On September 23, Governor General Julie Payette delivered the Speech from the Throne, which was written by the government to set out its priorities for the upcoming session. In the speech, the government laid out four priority areas: fighting the pandemic, helping Canadians through the pandemic, building a better, more resilient Canada, and standing up for Canadians and their values.
Most important to AED members was the announcement that the government would be launching a campaign to create more than a million jobs. They plan to accomplish this through investments in infrastructure and training. The investments in infrastructure include public transit, clean energy, rural broadband and affordable housing. The training investments include supporting Canadians as they build new skills in growing sectors, helping workers receive education and accreditation, and connecting workers with employers and available jobs.
The speech also announced the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) into next summer. This was a welcome announcement for many business groups currently witnessing the rise of the second wave of COVID-19, which could bring about economic lockdowns like those seen earlier in the pandemic.
The speech in its entirety consisted of more than 7,000 words and laid out dozens of different priorities, including things like universal pharmacare and a national childcare program. Since the government is currently in a minority setting and needs to rely on at least one other political party to pass legislation, it is unlikely that they will fulfill many of these priorities. Furthermore, while they can likely get the speech passed through the House of Commons easily if they table a financial piece of legislation such as a budget sometime in the fall, they will likely need to cooperate more with opposition parties.
Erin O’Toole from the Conservatives, Yves-François Blanchet from the Bloc Québécois and Jagmeet Singh from the New Democratic Party (NDP) are continuing to push the government in the direction of their choosing. While the Liberals have found a willing partner in the NDP, this legislative relationship will likely last only as long as it is convenient for both parties. The upcoming months will show which of the speech’s priorities the Liberals will be able to focus on.
Since minority governments, on average, last two years, a federal election might be on the horizon.