Kenora MP Eric Melillo has high expectations for the upcoming federal budget; the first in two years after 2020’s budget was pushed back due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chystia Freeland, is expected to present the proposed 2021 federal budget on April 19 at 3 p.m. This will be Freeland’s first budget process after taking on the portfolio after Minister Bill Morneau’s resignation last year.
MP Melillo explained what he’d like to see included in the expected proposal, noting it’s an especially important budget with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and continued shutdowns.
“In a perfect world, I’d like to see a plan from this government aside from the ‘status-quo’. I’ve been proposing solutions, my party’s been proposing solutions; We’re calling for a plan to gradually and safely reopen the economy, and show the data behind how we can get there.”
“This will allow the one million Canadians out of work due to COVID-19 to recover their jobs. That’s obviously a key priority for me and my party,” said Melillo, during a recent interview.
Minister Freeland has said she expects the plan to include up to $100 billion in stimulus funding to assist our economy, plans for a national childcare program and new green energy initiatives, among other goals, with plans to reduce spending over the next number of years.
In 2019’s budget, the 2020-2021 deficit was estimated to be $19.7 billion. That’s been updated to roughly $381.6 billion as of the 2020 fall economic update. Freeland has since said the deficit could reach $400 billion by 2021’s budget.
“We want to see a responsible fiscal plan. We need targeted stimulus programs for those who are struggling, but those programs must also be gradually phased out as things open back up, so we’re not burdening future generations with endless structural deficits,” notes Melillo.
The coming budget will also be viewed as a vote of confidence for the minority Liberal government, who will require backing from opposition parties to pass the proposed budget. If they do not receive enough support, the government could fall - triggering a snap federal election.
Melillo, who also serves as the Shadow Minister of Northern Affairs and FedNor, notes his party has pledged to balance the budget over the next decade and end any deficits if they were to be elected as a majority government.
If an election is called, a bill has been proposed in the House of Commons to make amendments to Canada’s Elections Act to allow for a safe election process during the pandemic, if needed.
The bill would mandate two additional in-person voting days to avoid crowded polling stations, online and mail-in voting and registration, and secure drop boxes placed in each community. Polling stations would be expected to be moved away from long-term care homes, where many are typically held.
As it stands, if an election is called, voters would have the choice of incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Erin O’Toole of the Conservatives, Yves-Francois Blanchet of the Bloc Quebecois, Jagmeet Singh of the NDP and Annamie Paul of the Green Party of Canada, among other parties who do not have any sittings MPs currently.