OTTAWA (1310 NEWS) – Supporting the economy in the second wave of COVID-19 while laying the groundwork for a post pandemic recovery are expected to be top of mind as the long-awaited fall economic update is tabled this afternoon in the House of Commons.
We have learned the federal government is getting set to roll out more emergency spending, and make moves on promises around child care and long-term care.
Senior sources tell us the update will include steps toward the creation of a national child care system, something promised by the Trudeau Liberals in the speech from the throne. The Canadian Press reports this will involve the creation of a Child Care Secretariat.
Long-term care and other industries hard-hit by COVID-19
Sources also tell us the update will have measures toward creating national standards for long-term care, after the COVID-19 pandemic exposed serious problems in many of these facilities. A majority of COVID-19 deaths in Canada have been linked to outbreaks at LTC homes, and during the second wave, they are once again becoming a hot spot for the virus.
We’ve also learned the federal government will be introducing targeted supports for the hardest-hit industries by the pandemic, such as tourism, hospitality, and airlines.
In order to create jobs, there will be short-term stimulus spending on infrastructure projects with a green focus. The measure will be seen as steps toward a pair of Liberal promises to create a million new jobs, and to hit net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Deficit and new spending
The new spending in the fall fiscal documents will most certainly increase the $343-billion deficit predicted in the fall fiscal snapshot. RBC estimates the red ink will come in around $370 billion, while Scotiabank believes the figure could be in the range of $400 billion to $450 billion.
“We’re here for you. For today, for tomorrow, for as long as we need,” says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has promised to spend what is necessary to get the country through this health crisis.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole claims it won’t mean much if there isn’t more to tackle the virus.
“Because there is no plan for the economy without a plan for rapid testing, and vaccines,” says O’Toole.
Sources say not to expect any major new announcements today around the purchase of test kits and vaccines. The government is already in the process of purchasing 38 million rapid tests and has agreements in place with several drug manufacturers, securing as many as 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines when they are approved.
Opposition leaders lay out their demands
Ahead of Monday’s fiscal update, federal opposition parties are pushing the government to spend a lot of money to create more long-term supports for Canadians.
“If we invest in accelerating our transition to a green economy and all of the short-term and long-term jobs, and economic prospects that those things bring, then we put ourselves on a path so that when the day comes that we do need to pay the money back, we have set up our economy in a way that we can generate the revenue to do exactly that,” Green Party Leader Annamie Paul says, laying out her demands hours before the fiscal documents is released.
Despite soaring deficit figures, Paul rejected the idea of fiscal guardrails during a crisis more explicitly than her opposition counterparts.
Meanwhile, the NDP is also looking for more permanent solutions to social problems exposed in this COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a new wealth tax to help pay for programs.
“If the government’s not willing to ask the wealthiest to pay their fare share, people are going to suffer,” leader Jagmeet Singh says.
The tax would apply to individuals with fortunes topping $20 million. He has also proposed a “pandemic profiteering tax” on companies rather than fiscal anchors on public spending.
Singh would not say whether his party will support any new spending from the minority Trudeau government.
“We’re laying out what we want to see and when it comes down to negotiations, we’ll keep you updated.”
-With files from The Canadian Press