speech from the throne

Here's everything that went down at today's Speech from the Throne

The highly-anticipated Speech from the Throne took place in the Senate Chamber this afternoon, delivered by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette on behalf of the Liberal government.

Payette opened the second session of the 43rd Parliament of Canada by laying out the government's priorities going forward.

"Less than a year ago, we gathered here for a throne speech to open the forty-third parliament," she said. "Since then, our realities have changed and so must our approach."

Here are the major topics that Payette addressed.

Protecting Canadians against COVID-19

Payette said that the federal government will help provinces ramp up COVID-19 testing to slow the spread of the virus.

"Canadians should not be waiting in line for hours to get a test," she said, alluding to the unbelievably long line-ups outside of some hospitals right now.

The government will create a Testing Assistance Response Team that will assist with surge testing, particularly in rural or remote communities.

Payette added that the federal government hopes all provinces will join the COVID-19 alert app (looking at you, Quebec).

In terms of a vaccine, Payette said that the government task force is looking at "the full range of options" and will continue to do so.

Financial support for Canadians

The government will launch a campaign to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to previous levels.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be extended until next summer, and the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy will also be scaled up to provide more paid work opportunities for young Canadians.

As previously announced, CERB recipients will be transitioned to a modernized EI system.

Payette announced that the government will also create an action plan to help women in the economy.

"Women — and in particular low-income women — have been hit hardest by COVID-19," she said. "We must not let the legacy of this pandemic be one of rolling back the clock on women's participation in the workplace."

The government will also create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.

Supporting Canadian businesses

The government will expand the Canada Emergency Business Account, in addition to improving the Business Credit Availability Program.

The government pledges to "bridge vulnerable businesses" to the other side of the pandemic, particularly those in the tourism, travel, and performing arts industries.

"There are two distinct needs," Payette said. "The first is to help Canadians in the short term. To do whatever it takes — using whatever fiscal firepower is needed — to support people and businesses during the pandemic."

The second, Payette added, is to "build back better."

Long-term, the government will work to strengthen the middle classes, and to "tax extreme wealth."

That includes limiting the stock option deduction for wealthy individuals at large, established corporations, and addressing corporate tax avoidance by digital giants.

Closing gaps in social systems

The government will create a Disability Inclusion Plan, which will include a new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors.

The government will also invest in public transit, rural broadband, and affordable housing (particularly for Indigenous communities).

In an ambitious move, the Liberal government will focus on entirely eliminating chronic homelessness in Canada, building on their 2017 pledge to reduce it.

The government has also promised to modernize their outdated IT systems (their words) and "work to introduce free, automatic tax filing for simple returns to ensure citizens receive the benefits they need."

Fighting climate change

The government promises to exceed its 2030 climate change target, as well as to legislate Canada's goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

In order to do so, the government will invest in clean technology and zero-emissions vehicles, ban single-use plastics in 2021 (see you, plastic straws), and plant two billion trees.

"The government will ensure Canada is the most competitive jurisdiction in the world for clean technology companies," Payette said.

Creating an inclusive Canada

Payette announced that the government will continue to work toward an inclusive, welcoming country.

"Canada must continue to stand up for the values that define this country, whether that's welcoming newcomers, celebrating with pride the contributions of LGBTQ2 communities, or embracing two official languages," she said.

That also includes working toward reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians and tackling systemic racism.

The government will move forward on RCMP oversight, shifting to more community-led policing.

The Speech from the Throne isn't the only significant address that the Liberal government will make today.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will deliver a rare address to the nation at 6:30 p.m. EDT from his West Block office, where he's expected to address the growing COVID-19 outbreak in many parts of Canada.

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