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Budget Highlights

OTTAWA - Highlights of the 2011-12 federal budget:

— Total spending of $278.7 billion (includes $33 billion in debt payments), up one per cent from 2010-11.

— Total debt of $586 billion, up $29.6 billion from 2010-11.

— Projected deficit of $29.6 billion, with plans to balance the budget by 2015-16.

— $400 million to extend the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program for one year. The program offers rebates to help make homes more energy efficient.

— A new top-up benefit of up to $600 for single, low-income seniors and up to $840 for couples through the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Expected to cost more than $300 million.

— A new Family Caregiver Tax Credit which would save about $300 a year for people caring for sick or disabled relatives.

— A new 15 per cent Children's Arts Tax Credit for children's arts, culture, recreation and developmental activities which would save parents about $75 a year per child.

— A new initiative to attract health-care workers to rural and remote communities by forgiving up to $40,000 in student loans for doctors and $20,000 for nurses.

— A temporary Hiring Credit for Small Business of up to $1,000 against the increase in 2011 EI premiums to encourage hiring.

— Legislation to make the $2-billion Gas Tax Fund permanent to provide predictable infrastructure funding for municipalities