Storm clouds pass by the Peace tower and Parliament hill Tuesday August 18, 2020 in Ottawa. The parliamentary budget office says a one-time payment this fall to people with disabilities will cost the federal treasury $792 million. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Storm clouds pass by the Peace tower and Parliament hill Tuesday August 18, 2020 in Ottawa. The parliamentary budget office says a one-time payment this fall to people with disabilities will cost the federal treasury $792 million. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Liberals to release federal budget with eye on managing crisis, post-pandemic growth

There is a political element to the budget, as feds need to find at least one other party to support it

The federal government will this afternoon unveil its spending plans to manage the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and chart an economic course in a post-pandemic Canada.

The Liberals’ first budget in two years is expected to outline the government’s plans for a national child-care system, including what strings will be attached to any spending.

There are also expected to be measures to boost the supply of affordable housing and money aimed at greening the economy as the Liberals look to chart a path for promises on climate change.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is being asked by provinces for more health-care money to manage the ongoing pandemic and future costs, while hard-hit businesses, charities and workers are looking for a pledge to keep aid flowing beyond the summer when many programs are slated to end.

There is also a political element to the budget, as the government needs to find at least one other major party to support the document in confidence votes in the House of Commons.

Without a parliamentary dance partner, the government would fall and the country would be plunged into a federal election campaign.

Elliot Hughes, a one-time adviser to the last Liberal finance minister to table a budget, Bill Morneau, said this budget should balance Canadians’ present concerns about the pandemic with longer-term economic needs.

The document will also likely outline the Trudeau Liberals’ vision for the country that will, in turn, give opposition parties a chance today to lay out their own ideas to voters, he added.

“It’s for people to reflect and see and think, ‘What kind of approach by government best suits me and who do I want leading, frankly, in the years to come as we emerge from the pandemic?’ ” said Hughes, now with Summa Strategies.

The deadly virus has led to economic restrictions that in turn forced the closure of non-essential businesses, schools and daycares, causing a historic slide in employment.

There was an equally historic flow of federal aid to brace the financial foundations of businesses and households, with today’s budget detailing last year’s deficit that was last estimated to be $380 billion.

Although the economy overall has done better than previously expected, there are still pockets of hurt in the country with sectors highly reliant on in-person interactions, such as restaurants and tourism, looking at a long recovery.

Public confidence, too, is being shaken in government as Canadians feel under siege in the face of a third wave of COVID-19, said Kathy Brock, a professor at Queen’s University’s school of policy studies.

“They’re looking at this budget to say, ‘Well, what can government can do and what is government going to do to help citizens, to help sectors of the economy?” ” Brock said.

The Liberals’ favoured fiscal guardrail to keep spending from going off the rails — the debt-to-GDP ratio — has itself gone astray. The government should work to stabilize the figure and outline a plan to eventually reduce it, said RBC senior economist Josh Nye.

“It’s going to take an extremely long time to get back to the levels that we saw pre-pandemic,” he said. “Certainly making sure things are moving in the right direction, I think that’s something that investors and rating agencies will want to see.”

READ MORE: Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusfederal budgetLiberals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ superintendent Scott Saywell at a May 6 press event for two new electric school buses. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district shows off electric buses

New buses anticipated to reduce 17 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from SD68 buses

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts trending down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Nanaimo city council has voted to deploy speed-reduction measures for the summer along Departure Bay Road and to consult with area residents and road users to explore ways to further reduce vehicle speeds in the Departure Bay Beach area. (News Bulletin file photo)
City will again lower speed limit on Departure Bay Road to 40km/h

City of Nanaimo will consult with stakeholders for ideas to reduce speeds past the beach

Reforming food systems will require taking a long view, and determined people organizing at tipping points, says columnist. (Stock photo)
OPINION: Food system reform can change world for the better

‘Long food movement’ could be a road map to curb our current global follies, says columnist

Traffic service worker Warren Van Sickle installs street banners bearing cedar bough designs by artist Becky Thiessen outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre on May 5. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo installs new street banners envisioning ecological survival

Artist Becky Thiessen’s designs depict cedar boughs and the Nanaimo estuary

Beef to the woman focused on her phone, driving a dark-coloured sedan through the Cilaire school zone. Perhaps you could use that same device to research some of the accidents and injuries caused by drivers who can’t seem to stay off their phones whilst behind the wheel.
Beefs & Bouquets, May 5

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Two semi trucks collided on the Nanaimo Parkway just north of Northfield Road on Wednesday morning, May 5. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
UPDATE: Nanaimo Parkway reopens after crash involving semi trucks

35-year-old driver was taken to hospital with serious injuries

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread continues with 694 new cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

B.C. average home price and sales level to 2023, showing steep drop in sales expected next year. (Central 1)
Forecast calls for B.C. home sales to ‘explode,’ then drop off

Average price to rise another 10% in 2021, credit unions say

Members of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. (File photo)
B.C.-wide #DayOfMusic to feature 100-plus free virtual concerts May 15

‘Our colleagues across the province have figured out new ways to perform and connect,’ VSO boss says

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

The Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre on Wilkinson Road in Saanich. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found unresponsive at Saanich jail

Man was in Victoria police custody the day before being found

Most Read