Federal budget 2019: supply management help, national food policy

A raucous opposition drowned out finance minister Bill Morneau’s budget speech in the House of Commons March 19.

But the pre-election budget documents promise spending to help supply-managed farmers weather trade agreements and high-speed internet for all.

The budget sets aside up to $3.9 billion for dairy, poultry and egg producers affected by trade deals. This includes $2.4 billion in income support; the government has already spent $250 million to mitigate the effects of the agreement with Europe and as such will make $2.15 billion available.

The other $1.5 billion is a Quota Value Guarantee Program to protect against reductions in quota value due to trade.

A national food policy will receive $134.4 million over five years, and the food processing sector will get $100 million.

A regulatory review will see the Canada Grain Act opened and examined. The government will also seek further input on how to extend the farm fuel exemption on fuel bought at cardlocks.

All Canadians will have access to high-speed internet by 2030, thanks to a $1.7 billion investment over 13 years.

Western Economic Diversification will get up to $1 million this fiscal year “to develop a new strategy to sustainably manage water and land in the Prairies.”

The agency will also receive $100 million over three years to expand programs in the West.

The government confirmed its plan to have more detector dogs working to prevent the introduction of African swine fever in Canada.

It announced a $2.2 billion one-time transfer from the Gas Tax Fund to pay for short-term infrastructure priorities such as 344 local road and bridge projects in Saskatchewan.

It promises transition funding for those in communities based on coal production, a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and a one-time $65-million payment to the STARS air ambulance service in the West to pay for helicopter replacement.

Other plans include a national pharmacare program and a first-time home buyer incentive.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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