OTTAWA — Highlights from the Conservative government’s 2012 budget, released Thursday:
— Production of the penny to cease this fall, saving an estimated $11 million a year.
— Deficit projected to fall $8.5 billion, to $24.9 billion for 2011-12, to decline to $21.1 billion next year and to disappear by 2015.
— More than $5 billion in cuts to annual federal spending by 2014-15.
— Job cuts: 19,200 federal positions to be eliminated, or 4.8 per cent of the federal workforce.
— Age of eligibility for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement to gradually move to 67 from 65, beginning in 2023.
— $5.2 billion over 11 years to renew and refit the Canadian Coast Guard’s fleet of vessels and helicopters.
— Eligible Canadians to be allowed to defer old age security for a maximum of five years, beginning in 2013, in exchange for higher benefits.
— $1.1 billion in research and development over five years, plus $500 million to encourage venture capital investment by the private sector.
— First Nations reserves: $275 million over three years for schools and education, $330.8 million over two years to improve water systems and water quality.
— CBC to lose 10 per cent of annual funding.
— Return $130 million in fees to nearly 300,000 would-be Canadian immigrants to eliminate backlog in skilled-worker applications;
— $482 million over two years to improve the effectiveness of the employment insurance system, including incentives for accepting work and ensuring benefit levels align with local labour market conditions.
— Cap on annual increases to employment insurance premiums until operating budget is balanced.
— $205 million for a one-year extension of a temporary hiring credit for small businesses.
— $50 million over two years to provide job skills training for young people.