Finance Minister delivers his third federal budget today

Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivers his third federal budget today,  a fiscal plan meant to strengthen the economy by promoting gender equality and bringing more women into the workforce.

The budget is also expected to boost science and innovation, improve living conditions for Indigenous people and fortify Canada against cyberattacks.

Allan Maslove, public policy professor at Carleton University, said he expects this budget could be the least significant — and least interesting — to come from Morneau so far.

With the economy performing relatively well, Maslove said, the government is under no significant pressure to address an economic crisis. Any new big ticket items likely will be reserved for next year to keep them fresh in voters’ minds, he said.

5 key points to watch in Budget today:

1. Empowering women:In a budget crafted using a government-wide gender-based analysis, expect measures to improve parental leave and close the gender labour gap by knocking down barriers that prevent women from participating in the workforce. The goal is to empower women — but also to address looming productivity challenges caused by an aging population.

2.  Science, innovation and a labour force for the future: Watch for scientific research funding, following on recommendations from a blue-ribbon panel that reviewed the state of science in Canada and urged new money for fundamental science.

3. Closing the Indigenous gap
Expect to see new and continued investments in the budget to improve living conditions for First Nations, Inuit and Métis following an emergency meeting in January.

4.Tackling cyber-security, environmental threats

5.The bottom line
The government is unlikely to meet its 2015 campaign promise to balance the books by 2019: the fall fiscal update projected a deficit of $19.9 billion in 2017-18 and $18.6 billion in 2018-19, representing just under one per cent of GDP.