Federal Budget 2021: Liberals extend COVID-19 aid with election top of mind

·1 min read
Federal Budget 2021: Liberals extend COVID-19 aid with election top of mind

OTTAWA — The first federal budget in more than two years extends Ottawa’s COVID-19 “lifeline” for workers and struggling businesses another few months as it aims to pull Canada through the pandemic once and for all.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s first crack at a budget plan is also widely viewed as a pre-election platform with more than $100 million in new spending over the next three years amid record-smashing deficits.

Canada’s debt is now over $1 trillion for the first time ever, after a $354 billion deficit for the pandemic year just over, and an expected deficit of $155 billion for fiscal 2021-22.

That is driven in part by more than $100 million in new spending over the next three years, including costs to maintain federal wage and rent subsidies and aid for laid-off workers, until September now, instead of cutting them off in June.

Freeland is also looking ahead to the post-pandemic Canada the Liberals want to see, one that has $10-a-day childcare, the ability to produce its own vaccines, national long-term care standards and small- and medium-sized businesses equipped with the workers and technology they need to survive.

All of it comes with a pandemic-sized asterisk that things could still change drastically if vaccine supplies are delayed or they prove not to work that well against emerging variants of the virus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press