OTTAWA, ON – In its first budget in two years the federal government has put child care front and centre.

In the House of Commons on Monday, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland announced more than $30 billion for the start of a national child care program by cutting child care costs in half by the end of 2022.  That will include $10 a day for child care by 2025.

Other highlights of Budget 2021 include an extension of all the big federal COVID-19 support programs including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy as well as the Emergency Rent Subsidy until September.  There will be an additional 12 weeks added to the Canada Recovery Benefit. That increases the program to 50 weeks.

There will also be an increase to the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits will be extended from 15 to 26 weeks.

The financial blueprint also provides $5 billion for projects that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Net Zero Accelerator.

The federal deficit will be just over $354 billion for the past year but it will drop to over $154 billion this fiscal year.

There was no date provided for when the Liberal government plans to balance its books.

As expected the opposition Conservatives aren’t happy with the document, heavily criticizing the federal government’s plan.

Leader Erin O’Toole says Canadians were expecting a pandemic budget, but instead got an election budget “and a poor one at that.”

OToole slammed the Trudeau government Monday for what he says is a slow response to the COVID-19 pandemic and says this budget does nothing to answer calls from Ontario, Alberta, and other provinces “asking for more vaccines.”

“Justin Trudeau has moved too slow for this virus, it’s racing ahead of us now,” said O’Toole. “Now he is slow in providing real help for Canadians in this budget. This disappointment needs to stop.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the budget for not having a wealth tax, no excess profit tax and “consultation instead of action on tax havens reform.”

Singh also criticized assistance for students calling today’s budget promises a “drop in the bucket” compared to the impact young people have felt during the pandemic.

“During the pandemic, Justin Trudeau offered Canadians the least help possible,” said Singh to reporters Monday. “The NDP had to force him to do better. And today’s budget is no different: Justin Trudeau chooses to continue to give his rich friends a free ride, he chooses to continue to fail young people who are facing crushing debt, he chooses to continue to protect the profits of big pharmaceutical companies and for-profit long-term care providers, he chooses to continue to spend billions on a pipeline and fossil fuel subsidies, and he chooses not to do what is needed to fix the housing crisis and historic injustices faced by Indigenous people.”