Prepare for a big increase in federal spending, and a brighter future for First Nations children in 2022

Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland makes her way to the West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press.

To close out the year, we’ve asked our contributors and staff to make a prediction about 2022. You would think, at least since the early days of 2020, that we’d have learned our lesson about making predictions, but we couldn’t resist. Feel free to save these if you want to embarrass us with them later.

By Sean Speer

Five bold predictions for the year to come:

1. In 2022, the Chinese Communist Party will continue its descent into technology-enabled totalitarianism in a way that starts to show serious cracks in the Chinese model. While China will continue to be a formidable economic and geopolitical player, we may eventually look back at the year as the one in which President Xi’s authoritarian ambitions became a burden on the country’s capacity to innovate at a scale needed to overtake the United States.

2. Those who have defended Ottawa’s deficit spending as reasonable and affordable since the 2015 election will start to feel much less comfortable following further increases in federal program spending in the 2022 budget. Large, permanent increases separate and apart from the pandemic response or short-term recovery will make it manifestly clear that the government doesn’t really believe in any fiscal constraints after all. It seems rather fitting that 2022 will mark the fifthieth annivesary of Pierre Trudeau’s minority government which in its own time also set in motion a massive spike in federal spending that took decades to recover from.

3. An ongoing series of high-profile “cancellations” of centre-right thinkers and scholars on Canadian university campuses will precipitate growing questions about the public funding model for post-secondary education and what steps that governments can take (including, for instance, drawing on the UK government’s Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill) to insist upon (and even legislate) more viewpoint diversity on campus.

4. The rise of remote work, including households leaving major cities for more affordable housing in smaller towns and rural communities, will persist in 2022. This will lead to growing momentum to convert underutilized commercial buildings in cities into residential housing supply.

5. The so-called “great stagnation” will officially come to an end with further developments in a number of areas of technology, including nuclear fission, self-driving cars, carbon capture, utilization, and storage, and biomedicine. A new era of “techno-optimism” will slowly yet importantly contribute to greater public optimism and less political polarization.

Sean Speer is The Hub’s editor-at-large.

Canada will find a new path forward for First Nations children

By Karen Restoule

It was a tough year, for so many reasons. But perhaps the toughest moment for Canada as a whole, was facing itself as First Nations across the country undertook the work to uncover the remains of their little ones who died at residential schools.

Polls showed a shifting public opinion, with a marked increase in demand for greater accountability and action from governments to tangibly advance reconciliation. In the final weeks of the calendar year, the federal government announced their intentions to settle a multi-year legal battle to bring justice to First Nations children impacted by the historic and current underfunding of child and family services on-reserve and to bring about structural remedy to the First Nations child welfare system.

This move tees up 2022 to be a key year for transformative change with the settlement set to include a financial commitment for system reforms that would focus on ensuring that First Nations children grow up surrounded by the love and care of their families and communities. The truths that surfaced throughout 2021 appear not only to have shaken the Canadian consciousness, but to have created an imperative for Canada to take action in 2022 to put an end to the injustice and to ensure a new path forward for the next generations of First Nations children—one that provides them with the same opportunities as Canadian children to make their place in their families, in their communities, in this country. 

Karen Restoule is the Alternate Executive Chair and Associate Chair at Tribunals Ontario and the co-founder of BOLD Realities.

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