6 key takeaways from Canada's 2021 pandemic budget

Apr 19 2021, 1:58 pm

Canada’s 2021 budget released Monday includes billions of dollars in spending to support residents through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland walked Canadians through the document from Queen’s Park, which contains more than $101 billion in new spending over the next four years.

“This budget is about healing the wounds from COVID-19,” Freeland said. “The goal is to meet the urgent needs of today and to build for the long term.”

The deficit for 2020-21 should sit at $354.2 billion. The sum is projected to decrease in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Childcare

The 2021 budget included substantial funding to set up a nationwide $10-a-day childcare program. The federal government has pledged $30 billion over the next five years and $9.2 billion annually after that.

“COVID-19 has brutally exposed something women have long-known: without childcare, parents, usually mothers, can’t work,” Freeland said.

Ottawa still needs to negotiate with the provinces for their contribution before the plan can become a reality.

Pandemic relief programs

On an individual basis, the Canada Recovery Benefit will be extended another 12 weeks for a maximum of 50 weeks. The Canada Recovery Caregiving benefit will also be extended.

The budget also includes almost $7 billion to reform the current Employment Insurance program.

For businesses, the budget includes $12 billion in funding to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown Support through September 25, 2021. The amount people receive will begin decreasing starting on July 4.

Freeland also proposed a Canada-wide hiring program to make it easier for businesses to hire back laid-off workers or bring on new ones.

National $15-per-hour minimum wage

The government plans to bring forward legislation to set up a national $15 minimum wage, standardizing the lowest amount someone can make per hour across the country.

Help for post-secondary students

Freeland also announced the government plans to invest $5.7 billion in youth over the next five years. The money will be sued to make college and university “more accessible,” she said.

The Canada Student Grant will be doubled, and the government will extend the waiver on interest for federal student loans to March 2030.

National vacant homes tax

The budget proposes collecting an annual 1% tax on the value of homes considered vacant or underused that are owned by people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

New luxury tax

Freeland proposed a new tax that would apply to cars and private plans worth more than $100,000 and pleasure boats worth more than $250,000.

Funding to address social inequities

The new budget pledges $18 billion for Indigenous communities for pressing issues, including COVID-19 response, clean drinking water, healthcare, infrastructure, language and culture, job creation, and addressing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis.

The budget also includes funding for entrepreneurship programs for Black Canadians as well as an endowment fund to fight anti-Black racism.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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