September 2020
2020 Federal Speech From the Throne

2020-09-24 11:30:01 AM


On September 23, 2020, the House of Commons returned for a new session after prorogation and began with a Speech from the Throne which is the 150th since Confederation according to CBC News

2020 Federal Throne Speech

The throne speech focused on four pillars. Some of the announced agenda items and goals could have implications for the municipal sector. As is expected from such a speech, it is more aspirational and light on specifics. 

While there were no specific commitments to municipalities, there are several items of interest to the municipal sector.

Initiatives with Potential Municipal Implications: 

  • Investments to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system. 
  • Introduce further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality and cultural industries. 
  • Implement firearms policy commitments, including: 
    • Giving municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns
    • Strengthening measures to control the flow of illegal guns into Canada
  • Investments in infrastructure, including:
    • Public transit
    • Energy efficient retrofits
    • Clean energy
    • Rural broadband
    • Affordable housing over two years 
  • Intentions to bring forward a plan to exceed Canada's 2030 climate goal (i.e. 30% below 2005 levels by 2030) and legislate a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Investments in reducing the impact of climate-related disasters, like floods and wildfires for community resiliency. 
  • Help to deliver more transit and active transit options.
  • Ban of single-use plastics in 2021 and ensuring more plastic is recycled.  

Other Details:

1. "Fight the pandemic and save lives" 
  • Continue to procure PPE, moving vaccine strategy forward and increasing testing capacity
  • Reiterated funds provided via Provinces in the Safe Restart Agreement and Safe Return to Class Fund.
  • Establish national standards for Long-Term Care.

2. "Support people and businesses" 

3. "Building back better for stronger and resilient Canada" 
  • Reiterated commitment to a national, universal pharmacare program.
  • Indicated bringing forward a Disability Inclusion Plan, which will have: 
    • New Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors
    • Employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities 
    • Process to determine eligibility for Government disability programs and benefits

4. "Stand up for who we are as Canadians"
  • Implement the recommendations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2020. 
  • Protect Canada's two official languages. 
  • Tackle racism including: 
    • Taking action on online hate
    • 'Going further' by empowering specific communities and increasing diversity on procurement
    • Building a whole-of-federal-government approach for collection of disaggregated data
  • Reduce discrimination in the criminal justice system: 
    • Addressing the systemic inequities in all phases of the criminal justice system, from diversion to sentencing, from rehabilitation to records
    • Enhancing civilian oversight of law enforcement agencies, including the RCMP
    • Modernizing training for police and law enforcement
    • Moving forward on RCMP reforms, with a shift toward community-led policing

Background on Speech from the Throne 

For those who may not know what a Throne Speech is, it is a speech read by the monarch, or in Canada's case, the monarch's representative in Canada. At the federal level, this is the Governor General (Julie Payette). The Speech opens every new session of Parliament and introduces the government's agenda for that session, outlining how it will work to accomplish each agenda item. 

Typically, a new session of Parliament begins after an election, however, a new session can also be commenced after proprogation. This past summer, the Prime Minister asked the Governor General to prorogue, or suspend parliament, which was granted. The Speech is read in the Senate Chamber and then debated and put to a vote in the House of Commons.

The Throne Speech vote is a confidence measure, which is particularly critical in a minority parliament such as the one in the House now. It means that if the Speech does not pass a vote, the Governing party will have lost the confidence of the House of Commons. The House of Commons Twitter account has a video on the opening of parliament. Samara Canada has an explanatory video on the pomp and circumstance of the Speech.



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