Highlights from Budget 2023
March 28, 2023
On March 28, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the 2023 federal budget.
Below are some highlights of interest to the Canadian library and information management community:
Arts, Culture, and Heritage
Funding proposed for the NFB to continue to produce and share Canadian content with the world.
Funding proposed for Canada’s six national museums (the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the National Gallery of Canada, the National Museum of Science and Technology, and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21) and the National Battlefields Commission, to support immediate building maintenance.
In addition to providing funding to provinces and territories, the federal government will also provide $505 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada Health Infoway, and other federal data partners. Together, these organizations will work with provinces and territories to develop new health data indicators, support the creation of a Centre of Excellence on health worker data, advance digital health tools and an interoperability roadmap, and support provincial and territorial efforts to use data to improve the safety and quality of health care.
Ongoing turbulence in crypto-asset markets, and the recent high-profile failures of crypto trading platform FTX, and of Signature Bank, have demonstrated that crypto-assets can threaten the financial well-being of people, national security, and the stability and integrity of the global financial system.
To protect Canadians from the risks that come with crypto-assets, there is a clear need for different orders of government to take an active role in addressing consumer protection gaps and risks to our financial system.
The federal government is working closely with regulators and provincial and territorial partners to protect Canadians’ hard-earned savings and pensions, and Budget 2023 proposes new measures to protect Canadians.
- To help protect Canadians’ savings and the security of our financial sector, Budget 2023 announces that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) will consult federally regulated financial institutions on guidelines for publicly disclosing their exposure to crypto-assets.
Secure pension plans are the cornerstone of a dignified retirement. While pension plan administrators are required to prudently manage their investments, the unique nature and evolving risks of crypto-assets and related activities require continued monitoring.
- To help protect Canadians’ retirements, Budget 2023 announces that the government will require federally regulated pension funds to disclose their crypto-asset exposures to OSFI. The government will also work with provinces and territories to discuss crypto-asset or related activities disclosures by Canada’s largest pension plans, which would ensure Canadians are aware of their pension plan’s potential exposure to crypto-assets.
The federal government launched targeted consultations on crypto-assets as part of the review on the digitalization of money announced in Budget 2022. Moving forward, the government will continue to work closely with partners to advance the review, will bring forward proposals to protect Canadians from the risks of crypto-asset markets, and will provide further details in the 2023 fall economic and fiscal update.
Diversity / Equity / Inclusion
Hate has no place in Canada. However, police-reported hate crimes have increased by 72 per cent between 2019 and 2021. Hateful rhetoric is on the rise, and misinformation and disinformation, both online and in our communities, is increasingly affecting the safety and well-being of Canadians.
To confront hate in all its forms, including hate faced by 2SLGBTQI+ communities, the federal government plans to introduce a new Action Plan to Combat Hate later this year. This new Action Plan will include measures to combat hateful rhetoric and acts, building on measures being taken in Budget 2023 to build safer, more inclusive communities.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $49.5 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, to Public Safety Canada to enhance and expand the Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program and allow it to be more responsive to the evolving security needs of communities.
In Budget 2022, the federal government renewed Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy to fight racism and ensure that our society continues to be strengthened by Canada’s remarkable cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide an additional $25.4 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $0.6 million ongoing, to the Department of Canadian Heritage to continue to support Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy and fight all forms of racism, including but not limited to anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $1.5 million over two years, starting in 2023-24, to the Privy Council Office to create a new Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion Secretariat to ensure that considerations of anti-racism, equity and inclusion are applied in the development of federal government policies.
Research indicates that Black Canadians continue to experience persistent inequities in income and employment while also facing a higher likelihood of discrimination. The government remains committed to addressing these barriers and inequities.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $25 million, in 2024-25, to Employment and Social Development Canada for the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative, to continue empowering Black-led and Black-serving community organizations and the work they do to promote inclusiveness.
Systemic racism has been a reality for Black Canadians for far too long. All too often, Black public servants face barriers to career advancement and lack adequate support for the challenges they face—particularly for their mental health. The federal government is committed to ensuring that Black public servants can work in a safe and healthy environment that is equitable, diverse, and inclusive.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $45.9 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to create a Mental Health Fund for Black public servants and establish dedicated career development programs, including to prepare Black public service leaders for executive positions.
