The 2022 Government of Canada budget is the first in a couple of years not to focus on spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the government concentrated its efforts on several important issues including affordable housing, national defence, dental care, pharmacare and the environment – a few areas which fall in line with priorities United Way East Ontario set out ahead of this year’s budget unveiling.
Other items of interest included a new national LGBTQ2S Action Plan, hundreds of millions of dollars toward childcare and support for Indigenous peoples.
Here is a more in-depth look at how the government is setting out to invest in areas that urgently need support in our local communities:
We are pleased to see the federal government announce a $10.1 billion affordable housing plan.
This is not a single-year investment, nor is this ‘the big solution;’ it is a multi-year strategy involving all levels of government, as well as private sector and non-profit groups. We anticipate that the local municipalities and the City of Ottawa will have increased funding to address homelessness by investing in housing placement, prevention and shelter diversion; client support services; capital investment; and coordination of resources and data collection.
Our policy recommendation: Make housing (including energy costs) truly affordable, especially to seniors and those living below the low-income cut-off (LICO) in each community. In our open letter in advance of the provincial-municipal housing summit, we highlighted that the affordable housing crisis converges with broader social and structural inequities that contribute to deeply rooted opportunity gaps in the province. United Way East Ontario endorsed Starts With Home, a non-partisan campaign to mobilize public and political support for affordable housing and ending homelessness in Ottawa.
Success in motion: In 2020, UWEO worked with partners to ensure 170 youth living in emergency shelters or transitional housing received supports to live independently.
What we saw in the 2022 budget:
- $4 billion to accelerate building (Housing Accelerator Fund).
- $1.5 billion over two years, beginning 2022-2023, to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to extend the Rapid Housing Initiative – will create at least 6,000 new affordable housing units, with at least 25 per cent of funding going towards women-focused housing projects.
- Tax-free First-time Home Buyers Savings Account – up to $40,000 tax free.
- $7,500 Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit (to make homes accessible or add space for seniors or persons with disabilities).
- Deputy Prime Minister Freeland committed to increasing the number of homes built each year over the next decade to about 400,000 to help meet the 3.5 million homes the government estimates are needed by 2031.
We would have liked to see more supports offered for basic needs in rural communities, such as food security, transportation, and improving access to resources. We will be interested to see how partnerships with other levels of governments can respond to these needs.
Policy recommendation: Two critical investments: Food distribution to rural residents with limited mobility, to ensure populations have access to nutritious food; and advocating and promoting local businesses and the agri-food sector to find affordable and sustainable solutions for food deserts.
Success in motion: Local partnerships that tackle food insecurity (access to food), including community gardens.
What we saw in the budget:
- As part of the Housing Accelerator Fund to help municipalities, some of the funding will be disbursed to smaller and rural communities to build 100,000 new homes.
- $26.2 million to increase the forgivable amount of student loans for doctors and nurses who practice in rural and remote communities.
- While this debt forgiveness program does not directly invest in rural communities, it does create incentives for health care providers to move/relocate to rural communities where accessing healthcare can often be extremely challenging.
While there was not a direct investment in caregiver support, some of the programs and funding announced to promote the mental and physical health of seniors were encouraging.
Policy recommendation: Advocate for and promote proactive strategies that improve and protect caregiver wellness over the long term. Develop and promote financial programs and resources that support caregivers in their roles and responsibilities. Advocate for employment protection and tax relief programs to offset costs associated with informal caregiving. Enable a home-health human resource strategy.
Success in motion: The Eastern Ontario Caregiver Strategy was developed in collaboration with 20 partners and provides a common set of evidence-based objectives that empowers communities to achieve more positive outcomes for informal caregivers and their families.
What we saw in the 2022 budget:
- $20 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to ramp up efforts to learn more about dementia and brain health, to improve treatment and outcomes for persons living with dementia, and to evaluate and address mental health consequences for caregivers and different models of care.
- Creation of an expert panel to study the idea of an Aging at Home Benefit – panel will report to Minister of Seniors and Minister of Health.
- $20 million over two years, beginning 2022-2023, for an expanded New Horizons for Seniors Program to support projects that improve the quality of life for seniors and help them continue to fully participate in their communities.
- The government also intends to engage with experts on the role that a Career Extension Tax Credit could play in boosting the labour force participation of seniors who want to continue to work later in life.
Two years of the COVID-19 pandemic has strained the operating environment for the social sector. The non-profit sector has demonstrated its resilience and adaptability but is over-stressed and needs financial investment. Charities are reporting a decline in staff’s ability to prevent their own burnout.
We continue to track specific updates on some of the announced 2022 federal funding, but we are heartened to see significant dollars to help the non-profit sector and to help combat gender-based violence and mental health issues.
Policy recommendation: Invest in staff capacity, including pay equity, as well as technical and operational infrastructure for non-profit driven care services for long-term and sustainable recovery. Invest in additional infrastructure, affordable housing strategies, and staffing resources, including investing in staff expertise to administer shelters and support services for people fleeing gender violence.
Success in motion: UWEO invested in virtual care services – like Counselling Connect – as well as targeted mental health services for Indigenous and African, Caribbean and Black communities. UWEO supported Lanark County Interval House to be a safe haven for women and children fleeing violence.
What we saw in the 2022 budget:
- To ensure sufficient flexibility for charities to carry out their work, Budget 2022 introduced a new graduated disbursement quota rate for charities. For investment assets exceeding $1 million, the rate of the disbursement quota will be increased from 3.5 per cent to 5 per cent. This new, higher rate will enable continued availability of funding over the longer term.
