Ukraine conflict, climate action play major role in Canada’s 2022 budget

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In her second annual federal budget tabled as Canada’s finance minister, Chrystia Freeland has shifted her focus from helping Canadians and the economy weather the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to allocating funds to address what she characterised as two of the major challenges facing Canada and the world.

The budget she tabled on Thursday includes more than $6.4 billion in new funding over five years to better equip the Canadian Armed Forces; increase Canada’s contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD); and reinforce Canada’s cyber-security strategy to prevent and defend against attacks, including those against government agencies and critical infrastructure.

The budget also allocates further and significant assistance to Ukraine, Xinhua news agency reported.

Canada, which was the first Western country to recognise Ukraine’s independence in 1991, has committed about $953 million to support Ukraine and its people, and $1.3 billion in loan support for the Ukrainian government.

The Canadian government will also add to the $71.5 million in lethal and non-lethal aid provided to Ukraine with a further contribution of $391 million in military aid.

Freeland’s budget also provides money for what she described as the “existential challenge” surrounding climate action.

To reduce transportation-related emissions, the Canadian government has set aside nearly $1.4 billion over five years to encourage drivers to get behind the wheel of electric vehicles.

Canada’s Finance Department will “engage with experts” to create an investment tax credit of up to 30 per cent, focused on net-zero technologies, battery storage solutions and clean hydrogen.

The 2022 budget also includes up to $3 billion over eight years to implement Canada’s first Critical Minerals Strategy to “capitalise on the growing need for the minerals used in everything from phones to electric cars,” according to the budget document.

This initiative features a new 30 per cent exploration tax credit targeted at several minerals, such as nickel, lithium, cobalt and copper.

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