Last week, the federal government presented a historic budget that aims to tackle recovery, create conditions for new employment and new growth for the years ahead.
The Newmarket-Aurora Youth Council (NAYC) was able to meet with MP Tony Van Bynen for a pre-budget consultation where we were able to collectively voice our concerns through discussions and surveys. Based on this discussion and data collected through our survey, we create a submission to the Minister of Finance in hopes the concerns of youth within our riding are considered as input alongside the research economists at the Department of Finance have been doing to help make informed decisions on Budget 2021.
We were super excited to see so many of our recommendations regarding child-care, student debt and skills development, housing, equality, and the environment reflected in the 2021 budget.
We recommended that the government implement recommendations that remediate anti-Black racism and Indigenous reconciliation including those of the Parliamentary Black Caucus to address systemic anti-Black racism and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Further, we recommended investing in programs that address barriers to employment, justice, and social participation among Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities, and religious minorities.
The budget included a proposal to provide $200 million in 2021-22 to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund which would be led by Black Canada and would create a sustainable source of funding to help combat anti-black racism and improve social and economic outcomes in Black communities. (Budget 2021, pg. 229)
We recommended that the government prioritizes investment in energy-efficient renewable industries and ‘green’ technology that will create new jobs. In the future, we would like to ensure that much more than the current 16% of Canada’s total primary energy supply is provided by renewable energy sources.
The budget recognized that the Canadian clean technology sector is a global leader in cleantech innovation with 11 Canadian companies named to the Cleantech Group’s 2021 Global Cleantech 100 list. While we have success within this industry, Canadian companies report challenged in scaling up in Canada’s small domestic markets and accessing sufficient patient growth capital. The budget 2021 proposed making $1 billion available over five years starting in 2021-22 to help draw private sector investments in cleantech projects. (Budget 2021, pg. 161)
We recommended that the government invest in childcare as the majority of Canadian frontline workers are women and have had to quit their jobs due to heavy caregiving burdens caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The budget included a federal commitment to working with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to build a Canada-wide, community-based system of quality child-care. To support this vision, the Budget proposed new investments totalling up to $30 billion over the next 5 years, and $8.3 billion ongoings for early learning and child-care and Indigenous early learning and child-care (pg. 101).
We recommended that the government invest in mental health programs that create and distribute resources, supports and care available to youth.
The Budget 2021 proposed to provide $100 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support project for innovative mental health interventions for populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including health care workers, front-line workers, youth, seniors, Indigenous people and racialized and Black Canadians. Additionally, the budget also provides $50 million over two years starting this year to health Canada to support a trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stream of mental health programming for populations at high risk of experiencing COVID-19 trauma and those exposed to various trauma brought about by COVID-19 (pg. 69).
We recommended that the government supports students who are worried about entering a weak job market by investing in programs that create apprenticeship opportunities, co-op placements, and internships.
The 2021 Budget report highlights an agreement between the Government of Canada and Mitacs to create opportunities for businesses and young workers. Mitacs is a non-profit organization that connects young workers with innovative businesses for research and training opportunities. The Budget proposed providing $708 million over five years to Mitacs to create at least 85,000 work-integrated learning placements that provide on-the-job learning for young people and provide businesses with the support to develop talent and growth. The budget also includes investments equaling $721 million over the next two years in the Student Work Placement Program, Canada Summer Jobs and Youth Employment and Skills Strategy to ensure youth and students can access valuable skills and experiences (pg. 111).
We recommended that the government commit to reducing student debt and tuition cost through subsidies, investments and grants that in turn will promote enrolment in post-secondary education.
The 2021 budget proposed introducing legislation that would extend the waiver of interest accrual on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until March 2023 which means savings for approximately 1.5 million Canadians repaying student loans, the majority of whom are women (pg.107). Additionally, the government is committed to supporting low-income households by extending the doubling of the Canada Student Grants program until the end of July 2023 (pg. 109).
We recommended that this government invest in a multi-year support fund to ensure local restaurants and venues that host live music are supported once COVID-19 restrictive measures are lightened.
The 2021 budget included a proposal to provide $49.6 million over three years to Canada Heritage for Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program, the Canada Arts Presentation Fund and the Celebration and Commemoration program to support performing arts festivals and community-based cultural events, celebration and commemorations that make our communities stronger. Additionally, the Budget proposed $70 million to the Canadian Heritage for Canada Music Fund to help the live music sector (pg. 203).
Lastly, we recommended at the government adopt a National Housing Strategy which prioritizes investment into partnerships with organizations and local governments to help create affordable housing options for all.
The 2021 budget included several funding plans to make housing more affordable including $25 million to the government of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut each to address the housing and infrastructure needs of Northern Canada. Additionally, the budget confirmed that the federal government is on track to provide over $70 billion by 2027-28 under the first-ever National Housing Strategy introduced in 2017 (pg.197).