On Tuesday December 14, students heard from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland as she read the Fall Economic and Fiscal Update. This update happens every year from the Minister of Finance and provides a snapshot of the federal government’s management of public spending, overall health of the Canadian economy, and projections over the next fiscal period.
It also provides an opportunity for the federal government to announce additional spending measurements to respond to the economic challenges heading into the next fiscal year and ahead of the next federal budget being introduced in the Spring of 2022. This is especially important given the challenges with the new Omicron variant, increasing cost of living, global supply chain issues, and worsening mental health and housing crisis.
Students have been among the hardest hit by the rising cost of living, housing crisis and mental health crisis. The federal government has largely left out students from any major economic stimulus during COVID-19 since the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) was not extended at the end of August 2020 after only running for 4 months. International students and mature students were completely left out of any financial support during the pandemic, while also facing significant hardships.
The update today did have some encouraging announcements that will benefit students directly and help address ongoing issues affecting students. Some of the more specific announcements mentioned were:
- $67.9 million for debt relief to students who received CERB instead of CESB.
- $85 million to process additional permanent resident and temporary resident applications.
- $7.5 billion in home care and mental health transfers to other levels of government over the next 6 years.
- $62 million to establish a new Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund to support artists who make a living through live performances.
- $1.3 billion over six years and $66.6 million in future years to resettle 40,000 vulnerable Afghans and their families in Canada.
- $5 billion to help B.C. recover from recent floods.
- $40-billion for First Nations child welfare compensation and long-term reform.
The Federation is encouraged to see that most of these announcements are being prioritized and the funding promised in the update will be delivered in the next fiscal year. Students continue to demand immediate action on significant increases in federal investment to address the climate crisis, housing crisis, mental health crisis, and rising cost of living.
The Federation remains committed to pushing the government to implement long-term investment in post-secondary education in a way that is equitable, accountable, and accessible to all.
The Canadian Federation of Students