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Liberals to explain how they will foot the bill for new spending in Tuesday's budget

OTTAWA — The 2024 federal budget is designed to "meet the moment" facing young Canadians and the economy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a room of Canadian business leaders in Ottawa Monday afternoon.

But it also comes as the Liberals are still looking for the magic formula to get back into the good graces of voters.

The budget, which Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will present Tuesday afternoon, contains billions in already promised investments in housing, artificial intelligence and defence, Trudeau touted.

He did not provide any insight into how those will be funded.

Much of the budget is aimed at giving hope to younger Canadians who have come of age during a tumultuous economic era, Trudeau said, and "now feel like middle-class stability is out of reach."

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"We need to meet this moment because that can't be allowed to happen," he told the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

"Our country cannot succeed unless young people succeed — and more, our country cannot succeed unless young people can imagine themselves succeeding. And they just don't feel that right now."

The Liberals have spent the last two weeks announcing various measures that will be included in the budget document.

A new Leger poll suggests Canadians like what they saw.

The poll, which took the temperature of 1,525 adults online between Friday and Sunday, says 73 per cent of respondents support the $6-billion housing infrastructure fund, 71 per cent back the new $1-billion national school food program and 67 per cent like the $15-billion apartment construction loan program.

Sixty per cent also support $8 billion in new defence spending over the next five years, the survey found.

The poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls aren't considered statistically balanced samples, though the results were weighted for statistical accuracy.

Despite the support for those items, Canadians remain a cranky bunch about the economy, with only one-third saying they believe the Liberals are making positive strides toward improving housing affordability or growing the economy.

A similar proportion say they think the Liberals are pursuing policies that focus on helping middle-class families.

Both Trudeau and Freeland have sidestepped questions about how the government will fund their promised policies, only confirming there will be no tax increases on the "middle class."

They left room, however, to hike taxes on corporations or wealthy Canadians.

The poll suggests that while hikes to the GST or personal income taxes in general would be extremely unpopular, there are a lot of people who want to see new taxes on the rich.

Almost 80 per cent of those polled support a new tax on personal wealth over $10 million, 75 per cent support a new tax on "very large" company profits and 62 per cent support an increase in corporate or business taxes.

Freeland spent part of Monday partaking in the long-standing tradition of buying new shoes for the budget, this time donning a pair of sensible black pumps with a modest heel from Canadian shoemaker Maguire.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2024.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press