Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, speaks with North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold during a Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce breakfast Monday, March 2, 2020 at Eatology. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, speaks with North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold during a Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce breakfast Monday, March 2, 2020 at Eatology. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Despite $381.6 B deficit, better days are coming: Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity

“We want Canadians to know that we’ve got their backs”

Following the federal fall economic update on Monday, Nov. 30, the Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance Mona Fortier said the goal is to remind Canadians the government is here to support them.

“We want Canadians to know that we’ve got their backs,” she said.

“We know we’re in for a very hard winter, but we laid out the fact that we know better days are coming. We have a plan to get through this and rebuild Canada’s economy.”

However, before the economic rebuilding happens, there will be more spending, with the country’s deficit reaching $381.6 billion by the end of March 2021.

The spending includes funds being injected into the child care sector, long-term care facilities across the country, other sectors that were hit hard by the pandemic and safer communities.

READ ALSO: Liberals take step on national child-care system, promise plan coming in 2021 budget

This spending will mean support for families with young children aged under six, which Fortier said represents up to $1,200 for each child.

This funding will be distributed through the Canada Child Benefit and will be available in 2021.

Fortier said the goal of this investment is partly to incentivize mothers to go back to work, but also to demonstrate the federal government understands how deeply women have been affected by the pandemic.

“As we know, one of the really hard-hit groups during the pandemic was women…and (investing in child care) I believe is the key to making sure families have access to child care so women can work,” she said.

Besides the new expenditures, Fortier added the federal government wants to continue supporting women entrepreneurs and small business owners with existing programs such as the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

Another key point from the financial update is the investment in body cameras for RCMP’s frontline officers, which will cost $238.5 million over the next six years. The move comes after concerns about policing in racialized and Indigenous communities emerged, as well as allegations of excessive use of force, including several within the Kelowna RCMP.

“I think we need to realize that we need to improve our system,” Fortier said.

“We’ve looked at how we can continue to improve across the country and I believe we’ve listened and we’ll work with the different forces to make sure we can roll out and improve the system and continue to make sure we have a safe environment in our communities.”

Fortier said the federal government’s work to improve public health reflects seeking to help Canadians get through the COVID-19 pandemic