Canadians got a pre-Christmas budget tonight from federal Finance Minister John Crosbie that was more like a message from Ebenezer Scrooge than greetings from Santa Claus.
Canadians who drive, drink or smoke were hit hard in an austerity budget, the first to be presented by the new Progressive Conservative Government.
The federal excise tax on gasoline jumps 18 cents a gallon tomorrow in the first of four steps that will add 40 cents a gallon to the retail gas price by Dec. 1, 1980.
Gasoline, $1.07 today, will be priced at $1.25 tomorrow. The price moves March 1 to $1.29 and to $1.37 on Sept. 1. On next Dec. 1, the price becomes $1.47 a gallon. Heating oil will rise by 16 cents a gallon tomorrow.
For cigarette smokers, the excise tax rise by 2.5 cents a pack or 10 percent, effective tomorrow.
Taxes on liquor rise 11 cents a bottle, on wine by 13.3 cents and on beer by one cent a bottle, effective immediately.
Corporations will face a 5 percent profit surtax to run to December 1981.
To help offset the sharply higher energy prices, Crosbie introduced an energy tax credit for low- and middle-income Canadians, amounting to $80 for each adult and $30 for each child. The tax credit is reduced progressively with the income of the taxpayer, cutting off at about $20,000 a year.
The tough budget reflects Crosbie's attempts to grapple with a federal spending deficit of $11 billion. Because of the uneasy economic situation in Canada, several of the government's election promises, including a $2 billion tax cut, have been dropped. Crosbie told Parliament his objective is to cut the inflation rate to 5 percent by 1985. He predicted one percent real growth in the coming year, an inflation rate of 9 percent and an 8.25 percent unemployment rate.
Crosbie told Parliament the government is planning 10 percent annual increases in spending in each of the next four years.With an expected inflation rate of about 10 percent, he said this would represent a reduction in government real spending growth.