The federal budget, the first in two years, is out and the Government of Canada is offering continued support and investments for businesses through this public health crisis while offering new funding for programs and projects for our recovery.
VIA High Frequency Rail Project
The federal government established a Joint Project Office to explore VIA Rail Canada’s high frequency rail project in 2019. The project has the potential to transform passenger rail service in the Toronto-Quebec City corridor, offering faster, more reliable service, and helping to encourage the shift to rail from more polluting modes of transportation. The proposal includes service to
The 2021 Budget includes $4.4 million in 2021/2022 to Transport Canada and VIA Rail to support their work with the Joint Project Office in order to advance due diligence and to de-risk the project. The budget also provides $491.2 million over six years to VIA Rail for infrastructure investments that would support the overall success of the high frequency rail project. These investments will help reduce bottlenecks, improve fluidity and connectivity, and allow VIA to take an important step towards high frequency rail in the corridor. The budget stops short of committing funding to build the rail line itself, a commitment made in the mandate letter for the Minister of Transport.
The emergency rent and wage subsidies are
extended until Sept. 25, but will decrease starting July 4. The phase out is expected to coincide with increased
vaccinations and the economy reopening.
The government is also investing $5 million over two years to have Statistics Canada work with partners to enhance the available data and ensure the support measures are responsive to the needs of businesses and entrepreneurs.
The budget includes financial support for businesses to transition to digital, including capital expenses, access to financing, broadband internet access, and cyber security.
There is also renewed
emphasis on reducing interprovincial trade barriers.
The Government of Canada is pushing for a green recovery, including credits for
businesses that reduce their emissions, a 50% tax reduction for companies that manufacture zero emission technologies, and investments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Workforce challenges have been identified as an area needing more support as businesses continue to adapt to the needs of a changing economy and consumer base. The budget includes the creation of the Canada
Recovery Hiring Program to help the hardest hit businesses hire staff when they are ready for recovery as well as programs aimed at reskilling and upskilling to get Canadians back to work. The government plans to produce better data on labour market demand in individual communities and build talent pipelines based on employer needs.
The budget calls for
substantial investments in Employment and Social
Development Canada for training, skills development, and assistance to help
businesses recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Budget 2021 proposes new investments totaling up to $30 billion over the next five years, and $8.3 billion ongoing, for Early Learning and Child Care and Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care. This includes a 50% reduction in the average fees for early learning and childcare with the goal of averaging $10 a day by 2025/26 for regulated child care spaces. The budget also calls for 40,000 new spaces and expanded before and after school care.
Tourism & Culture
Tourism, festivals, and cultural sectors are getting a $1 billion boost, including:
• $200 million through the regional development agencies to support major festivals.
• $200 million through Canadian Heritage to support local festivals, community cultural events, outdoor theatre performances, heritage celebrations, local museums, amateur sport events, and others.
• $100 million to
Destination Canada for
• $500 million Tourism Relief Fund, administered by the
• The budget proposes to invest an additional $430
million in additional supports for the heritage, performing arts, sports, musicians and music venues, and cultural spaces.
All of this support and relief comes at a cost. The 2019 federal budget projected a $19 billion deficit. This budget shows a deficit of $354 billion last year and a projected deficit of $154.7 billion this year, increasing our current national debt to $1.41 trillion dollars by 2025-26.
Now is indeed the time to invest in our businesses, our society, and our recovery, but we need to keep in mind that it will be through economic growth that we begin to pay back this borrowed money. Our businesses need the support and resources to hire, expand, and drive our economy forward.