Canadians need a federal public service that represents our diverse communities and draws from the full capacity of Canada’s smart and capable workforce. To do this, federal workplaces must be welcoming and supportive, and free of harassment and discrimination.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $6.9 million over two years, starting in 2023-24, to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to advance a restorative engagement program to empower employees who have suffered harassment and discrimination, and to drive cultural change in the public service. Of this amount, $1.7 million would be sourced from existing departmental resources. Funding will also support a review of the processes for addressing current and historical complaints of harassment, violence, and discrimination.
Persons with disabilities can face additional costs related to medical care, retrofits, and medical devices. In fact, they are almost twice as likely to be low-income as people without a disability. Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs) are there to support the long-term financial security of people with disabilities who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit. Since their creation in 2008, total assets within RDSPs have grown to approximately $8.8 billion, with close to 260,000 RDSPs supporting persons with disabilities with the cost of living in their later years.
The federal government has expanded access to RDSPs by allowing a qualifying family member—such as a parent, a spouse, or a common-law partner—to open an RDSP and be the plan holder for an adult with mental disabilities whose ability to enter into an RDSP contract is in doubt, and who does not have a legal representative. The provision has helped many families access an RDSP, but it is currently set to expire.
- Budget 2023 announces the government’s intention to extend the Qualifying Family Member provision until December 31, 2026. To further increase access to RDSPs, the government also intends to expand the provisionto include adult siblings of an RDSP beneficiary. These measures are expected to cost $13 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $3 million ongoing.
Since the introduction of the Qualifying Family Member provision in 2012, the federal government has maintained that this provision is intended as a stopgap for provinces and territories to develop more appropriate, long-term solutions to address RDSP legal representation issues for persons with disabilities. While most provinces and territories have made significant progress, others have not. The government continues to encourage provinces and territories that have not already done so to address issues surrounding guardianship for persons with disabilities.
In October 2022, the government launched the Disability Inclusion Action Plan, a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to disability inclusion. Community engagement is a key aspect—the government needs to get views from Canadians with disabilities in matters that affect them. To further enhance disability inclusion in Canada:
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $10 million over two years, beginning in 2023-24, to Employment and Social Development Canada to help address the unique needs and ongoing barriers faced by persons with disabilities by investing in capacity building and the community-level work of Canada’s disability organizations.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $21.5 million in 2023-24 to Employment and Social Development Canada to continue work on the future delivery of the Canada Disability Benefit, including engagement with the disability community and provinces and territories on the regulatory process.
The government remains committed to the launch of a Canada Disability Benefit as part of the Disability Inclusion Action Plan, including engagement with the disability community and provinces and territories on the regulatory process. Investments in Budget 2023 continue to lay the necessary groundwork for the Canada Disability Benefit, building off of the government’s reintroduction of the Canada Disability Benefit Act in June 2022.
From the creation of the Canada Child Benefit, to infrastructure investments in our communities, to supporting Canadians through the pandemic, the federal government has proudly invested in Canadians and the Canadian economy since 2015.
These investments have lifted millions of Canadians out of poverty, built more vibrant communities across the country, grown our economy, and helped weather a once-in-a-century pandemic. Ensuring the federal government can continue to invest in Canadians for years to come is essential.
After two years of emergency pandemic spending, the government committed in Budget 2022 to begin normalizing the overall level of program spending, and announced that the government would examine previous spending plans with a view to reducing COVID-19-related spending by up to $3 billion over four years.
In the 2022 Fall Economic Statement, the government delivered on this commitment with reduced spending of $3.8 billion, owing to lower-than-expected need for COVID-19 supports in 2021-22.
Moving forward, Budget 2023 will continue these efforts to bring the pace and scale of the growth of government spending back to a pre-pandemic path, in order to ensure that Canadians’ tax dollars are being used efficiently and being invested in the priorities that matter most to them.
Further savings in Budget 2023 will meet the commitments laid out in last year’s Budget—and will help pay for the strengthening of Canada’s public health care system, the delivery of the Canadian Dental Care Plan, and the building of Canada’s clean economy.
- Budget 2023 proposes to reduce spending on consulting, other professional services, and travel by roughly 15 per cent of planned 2023-24 discretionary spending in these areas. This will result in savings of $7.1 billion over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $1.7 billion ongoing. The government will focus on targeting these reductions on professional services, particularly management consulting.
