The government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a new budget that allocates billions of dollars for coronavirus support and stimulus measures as the country struggles to contain a third wave of a booming pandemic.
Speaking in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Monday afternoon, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the budget allocated $ 80.9 billion (C $ 101.4 billion) over three years to help stimulate the ‘economy.
Of the nearly $ 39.9 billion (C $ 50 billion) in new spending this year, more than half will go to expanding coronavirus recovery measures, including wage and rent subsidies, as well as to a new program to help businesses start hiring again.
Another $ 23.9 billion (C $ 30 billion) over five years will help build a nationwide child care system in cooperation with Canadian provinces.
This budget aims to end the fight against COVID. It’s about healing the economic wounds left by the COVID recession. And it’s about creating more jobs and prosperity for Canadians in the days – and decades – to come.
– Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) April 19, 2021
Freeland defended the price of the budget, saying Canadians are struggling with COVID-19 and need support, while promising a return to more restrained spending once the pandemic is under control.
“Some would say that our sense of urgency is misplaced. Some will say that we are spending too much. To them, I tell them this: Did you lose your job during a COVID lockdown? She said from the parliament floor.
“Our country cannot prosper if we leave behind hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
Canada is experiencing a growing third wave of the pandemic, with healthcare workers in the largest province, Ontario, sound the alarm on rapidly increasing infections and intensive care admissions.
Canada’s deficit for the fiscal year that began April 1 will be the second largest in decades, with the closely watched debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio reaching 51.2%.
Daniel Beland, professor at McGill University in Montreal and director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, said in a statement that Monday’s budget “is perhaps the most important federal budget in a generation.” .
“We have never seen a longer gap between two federal budgets since 1867,” he said.
Canada is widely believed to be heading towards a federal election, which could be called later this year, and Beland said the Trudeau government “is likely to use this budget as a key source of promises for its next platform. electoral ”.
Ahead of the official announcement, opposition leader Jagmeet Singh of the Left New Democratic Party said he hoped to see better access to paid sick leave, because many workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis are falling ill.
“We know people get sick at work and we know workplaces have the highest risk of transmission. Workers get sick and report it to their families, ”Singh said at a press conference.
He also said the NDP hopes the federal government will use emergency regulations to help Ontario fight the COVID-19 crisis. Singh published a letter earlier Monday asking Trudeau to invoke the Canadian Emergency Act to help distribute vaccines and offer paid time off for workers.
Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole said, “Canadians expected a pandemic budget. It’s an election budget – and mediocre, too. “
Speaking to reporters after the budget was released, O’Toole blamed Trudeau for the growing third wave of the pandemic and said the budget would do little to combat the virus. “Unfortunately, this budget does virtually nothing to secure the Canadian economy,” he said.
Canada offered financial support to Canadian employers to help them pay employee wages through what it called the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, while also providing other direct emergency support to workers. Unemployed or underemployed Canadians.
More than 23,600 people have died from the coronavirus in Canada, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, while at least 1.13 million cases have been reported.