Apr. 19, 2021: Federal Budget 2021

April 19, 2021

Federal Government Releases 2021 Budget

This afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, released Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth and Resilience. The document focuses on finishing the fight against COVID-19, ensuring a strong economic recovery that includes all Canadians, and $101.4 billion in new spending.  To achieve the objectives set out in the budget, the federal deficit is projected to sit at $354.2 billion for the past fiscal year before dropping to $154.7 billion in the current 2021-22 fiscal year.

Key elements of interest to Ontario’s construction industry include:

Focus on Skilled Trades

Creating New Opportunities for Skilled Tradespeople

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $470 million over three years, beginning in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new Apprenticeship Service. The Apprenticeship Service would help 55,000 first-year apprentices in construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades connect with opportunities at small and medium-sized employers.

Employers would be eligible to receive up to $5,000 for all first-year apprenticeship opportunities to pay for upfront costs such as salaries and training.

In addition, to boost diversity in the construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades, this incentive will be doubled to $10,000 for employers who hire those underrepresented, including women, racialized Canadians, and persons with disabilities.

Helping Employers Train and Recruit Workers

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $960 million over three years, beginning in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada for a new Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program. This investment will help connect up to 90,000 Canadians with the training they need to access good jobs in sectors where employers are looking for skilled workers. This includes sectors like construction.

Ensuring Communities Recover Through Skills Training and Workforce Planning

For the recovery to succeed, communities must be at the heart of determining their economic futures by diversifying their economies and improving resilience.

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $55 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada for a Community Workforce Development Program. The program will support communities to develop local plans that identify high potential growth organizations and connect these employers with training providers to develop and deliver training and work placements to upskill and reskill jobseekers to fill jobs in demand.

Funding would be delivered through calls for proposals under two streams: A national stream focused on priority areas, like de-carbonization and supporting a just transition for workers in transforming sectors like energy, which would dedicate 75 per cent of funding to projects that support underrepresented groups; and a regional stream delivered by Service Canada regional offices, in partnership with regional development agencies, and focused on regional priorities.

This initiative will benefit approximately 25,000 workers, 250 businesses, and 25 communities, by accelerating job creation and the re-employment and deployment of workers to growth areas to meet employers’ needs.

Investing in Early Learning and Child Care

TD Economics has pointed to a range of studies that have shown that for every dollar spent on early childhood education, the broader economy receives between $1.50 and $2.80 in return.

To support this vision, Budget 2021 proposes new investments totaling up to $30 billion over the next 5 years, and $8.3 billion ongoing for Early Learning and Child Care and Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care.

Revitalization and Investment in Infrastructure

Budget 2021 lays out the government’s plan to revitalize Canada’s infrastructure, to invest in community priorities, and to build projects that contribute to a clean environment. Specifically, the budget allocated $22.6 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to Infrastructure Canada to conduct Canada’s first ever National Infrastructure Assessment. This assessment would help identify needs and priorities for Canada’s built environment.

Although few new infrastructure investments were announced in the budget, Budget 2021 highlighted the following initiatives:

  • $2.5 billion investment and $1.3 billion reallocation in existing funding to speed up the construction, repair, or support of 35,000 affordable housing units.
  • $491.2 million over six years, starting in 2021-22, to VIA Rail Canada for infrastructure investments that would support the overall success of the high frequency rail project between Toronto and Quebec City.
  • $6.0 billion over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $388.9 million ongoing, to support infrastructure in Indigenous communities.
  • $35 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to the National Capital Commission to support the acquisition and upkeep of federal assets, green infrastructure, and spaces in the National Capital Region.
  • $1.9 billion over four years, starting in 2021-22, to recapitalize the National Trade Corridors Fund
  • $1 billion over six years, starting in 2021-22, to the Universal Broadband Fund to support a more rapid rollout of broadband projects in collaboration with provinces and territories and other partners.
  • $4.4 billion on a cash basis to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to help homeowners complete home retrofits through interest-free loans worth up to $40,000. Loans would be available to homeowners and landlords who undertake retrofits identified through an authorized EnerGuide energy assessment.

Click here to view the full budget.



Katherine Jacobs
Director of Research

Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
P 416.620.5210 ext. 222
F 416.620.5310