On September 23, 2020, the Honourable Governor General, Julie Payette delivered the Speech from the Throne. This fall, the government will release an update to Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. This will outline the government’s economic and fiscal position, provide fiscal projections, and set out new measures to implement this Throne Speech.
What is the Speech from the Throne?
Traditionally read by the Governor General of Canada on behalf of the Queen, The Speech from the Throne opens every new session of parliament. This speech outline's the government's broad direction, goals, and agendas for the coming session of parliament. After the speech, the new session of Parliament is officially open, and the first order of business for both the House of Commons and the Senate is to read and debate the contents of the speech.
The 4 foundations of the 2020 speech are:
- Protecting Canadians from COVID-19 (fight the pandemic and save lives)
- Helping Canadians Through the Pandemic (support people and businesses through the crisis as long as it lasts)
- Building Back Better (a resiliency agenda for the middle class)
- Stand Up for Who We Are (defending Canadian values and ensuring they are lived experiences for everyone)
- Launch a campaign to create 1 million jobs. Direct investment. Immediate training. Incentives for employers to hire.
- CEWS will be extended right through the next summer.
- CEBA will be expanded.
- The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will be improved.
- Special sectors such as travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts will be supported.
- The government will be addressing corporate tax avoidance by digital giants. “Web giants are taking Canadians’ money while imposing their own priorities.”
- The government will launch a new fund to attract investments in making zero-emissions products and cut the corporate tax rate in half for these companies to create jobs.
- The government will also identify additional ways to tax extreme wealth inequality, including by concluding work to limit the stock option deduction for wealthy individuals at large, established corporations.
- A “resiliency agenda” will be created for the middle class.
- The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive will be enhanced.
- OAS will be increased once individuals reach the age of 75. Higher CPP survivor benefits will also be available.
- Free, automatic tax filing for simple returns to be developed.
- The EI system will become the sole delivery mechanism for employment benefits, including for Canadians who did not qualify for EI before the pandemic. Also, it was noted that the EI system needs to be updated for the 21st century, including for the self-employed and those in the gig economy.
- A Disability Inclusion Plan will be introduced, which will have a new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors; a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities; and a better process to determine eligibility for government disability programs and benefits.
- Targeted measures for personal support workers, who do an essential service helping the most vulnerable in our communities will be provided.
- The government will continue developing a national universal pharmacare plan.
- There will be large capital investments in environmentally-friendly renovations, affordable housing, high-speed Internet accessibility, and transit.
- A commitment to eliminating chronic homelessness in Canada.
- The Carbon Tax will continue.
- Single use plastics will be banned in 2021.
- Environmental Protection Act will be updated.
- A new Canada Water Agency will be created.
- Increased civilian oversight on major components of the criminal system.
- The government will make a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.
As the Speech from the Throne outlines the government's broad priorities for the coming session of Parliament, details in respect of these initiatives were not provided. Our team will continue monitoring the news as the House and Senate review the Speech, and we will post updates in subsequent blogs as soon as they are available.