Government officials and many economists have brushed off criticism that Canada’s programs were too expensive, saying Trudeau’s top ministers didn’t have the luxury of precision last year.
All told, the bottom 20 per cent of earners got just 14 per cent of the C$95.2 billion in direct government transfers related to Covid-19 last year, data from the statistical agency show. The numbers may fuel concerns that Canada’s pandemic support — among the world’s most generous, and financed with hundreds of billions in new debt — was indiscriminate as officials funneled cash to dozens of different groups, and ended up being hoarded in bank accounts.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office declined to comment on the data.
The data provided by Statistics Canada are part experimental estimates of income, consumption, saving and wealth and their sub-components by various household distributions for 2020. The transfers include the bulk of Covid-19 related programs, including CERB, which was given to nearly 9 million people.
Canada’s employment insurance program is not counted in the spending tally, and many CERB recipients phased into that program in the fourth quarter of 2020, the agency said.
“Relief ought to be mirroring the trends that you see in the labor force data” Robson said. “That’s not at all what we see.”