What the Heck is a Supercluster?: PPGR’S 2017 Budget Brief – March 29, 2017

Good morning subscribers! One week on, the dust may have settled around the Trudeau government’s “Innovation Budget,” but that doesn’t mean the pundits’ takes have cooled off. For the past seven days, we’ve read opinion pieces from Tofino, BC to Truro, NS – 28.4 billion of them – on what’s included, what’s left out, and what this budget means for Canada this year and in the future. If we can handle all that, surely you have time for five more, right?
This edition of the brief was prepared by Caleb Holden and Leah Mulholland

 What the Heck is a Supercluster?

  • If your news cycle begins and ends with Facebook and Twitter, the biggest budget 2017 story was almost certainly the elimination of the Public Transit Tax Credit, which allowed transit users to claim up to 15 per cent of weekly or monthly transit pass costs as a non-refundable credit. Is the move a wise elimination of a boutique tax credit or a new barrier to transit ridership? [Kates / PPGR]
  • With such great hair, people can often forget that our Prime Minister has committed to wearing two hats. Besides his role as “first among equals,” Justin Trudeau is the Minister of Youth – an advocacy role that he often cites as his motivation for entering politics. With this focus on young Canadians, one would expect youth issues to be a top candidate for new programs. Is this prediction borne out? [Brunet & Holden / PPGR]
  • For the first time ever, a federal budget examined the ways in which policies affect men and women differently by including a gender statement. While it is an integral first step in improving equity in policymaking, it must be accompanied by commitments that advance women’s equality, particularly those who are vulnerable and marginalized. [Cattapan, Hanson, Levac, Paterson, and Stinson / Policy Options]
  • While large policy initiatives including Employment Insurance, child care, affordable housing, and job creation for future labour markets were addressed, Budget 2017 also allocated, or rather “sprinkled” money across many smaller initiatives. And when it comes to these initiatives, key implementation questions remain.[Scoffield / Maclean’s]
  • If you’ve read to the bottom, it’s clear that you’re a budget policy wonk. So it’s important that you’re up on the newest in jargon and buzzwords. “Superclusters” are mentioned over 10 times throughout Budget 2017, but many are still unsure what exactly they are and what they are supposed to do. We’ll leave it to ISED Minister Navdeep Bains to explain. [Bains / Bloomberg]
That’s it for the PPGR’s Policy Brief this semester! Thanks for engaging with us over for the 2016-2017 academic year; we hope you learned a thing or two along the way. Look out for the Policy Brief’s return next fall and enjoy your summer.