Today, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, hosted a virtual meeting with provincial and territorial Finance Ministers. She was joined by the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, the Honourable Randy Boissonnault.
The Deputy Prime Minister began the meeting by addressing the economic situation in Canada and globally. She noted that despite Canada’s very strong jobs recovery and GDP rebound, there remains a high degree of uncertainty in Canada, and globally, in the months ahead, including with respect to global inflation and supply chain pressures.
The Deputy Prime Minister highlighted the federal government’s commitment, since the start of the pandemic, to providing the tools necessary to finish the fight against COVID-19, including vaccines, rapid tests, and therapeutics. In December, the federal government expanded eligibility for the Local Lockdown Program and Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit to support workers and businesses in the face of new public health restrictions. To date, investments by the federal government represent 8 out of every 10 dollars provided in Canada to fight COVID-19 and support Canadians.
Since the pandemic began, the federal government has invested $511.6 billion – nearly a quarter of Canada’s GDP – to support Canadians, including $63.7 billion for protecting health and safety. The Deputy Prime Minister underscored that the federal government took on this responsibility because, when the pandemic began, there was concern about whether provinces had the fiscal space needed to support Canadians through the crisis. The federal government invested nearly $20 billion through the Safe Restart Agreement and $2 billion through the Safe Return to Class Fund, and provided $4.5 billion through top-ups to the Canada Health Transfer to support health care systems, and $1 billion for vaccine rollouts as part of the response to the pandemic. The federal government also invested $2.2 billion to double the Canada Community-Building Fund in 2020-21, along with other direct transfers to the provinces and territories.
Furthermore, federal income and business support measures have sheltered provincial government balance sheets from the pandemic, with provincial revenues higher due to federal investments to stabilize incomes, protect jobs, and prevent business closures.
These significant financial contributions, combined with other federal response measures, have supported a stronger economy across Canada and directly increased provincial and territorial revenues, which, unlike federal revenues, did not go down and even slightly increased during this unprecedented global disruption.
During today’s meeting, Finance Ministers discussed the importance of taxation coordination and the necessity for all orders of government to work together to improve economic growth in Canada including by bringing down barriers to interprovincial trade. Finance Ministers also discussed how they can continue working together to support Canada’s health care system during the fight against COVID-19 and beyond.
Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work together to finish the fight against COVID-19 and support economic growth in Canada.