THUNDER BAY – Reaction from the Liberal Speech from the Throne is coming in. While the real reaction will be in the House of Commons, where the Liberal minority government will need the support of other parties, the reaction from groups across Canada will likely help forge the decisions by some of the politicians.
CARP says “We’re Appreciative”
Seniors who have been the group most at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic have often felt left out over the past months. However CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons), on behalf of its over 320,000 members across Canada, commends the Government for including seniors in Gov. Gen. Julie Payette’s Speech from the Throne. Given the devastating toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on older people across the country, it’s critical that solutions to support seniors be at the forefront of planning Canada’s economic recovery.
In particular, CARP was appreciative of the government’s commitment to help people age safely at home and to establish national standards for long-term care in collaboration with provincial / territorial governments. Better support for front line care workers, and acknowledgement of their essential service in caring for vulnerable seniors, was also mentioned—a step CARP has been advocating for in the wake of the recent deaths in care homes. The speech also promised an accelerated plan to national universal pharmacare. However, details around all issues including the promised increases to OAS and the CPP Survivor’s Benefit were frustratingly vague and repeated the message we’ve been receiving for months.
“The impact of COVID-19 on our older population has been immeasurable,” says Bill VanGorder, CARP’s Chief Policy Officer. “Seniors in every corner of our society are at significant risk in many ways—poor mental health from social isolation, financial insecurity and the obvious threats to their health are at the top of the list of urgent issues the government needs to act on now as we plan our path forward as a nation. We’re relieved to see some of these concerns reflected in today’s speech.”
Accountants Say Throne Speech Encouraging
The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) applauds the staged approach to recovery signaled by the federal government in today’s Throne Speech.
“It is essential that the urgent needs of all Canadians and the business community be addressed as collectively we adjust to new realities during an anxious and unpredictable time,” says Charles-Antoine St-Jean, president and CEO, CPA Canada. The Employment Insurance program and a promised Canada-wide early learning and childcare system are among the areas being targeted by the federal government.
“Proposed changes to Employment Insurance are encouraging as they aim to better align the program with the changing nature of work,” says St-Jean adding that: “Addressing childcare is also welcomed as a goal to support more women returning to work as part of the economic recovery.”
Unifor welcomes the economic and social pandemic support policies outlined by the federal government in today’s Throne Speech.
“As Canadians continue to live with the consequences of COVID-19, the federal government has outlined measures that will help workers and their families to endure the immediate crisis and also fix systemic issues to help the country #BuildBackBetter from the pandemic,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
“Unifor has long advocated for many of these priorities including a commitment to job creation, increased training for workers, new infrastructure spending, and an overhaul of Employment Insurance to close gaps in the existing income security system.”
Student’s Give Plan a Failing Grade
The Canadian Federation of Students is not impressed. They say, “Today’s speech promised ambitious job creation strategies, which will include scaling up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, and helping workers receive education and accreditation. The speech made no mention of investments into post-secondary education or increased support for students – both of which are crucial for this vision.
The student group says that after a summer of precarious working conditions, a lack of financial support for international students and recent graduates, and the cancelled Canada Student Service Grant, students hoped that this new parliamentary session would include increased support for post-secondary education. “Throughout the pandemic, the Federal Government has failed to adequately support students. International students and recent graduates were excluded from support plans, and those that were eligible didn’t receive enough” said Nicole Brayiannis, Canadian Federation of Students Deputy Chairperson. Instead of bridging these gaps, today’s Throne Speech emphasized a focus on job training and creation. Brayiannis added, “Students want to remind the Trudeau Government that investing in post-secondary education and supporting students who are already receiving training is essential to the goals that were identified today.”
Since March, students have been calling on the Federal Government to provide adequate financial support to ensure they can afford to continue their education amidst the current crisis. “The Trudeau Government needs to stop and listen to what students are asking for,” said Sofia Descalzi, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Students want the same support as everyone else to help them through this pandemic. Instead, they’ve been met with patchwork programs.”
Dairy Farmers are Pleased
Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) welcomes the renewed commitment in today’s Speech from the Throne on compensation for dairy farmers for the import access concessions made under the last three trade agreements.
“The Speech from the Throne sent a message to dairy farmers that the government’s commitment to compensate them for the losses they incurred from Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and more recently the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) is still part of its deliverables,” said Pierre Lampron, President, Dairy Farmers of Canada. “When every year, you lose $450 million in domestic production being transferred to foreign dairy farmers, words aren’t enough – only when we see details will we know if a promise made is a promise kept.”
By 2024, 18% of our domestic dairy production will be outsourced to foreign dairy farmers, who will supply the milk for imported dairy products that will find their way onto Canadian supermarket shelves.
“By supporting its dairy farming families, the federal government would send a clear signal that they have heard Canadians when it comes to the issue of food security and sovereignty,” added Mr. Lampron.
Economic Problems seen by Montreal Economic Institute
According to a Montreal Economic Institute analyst, the measures announced today by the federal government in its throne speech will not pave the way for a solid economic recovery after months of severe, generalized lockdown of the Canadian economy.
On the contrary, while the deficit projected for this year in the recent economic update is already unprecedented, the government is announcing a whole series of new costly programs that could cause it to balloon to even more staggering proportions.
“Unfortunately, far from signalling a return to normal, this throne speech instead confirms that the explosion of public spending will continue,” says Miguel Ouellette, Economist at the MEI. “Up until now, it could be argued that much of this spending was inevitable, but this is a deliberate choice. They are counting on a rapid global economic recovery, interest rates that will remain low indefinitely, and programs whose effectiveness at stimulating growth is questionable. From a financial point of view, it’s a leap into the unknown, without a parachute,” adds the economist.
Among other things, Ottawa is planning to spend additional sums on subsidies to so-called green technology companies, as well as on the extension of programs for the unemployed.
“The government has to come to the aide of the private sector without discriminating between different sectors of activity,” says Mr. Ouellette. “Rather than spending public funds for people to stay at home, companies have to be encouraged to rehire their employees.”
“As for subsidies for green technologies, the experience of Ontario and of numerous other countries and regions around the world shows just how costly and risky these investments can be, for little return,” says the economist. He points out that subsidies distort the energy market, raise prices for consumers, and generally do not create as many jobs as expected, and that their effects on the economy too often end up being negative.
“Especially worrisome is the fact that the government is giving no concrete sign of any intention to return to budgetary balance,” says Miguel Ouellette. “The country already lived through this in the 1970s, and it took two decades to get public finances back under control. The fundamental laws of economics have not changed since then,” concludes the researcher.
As it does each year, the MEI will update its Quebec Debt Clock once the provincial budget is officially presented, and for the first time, we will also launch a federal debt clock this fall. We invite you to consult our website for the latest figures.
The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent public policy think tank. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policy-makers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship.
SOURCE Montreal Economic Institute