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Canada's Liberal government says budget plan has $29.4B deficit

People line up to sign a book of condolence in memory of former Mayor Rob Ford at Toronto’s City Hall on Wednesday.

Canadian Press via Associated Press

People line up to sign a book of condolence in memory of former Mayor Rob Ford at Toronto’s City Hall on Wednesday.

Canada's new Liberal government intends to spend its way to greater prosperity as it projects a $29.4 billion budget deficit for the coming year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that Canadians not worry as his government intends to again balance the budget "in the coming five years."

During last fall's election campaign, the Liberals pledged to invest in infrastructure and put more money into people's pockets to grow the economy — "and that's exactly what we've done," he said.

The spending plans are contained in the government's first budget and ended almost a decade of fiscal restraint under the Conservatives.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said it will create 100,000 jobs and boost economic growth nationally.

The budget provides $6.6 billion over two years for infrastructure projects and $13 billion to help aboriginal communities, including water and wastewater systems and education on reserves.

There's $10 billion over two years for new payments to families with children and $3.4 billion over five years to increase the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors and restore the Old Age Security pension eligibility age to 65 from 67.

The government also will spend $2 billion over three years on infrastructure improvements at colleges and universities, and $2 billion over two years for a low-carbon economy fund.

Toronto remembers late Mayor Rob Ford

Thousands of people are paying their respects to former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who died of cancer at age 46.

After public visitation at City Hall on Monday and Tuesday where people can sign a book of condolences, his funeral procession will move to St. James Cathedral for services Wednesday.

That night, the Ford family will hold a celebration of his life at the Toronto Congress Center.

Ford gained international notoriety in 2013 after admitting to smoking crack cocaine during "drunken stupors" as the mayor.

News in brief

• Former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty of sexual assault and choking. Judge William Horkins said the testimony of three female accusers showed serious inconsistencies and a "carelessness with the truth." The five charges concerned alleged incidents in 2002 and 2003 in Toronto. Ghomeshi faces another trial in June on a remaining count of sexual assault relating to a workplace incident.

• Politicians paid tribute to Jim Hillyer, 41, a Conservative member of Parliament for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner in Alberta, who died of a heart attack in his Ottawa office. The father of four had beaten leukemia and recently had surgery to treat an infection in his leg after a skiing accident.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is lower at 75.31 cents U.S., while the U.S. dollar returns $1.327 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent, while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.

Markets are lower, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,358 points and the TSX Venture index at 579 points.

The average national price for gas has risen to 95.9 cents a liter or $3.64 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.

Lotto 6/49: (March 23) 4, 6, 13, 28, 29 and 36; bonus 9. (March 19) 1, 10, 11, 12, 19 and 27; bonus 29. Lotto Max: (March 18) 6, 8, 15, 24, 26, 39 and 44; bonus 40.

Regional briefs

• The Canadian government is "carefully reviewing" a request from Bombardier for $1 billion U.S., Trudeau said. The Montreal company asked for a financial boost after lagging sales due to international competition and has received a pledge for that amount from Quebec.

• Rolland Fox, father of Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox, has died of lung cancer at the age of 80 in Vancouver. His wife, Betty, who died in 2011, founded the Terry Fox Foundation that has raised $650 million for cancer research. The annual marathon is in memory of Terry, whose run across Canada after his right leg was amputated in 1977 due to cancer was cut short when the disease spread to his lungs. He died in 1981 at age 22.

Jim Fox can be reached at [email protected]

Canada's Liberal government says budget plan has $29.4B deficit 03/26/16 [Last modified: Saturday, March 26, 2016 3:58pm]
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