Federal budget will help Montreal’s post-pandemic recovery, city says

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The City of Montreal is giving its seal of approval to the federal government’s 2021-2022 budget tabled Monday afternoon by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

In a news release, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said Freeland’s budget will help support the city’s “green and inclusive” recovery plans, with major investments in public transit, housing, economic development, as well as tourism and culture.

A spokeperson for the mayor pointed to $250-million investment over a three-year period in Montreal’s aerospace industry, a cornerstone of the city’s economy which has been hard hit by the pandemic.

The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM) agreed the budget will give the aerospace ecosystem a much-needed boost, that will benefit the overall economy.

“Investment in innovation in the aerospace industry, with the plane of the future … that has the most potential for all our economy, good jobs, a strong ecosystem and eventually lots of export,” said Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of CCMM. “So this is very, very key in that budget and it’s key for us.”

The city also welcomed the $443 million set aside for Montreal’s booming artificial intelligence sector.

And while several provisions were made to support small and medium businesses, which make up 80 per cent of the city’s economy, Plante said she would have liked to see more measures tailored specifically to the realities facing city centres as they attempt to recover from the health crisis.

That being said, Plante acknowledged that the $1 billion earmarked for the tourism industry, including hospitality and festivals, will help revive those sectors and by the same token the downtown core.

“These sectors are part of Montreal’s DNA and will be intimately linked to its relaunch, which is why we are delighted with the support the government is giving them,” Plante said.

Leblanc, however, was hoping for more measures that would carry businesses through to the end of the pandemic.

Support programs, such as the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, will only be extended until September.

“What we’re saying is that some sectors might need some additional assistance over the next months, perhaps until December, Leblanc said.