The federal government will release its long-awaited fiscal update today a spending plan to help Canadians cope with COVID-19 while recharging the national economy and key sectors battered by the global crisis.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will rise in the House of Commons at 4 p.m. ET today to outline details of her plan to bothÂ boost job creation and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Government sources have told CBC News the planÂ will include new but time-limited spending measures to support hard-hitÂ industries and vulnerable Canadians, while laying the groundwork for theÂ policy priorities presented in September’s speech from the throne.
The update comes in the wake ofÂ optimistic reportsÂ suggestingÂ promisingÂ vaccine candidates couldÂ rollÂ out early in the new year and asÂ COVID-19 caseloadsÂ continue to grow alarminglyÂ in some parts of the country. Numbers have reached record highs in some regions,Â promptingÂ new or extended restrictions and business closures.
The measures in today’s economic statement are expected toÂ include:
- Support for airlines and the tourism and hospitality sector, hit hard by heavyÂ losses due to border closures and lockdowns. The sources suggest the update will include assistance forÂ airlines, hotels and restaurants, and for the companies thatÂ supply them.
- Money to help long-term care homes stop the spread of infections.
- Support to help women return to work.
- Stimulus spending for infrastructure projects tied to the government’s promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the economic recovery.
Record deficit projected
The government has not tabled a budget for this fiscal year, but in July delivered what it called a “fiscal snapshot” that projected the deficit would hit a record $343.2 billion.
The TrudeauÂ Liberals last delivered an actual budget inÂ March 2019, when they were still in their first mandate.
The Trudeau government hasÂ pushed back atÂ calls toÂ deliverÂ an economic forecast since the current health crisisÂ began, maintaining that the pandemic made it impossible to accuratelyÂ predictÂ economic growth or the scope ofÂ necessary emergency spending.
Conservative Leader Erin O’TooleÂ said the government’s delays in procuring rapid testing and vaccines have put workers and the economyÂ in a “risky” situation.
“There is no plan for the economy if we don’t have rapid testing and vaccines as swiftly as possible,” he said during a news conference in Ottawa Sunday.
“We’re already seeing small businesses teetering on the edge. That is leading to the uncertainty and the concern out there about the wellbeing of tens of thousands of Canadian families that have invested everything in their restaurant or their autoshop or a range of businesses that are close to bankruptcy.”
WATCH What to expect in the long-awaited fiscal update:
CBC Newss David Cochrane breaks down what Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to announce in Monday’s federal fiscal update, including details on the deficit and new pandemic spending.1:16
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said today’s update is the perfect opportunity to announce “bold measures” to address the needs of the Canadians most severely affected by theÂ pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how fragile the services that were supposed to help people are, and the importance of strengthening our social safety net so that no one is left behind,” he toldÂ CBCÂ News.
NDP pushes for child care support
The NDP is calling on the federalÂ government toÂ fund child care services that would allow moreÂ parents to return to work safely. It’s also pressing the government toÂ launch a universal pharmacare program.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said it’s not enough for the government toÂ present a “laundry list” of spending today. With a vaccine expected next year, she said, itÂ must present a green recovery plan with economic and social investments.
“With a glimmer of hope on the horizon, it is vital that we seize this moment to prepare a green recovery plan that will engage every possible innovation, technology and resource at Canada’s disposal to enhance our ability to face challenges,” she said.Â
The Green Party is calling for a guarantee that any supports the Liberals offerÂ carbon-intensive sectors are “responsible and conditional.” It also wants to seeÂ larger investments in projects and sectors that speed up progress toward a net-zero emissions economy.
Business hopes to see long-term growth plan
Business groups say theyÂ hope to see a plan today that charts a course through the ongoing crisis to long-term economic recovery and growth.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Perrin Beatty said he wants to see a shift from broad supports to smaller, more targeted federal programs to help the most vulnerable Canadians and sectors, includingÂ the restaurant, accommodation, arts and entertainment and retail sectors.
He said he hopes to see a plan that will boost Canada’s business investment and competitiveness and not a suite of “unaffordable” new permanent programs.
“Even as we navigate our way through this second wave of the pandemic, Canada needs its government to set the conditions for a strong, business-led recovery. Canadian families and businesses continue to pay a high price because of COVID-19, and the hard work of getting Canada’s economy ready for recovery must start now with a clear and coherent plan,” he said in a media statement.
Cash-strapped municipalities are also looking for good news in today’s statement.
Federation of Canadian MunicipalitiesÂ president Garth FrizzellÂ said he hopes to see “clear successor arrangements” to the safe restart agreement, which saw the federal government set aside $19 billion for the provincesÂ to help themÂ weather the second wave and drive job growth post-pandemic.
“The fall economic statement is an opportunity to build on the federal-municipal partnership that has kept Canadians safe, and essential front line services running strong, since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.
“They rely on us to keep doing that through 2021, and that’s why municipalities need to see a clear commitment that the federal government will continue to work with us to ensure support for municipal operating and transit costs.”