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RCC Statement on the government’s speech from the throne

September 23, 2020

Yesterday, Canada’s Governor General delivered the speech from the throne outlining the government’s list of priorities for the coming session of Parliament. 

The speech rightly focused on the government’s plan for managing through the COVID-19 crisis, rather than fast-forwarding to other longer-term priorities. Retail is hugely dependent on the level of public confidence in both the economy and the public health environment. Given the mounting concerns about a second and subsequent waves of the pandemic, instilling that confidence is the paramount issue for our industry. 

Extension of the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy is of vital importance to retailers. There is an understanding that there will need to be a surgical approach to business supports, tailored region-by-region, to how tightly operations are constrained by health authorities and provincial rules. Retailers understand that one-size-rarely-fits-all and we are expecting that the near-universality of some of the programs introduced this past spring will now evolve into more focused efforts.

RCC will monitor the announcements made and will update members as more details are provided. 

Speech from the throne – what retailers need to know

Below are the most salient mentions relevant to retailers and businesses:

Retail and business support

  • The Government will:
    • Extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through to next summer and will work with businesses to update the program.
    • Expand the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs.
    • Introduce further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries.
    • Scale up the youth employment and skills strategy to provide more paid work experiences next year for young Canadians.
    • Prioritize eliminating barriers between provinces to full, free internal trade.
  • The government remains committed to a national, universal pharmacare program and will accelerate steps to achieve this system. This will include establishing a national formulary to keep drug prices low and will work with willing provinces and territories to move forward without delay.

Support for Individuals

  • To support individuals, the government plans to:
    • Make a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and child-care system.
    • Replace the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The Government will transition to the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) which will be managed through the EI Program.
    • Make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers.
    • Accelerate the connectivity timelines and ambitions of the Universal Broadband Fund to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet.

Environmental protection

  • As part of the government’s environmental plan, it has pledged to:
    • Ban harmful single-use plastics next year and ensure more plastic is recycled. 
    • Help Canadians retrofit their homes and buildings, cutting energy costs for Canadian families and businesses.

COVID-19 testing & vaccines

  • The Government is pursuing different technologies and options for faster tests for Canadians and as soon as tests are approved for use in Canada, the Government will prioritize their deployment.
  • The Government has secured access to vaccine candidates and therapeutics and has made further investments to get the vaccines out to Canadians once they’re ready.

RCC will monitor the announcements made and will update members as more details are provided. 

You can view the full throne speech on the federal government’s website.

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