Today, the federal government outlined its priorities for the year in the Speech from the Throne. Delivered by the Governor General, the speech marks the official opening of the new session of parliament. Unlike the budget, it does not provide any funding announcement or get into the details of how new initiatives will be rolled out. What it does do, is tell us what we can expect from the government in the months to come.
Top 3 Announcements
- Canada-wide early learning and childcare
There were significant affordability and accessibility challenges with childcare prior to COVID-19, and the pandemic has greatly exacerbated these issues. Childcare is not only essential to economic recovery, it is necessary for economic sustainability, poverty reduction, and gender equity.
- New disability benefit
People with disabilities who face barriers to employment often have to rely on the Ontario Disability Support Program, which provides only $1,169 per month for a single individual. We are excited to hear the government announce a new benefit that will be modeled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors. With 57% of food bank clients living with a disability, this new benefit has the potential to provide critical financial supports to help alleviate poverty and food insecurity.
- Ending homelessness
Ending homelessness is something that is achievable and necessary. We were pleased to hear a commitment by the government to end homelessness and to see that partnering with non-profit and co-op providers to build affordable housing will be prioritized. We look forward to more details on how the government will achieve this strong commitment.
Where we were hoping for more
While the government expressed an ongoing commitment to moving pharmacare forward, we were hoping for more concrete steps and a commitment to a national program. We will continue to advocate for universal medical benefits for all Canadians.
- Ending deep poverty
As part of the Poverty Reduction Strategy developed in 2018, the federal government has set a target to reduce poverty by 50% by 2030. In meeting this goal, it is critical that we address the needs of those living in deep poverty who face significant challenges to employment. We will continue to push for deep poverty targets and a higher income floor.
We will be eagerly awaiting further details on the announcements and look forward to working with the government to ensure that poverty reduction remains a top priority.
To read the full speech from the throne, click here.