Trudeau Updates the Nation
CBJ — Wednesday was an extremely busy day in Ottawa for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his ministers, back-benchers, government employees and members of the opposition parties as a new session of government was opened.
Much of the government’s main priorities are now fixed firmly on how to keep financially supporting Canadians through COVID-19, while repairing the inequalities the pandemic has exposed.
Also on Wednesday afternoon Governor General Julie Payette presented the minority government’s speech from the throne in the Senate Chamber. Payette detailed a four-pronged approach to pandemic survival and recovery, emphasizing that Canada has to both address today’s challenges and think of the future by tackling climate change, systemic racism, and gender inequity.
It was somewhat of an awkward situation as Payette is being faced with allegations of misconduct by members of her support staff. An investigation into that is ongoing.
Since Parliament was halted, COVID-19 cases have jumped nationally from about 300 cases per day in mid-August to 1,250 now. However, it should be noted that while the number of cases have increased — so too have the number of tests.
The wage subsidy being provided to Canadian companies will be extended until next summer. Originally, the plan was to have it halted by December. The program sees the government pay 75% of an employee’s salary with the company picking up the remaining 25%.
It is still not a 100% certainty that the government will remain in power. The Liberals need the support of the NDP or the minority government will face a vote of non confidence and Canadians would be heading for a federal election sooner than later. To garner the NDP’s support, the Liberals will likely have to agree to several social program bills of interest to the NDP and also extend the CERB, rather than have people go onto unemployment insurance.
There are some political experts who believe Trudeau may actually quietly prefer having an election, assuming that the political and financial climate will only continue to worsen, making it that much more difficult for the Liberals to gain re-election down the road. If the opposition parties were to force an election during a global pandemic it would also quite likely anger a considerable portion of the electorate and it could backfire in Trudeau’s favour. In a time when social distancing is at play, more polling stations and more distancing would be needed and perhaps such procedures as mail-in ballots would come into play creating a huge amount of controversy, much like it is in the United States with their upcoming presidential election on November 3 between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
At 6:30pm ET, Trudeau addressed the nation from his West Block office where he reiterated the need for supporting Canadians financially and remaining vigilant in combating the virus as it appears the second wave of COVID-19 is either already here or will be coming soon.
Trudeau wants to get all the provinces and territories onboard for one equal national healthcare initiative and make it affordable for all Canadians. That unto itself is widely lauded as an excellent initiative, but there is one major flaw as of right now. Back in the 1960s the federal government and the provinces shared healthcare costs 50-50. But in 2020, the provinces are on the hook for paying 79% of healthcare costs with the feds kicking in 21%. For Trudeau’s plan to be taken seriously the provinces are going to want a 50-50 partner once again, or they won’t be in much of a mood to be dictated to by the federal government.
Trudeau continues to strongly advocate that all Canadians should wear masks in public, get the flu shot, and download the government’s COVID Alert app that notifies users when they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.