Canada government speech to outline pandemic exit plan

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·2-min read
Canada's Governor General Mary Simon (R) will deliver a throne speech outling the legislative agenda of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L)'s government, focused on a pandemic exit, with a big role for Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos (C) (AFP/BLAIR GABLE)
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's minority liberal government begins its third term on Tuesday with a policy speech outlining plans to exit the pandemic and tackle other legislative priorities.

Governor General Mary Simon, the first indigenous person to act as Queen Elizabeth II's representative in Canada, is to deliver the nationally televised Throne Speech at a joint session of the House of Commons and the Senate at 1:00 pm (1800 GMT).

It will be the first time in almost two years that so many Canadian lawmakers have gathered in one place -- following the recent easing of public health measures introduced in March 2020 to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Over the prior two years, MPs met virtually for Commons debates and parliamentary committee meetings.

The Liberals are in a relatively strong position after winning snap elections in September, but must still rely on at least one other party to pass its agenda.

Liberal Government House Leader Mark Holland said Simon's speech will address the coronavirus crisis and continued relief for workers and businesses.

"It will focus very heavily on the circumstances of the pandemic and putting the pandemic behind us and continuing (economic) growth," he told reporters Monday.

This will include a Can$7.4 billion (US$5.8 billion) Covid aid package for hard-hit sectors through to the spring, including possibly 10 days of paid sick leave mandated for employees.

The Liberals will also seek to criminalize anti-vaccination protests at hospitals and clinics, after health workers were "menaced" in recent months, Holland said.

"These are the folks who are on the frontlines of keeping us safe. I think it's the least we can do to make sure that they themselves are safe in their work," he said.

Holland said the Liberals hope to pass these measures, as well as a re-introduced bill banning conversion therapy, before the Christmas break in four weeks.

The bill banning the practice of attempting to change an individual's sexual orientation from LGBT to heterosexual fell by the wayside when parliament was dissolved in August for the general election.

Since the last parliament, social distancing rules have been relaxed, the border has been reopened to foreign travellers, and an inoculation drive has been heralded as wildly successful with 85 percent of Canadians 12 years and older now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

But the fall season also brought an uptick in Covid-19 cases, with notable spikes in western provinces as children returned to schools and many workers went back to the office after months of working from home.

amc/mlm

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