- Budget 2023 proposes to phase in a roughly 3 per cent reduction of eligible spending by departments and agencies by 2026-27. This will reduce government spending by $7.0 billion over four years, starting in 2024-25, and $2.4 billion ongoing. Reductions will not impact direct benefits and service delivery to Canadians; direct transfers to other orders of government and Indigenous communities; and the Canadian Armed Forces.
- The government will also work with federal Crown corporations to ensure they achieve comparable spending reductions, which would account for an estimated $1.3 billion over four years starting in 2024-25, and $450 million ongoing.
In total, these proposals represent savings of $15.4 billion over the next five years.
The regular review of government programs is important if they are to deliver their intended results for Canadians.
- Budget 2023 announces the introduction of cross-government program effectiveness reviews, to be led by the President of the Treasury Board. The first review will examine skills training and youth programming, to determine, by Budget 2024, whether improvements can be made to help more Canadians develop the skills and receive the work experience they need to have successful careers.
As part of the government’s commitment to responsibly manage Canadians’ tax dollars, it is also continuing to assess the pace and scale of previously announced spending that has yet to occur. Where implementation is slower than originally planned, when take-up is lower, or when circumstances have changed, it makes sense to ensure government resources are still allocated to their best purpose.
- Budget 2023 proposes to reduce previously announced funding that remains unallocated or is no longer required, or to delay it where the pace of implementation is slower than originally envisioned. This will result in savings of $6.4 billion over six years, starting in 2022-23.
All Canadians should have quick and easy access to information on government programs and services—whether they are a senior who prefers to call, a person with a disability who requires a more accessible website, or someone who prefers to look for information on their phone. After a sharp rise in inquiries during the pandemic, requests for information through Canada.ca and 1 800 O-Canada (622-6232) remain at nearly double their pre-pandemic levels.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $17.7 million over four years, starting in 2023-24, to Employment and Social Development Canada to increase capacity at 1 800 O-Canada call centres, improve Canada.ca, and ensure that Canadians can access information they need about government benefits and services.
Funding proposed for PCO, CBSA, DFO, CSE, CSIS, DND, GAC, IRCC, JUS, PHAC, PS, RCMP, and TC, which have security and intelligence mandates, so that they continue to fulfill the review requirements of the NSIRA and the NSICOP.
Funding proposed for StatCan for the 2026 Census of Population.
Funding proposed for StatCan for the 2026 Census of Agriculture.
The ability to form a union, bargain collectively, and strike is essential to a healthy democracy. These important rights can be undermined when an employer brings in replacement workers to temporarily do the work of unionized workers during a strike or lockout.
- Budget 2023 proposes to table amendments to the Canada Labour Code, before the end of 2023, that would prohibit the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout, and improve the process to review activities that must be maintained to ensure the health and safety of the public during a work stoppage.
It’s important that people know they are not alone, and those suffering from suicidal thoughts need to be able to access timely, urgent support. The federal government is committed to making sure that all Canadians have access to critical mental health resources and suicide prevention services, when they need it, no matter where they live.
As of November 30, 2023, Canadians will be able to call or text 988 at any time to access quality, effective, and immediate suicide prevention and mental health crisis support.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $158.4 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support the implementation and operation of 988.
The federal government is undertaking a review to establish a long-term funding mechanism for this service in 2025-26.
Funding proposed for the OPC to undertake more in-depth investigations of privacy breaches across public and private organizations, to improve response rates to privacy complaints from Canadians and operationalize new processes required to implement the Consumer Privacy Protection Act.
Implementing the National Action Plan to End the Tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Together with Indigenous partners, the federal government is accelerating the implementation of the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People. Building on the $2.2 billion provided in Budget 2021, Budget 2023 proposes investments that acknowledge the leadership of families and survivors in this process, and the need to increase accountability and ensure that progress is made. Budget 2023 proposes to provide:
- $20 million over four years, starting in 2022‑23, to support Indigenous-led projects for safer communities through the Pathways to Safe Indigenous Communities Initiative.
- 95.8 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $20.4 million ongoing to help Indigenous families access information about their missing and murdered loved ones, and to enhance victim services to support their healing journeys. This funding would renew existing programming and expand it to include support for families of 2SLGBTQI+ Indigenous victims who are men.
- $2.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, to support the National Family and Survivors Circle in keeping families and survivors at the centre of the implementation of the National Action Plan and the Federal Pathway.
- $2.2 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, to establish an oversight mechanism to monitor and report on the progress of implementation.
