This summary includes immediate highlights of Federal Budget 2021 tabled by Finance Minister Chrystia Freelend in the House of Commons on April 19, 2021. Further analysis and implications of budget measures on gender equality and diversity will be shared on our social media channels in the coming days.

Budget 2021 English | Budget 2021 French

Establishing a Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care System [Page 101]

  • Budget 2021 proposes new investments totaling up to $30 billion over the next 5 years, and $8.3 billion ongoing for Early Learning and Child Care and Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care.
  • Combined with previous investments announced since 2015, a minimum of $9.2 billion per year ongoing will be invested in child care, including Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care, starting in 2025-26.
  • Up to $27.2 billion over five years, starting in 2021-22 will bring the federal government to a 50/50 share of child care costs with provincial and territorial governments, as part of initial 5-year agreements. Future objectives and distribution of funding, starting in year six, would be determined based on an understanding of need and progress achieved as part of this initial plan. 
  • Over the next five years, the government will work with provinces and territories to make meaningful progress towards a system that works for families. The aforementioned federal funding would allow for:  
    • A 50 per cent reduction in average fees for regulated early learning and child care in all provinces outside of Quebec, to be delivered before or by the end of 2022.
    • An average of $10 a day by 2025-26 for all regulated child care spaces in Canada.
    • Ongoing annual growth in quality affordable child care spaces across the country, building on the approximately 40,000 new spaces already created through previous federal investments.
    • Meaningful progress in improving and expanding before- and after-school care in order to provide more flexibility for working parents.
  • Budget 2021 proposes to proceed with an asymmetrical agreement with the province of Quebec that will allow for further improvements to their system. 
  • In addition, the federal government will authorize the transfer of 2021-22 funding as soon as bilateral agreements are reached with the provinces and territories, enabled by a proposed statutory appropriation. 

Supporting Accessible Child Care Spaces [Page 104]

  • To make immediate progress for children with disabilities, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $29.2 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada through the Enabling Accessibility Fund to support child care centres as they improve their physical accessibility. This funding, which could benefit over 400 child care centres, would support improvements such as the construction of ramps and accessible doors, washrooms, and play structures.  

Addressing the Needs of Indigenous Families and Communities [Page 104]

  • Budget 2021 builds on this framework, and on recent investments in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, to continue the progress towards an early learning and child care system that meets the needs of Indigenous families, wherever they live. A proposed investment of $2.5 billion over the next five years in Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care will include:  
    • $1.4 billion over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $385 million ongoing, to ensure that more Indigenous families have access to high-quality programming. Guided by Indigenous priorities and distinctions-based envelopes, this investment will build Indigenous governance capacity and allow providers to offer more flexible and full-time hours of care to build, train and retain a skilled workforce, and create up to 3,300 new spaces. This will include new investments in Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities. 
    • $515 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $112 million ongoing, to support before- and after-school care for First Nations children on reserve.  
    • $264 million over four years, starting in 2022-23, and $24 million ongoing, to repair and renovate existing Indigenous early learning and child care centres, ensuring a safe and healthy environment for children and staff.  
    • $420 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, and $21 million ongoing, to build and maintain new centres in additional communities. The government will work with Indigenous partners to identify new infrastructure priorities. 
    • To ensure these vital programs continue to grow along with the communities they serve, program funding will increase by 3 percent each year starting in 2027-28.  

Bringing Partners Together to Build and Maintain a Canada-Wide Child Care System [Page 105]

  • Building on recent investments in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, an additional $34.5 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $3.5 million ongoing, would be provided to Employment and Social Development Canada to strengthen capacity within the new Federal Secretariat on Early Learning and Child Care.  
  • This will include, in the coming months, the creation of a new National Advisory Council to provide expert advice and a forum for consultation on issues and challenges facing the early learning and child care sector. This council would reflect Canada’s geographic, cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic diversity and would include experts from across the sector. 
  • To further support a lasting federal commitment over time, the government is committed to tabling federal early learning and child care legislation in fall 2021—following consultations with stakeholders, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners—to enshrine the principles of a Canada-wide child care system in law. 

Supporting Entrepreneurs, Including Equity Deserving Entrepreneurs [Page 136]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $101.4 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Program.
    • Designed to help simplify and streamline the government’s support programs, and to help equity deserving entrepreneurs (racialized Canadians, young people, LGBTQ2 people and more) access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training, the government will launch the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Program.

Supporting Women Entrepreneurs [Page 136]

  • To provide affordable financing, increase data, and strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem, Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $146.9 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to strengthen the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. Women entrepreneurs would have greater access to financing, mentorship, and training. Funding would also further support the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. 
    • The government will work with financial institutions to develop a voluntary code to help support the inclusion of women and other underrepresented entrepreneurs as clients in the financial sector. 

