B.C. voters could be heading to the polls twice this fall. The possibility of a federal election looms if the Liberal Party’s throne speech does not receive enough support from opposition parties.
The Conservative and Bloc Quebecois party leaders said they would not support the throne speech, while NDP leader Jagmeet Singh did not commit his party’s support when questioned at a press conference afterwards.
“If the government wants our support it can do two things, not reduce support for people who cannot return to work and second, introduce paid sick leave,” Singh said yesterday.
The Liberals will not extend the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program further, instead opting to reform the EI system.
“The EI system will become the sole delivery mechanism for employment benefits, including for Canadians who did not qualify for EI before the pandemic,” said Governor General Julie Payette, who read the speech on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “This pandemic has shown that Canada needs an EI system for the 21st century, including for the self-employed and those in the gig economy.”
The federal government will extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program into summer 2021. It will also expand the Canada Emergency Business account to assist businesses with fixed costs and create a new Canadian Disability Benefit.
Singh refused to clarify if his party would support the throne speech, but hinted its votes will hinge on CERB and paid sick leave being included.
“I don’t want to see amendments to the throne speech, what I want to see is an actual bill that will continue the same level of support for Canadians, the same amount of money,” he said.
Gerard Deltell, opposition house leader for the Conservatives, spoke in place of party leader Erin O’Toole, who is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.
“What we’re wanting is a control of fiscal spending. And in there, there’s absolutely nothing that talks about controlling spending. I told you we were not against the idea of the CERB or helping businesses and so forth, but now we need to see control of federal spending,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke in a rare televised address later in the afternoon, “we’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring,” he said.
Trudeau also urged Canadians to download the COVID Alert app and get a flu shot.
“In the short term we’ll keep investing. Beyond the emergency, as we start to build back better, we must do that in a fiscally and sustainable way. Investing for our recovery must be done responsibly,” he said.
A throne speech must eventually go to a vote in the House of Commons, but there is no set date for when that will happen. If the government loses, Parliament will be dissolved and the country will head into a federal election, barely a year after the Liberals were re-elected in 2019.