Ottawa: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority government survived a vote of confidence on the budget in parliament on Monday, avoiding the prospect of early elections in the spring.
With 178 votes for and 159 against, the House of Commons approved the three-year, Can$101.4 billion (DH300 billion) post-pandemic stimulus budget announced last week.
Trudeau’s Liberal government was backed by the New Democratic Party (NDP), the fourth-ranked party in the House which had announced it hoped to avoid an election in the midst of a pandemic.
The budget for fiscal year 2021-2022, which started April 1, must still be approved by the Senate, parliament’s upper chamber, a formality expected later this week.
The opposition Conservatives could still try to topple the government in the vote on another law to implement the budget, expected a few weeks before the summer recess.
After that deadline and once the threat of COVID-19 fades, Trudeau – largely ahead in the polls – could be tempted in the fall to call early elections in hopes of regaining the parliamentary majority he lost in October 2019.
The main budgetary measure is a Can$30 billion investment over five years to establish a network of high-quality, low-cost public child care services to encourage women’s participation in the workforce.
An additional Can$17.6 billion will be used to accelerate a transition to greener policies, by providing tax assistance to companies to reduce their carbon footprint or by supporting public transit projects in several major Canadian cities.
Conservatives voted against the budget, as did the independent Bloc Quebecois and the Greens.
After hitting a record high in 2020, the budget deficit for the current year is expected to be reduced to Can$154.7 billion, 6.4 per cent of GDP.