Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and minister of finance, released Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience, on April 19, 2021.

“This budget is about finishing the fight against COVID-19,” said Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and minister of finance. “It’s about healing the wounds left by the COVID-19 recession. And it’s about creating more jobs and prosperity for Canadians in the days—and decades—to come.”

Budget 2021 provides a plan for a number of areas, including the environment, according to the Government of Canada. It includes investments for: improving health outcomes in Indigenous communities, developing the Canada Water Agency, strengthening climate resiliency, conserving Canada’s oceans, and preserving wild pacific salmon.

Improving Health Outcomes in Indigenous Communities

The Government of Canada noted that for far too long, Indigenous peoples have faced poor health care and their communities have experienced reduced health outcomes.

To ensure Indigenous peoples can access high-quality health care, Budget 2021 proposes to invest $1.4 billion over five years, beginning in 2021-22, and $40.6 million ongoing. These proposed funds will help maintain essential health care services for First Nations and Inuit, continue work to transform First Nations health systems, and respond to the health impacts of climate change.

Of the $1.4 billion, $125.2 million has been allocated over four years, beginning in 2022-23, to continue to support First Nations communities’ reliable access to clean water and help ensure the safe delivery of health and social services on reserve.

Developing the Canada Water Agency

For nearly 75 years, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration assisted Western Canadian farmers by supporting water conservation and irrigation projects. Its closure in 2009 created a gap as Canada lost an important tool to manage its waters. The Government of Canada is beginning work towards the launch of a new Canada Water Agency that aims to keep our water safe, clean, and well managed.

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Budget 2021 proposes to provide $17.4 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Environment and Climate Change Canada. These proposed funds will support work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, and key stakeholders on the scope of the agency’s mandate, including identifying opportunities to build and support more resilient water and irrigation infrastructure.

Strengthening Climate Resiliency

Climate change’s impacts—flooding, coastal erosion, permafrost thaw, and more—put Canada’s infrastructure at significant risk.

To ensure Canada’s resilience in the face of climate change, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $1.4 billion over 12 years, starting in 2021-22, to Infrastructure Canada to top up the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund. This is to support projects such as the rehabilitation of stormwater systems, and restoration of wetlands and shorelines.

Budget 2021 also proposes to provide $63.8 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Public Safety Canada. The proposed fund will be for working with provinces and territories to complete flood maps for higher-risk areas.

Conserving Canada’s Oceans

Budget 2021 proposes investments to help meet the Government of Canada’s conservation targets, protect against loss of marine habitat, and address the challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change.

The proposed investments include $976.8 million over five years, starting in 2021–22, with $80 million in remaining amortization. This is to help Canada reach its 25 per cent by 2025 target to protect the health of our oceans, commercial fishing stocks, and Canadians’ quality of life, especially in coastal communities.

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Preserving Wild Pacific Salmon

Since the early 1990s, Pacific salmon stocks have declined by up to 93 per cent. Wild Pacific salmon are facing threats from climate change, contaminants, and changes in land and water use. Building on previous investments, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $647.1 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $98.9 million in remaining amortization. The proposed funds will be provided to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to:

  • Stabilize and conserve wild Pacific salmon populations, including through investment in research, new hatchery facilities, and habitat restoration.
  • Create a Pacific Salmon Secretariat and Restoration Centre of Expertise.
  • Improve management of commercial and recreational fisheries.
  • Double the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund with an additional $100 million.
  • Further engage with First Nations and fish harvesters.

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