The Federal Budget: What Pre-Budget Planning Can Telegraph

Published on
April 16, 2024
Written by
Mac Grenier
Read time
6 min

Mac Grenier

Director, Knowledge Services

The anticipation surrounding the federal budget is palpable—it's not just a compilation of figures and policies,but a narrative that shapes our nation's trajectory for the coming year. It is a time that can overwhelm even the most seasoned government affairs professionals making preparedness is not merely advantageous; it is imperative.  

At Delphic Research, we recognize the significance of being well-prepared. We immerse ourselves in our clients' interests, dissecting news, government communications, and pre-budget submissions to calibrate our expectations meticulously. This proactive approach is essential, given the deluge of information that accompanies the budget announcement.  

A central focus lies in ensuring the budget aligns with the government's commitments under its confidence-and-supply agreement with the NDP (New Democratic Party). Confidence-and supply agreements are arrangements in which opposition parties, or even individual members, agree to support the government on matters of confidence and on appropriations measures, critical to a minority government’s survival. This agreement, extending until June 2025,encompasses pledges on national pharma care, dental care, increased provincial investments on key priorities, and a Safer Long Term Care Act.

In addition to monitoring developments outlined in the agreement, we scrutinize stakeholder communications and government signals, including leaks to the media. Insights gleaned from the Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) pre-budget submissions provide valuable foresight into healthcare priorities, including First Nations healthcare, mental health services, and a national pharmacare plan.  

“With regard to health care, the Committee received suggestions to improve healthcare services available to First Nations that respect their autonomy. Some witnesses also discussed the care economy and funding for the care sector, as well as recruiting and retaining health care professionals trained abroad.Lastly, other witnesses discussed needs for mental health and dental services,crisis prevention and intervention services, health care innovation, and issues involving cannabis regulation and a national pharma care plan.”

Parallel to parliamentary consultations, the Department of Finance engages Canadians in its own pre-budget process, underscoring a comprehensive approach to policymaking.

While the influence of these consultations on the final budget remains uncertain, clarity on the national pharmacare program and financial commitments is expected. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has already stated that additional details regarding the Liberal led and NDP supported program would be laid out in the budget.

Prime Minister Trudeau's controversial pre-budget tour has also offered glimpses into forthcoming initiatives, such as a National School Lunch program, stronger positioning for Canada’s artificial intelligence space, and new investments in housing developments.

Investments in mental health and addiction support are anticipated, given their intersection with affordability challenges and the persistent opioid crisis. It would not be surprising to see budget lines associated with making life more affordable also being tied to mental health outcomes, as Canadians often cite their pocketbook as a cause of stress. Budget 2023 addressed the opioid crisis, and we expect continued efforts in this space as apparent opioid toxicity deaths have risen 8% year over year on the latest data available from Health Infobase Canada.

We also heard from Federal Health Minister Mark Holland regarding increased efforts to improve the strained healthcare system. This may result in increased funding towards bolstering healthcare professionals or improving access to professionals in places where they already are. Either would go a long way in delivering on the agreement set in the Liberal-NDP Supply and Confidence agreement.

Finance Minister Freeland has pledged to cap this year's deficit at $40.1 billion,signaling a balancing act between funding innovative programs and fiscal responsibility, one that many economists say may not be possible.

As the details of the budget break, it is no doubt that those with relevant stakes in the issues at hand will voice their opinions. Many have expressed what they wished to see outlined in pre-budget submissions and so their support for or disapproval of budget measures can be matched to their earlier demands.

Regardless of the budget's contents, readiness is paramount, and with Delphic Research,you can trust in our preparedness for whatever Budget 2024 brings.

Mac Grenier

Director, Knowledge Services

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