The childcare, pandemic supports and other pledges may have garnered most of the attention, but numerous smaller items have been included in the 2021 Federal Budget released Monday that will interest consumers.
The budget is intended to stimulate economic and health recovery, and thus the pledges to spend $30 billion on a national child-care program to bring the costs to an average of $10 a day by 2025, or $17.6 billion for green investments or the other job stimulus programs to boost a post-COVID recovery were the most notable elements, and subject to the most scrutiny.
But Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s budget – the first since 2019 – was also a long budget, with many more plans and promises highlighted than in most recent budgets. Beyond those headline items, the budget addresses consumer issues, including some important priorities for reform promoted by consumer groups such as Consumers Council of Canada.
Here are selected smaller elements from the budget that relate to recent consumer issues.
- a promise to launch a consultation on lowering the criminal rate of interest in the Criminal Code of Canada, to address predatory lending and reduce the number of Canadians living in a cycle of debt.
- a pledge to remove barriers to trade between provinces and territories that have “held back Canadian businesses from reaching the full force of the Canadian market.”
- Spending an additional $96 million over the next five years to enhance the Competition Bureau’s enforcement capacity to help ensure a competitive marketplace.
- Lowering the costs for merchants by reducing credit card transaction fees they are required to accept. Canada’s interchange fees are among the highest in the world. And with a pledge to protect consumers’ accumulated rewards points in the process.
- Spending $456 million over the next five years to improve cyber security, to better protect Canadians’ personal information.
- An additional $1 billion in spending over six years for a Universal Broadband Fund to improve internet speed and reliability.