Federal Budget earmarks $25M to support Black Canadian communities

Chrystia Freeland

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland tabled the 2023 Federal Budget in the House of Commons, a 255-page document outlining the government’s plan to build a stronger and more resilient economy for everyone.

The expansive document ranges from making life more affordable and supporting the middle class to Canada’s leadership in the world, and everything in between.

Here we will highlight the items we consider to be of immediate but not the only concerns of our community.

A significant measure proposed in the budget is the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI), which aims to empower Black-led and Black-serving community organizations to promote inclusiveness. The government plans to invest $25 million in funding for the SBCCI in 2024-25.

There are also provisions to support a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive public service. The government will invest $45.9 million over three years, starting in 2023-2024, to create a Mental Health Fund for Black public servants and establish dedicated career development programs. The funds will help prepare Black public service leaders for executive positions and ensure that they can work in a safe and healthy environment that is equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

$83.9 million is allocated over five years, starting in 2023-24, to address wrongful convictions and ensure that the criminal justice system is fair and equitable. $18.7 million will be provided to Justice Canada for the independent Miscarriage of Justice Review Commission.

Freeland also plans 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 that empowers employees who have suffered harassment and discrimination and drives cultural change in the public service. The funding will also support a review of the processes for addressing current and historical complaints of harassment, violence, and discrimination.

The government estimates that there are at least 11 million Canadians and families who are having trouble meeting their grocery bill in the face of rampant inflation. To help alleviate the pressures on their food budget, the GST rebate will receive a one-time increase of $467.00 for eligible couples with children, an extra $234 for single Canadians without children, and $225 for seniors who qualify. The government also takes action to crack down on hidden junk fees and predatory lending.

$198.3 billion will be spent to reduce backlogs, expand access to family health services, and ensure provinces and territories can provide the high quality and timely health care Canadians expect and deserve. While a new Canadian Dental Care Plan will be introduced to benefit up to nine million Canadians and ensure that no Canadian has to choose between taking care of their health and paying the bills at the end of the month.

According to Freedland, while acknowledging current challenges, “I have never been more optimistic about the future of our country than I am today. At a challenging time in a challenging world, there is no better place to be than Canada.”

The complete budget document may be access on the Government of Canada website at https://www.budget.canada.ca/2023/report-rapport/toc-tdm-en.html