• John Jantak

Schiefke touts regional federal finance budget highlights


PHOTO COURTESY JENNIFER FREZZA

Liberal MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges Peter Schiefke spoke to The Journal about some of the federal budget highlights and their impact on residents throughout the region, including increased financial incentives to purchase electric vehicles.

A higher income threshold for seniors, financial incentives for new electric car purchasers and incentives for first time homebuyers were some of the highlights mentioned by Peter Schiefke, Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, after Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered the federal budget in Ottawa last Tuesday, March 19,

“This budget truly reflects what we’ve heard as MPs from our constituents and we passed this along to the minister. One of the things he said to us was, ‘I want to thank all of you because this is really a budget that reflects what you’ve told me and what we heard from Canadians,’” Schiefke told The Journal during a telephone interview on March 26.

Higher income threshold for seniors

Schiefke said one of the many things seniors stressed, especially those with a lower income, was that they wanted to continue working to make extra money. The problem is if they work and make over $3,500 a year, the government begins to claw back the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

“One of the things we’ve included in this budget is a change that was long overdue. We’ve increased the threshold of the amount of money you can make before there’s a claw back of the GIS. We’ve moved it from $3,500 to $5,000,” said Schiefke.

“The second part is you can make another $10,000 of annual employment and self-employment income beyond the $5,000 threshold and that will only be touched at 50 per cent of what would have been touched previously. These incentives mean the average senior will have an additional $3,000 net at the end of the day. For a lot of seniors, this will go a long way,” added Schiefke.

Electric vehicle incentives

The federal Liberal government’s commitment to the environment was also showcased with the announcement that, for the first time, it is providing a $5,000 subsidy for people who purchase electric vehicles.

“In Quebec, the provincial government is providing $8,000 in subsidies and incentives for electric vehicles. We’re now adding $5,000 on top of that federally which represents over $100 million over three years. Our goal over the next 15 years is to try and facilitate the transition from gas powered to electric engines,” said Schiefke.

Significant savings

The importance to the Vaudreuil-Soulanges community comes from the 30,000 commuters who travel to Montreal each day by car. If the cost of a new electric vehicle is priced at $45,000; the $13,000 in subsidies from the federal and provincial governments will bring the price down to around $32,000.

“If that electric vehicle allows you to save $3,000 a year, over a five year period, that’s an extra $15,000 in extra savings. If the net cost of the vehicle is $35,000, over a five-year period that’s an extra savings of $15,000. It means the net cost of that vehicle after five years will be around $20,000,” said Schiefke.

First-time home buyer incentive

As the cost of houses continues to increase, many Canadians are finding it more difficult to put enough cash down to purchase their first home. “Even in our own community where we’ve seen an increase in population it’s because of affordable housing,” said Schiefke.

“Now housing prices are going up six to seven per cent a year which is fantastic if you’re a homeowner. If you’re not a homeowners and trying to get into the market, it can be quite daunting to see prices go up so quickly,” Schiefke added.

One new initiative is the new first-time home buyer incentive which will allow home buyers to share the cost of buying a house with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Another initiative is the Improved Home Buyers Plan which will allow first-time homebuyers to withdraw up to $25,000 to build or purchase a home without have to pay tax on the withdrawal.

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