BLUESKY BRIEF - 2021 Federal Budget

In the federal budget, A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland let Canadians know that the hefty 724-page document was about creating more jobs and more prosperity in this country. Furthermore, it was giving us a projected $354.2 billion deficit for this fiscal year because of three challenges the government is facing: Conquering COVID, punching our way out of the COVID recession through jobs and businesses, and& building a more resilient Canada.

Here are some of the budget highlights:

· Introduction of new childcare and early learning funding of $30 billion over five years, to create a subsidized program that would offer $10 per day daycare.

  • Invest $17.6 billion towards fighting climate change, creating middle-class jobs and ensure Canada remains competitive on the world stage

  • Measures to create nearly 500,000 new training and employment opportunities for Canadians and to promote a more diversified and inclusive workforce

  • An increase of $1 billion to the Universal Broadband Fund over the next six years

  • New Permanent Public Transit Fund that will see $14.9 billion over the next eight years invested in public transit projects across Canada

  • Strong emphasis on funding for Indigenous peoples and governments, in a variety of areas of need.

  • $80 million over two years to Canadian Heritage to remove barriers to participation in sports programming and to help community organizations kick-start local organized sports that are accessible to all.

  • $200 million that will go to regional development agencies to support major festivals and another $200 million through Canadian Heritage to support local festivals, community cultural events, outdoor theatre performances, heritage celebrations, local museums, amateur sports events, and more.

  • $140 million to top up the Emergency Food Security Fund and Local Food Infrastructure Fund, to strengthen food security in Canadian communities.

  • $146 million allocated over the next five years to cover the mental health care costs of veterans suffering from OTSD, depression, or anxiety disorders.

From the desk of Susan Smith, ICD.D, Principal

A Budget to float all boats: Finishing the Fight against COVID, Creating Jobs and Growth, A Resilient and Inclusive Recovery

One year into the pandemic crisis and two years from the last federal Budget, Canada’s first female Minister of Finance, the Hon, Chrystia Freeland, delivered the biggest spending budget in Canadian history with $101.4 billion in new spending over the next three years.

The budget takes a “cover-the-waterfront” approach - one-third of the spending can be attributed to the continuation of income, wage and rent support to individual Canadians and small and medium businesses and sectors who have been hardest hit; with the balance being directed at healthcare, infrastructure, skills and training and kickstarting a green economic recovery including the creation of conditions for almost 500,000 new training and work opportunities in a diversified workforce.

Appealing to families and women, the anchor piece – national childcare and early learning program - includes 50% cuts to child care fees next year and a new $10/day childcare program. This addresses a key economic challenge of the pandemic, as well as fulfilling a long-time social promise made by the Liberals. A national pharmacare program did not make the cut.

They are also appealing to progressive voters by combatting climate change through $8 billion of support for projects that will help reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions across the Canadian economy, boosting jobs while pivoting the Canadian economy to a climate leader.

The path to a majority for the Liberals also includes rural Canada, and the pandemic once again exposed the digital divide. Today’s budget proposes another $1 billion over six years for the Universal Broadband Fund, to support access to high-speed internet by Canadians in rural and remote communities.

Business as usual or are we going to the polls? Get your funding applications in - no election, just yet.

The immediate opportunity for companies and organizations seeking federal funding is to shape the terms and conditions of these new programs and to capitalize on the unprecedented spending that will take place immediately and in the ensuing two fiscal years.

The Liberal government has delivered a budget with which they are happy to govern or a platform on which they are happy to run. With COVID-19 variants continuing to overwhelm the healthcare system, the NDP will vote to support the budget, freeing the Conservatives, Bloc and Green party to vote against it while avoiding triggering an immediate election.

Expect Parliament to become more acrimonious, as the Conservatives hammer on spending, and the NDP hammer on more paid sick leave, but this budget should pass.

The Liberals are banking that unprecedented investing in Canadians and the Canadian economy as a response to an unprecedented global health crisis is a roadmap to economic recovery and a majority government. They hope that floating all boats means securing more votes.

From the desk of Neil Brodie, Vice President

Three months. That’s how long it takes to toss aside a Liberal promise. On January 15, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote to the finance minister and directed her to “keep supporting the economy with emergency measures until the economy improves (and) avoid creating new permanent spending.” Well, I don’t see Marty McFly or “Doc” Brown around anywhere, but it is back to the future with the Liberal promise of a national childcare program. Let’s hope Minister Hussein has more luck than Ken Dryden. Also watch to see if they claw back the monthly Child Care Benefit, which came into being in 2006 to let parents decide how best to manage their children’s care, as the state-sponsored offering ramps up with its inherent labour disruptions and union-dominated curriculum.

The tax and spend Liberals are back with a vengeance, except they forgot the tax part. With $350 billion spent last year and at least another $200 billion of planned spending over the next three years, Canada spent more per capita during this pandemic and yet achieved the worst outcomes in the G7 when it comes to employment, vaccine rollout, and business confidence. There is no credible plan to get the country anywhere close to a balanced budget. As a result, the government will need to ensure interest rates remain low to allow a reasonable level of debt service while at the same time billions of dollars of unneeded stimulus funding will be pushed into the economy. This will undoubtedly cause inflation to rise, while the federal carbon tax increases and consumers begin paying more for Netflix and other digital offerings. All of these measures will make living in Canada unaffordable for the duration of the Trudeau government.

From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant

Given the recent rise of COVID-19 cases across the country, this became a budget that was more about governing through the pandemic than it was readying for the next election. The budget did put some policy prescriptions in the window that will feature in an election campaign, whenever that comes, but they were measures that mostly met the needs of this moment. The best example of this was on childcare, with more than $2 billion promised for a national $10-a-day childcare program. For all this government does on progressive issues like this, this marked some of the first real dollars put behind backing them up.

Unlike most budgets in a minority government scenario, there is no drama about if the government will fall on this matter of confidence. Jagmeet Singh and the NDP have made it clear that they will support the government if the pandemic continues. That is not to say items aren’t missing in this budget from their wish list, including the lack of a wealth tax or greater support for pharmacare. But as important as those issues are to the New Democrats, they are not enough to push them to break on their responsible promise, especially with a budget that includes a national childcare plan that they have pushed for. Those other issues will be litigated during the 44th Federal Election and right now Canadians are expecting their parties to work together for the common good. This budget is not perfect and could be improved, but it is good enough to allow a majority of MPs to put their differences aside to accomplish what this moment of crisis demands of them.

Chrystia Freeland took a tradition — new shoes for the budget — and kicked it up a notch

Several votes following budget could trigger an election, at least in theory

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