Supporting Black Entrepreneurs [Page 137]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to an additional $51.7 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the regional development agencies for the Black Entrepreneurship Program.  
    • In September 2020, the Government of Canada, in partnership with financial institutions, announced an investment of up to $221 million—including up to $93 million from the government—to launch Canada’s first ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. 

Helping Charities, Non-profits, and Social Purpose Organizations Grow [Page 206]

  • Social finance is about mobilizing private capital to bring about public good. To support the growth of social finance in Canada, strengthen our social sector, ensure our most vulnerable can access much-needed services, and help our communities recover more quickly. The government is proposing to launch planned disbursements of the $755 million Social Finance Fund and deploy up to $220 million over its first two years. It is estimated that the Social Finance Fund could attract up to $1.5 billion in private sector capital to support the development of the social finance market, create thousands of new jobs, and drive positive social change. 
  • To ensure charities, non-profits, and social purpose organizations have the skills and capacity needed to access social finance opportunities, Budget 2021 proposes to renew the Investment Readiness Program for $50 million over two years, starting in 2021-22. This program supports charities, non-profits, and social purpose organizations in capacity-building activities such as business plan development, expanding products and services, skills development, and hiring. 
  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $400 million in 2021-22 to Employment and Social Development Canada to create a temporary Community Services Recovery Fund to help charities and non-profits adapt and modernize so they can better support the economic recovery in our communities. 

Boosting Charitable Spending in Our Communities [Page 208]

  • Budget 2021 proposes launching public consultations with charities over the coming months on potentially increasing the disbursement quota and updating the tools at the Canada Revenue Agency’s disposal, beginning in 2022. This could potentially increase support for the charitable sector and those that rely on its services by between $1 billion and $2 billion annually.  

Supporting Racialized Newcomer Women [Page 220]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $15 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to extend the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot initiative, which will continue to improve their employment outcomes and career advancement. 

Making Our Communities and Workplaces More Accessible [Page 235]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide additional funding of $100 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada to triple funding for the Enabling Accessibility Fund and support small and mid-sized projects with not-for-profit organizations, women’s shelters, child care centres, small municipalities, Indigenous organizations, territorial governments, small businesses, and businesses of all sizes. This would help offset the costs of renovations, retrofits, and accessible technologies in workplaces. 

Supporting Greater Equality for LGBTQ2 Communities [Page 235]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $15 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Women and Gender Equality Canada for a new LGBTQ2 Projects Fund dedicated to supporting community-informed initiatives to overcome key issues facing LGBTQ2 communities, such as accessing mental health services and employment support. 
  • Budget 2021 also proposes to provide $7.1 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Canadian Heritage to continue to support the work of the LGBTQ2 Secretariat—which coordinates work across government—and enable the continued development of an LGBTQ2 Action Plan. 

Supporting Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care Information and Services [Page 238]

  • To improve access to sexual and reproductive health care support, information, and services—including protecting access to abortion care: 
    • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $45 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Health Canada to fund community-based organizations that help make sexual and reproductive health care information and services more accessible for vulnerable populations. These organizations support activities such as producing inclusive training materials for sexual and reproductive health care providers, carrying out public awareness activities, and providing travel and logistical support to individuals who have to go long distances to access abortion care. 
  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $7.6 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for Statistics Canada to develop and implement a national survey on sexual and reproductive health that captures data on race, household income, and sexual orientation–information often not captured in existing surveys. Better information will help ensure governments understand the challenges and improve the support they provide.  

Establishing a National Institute for Women’s Health Research [Page 239]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $20 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to support a new National Institute for Women’s Health Research. The new institute will advance a coordinated research program that addresses under-researched and high-priority areas of women’s health and ensure new evidence improves women’s care and health outcomes. It will also ensure an intersectional approach to research and care to tackle persistent gaps for all women, including for racialized women, Black and Indigenous women, women with disabilities, and members of LGBTQ2 communities.

Support for Indigenous Entrepreneurs [Page 254]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to invest $42 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to expand the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program. This will directly support Indigenous-led businesses and help Indigenous communities generate wealth by improving access to capital and business opportunities. 
  • Budget 2021 also proposes to provide $2.4 million in 2021-22 to the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada to help the Indigenous tourism industry rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.  
  • Budget 2021 proposes to invest $22 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to support the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association’s (NACCA) Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative by providing tools, services, and resources to increase the number of Indigenous women entrepreneurs. This funding would support NACCA in achieving its target of increasing the number of Indigenous women entrepreneurs who access financing through Aboriginal Financial Institutions by 50 per cent.  

Responding to the Tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls [Page 256]

  • The government is accelerating work on the National Action Plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice and the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.  
  • This work is anchored in four interconnected thematic areas from the national inquiry: culture, health and wellness, human security and safety, and justice. 
  • Actions to address this tragedy must be broad in order to address the socio-economic root causes including loss of culture and languages, poverty and lack of access to housing, and the need for community safety, food security, employment, education, health care, infrastructure, and the many threads that tie the fabric of society together. 
  • Budget 2021 proposes to invest an additional $2.2 billion over five years, beginning in 2021-22, and $160.9 million ongoing, to help build a safer, stronger, and more inclusive society.  

