Throne Speeches are generally directional in nature, setting out a policy agenda but leaving out many of the details to be filled in later. In the middle of a pandemic and with a struggling economy, details matter and time is of the essence. In line with the overall sentiment of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, we would have liked to see a more specific operational plan.
Businesses want a focus on economic fundamentals. We require economic policies that help businesses create new jobs. We will need to encourage investments in technologies and skills that will help Canadian companies adapt to a post-COVID economy, improve productivity, and compete in an increasingly zero-sum global arena. And we will need reskilling and upskilling programs for Canadians who do not have a job to go back to.
Among the positive measures in the Throne Speech were:
- EI reform and additional measures focused on reskilling displaced workers to equip them for jobs in sectors of importance to Canada’s growth. We also need to ensure that small businesses will not be burdened with additional EI costs as they struggle to stay afloat.
- The establishment of a national child care program to enable working women to more fully participate in the workforce, a policy recommended by the Canadian Chamber’s Council for Women’s Advocacy.
- The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program until next summer, helping Canadians remain connected to their employers as we recover together. In addition, we welcome the expansion of liquidity supports such as CEBA and BCAP. These announcements will help small businesses in the hardest hit sectors survive the pandemic so they can contribute to job growth and economic recovery.
- Investments to enable a faster rollout of 5G networks, including in rural and remote areas, to improve services to Canadians and boost productivity.
- A promise to breakdown interprovincial trade barriers, policies for which the Chamber network has long advocated.
- A focused campaign on recouping the remaining 1 million jobs lost in the pandemic. The Chamber will be looking for more details on growth strategies that enable businesses to grow and hire more Canadians.
- A promise to support Canada’s hardest-hit sectors such as travel, tourism, hospitality, and food services.
- The establishment of a task force to support women entrepreneurship, another policy recommendation of the Canadian Chamber’s Council for Women’s Advocacy.
Some of our concerns include:
- Lots of big bold promises, but little in the way of details as to how and when they would be implemented and how we will pay for the programs
- Feds continue to push for a Universal Pharmacare program. We are looking for details on this, as the majority of Canadians have programs through their employers (such as Chamber of Commerce Insurance Program) Having government potentially scrap that program instead of simply addressing the gaps will hurt business and cost billions.
- Significant concerns about the debt levels that Canadians will be burdened with for decades to come, without a plan as yet for how to pay for it.