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Opposition leaders demand changes to Budget 2021 with support on the line

Last Updated Apr 19, 2021 at 2:56 pm PDT

FILE: The House of Commons in Ottawa on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

Some party leaders already pushing for amendments to Budget 2021, threatening to not support plan

Liberal government's budget needs support of at least one major party to avoid confidence vote

Conservatives call Liberal budget a 'massive let down'

OTTAWA – The Liberal government’s proposed Budget 2021 is not sitting well with all opposition leaders.

The federal plan comes amid uncertainty of a potential election, but it’s unclear if Canadians will be heading to the polls just yet.

The federal finance minister has described this fiscal plan, which includes record spending, as one that will help transform the country, calling it smart, responsible, and ambitious.

However, opposition parties were already critical of the plan before it was even released.


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The Conservatives warned of risky spending, while the NDP demanded measures like permanent paid sick leave and a new tax bracket for the wealthy. Neither of those two measures made the cut in the more than 700-page budget document.

Following the release of Budget 2021, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole did not mince words, calling the budget a “massive let down.”

“Canadians were expecting a pandemic budget. This is an election budget, and a poor one, at that,” he said Monday afternoon.

Saying the budget falls short, the Tory leader says his party will be proposing amendments and new policies, and suggests if the Liberals don’t change the plan, the Conservatives may not support it.

The Liberals need the support of just one major opposition party to survive a confidence vote and avoid a potential election amid the third wave of this COVID-19 pandemic.

While his demands haven’t been met, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh suggested ahead of the budget that he may not try to take down the Liberals.

“It would be unsafe and it would be unfair to Canadians to have an election right now,” Singh said.

Some political experts say they expect an election closer to the fall.

The centrepiece of Budget 2021 is, of course, a national child care plan.

“This is going to be a transformational social investment, and a transformational economic investment,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday.

However, on this matter, O’Toole feels parents should be in the driver’s seat.

He also cited concerns about the Liberal’s proposed $10 a day childcare plan, questioning whether provinces and territories were properly consulted.

Meanwhile, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet says he will be proposing amendments to the budget, specifically around improving supports for seniors and to increase health transfers to the provinces.

Freeland says not only will this fiscal plan make the workforce more equal, with hundreds of thousands of new jobs planned, but it will also provide the foundation to strengthen our economy for the years ahead.

The budget includes a record $354 billion deficit. This total is less than what was projected in the fall economic statement, which at the time suggested the deficit could soar to $382 billion.

In addition to bringing child care costs down to an average of $10 a day within five years, the Liberal government is proposing a number of other measures, including ones to promote equality in the economy and a greener future.