Highlights from spring federal budget

Foundation staff kept an eye on the federal budget of March 19, given the potential implications for many in the social sector. The Social Finance Fund, first announced late last year, was a major highlight. We learned that professional investment managers will be in charge of the Fund, and will look for a minimum of $2 of non-government capital for every dollar of federal investment (except for investments in Indigenous communities). Given the initial $755 million outlay, this could help dramatically increase available resources.  The Social Finance Fund will allocate $100 million to gender-equality projects and $50 million to the new Indigenous Growth Fund (to be matched by $50 million from Business Development Bank of Canada).

Two projects that have been supported, in part, by McConnell, received further government funding: $13 million was announced for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning to develop a ‘culturally appropriate and community-developed curriculum’; and $19 million was directed toward construction of an Indigenous Legal Lodge at the University of Victoria and Indigenous law initiatives across Canada.

The government earmarked $134 million over five years for its Food Policy for Canada to help communities access healthy food; incentivize Canadian food as a top choice for Canadian consumers; support food security in Northern and Indigenous communities; and to reduce food waste. Several announcements were made to support the transition to a low-carbon economy, including making zero-emission vehicles more affordable, supporting business investment in zero-emission vehicles, and encouraging energy efficiency by subsidizing retrofits. Lastly, cities & communities stand to benefit from a one-time doubling of Gas Tax, opening up $2.2 billion for infrastructure projects. This funding will come all at once and will not flow through provinces and territories, which will lead to a more direct relationship between the federal government and municipalities.