The federal government will present a new budget on April 7, 2022.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the date of the budget during question period on March 29, in keeping with tradition. Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, expectations are high about the vision the budget will offer to Canadians about the path ahead.
When Freeland last presented a fiscal update in December 2021, the forecasts for the Canadian economy and inflation were heavily clouded by the looming Omicron wave of the pandemic.
That forecast had suggested inflation could return to its two per cent target by late 2022.
But while public health officials say Canada has passed the peak of the Omicron wave, inflation remains high at 5.7 per cent in February, according to Statistics Canada data In addition, Russia’s war in Ukraine is fuelling economic uncertainty and adding to rampant supply chain struggles.
Coupled with housing unaffordability and spikes in the cost of many consumer goods ranging from meat products and fresh produce to cars and technology using semiconductor chips, the last two years have seen a widespread hit to consumer pocketbooks as the cost of living soars.
Freeland’s budget is expected to focus on measures to help Canadians cope with the cost of living and provide updates on key campaign promises such as proposals to tackle the cost of housing.
She warned in the fiscal update in December that fixing the lack of affordable housing will take “years.”
All eyes will also be on the federal deficit, which rose quickly at the outset of the pandemic amid unprecedented government spending on COVID-19 support programs.
As of December 2021, the deficit was projected to sit at $144.5 billion.
That was slightly lower than the forecast in the 2021 budget of a deficit of $155 billion.