Budget 2021 includes key social investments, but comes up short on climate

By Citizens for Public Justice


Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA]: April 20, 2021 – Chrystia Freeland made history yesterday as the first female Finance Minister to deliver a federal budget in Canada’s House of Commons. The symbolism of her budget presentation invited hope that those on the margins of Canadian society would be acknowledged and supported in unprecedented new ways.

Indeed, “Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience” delivered historic investments in early learning and childcare and recognized the critical role a national childcare system would play in creating a stronger, more equitable economy.

“Long-awaited and critical investments towards the goal of $10-a-day childcare fees are to be celebrated,” says CPJ’s Socio-Economic Policy Analyst, Natalie Appleyard, “but this government must understand that even this historic program cannot quell the demand for a holistic reform of our economic systems and social safety”.

The commitment to expanding and extending EI and other emergency benefits are also welcome announcements critical for our recovery. But the lack of ambition in transferring these benefits with ongoing issues of eligibility and inadequacy to a robust basic income guarantee means too many people will continue to fall through the cracks. Similarly lacking were any specific investments in pharmacare.

Budget 2021 offers some significant supports to bring Canada through the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet it represents a lost opportunity to invest in the transformative change necessary to address the climate emergency and preserve the livability of the planet.

“Yes, investments in clean transportation, energy efficiency, adaptation and mitigation, and resilient agriculture are all key and most welcome,” acknowledges CPJ Senior Policy Analyst Karri Munn-Venn. “Unfortunately, by coupling these measures with extensive supports to the oil and gas sector it becomes clear that the federal government has yet to grasp the severity and urgency of the global climate crisis or the devastating ramifications of inadequate action.”

Both COVID and climate are international crises, and Canada continues to have obligations to the Global South. Our international climate finance commitments have expired and must urgently be renewed and expanded to support climate adaptation and mitigation measures in the Global South. This is doubly important in the context of the pandemic.

Similarly, we must ensure that the most vulnerable global citizens are not abandoned. Ministerial discretion to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market must not further jeopardize the well-being of those with urgent resettlement needs.


Media Contact: Karri Munn-Venn (she/her), Senior Policy Analyst, Citizens for Public Justice, 613-232-0275 / 1-800-667-8046 x 223,ac.jpc@irrak 

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