Budget 2021 is focused on finishing the fight against COVID-19, with sightlines on building back better through a key emphasis on investments to support the creation of long-term care standards nationally, to address the impacts of the recession and create jobs, support the middle class, and supporting women, marginalized communities, and those most impacted by the pandemic.
Please note: The following updates, extensions, and modifications described are proposals and assume the passage of the required budget legislation.
In August 2020, the CPA put forward the following recommendation to the federal government: "That the federal government increases investments in community, home, and residential care to meet the needs of our aging population and invest in a healthy and active aging strategy."
We are encouraged to see investments in both standards for improved care and for supporting Canadians to age well in their homes and communities. The CPA remains diligent in our efforts to promote and advocate for the role of physiotherapy in enabling healthy aging for all Canadians.
Budget 2021 Key Highlights: Investments in Health Care & Health Infrastructure
- $3 billion over five years, starting in 2022-23, to support the provinces and territories in creating and upholding high standards of care inside long-term care facilities;
- $90 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada to launch the Age Well at Home initiative. Age Well at Home will assist community-based organizations in providing practical support that helps low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors age in place.
- $2.2 billion over the next seven years on bolstering the biomedical and life sciences research sector, in part to increase vaccine development;
- $100 million over the next three years to support projects for mental health interventions for populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including health care and front-line workers; and
- $41.3 million across six years for Statistics Canada to bolster and enhance data infrastructure and data collection, beginning 2021-22.
Key Highlights: Supports for Canadian Businesses Recovery
Since the outset of the pandemic, the CPA has monitored the support programs offered by the government, advocating for needed changes to ensure that the supports reached as many of our impacted members as possible. The CPA’s activities and updates for Federal Government Additional Support for Small Businesses can be reviewed here.
Budget 2021 acknowledges that support is still needed by many impacted by pandemic restrictions and, as such, the CPA is encouraged to see extensions to the following programs:
- Extending CEWS: Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy to be extended until September 25, 2021. The budget also proposes to gradually decrease the subsidy rate, beginning July 4, 2021, to ensure reasonable phase-out of the program as vaccinations are delivered and the economy reopens.
- Extending CERS: Canadian Emergency Rent Subsidy to be extended until September 25, 2021. It also proposes to gradually decrease the rate of the rent subsidy, beginning July 4, 2021, to allow for a phase-out of this program as vaccinations are delivered and the economy reopens.
- Extending the Application for CEBA: The government recently extended the application deadline for CEBA to June 30, 2021.
Support for Students and New Graduates
The Government is reforming the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP), now named the “Canada Student Financial Program” (CSFAP).
- Waiving Interest on Student Loans: In late October 2020, the CPA advocated directly to the federal government to suspend CSLP repayments and interest accrual to support those experiencing economic hardships and waiting to enter the workforce. Budget 2021 extends the waiver of interest accrual on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until March 31, 2023.
- Repayment Assistance Program (RAP): The Government of Canada provides repayment assistance to approximately 350,000 borrowers with low incomes. The current threshold for this support is earning $25,000 per year, or less, for a single borrower. To ensure that no federal student loan borrower must ever make a payment they cannot afford, the threshold for repayment assistance will be increased to $40,000 for borrowers living alone.
This is a great measure for new graduates to investigate using if they are unable to work immediately upon graduation.
In August 2020, the CPA put forward the following recommendation to the federal government: "That the federal government accelerates the timeline and increases investments in Canada’s Connectivity Strategy to implement the infrastructure needed to ensure connectivity for health and remove barriers to access internet, phone, and electronic health technologies."
Budget 2021 shows a commitment of an additional $1 billion over six years, starting in 2021-22, to the Universal Broadband Fund to support an expedited rollout of broadband projects in collaboration with provinces and territories and other partners. This means thousands more Canadians, including Canadians in rural and remote communities, and small businesses will have faster, more reliable internet connections. In total, including proposed Budget 2021 funding, $2.75 billion in investments will be made available through the Universal Broadband Fund.
Improving Health Outcomes in Indigenous Communities
As identified in the CPA’s July 2020 briefing to the Standing Committee on Health, for many Indigenous communities, particularly those that are situated in northern, rural, and remote areas of Canada, COVID-19 has deepened and magnified existing health inequities faced by Indigenous Peoples in Canada (Erwin et al., 2020; Flett and Beavis, 2020).
The CPA is encouraged to see that the federal government has identified in budget 2021 the importance of supporting Indigenous communities in the near term to continue to respond to the extraordinary health challenges arising from the pandemic. In the longer term, the CPA is encouraged by the investment of the $1.4 billion over five years in essential care services for Indigenous communities, aimed at addressing long standing inequities in health outcomes.
Erwin, C., Aultman, J., Harter, T., Illes, J., & Kogan, R.C.J. (2020, May 14). Rural and Remote Communities: Unique Ethical Issues in the COVID-19 Pandemic. The American Journal of Bioethics, 20(7), 117-120. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2020.1764139
Flett, P., Beavis, A. (2020, May 5). Cross Canada Checkup - Session 8 - Impact of COVID-19 on Providing Physiotherapy Services to Northern Manitoba First Nations Communities [Webinar]. Retrieved from https://physiotherapy.ca/cross-canada-checkup-session-9-impact-covid-19-providing-physiotherapy-services-northern-manitoba