The Federal Liberal government’s speech from the throne is a plan to support Canadians through the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure we can build back stronger and better, together.
This pandemic is the most serious public health crisis Canada has ever faced. The last six months have revealed fundamental gaps in our society, and in societies around the world. For those who are already struggling – including parents, racialized Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, young Canadians, seniors – the pandemic has made it more difficult.
“We must address these challenges of today, and prepare to face them in the future,” said Salma Zahid, Member of Parliament for Scarborough Centre. “With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we will take bold action on health, the economy, equality, and the environment to build a more resilient Canada for everyone. This is the time to remember who we are as Canadians.”
The first foundation of the Liberal plan is to is to fight the pandemic and save lives by doing everything we can to protect Canadian, especially the most vulnerable. The government is ensuring Canadians will have access to a vaccine once its ready and is ensuring a domestic supply chain for personal protective equipment.
The second foundation is supporting Canadians facing income loss. The government is expanding employment insurance (EI) eligibility and benefits and creating a new Canada Recovery Benefit of up to $500/week for those not eligible for EI and still in need of support. Paid sick leave will ensure workers who are sick and must self-isolate due to COVID-19 can stay home, and a Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit to support Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family members. And for businesses, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy has been extended to next summer.
“This is not the time for austerity. Ensuring Canadians are supported through this health crisis is the best thing we can do for the economy,” said Zahid. “Canadians should not have to choose between their health and their job.”
We must also recognize that women, particularly low-income women, have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Zahid said the legacy of COVID-19 cannot be rolling back the clock on women's participation in the workforce.
That’s why the government will create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy, guided by diverse voices to help more women get back into the workforce and ensure a feminist intersectional response to the pandemic and recovery, accelerate the Women's Entrepreneurship Strategy, which helps women across Canada grow their businesses, and give parents access to affordable, inclusive and high quality child care by creating a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.
Looking ahead to the recovery, the third foundation is to build back an even better, more resilient, more progressive Canada by addressing gaps in our social systems, investing in health care and building a stronger workforce while fighting climate change.
“We owe it to our seniors to ensure they receive safe, quality care. That's why we will work with the provinces & territories to set new national standards for long-term care homes,” said Zahid. ”And we'll amend the criminal code to penalize those who neglect seniors under their care.”
The government will also bring forward a new disability inclusion plan, build stronger communities by investing in infrastructure, and working with the provinces and territories to accelerate steps to a national pharmacare system.
“Every Canadian should be able to access the prescription medication they need for their health,” said Zahid.
Finally, the fourth foundation plan is to stand up for who we are as Canadians and defend our values. This includes working for reconciliation with Indigenous communities, addressing systemic racism, and building a more welcoming Canada.
“Here in Canada, we take care of one another,” said Zahid. “Together, there is more work to do to achieve progress on gender equality, walk the road to reconciliation, and addressing systemic racism.”