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Jobs for dogs, ‘safe space’ regulatory ‘sandboxes’ and other curiosities from the 2019 federal budget

Jobs for dogs, ‘safe space’ regulatory ‘sandboxes’ and other curiosities from the 2019 federal budget
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OTTAWA — The headlines out of Tuesday’s federal budget might be focused on housing, skills training and deficits.

But what about funding to hire canine help, the meaning of a safe space sandbox or protecting people from “unscrupulous” folks?

Here are a few curious measures we spotted hiding in the document’s 460 pages.

Jobs for dogs: Although budget promises tend to focus on jobs for humans, the Liberals’ 2019 offering boosts the Canada Border Services Agency’s budget by $31 million over five years to “increase the number of detector dogs deployed across the country.” The pups are tasked with ensuring that contaminated food, plant and animal products don’t enter the country at international airports.

Tax relief for embryos: An oddly-phrased measure announces the Liberals are “relieving human ova and in vitro embryos of the GST/HST.” They’re applying the same relief to “certain foot care devices.” The policy is partly reflective of the reality that many same-sex couples and single individuals are becoming parents. Sperm donations have already been tax-free for years.

Safe spaces and sandboxes: In a section that makes liberal use of metaphor, the budget says “regulatory sandboxes” are “controlled ‘safe spaces’” to test new products, services, etc., a definition coined by the European Banking Authority. Sandboxes, so to speak, are being set up for products including 3D-printed tissue, gene therapies, artificial intelligence and an online system for dangerous goods shipments, among other things. For this, Justice Canada will get $67.8 million over five years and the Treasury Board Secretariat $3.1 million annually starting next year.

Protection from the ‘unscrupulous’: The government will spend $51.9 million over five years to help newcomers and residency applicants from getting swindled by “unscrupulous” immigration consultants. The funding “will improve oversight of immigration consultants and strengthen compliance and enforcement measures,” the document says.

Donations of cultural property: Liberals promise to introduce legislation that clarifies tax incentives are still going to be available when people donate “cultural property of ‘outstanding significance’ and ‘national importance’” to museums or galleries. A court decision last year had found those labels too unnecessarily broad, and recommended — despite a government recommendation otherwise! — that a French painting held in a private collection could be exported from Canada.

In the rush to get all that spending out the door, little thought appears to have been given to whether the money is being spent in the best way

Opinion: This government’s record clearly shows its interest in spending as much as possible

Did you vote Liberal in 2015? Less excited to do so this time around? Well Justin Trudeau is here to buy your vote
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