billion U.S. dollars) two years later, then to 10 billion (roughly 7.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2023-2024.

As the last one in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mandate, the 460-page budget includes a non-taxable training benefit program, a plan to lower interest rates on student loans, new initiatives related to seniors' savings, and new measures for first-time home buyers.

The largest proportion of money, 8.1 billion Canadian dollars (about 6 billion U.S. dollars), is invested in indigenous services to improve healthcare.

The budget sets aside 35 million Canadian dollars (about 26 million U.S. dollars) to create a Canadian Drug Agency to deal with bulk drug buying and negotiate better prices for prescription medicine.

Starting from 2022, 1 billion Canadian dollars (about 750 million U.S. dollars) will be used to offer high-cost drugs to Canadians with rare diseases. By 2026, 95 percent of Canadians will have access to high-speed internet.

In a news conference, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau defended the government's decision to continue running deficits, arguing the Conservative plan to "balance the budget at any cost" would mean deep cuts that harm Canadians.