After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered his throne speech following a lengthy prorogation of Parliament, it appears that more government spending is on the horizon. In the throne speech the Liberals proposed a series of new benefits, an expanded employment insurance program, and an extension of emergency spending powers until at least the end of 2020.
Despite a number of Canadians growing increasingly worried about an abruptly rising deficit, along with several major banks warning the federal government of the consequences of future debt levels, it appears the Liberals are setting aside all concerns and barrelling ahead with ample spending initiatives.
Several days before parliament was prorogued, the Liberals unveiled a plan to transition Canadians from the soon-to-be phased out CERB onto an expanded EI program, as well as the Canada Recovery Benefit, which has been increased from $400 per week to $500 following the throne speech. The CERB program has thus far paid out over $78 billion in emergency aid to nearly 8.8 million people, with 2.8 million Canadians still currently receiving benefits. In addition, the Liberals are also proposing to allocate $1.5 billion to provinces for training programs aimed at revamping skills for a changing labour market.
The Liberal’s throne speech also asked Parliament to grant the government emergency spending powers until at least the end of the year, citing pandemic funding such as vaccines. Although any of the proposed measures will require parliamentary approval, several of the spending initiatives are aimed at gaining NDP support, which is crucial for the Liberal’s much dreaded upcoming confidence vote.
Nonetheless, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough stressed the need for swift bill approval, citing urgency for those Canadians that are soon going to be without aid. However, Conservative employment critic Peter Kent directed attention towards the Liberal’s sudden attempt to ram through legislation, instead of ensuring a smooth transition from CERB was finalized by working on the new spending measures prior to Parliament prorogation.
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