- Women and Gender-based violence: $539.3 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, to Women and Gender Equality Canada to enable provinces and territories to supplement and enhance services and supports within their jurisdictions to prevent gender-based violence and support survivors.
- $140 million over two years, starting in 2022-2023, to Health Canada for the Wellness Together Canada portal so it can continue to provide Canadians with tools and services to support mental health and well-being.
- $100 million over three years, starting in 2022-2023, to Health Canada for the Substance Use and Addictions Program to support harm reduction, treatment, and prevention at the community level.
- $227.6 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, to maintain trauma-informed, culturally appropriate, Indigenous-led services to improve mental wellness, and to support efforts initiated through Budget 2021 to co-develop distinctions-based mental health and wellness strategies.
COVID-19 disproportionately affected the financial well-being and employment of Indigenous people, vulnerable women, youth, newcomers, racialized communities, and people with disabilities.
We were glad to see the federal government focus on strategies and funding aimed at improving employment opportunities for Black and racialized Canadians, newcomers, and other marginalized populations.
Policy recommendation: Incentivize the implementation of social procurement policies in government departments and the private sector, to provide capacity-building support to social enterprises, and promote local businesses. We also need to support labour market participation through workforce development, enhancement of job readiness programs, and inclusive employment practices.
Success in motion: United Way convened a group of experts, institutions, and other key stakeholders on how we could collectively work together to build equitable wealth for the community.
What we saw in the 2022 budget:
- $50 million over two years, starting in 2022-2023, to Employment and Social Development Canada for the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative, to continue to empower Black-led and Black-serving community organizations and work done to promote inclusiveness.
- $84.2 million over four years to double funding for the Union Training and Innovation Program, which would help 3,500 apprentices annually from underrepresented groups begin and succeed in careers in the skilled trades through mentorship, career services, and job-matching.
- Government plans to grow the workforce by addressing barriers faced by mothers, Black and racialized Canadians, newcomers, persons with disabilities, young Canadians, and other people who are underrepresented in Canada’s workforce.
- This will include improving labour mobility and foreign credential recognition and creating opportunities for persons with disabilities.
- $272.6 million over five years to Employment and Social Development Canada to support the implementation of an employment strategy for persons with disabilities through the Opportunities Fund. This will help to address labour market shortages through increased participation by persons with disabilities and make workplaces more inclusive and accessible.
- Of this funding, $20 million will be allocated to the Ready, Willing and Able program to help persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder or intellectual disabilities find employment. This will also form an important part of the government’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan.
- $1.9 million in 2022-23 to complete the Employment Equity Act Review in coming months. A final report will be publicized in fall 2022.
- Mandated 10 days of paid sick leave for all federally-regulated private sector employees.
While learning loss among children and youth who have gone through inconsistent educational environments over the past two years has been reported as an increasingly pertinent issue across Canada, we did not see any significant acknowledgement from the federal government in this year’s budget.
We hope to see thoughtful planning and investments in learning loss prevention and reconstructing learning pathways for children and youth through future provincial and local investments.
Policy recommendation: Invest in evidence-based after-school programs through the non-profit sector or social services to re-engage children in learning and develop their social well-being. To better understand the inequalities, Statistics Canada can promote disaggregated, identity-based data to locate and remove systemic barriers. We also know that back to school support calls for a holistic approach.
Success in motion: Ottawa Coalition of Community Houses were able to pivot after-school programs, such as STEAM clubs, to a three-pronged approach that included online tutoring, at-home kits, physically distanced activities outside, and programming to help engage and connect with youth.
- $562.2 million over two years, beginning in 2024-2025, for Infrastructure Canada to continue providing doubled annual funding for Reaching Home.
- Building on the foundation from 2021 to compensate for past harms experienced through the child and family services system, Canada will invest $11 billion over six years to continue to support Indigenous children and families, and help communities grow.
- Government will continue the work of addressing the legacy of harms to Indigenous children and families with investments of more than $4.7 billion to support communities as they cope with their past and build a future where Indigenous children can thrive.
- $625 million over four years, beginning in 2023-2024, to Employment and Social Development Canada for an Early Learning and Child Care Infrastructure Fund.
- $5.3 billion over five years, starting in 2022-2023, and $1.7 billion ongoing, to Health Canada to provide dental care for Canadians.
Diversity and Inclusion
- $100 million over five years, starting in 2022-2023, to support the implementation of the forthcoming Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan, which will support a fairer and more equal Canada for LGBTQ2 Canadians.
- $85 million over four years starting in 2022-23, to the Department of Canadian Heritage to support the work underway to launch a new Anti-Racism Strategy and National Action Plan on Combatting Hate.
- $5.6 million over five years, with $1.2 million ongoing to support the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.
- $5.6 million over five years, with $1.2 million ongoing to support the new Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia. For more of our work on Ant-racism, please visit United for All.
Where we go from here
United Way East Ontario has been invited to be one of the three intermediaries for a $400 million Community Services Recovery Fund announced by the federal government in the 2021 budget. This investment is expected to strengthen the not-for-profit sector as it supports Canadian communities to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that the 2022 federal budget has been tabled, it will take time to see where most of the funding lands and how decisions by our political leaders impact the most vulnerable people in our communities.
We look forward to continuing our work with all levels of government by prioritizing policies required to respond to the needs of our communities.