Canada is about to unveil its highly anticipated federal budget.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will deliver the update before Parliament on Monday, April 19, more than two years after the last budget was tabled following the delay in 2020 due to the pandemic.
This will be a historic moment for Canadians, marking a potential milestone towards a prompt recovery at a time when the country is grappling with a third wave of COVID-19 and reeling from the shock of an unprecedented health and economic crisis. But it will also constitute an opportunity to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues — from global vaccine equity to the fight against climate change and extreme poverty.
Here’s what you need to know about this upcoming announcement, and why it matters to Global Citizens in Canada and beyond.
1. It can help the world overcome the pandemic once and for all.
If there’s one thing that this pandemic has shown us, it is that as long as it rages somewhere, it remains a danger to us all. With new variants emerging, the risk of new vaccine-resistant strains spreading in Canada and across the globe is growing. This means that if we are to end the pandemic everywhere, other countries can’t get left behind.
In 2020, the government made multiple commitments to support the global response to COVID-19, dedicating over $970 million to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), including COVAX, but there is still a need to do more (ACT-A still has a USD $22 billion funding gap).
Committing a mere 1% of Canada’s domestic COVID-19 expenditure to the global recovery, which would require $4.7 billion more in new ODA over the next two years, could go a long way to ensuring that we overcome the pandemic once and for all.
2. It's a unique opportunity to address climate change.
By pledging to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and applying carbon pricing and other measures, the government is taking steps to address climate change and build a green future for all Canadians and the world.
The move away from non-renewable energy sources has led green jobs to surge dramatically during the pandemic, offering renewed hope in the midst of an otherwise severe economic crisis.
According to CBC, the government is expected to continue on this path, mapping out plans in the budget that place the environment at the heart of its domestic recovery. But ultimately Canada doing its part to fight climate change means committing to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030.
Organizations like the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) say Canada could also empower other countries that have been the most impacted by the environmental crisis to do the same by increasing global climate spending substantially as part of the budget. That’s why Global Citizen is calling on the government to commit its fair share of $1.8 billion annually to that end.
3. It’s our shot at ending extreme poverty by funding a safer and better future for everyone.
From gender equality to child poverty and education, Canada has long been a major contributor to official development assistance (ODA, also known as international development aid or foreign aid), a key component of the global push to achieve equity, human rights, and the Global Goals by 2030.
In its 2020 Speech from the Throne, which outlines the government’s goals and direction, Canada pledged to “invest more in international development while supporting developing countries on their economic recoveries and resilience.”
After Canadian ODA reached its lowest levels in 50 years, the government committed more than $1 billion in additional aid in 2020 — but this was a one-off pledge and Canada’s aid level will fall again unless sustained increases are locked in. Canada is also still well short of the UN target for wealthy countries to annually give 70 cents of every $100 in national wealth.
With the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to push up to 163 million people into extreme poverty, Global Citizen is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to amp up the fight against extreme poverty.