The budget was unusually presented in December 2001, federal budgets are normally released in February or March. However the election in November 2000 had been preceded by a detailed "budget update".
The budget was the second last presented by Paul Martin as Minister of Finance. It was marked by the poor Canadian economy of the year before that saw very slow growth. In order to keep the budget balanced, Martin proposed only limited new spending. The largest outlay was $7.7 billion over five years to improve security. This was partially paid for by a new levy on airline tickets and $3 billion in spending cuts. The budget was criticized by the opposition Bloc Québécois and New Democratic Party, and by provincial governments for its lack of spending, especially on health care. It was criticized by the Canadian Alliance party for not cutting taxes.