Apr 21, 2015

By Bob Komsic

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The Harper government makes good on its promise to deliver a balanced budget.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver projects a $1.4-billion surplus for 2015-16, but the government’s contingency fund for a rainy-day, usually around $3-billion, will only be $1-billion until 2019.

To balance the books, the Tories dipped into that fund, took cash out of the employment insurance program and sold off assets.

Seniors and others with a few extra dollars stand to benefit as Ottawa is increasing the annual contribution limits to Tax-Free Savings Accounts to $10,000 from $5,500.

And the rules for Registered Retirement Income Funds or RIFFS are being changed that’ll mean older Zoomers will be required to withdraw less every year.

Those who must take time off work to care for seriously ill loved ones will get help.

The budget sets aside another $37-milion more each year for compassionate care benefits under employment insurance.

That’ll allow people to take up to six months from work, instead of the current six weeks.

The change will come into effect next January 1.

There’s also a new tax credit for seniors and those with disabilities doing renovations to increase safety and accessibility in their homes.

The credit’s worth up to $1,500 for those spending $10,000 on things such as wheelchair ramps, walk-in bathtubs and grab bars.

The budget also includes money for major new road, bridge and transit projects.

But it won’t be available for another two years.

The first $750-million will be spread over two years with $1-billion annually after that.

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