Canada’s unveiled a new pandemic recovery plan Monday, which contains about $100 billion of spending and could push the country’s deficit to more than $381 billion.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland gave an economic update Monday where she outlined where the money will be spent, calling it the largest federal relief package since the Second World War.
“These measures are targeted and flexible,” she said. “They are most generous to those in greatest need.”
To start, the federal government will create a $1 billion long-term care fund that will be distributed to provinces to make care homes safer for seniors.
Ottawa is also raising the wage subsidy for businesses back to 75% of pre-pandemic wages, as many businesses head into a tough winter.
Freeland added businesses in tourism, hospitality, and the arts would have access to new government-backed loans recognizing that these sectors have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
The government will also invest in job training, particularly in the care sector, broadband internet, and rapid housing, Freeland said.
Acknowledging that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, young people, and Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, Freeland announced several targeted measures to help.
Ottawa will create an action plan for women in the economy, which will lay the foundations for a national child care system.
“This is a feminist agenda, Mr. Speaker, and I say that proudly,” Freeland said. “I say this both has a working mother and as a finance minister: Canada will not be truly competitive until all women have access to affordable childcare.”
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Freeland also earmarked $1.5 billion for infrastructure in Indigenous communities, with the goal of eliminating boil-water advisories.
She also announced the creation of a fund for Black Canadian entrepreneurs.
Families with young children who are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit will also receive an additional $1,200 in 2021 for each child under six.
Ottawa will also be purchasing more personal protective equipment for Canadians and will invest in improving ventilation in public buildings.
Freeland also announced a new tax on multinational digital companies to help finance her plan.
“Canadians have faced tough winters before, and we have always emerged stronger,” Freeland said. “We will this time too.”
Members of opposition parties requested more details on Canada’s vaccine distribution strategy. They criticized Freeland for not increasing money transfers to provinces to pay for the health care services provinces provide.
In response to those criticisms, Freeland pointed to the $19 billion for health care and $2 billion for schools included in Canada’s safe restart agreement.