The federal budget for 2021 was tabled on Monday in the House of Commons by Liberal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. This long-awaited budget is the first since the onset of COVID-19 in Canada.
Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada responds, “I do not have a lot of confidence that this session of Parliament will be around long enough to implement many of the promises that we heard in the budget today.”
“Many of the commitments were multi-year commitments, some of which didn’t begin until 2022 or 2023. Given the fragility of this government, given the unfortunate turn back to partisanship, back to partisan posturing, I don’t have a lot of confidence, at this moment, that this parliament will last long enough to see the most ambitious of the promises presented in the budget fulfilled.”
“I certainly hope that’s not the case, and the Green Party of Canada stands at the ready to work in collaboration and cooperation across party lines to make this a historic session of parliament, one that delivers on our true promise to complete our social safety net, to launch a green recovery to the pandemic, and to create and forge a more just society.”
What’s in the budget
The Liberal government’s Budget 2021 announces $5 billion over 7 years to the Net-Zero Accelerator Fund, a 50% tax cut for manufacturers of net zero technologies, and $4.4 billlion over 5 years for home retrofits.
However, Finance Minister Freeland stated loud and clear that the government’s plan intends to put Canada on track for a 36% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels). Though an improvement from Canada’s former target of of 30%, it is a far cry from the EU’s target of 55%, and nowhere near the 60% emissions reduction that the Green Party of Canada demands.
Read on Green Party Leader Annamie Paul’s meeting with Justin Trudeau last week.
A source has since corrected that the government will present a more ambitious target of 40-45% reductions in emissions, with details to come later this week at the climate summit with US president Biden.
The budget does include significant investments of $30 billion over 5 years in early learning and childcare, as promised. In the Finance Minister’s words, “This is not an effort that will deliver instant gratification, we are building something […] for the long term”.
The budget lacks a pharmacare program, a campaign promise by the Liberals in 2019 and part of the government’s 2020 Fall Economic Statement.
Nor is there mention of a universal basic income, or UBI. Instead, extensions to EI benefits, extensions to wage and rent subsidies until September 2021, and a $15 federal minimum wage – equivalent to the minimum wage since 2018 in the province of Alberta and less than that of Nunavut (source).
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh also responds to the budget, “We’ve seen again and again that this government has chosen to let the ultra-rich off the hook while families continue to struggle and […] continue to pay the price”.
However, he represents his party’s choice to do the “responsible” thing, asserting they will not vote non-confidence on the budget, a position that has calmed most speculation of a possible election.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul echoes the position that an election “is not something I can imagine right now”.
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