- $1.6 million over two years, starting in 2023‑24, to support the Ministerial Special Representative appointed to provide advice and recommendations on the creation of an Indigenous and Human Rights Ombudsperson.
- 2.5 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, to facilitate and coordinate work on advancing the National Action Plan by establishing a standing Federal-Provincial-Territorial-Indigenous table on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQI+ People. This table will provide a specific forum to take action on areas of shared roles and responsibilities regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous, Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ People, including prioritizing discussion on how to launch a “Red Dress Alert” to notify the public when an Indigenous woman or two-spirit person goes missing.
The federal government is committed to ensuring that First Nations children have the supports they need to flourish, and that communities are supported in their efforts to keep families together.
Through the implementation of Jordan’s Principle, First Nations children are able to access the health, social, and educational supports they need, when they need them. The government continues to work with First Nations partners to advance long-term reforms to ensure that First Nations children will continue to receive timely, high-quality services.
The government also continues to work with First Nations partners on long-term reforms for child welfare, and to support community-led solutions to reduce the number of children in care and keep children and youth connected to their families, their communities, and their culture. In addition, the government is supporting First Nations in developing their own child and family services that reflect their values and traditions under An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.
- Budget 2023 proposes to provide $171 million in 2022-23 to Indigenous Services Canada to ensure First Nations children continue to receive the support they need through Jordan’s Principle.
- With funding announced in the 2022 Fall Economic Statement, Budget 2023 also provides $444.2 million over three years, starting in 2022-23, to support Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and Louis Bull Tribe First Nation in Alberta to exercise jurisdiction over their child welfare systems and make decisions about what is best for their children and families.
The residential school system attempted to assimilate Indigenous children, forcing them to abandon their languages, cultures, spiritualities, traditions, and identities. The painful legacy of the residential school system lives on today.
The federal government is committed to addressing the harms that continue to affect First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and their families. On January 18, 2023, the federal government signed an agreement to compensate 325 bands that opted in to the Gottfriedson Band Class litigation to address the collective harms caused by the loss of language, culture, and heritage through the residential school system. The settlement has since been approved by the Federal Court.
- Budget 2023 provides $2.8 billion as part of the Band Class settlement, to establish a trust to support healing, wellness, education, heritage, language, and commemoration activities. The government will also propose legislative amendments to exclude the income and gains of the trust from taxation.
Funding proposed for CIRNAC to coordinate activities to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
Canada’s colleges, CEGEPs, and polytechnic institutes use their facilities, equipment, and expertise to solve applied research problems every day. Students at these institutions are developing the skills they need to start good careers when they leave school, and by partnering with these institutions, businesses can access the talent and the tools they need to innovate and grow.
- To help more Canadian businesses access the expertise and research and development facilities they need, Budget 2023 proposes to provide $108.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, to expand the College and Community Innovation Program, administered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
Right to Repair
When it comes to broken appliances or devices, high repair fees and a lack of access to specific parts often mean Canadians are pushed to buy new products rather than repairing the ones they have. This is expensive for people and creates harmful waste.
Devices and appliances should be easy to repair, spare parts should be readily accessible, and companies should not be able to prevent repairs with complex programming or hard-to-obtain bespoke parts. By cutting down on the number of devices and appliances that are thrown out, we will be able to make life more affordable for Canadians and protect our environment.
- Budget 2023 announces that the government will work to implement a right to repair, with the aim of introducing a targeted framework for home appliances and electronics in 2024.
The government will launch consultations this summer, including on the right to repair and the interoperability of farming equipment, and work closely with provinces and territories to advance the implementation of a right to repair.
Over the past decade, multiple chargers have been developed by manufacturers for phones, tablets, cameras, laptops, and other devices. Every time Canadians purchase new devices, they need to buy new chargers to go along with them, which drives up costs and increases electronic waste. Recently, the European Union moved towards mandating USB-C charging ports for all small handheld devices and laptops by the end of 2024.
- Budget 2023 announces that the federal government will work with international partners and other stakeholders to explore implementing a standard charging port in Canada, with the aim of lowering costs for Canadians and reducing electronic waste.
Funding proposed to TBS to guide departments on the transition to cloud technology.
Proposed Legislative Changes
In Budget 2023, the government proposes to amend the Canada Elections Act to establish a uniform federal approach in respect of federal political parties’ collection, use, and disclosure of personal information in a manner that overrides overlapping provincial legislation.