On March 28, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland released the federal government’s 2023-24 Spring Budget, A Made-in-Canada Plan: Strong Middle Class, Affordable Economy, Healthy Future.
The COA summarized highlights from the federal budget that aligns with the COA’s 2021 Federal Election Guide.
Strengthening Retirement Savings
- Providing $75.9 billion in support to over seven million seniors through critical programs like the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Old Age Security (OAS). Importantly these benefits will continue to be adjusted to keep up with the cost of inflation. As a result, there is an expected increase of $20B per year in spending on these essential programs through to 2027-28.
- In January, seniors received a maximum of $687.56 through OAS, with $756.32 delivered to those 75 and over. A single senior in receipt of the GIS received a maximum of an additional $1,026.96.
- Providing up to $50 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, to Employment and Social Development Canada to develop and test innovative solutions to strengthen the retirement savings of personal support workers without workplace retirement security coverage.
Introducing a New Grocery Rebate
- Introducing a new grocery rebate to help with the higher costs of grocery bills, which will give eligible seniors an additional $225 on average.
Investing in Better Health Care Data
- Providing $505 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada Health Infoway, and other federal data partners to work with provinces and territories to develop new health data indicators, support the creation of a Centre of Excellence on health worker data, advance digital health tools and an interoperability roadmap, and support provincial and territorial efforts to use data to improve the safety and quality of health care.
Encouraging More Doctors and Nurses to Practice in Rural and Remote Communities
- Providing $45.9 million over four years, starting in 2024-25, with $11.7 million ongoing, to Employment and Social Development Canada to expand the reach of the Canada Student Loan Forgiveness program to more rural communities, including all communities with populations of 30,000 or fewer.
Expanded Canadian Dental Care Plan
- $13.0 billion over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $4.4 billion ongoing to Health Canada to implement the Canadian Dental Care Plan. The plan would begin providing coverage by the end of 2023 and will be administered by Health Canada, with support from a third-party benefits administrator. Details on eligible coverage will be released later this year.
- $250 million over three years, starting in 2025-26, and $75 million ongoing to Health Canada to establish an Oral Health Access Fund to invest in targeted measures to address oral health gaps among vulnerable populations and reduce barriers to accessing care, including in rural and remote communities.
- $23.1 million over two years, starting in 2023-24, to Statistics Canada to collect data on oral health and access to dental care in Canada.
Improving Canada’s Readiness for Health Emergencies
- Exploring new ways to be more efficient and effective in the development and production of the vaccines, therapies, and diagnostic tools that would be required for future health emergencies.
Missing Long-Term Care Funding
- Details of LTC funding and the national standards were not released in this budget, presumably because provinces and territories are still working through bilateral negotiations with the federal government.
Topping up the Canada Health Transfer (CHT)
- The Canada Health Transfer grows in line with gross domestic product (GDP) and will increase by 9.3% in 2023-24. Including the previously announced immediate and unconditional $2 billion top-up to address immediate pressures on the health care systems, for 2023-24, the CHT totals $49.4 billion.
Building More Affordable Housing
- Budget 2023 intends to support the reallocation of funding from the National Housing Co-Investment Fund’s repair stream to its new construction stream, as needed, to boost the construction of new affordable homes for the Canadians who need them most- which may include seniors.
Investing in an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy
- $4 billion, over seven years, starting in 2024-25, to implement a co-developed Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy.