What does the 2021 Federal Budget include for communities and nonprofits? Investments in nine important issues

On April 19, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, presented the Government of Canada’s 2021 Budget: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience. The Federal Budget aims to conquer COVID-19, quickly overcome the pandemic recession, and build a more resilient Canada. Below, we break down what Canada’s new financial plan includes for local residents and community organizations in nine important issue areas.


Canadian flag flying in front of Parliament


  1. Childcare
    • Nearly $30 billion over the next five years to support quality, nonprofit childcare. With these investments, service providers will be able to raise wages for early childhood educators, create more spaces, and lower fees.
    • The budget aims to cut fees for licensed childcare spaces by 50 per cent, by 2022. The Federal government’s goal is to reach fees of $10 per day on average per child by 2026 across all provinces and territories except Quebec, which already has its own successful, low-fee childcare system.

  2. Seniors and long-term care
    • $12 billion over the next five years to help seniors by:
      • improving standards within long-term care homes, and
      • raising Old Age Security Payments by 10 per cent “on an ongoing basis” starting in July 2022. Additionally, starting this August, those who will be 75 and older as of June 2022 can receive a one-time payment of $500 to help with immediate pandemic costs.

  3. Affordable housing
    • Renewal of 10-year, $70 billion national housing strategy, which was topped up with an additional $2.5 billion in new funding for affordable housing.
      • $1.5 billion is allocated for the Rapid Housing Initiative, with 25 per cent going toward women’s housing and more than a half-million dollars for addressing homelessness.

  4. Wages
    • The Federal government will establish a $15 minimum wage, rising with inflation, for those in the federally regulated private sector. Provincial and territorial hourly wages that are higher will take precedence. 

  5. Income supports
    • $376 million in support over five years, starting in 2021, and expanded criteria for the Disability Tax Credit.
    • The Canada Recovery Benefit will be extended from 38 weeks to 50 weeks. The program will run until September 25, 2021. However, the benefit amount will be reduced from $500 to $300 per week after July 17.
    • The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will be extended by an additional four weeks.
    • $5 million over two years, starting in 2021–22, will go towards long-term reforms to Employment Insurance.
    • Employment Insurance sickness benefits will be extended from 15 to 26 weeks.

  6. Nonprofits and charities
    • $400 million for charities and nonprofits through the new Community Services Recovery Fund.
    • $300 million for the Recovery Fund for Heritage, Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport sectors.

  7. Black communities
    • An additional $51.7 million over four years for Canada’s Black Entrepreneurship Program, which was first announced last September to support Black entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.
    • $200 million to establish and create a sustainable source of funding for a new Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund, to be led by Black Canadians.
    • $100 million this year for the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative at Employment and Social Development Canada.

  8. Indigeous communities
    • $18 billion to further “narrow gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, support healthy, safe, and prosperous Indigenous communities, and advance reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation.” This includes:
      • $6 billion for infrastructure in Indigenous communities, and
      • $2.2 billion to help end the national tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

  9. Youth
    • $4.1 billion to help make post-secondary education more affordable. This entails waiving interest fees and giving low-income borrowers more generous repayment assistance options.
    • $150.6 million over two years, starting in 2021, to support Indigenous post-secondary students.
    • Approximately 215,000 additional skills development and work opportunities to be created to help youth and students join the workforce over the next two years.

Overall, the 2021 Federal Budget includes steps that enhance social supports and greater opportunities for communities and the organizations that serve them. The budget addresses many, but not all, of the hot-button social issues, including community services, jobs, racism, equity, and inclusion. However, the budget leaves out pharmacare and a more robust income support initiative.  

One of the major budget announcements, regarding a Canada-wide early learning and care program, has been welcomed with enthusiasm. While similar announcements by past federal governments never came to fruition, expectations are high this time around. This plan is much larger than previous proposals. It has a sharp focus on fee reduction, clearly identifies short- and long-term goals, and notes that expansion will be in the nonprofit sector.

More details are needed on these and other budget announcements to further assess their implications for positioning Canada for an equitable recovery that is supported by strong nonprofit and public sectors.

For further information and analysis on the 2021 Federal budget check out:

  • Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ round-up of analyses from CCPA and partners.
  • YMCA and YWCA’s April 22 webinar: “Crunching the Numbers with YMCA and YWCA — Unpacking the Federal Budget 2021.”
© Copyright 2017-2020 Social Planning Toronto. All rights reserved.