Advancing a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence [Page 278]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to invest $601.3 million over five years, starting in 2021- 22, to advance towards a new National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, as outlined below. 
    • The government—in consultation with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous peoples, gender-based violence experts, stakeholders and, most importantly, survivors of gender-based violence—is moving forward on developing a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, focusing on ensuring that anyone facing gender-based violence has reliable and timely access to protection and services, no matter where they live. 

Gender-Based Violence Program [Page 279]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to invest $105 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for the Department for Women and Gender Equality to enhance its Gender-Based Violence Program. Funding will go to initiatives that engage men and boys. It will increase funding for initiatives to stop human trafficking, including support for at-risk populations and survivors. It will also provide support for testing and implementing best practices to address gender-based violence, with a focus on projects that could be scaled at the national level.  

National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence Secretariat [Page 279]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $14 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for the Department for Women and Gender Equality to establish a dedicated secretariat to coordinate the ongoing work towards the development and implementation of the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, and to continue engagement with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous peoples, gender-based violence experts, stakeholders and, most importantly, survivors of gender-based violence.

Increased Data Collection (GBV) [Page 280]

  • In recognition that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are much more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women, and that the homicide rate for this community was seven times higher than for non-Indigenous women, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $55 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for the Department for Women and Gender Equality to bolster the capacity of Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ organizations to provide gender-based violence prevention programming aimed at addressing the root causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. These investments are in addition to those outlined in Chapter 8 to address the national tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. 

Safer Relationships [Page 280]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $50 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for the Public Health Agency of Canada to design and deliver interventions that promote safe relationships and prevent family violence, including intimate partner violence, child maltreatment, and elder abuse. 

Crisis Hotlines [Page 280]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $30 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for the Department for Women and Gender Equality so that crisis hotlines can serve the urgent needs of more Canadians and offer more robust services, resources, and supports to prevent the escalation of gender-based violence. 

Free Legal Advice [Page 281]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $85.3 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for Justice Canada. Funding will support a national program for independent legal advice and independent legal representation for victims of sexual assault, as well as to support pilot projects for victims of intimate partner violence. 

Protections for women and Children during Divorce or Separation [Page 281]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $28.4 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for Justice Canada. This will protect the safety and well-being of children and families. 
    • Women are six times more likely to be killed by a former spouse than a spouse with whom they are living. When co-parenting during a divorce or separation, having supervised options can protect women’s safety and protect children from experiencing violence in their homes. This measure will support supervision services for parenting time in cases of separation and divorce.

 Child Exploitation [Page 281]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $20.7 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to enhance its ability to pursue online child sexual exploitation investigations, identify victims and remove them from abusive situations, and bring offenders to justice—including those who offend abroad.  

Support for Newcomers [Page 281]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $2 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to increase access to information and support for new Canadians facing family and gender-based violence, including enhancing the availability of anti-violence resources. This will help ensure that newcomers’ lives in Canada get off to a safe and successful start. 

Additional GBV Measures [Page 282]

  • In addition, as outlined in Chapter 6, the government is proposing to reallocate $250 million in funding which will be used for transitional housing and shelter spaces for women and children fleeing violence, as well as provide additional rental assistance through the Canada Housing Benefit for low-income women and children fleeing violence. 
  • Additional details on the government’s National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence will be announced in the coming months. 

Enhancing Legal Support for Vulnerable Communities [Page 284]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $21.5 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for a Racialized Communities Legal Support Initiative. This would support organizations that provide free public legal education and information as well as organizations that provide legal services and advice to racialized communities.  
  • Budget 2021 also proposes to provide an additional $26.8 million, in 2021- 22, to enable participating provinces to maintain immigration and refugee legal aid support for asylum seekers, while protecting the efficiency and integrity of the asylum system.   

Supporting Work to Address Systemic Racism in Public Safety Institutions [Page 284]

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $75 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $13.5 million ongoing, to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to take action, with steps to combat systemic racism through: reforming recruitment and training processes; the collection, analysis, and reporting of race-based data; more rapidly evaluating the impact of policing activities on certain communities; and improving community engagement and consultation with Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities. 

Gender Equality Goals for Canada [Page 378]

  • The Gender Results Framework is aligned with the Government of Canada’s policy of GBA Plus, ensuring that gender is considered in relation to other intersecting identity factors. Wherever possible, and with a view to collecting better data, intersecting identity factors will be considered in the above indicators. 

Summary of Budget 2021 Gender and Diversity Impacts can be found starting on page 404 of the budget document.

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