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On September 23rd, the Prime Minister, Senators, Members of Parliament and others gathered in the Senate of Canada Building (and many other Canadians via television and the internet) to hear the Governor General deliver the much-anticipated third Speech from the Throne to open the second session of the forty-third parliament of Canada.

It’s often said “the devil is in the details” and there were very few details in the speech, which was written by the Prime Minister’s office. There were, however a number of commitments that could prove interesting for the HVACR industry in Canada.

The speech was divided into four main areas:

  1. Fighting the pandemic
  2. Helping Canadians through the pandemic
  3. Building a better, more resilient Canada
  4. Standing up for Canadians and their values

The most substantive announcements concerned developing a pharmacare program for all Canadians, establishing and national childcare program and creating national guidelines for long-term care homes. It was also announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would be extended until next summer.

The government also announced that it will launch a campaign to create over a million jobs. This will be done through investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly skill up workers and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers. The investments in infrastructure include public transit, energy efficient retrofits, clean energy, rural broadband, and affordable housing. The speech laid out that the government will “create thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings, cutting energy costs for Canadian families and businesses.”

The government further announced that it would make the largest investment in Canadian history in training workers. This includes supporting Canadians as they build new skills in growing sectors, helping workers receive education and accreditation, and connecting workers with employers and available jobs.

The 7,000-word Speech from the Throne was one of the most ambitious in recent history. However, it is still unclear if the Liberals will get the support of the other political parties. Furthermore, since the government is in a minority situation, it is highly unlikely that many of these commitments will be fulfilled prior to the next election.

Most of the high level recommendations that HRAI made in its pre-budget submission are reflected in some fashion in this broad statement of priorities.  HRAI will continue to advocate on behalf of members on priority issues to ensure they are implemented, such as retrofitting homes and buildings, and skilled trades development, both which were mentioned in the address.

Some selected excerpts from the speech that may be of interest to HRAI members are presented below.

Addressing COVID-19

  • “To prevent small clusters from becoming major outbreaks, communities may need to enact short-term closure orders. To make that decision easier for the public health authorities, and to help ease the impact that science- and evidence-based decisions can have on local businesses in the short term, the Government will work to target additional financial support directly to businesses which have to temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.”
  • “To address the challenges faced by provinces and territories as they reopen classrooms, the federal government invested $2 billion in the Safe Return to Class Fund, along with new funding for First Nations communities. This is money to keep kids – and staff – safe in the classroom, whether that’s by helping schools buy cleaning supplies or upgrade ventilation.”

Assistance for Canadian Employers and Employees dealing with the Pandemic

  • “Canadians need good jobs they can rely on. To help make that happen, the Government will launch a campaign to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to previous levels. This will be done by using a range of tools, including direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly skill up workers, and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers.”
  • “One way the Government will create these jobs is by extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy right through to next summer. The Government will work with businesses and labour to ensure the program meets the needs of the health and economic situation as it evolves.”
  • “This fall, In addition to extending the wage subsidy, the Government will take further steps to bridge vulnerable businesses to the other side of the pandemic by:
    • Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs;
    • Improving the Business Credit Availability Program;
    • Introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts.”
  • “Over the coming months, the EI system will become the sole delivery mechanism for employment benefits, including for Canadians who did not qualify for EI before the pandemic. This pandemic has shown that Canada needs an EI system for the 21st century, including for the self-employed and those in the gig economy.”

Regulatory Harmonization within Canada

  • “Now, more than ever, Canadians must work together – including by eliminating remaining barriers between provinces to full, free internal trade – to get the economy back up and running and Canadians back to work.”

Women in the Economy

  • “The Government will make a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system. The Government will build on previous investments, learn from the model that already exists in Quebec, and work with all provinces and territories to ensure that high-quality care is accessible to all.”
  • “The Government remains committed to subsidizing before- and after-school program costs. With the way that this pandemic has affected parents and families, flexible care options for primary school children are more important than ever.”
  • “The Government will also accelerate the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy, which has already helped women across Canada grow their businesses.”

Workforce Training and Development

  • “We have an opportunity to not just support Canadians, but grow their potential. Working with the provinces and territories, the Government will make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers. This will include by:
    • Supporting Canadians as they build new skills in growing sectors;
    • Helping workers receive education and accreditation;
    • And strengthening workers’ futures, by connecting them to employers and good jobs, in order to grow and strengthen the middle class.”

Addressing Climate Change

  • “Climate action will be a cornerstone of our plan to support and create a million jobs across the country.  This is where the world is going. Global consumers and investors are demanding and rewarding climate action.  Canadians have the determination and ingenuity to rise to this challenge and global market opportunity.”
  • “The Government will immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 climate goal.”
  • “The Government will also legislate Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.”
  • “As part of its plan, the Government will:
    • Create thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings, cutting energy costs for Canadian families and businesses;
    • Invest in reducing the impact of climate-related disasters, like floods and wildfires, to make communities safer and more resilient.”

What’s Next?

As noted above, most of HRAI’s broadly-stated budget priorities made in its pre-budget submission are all reflected this broad statement of priorities.  Funding allocations and policy details will presumably be released in the months ahead and HRAI will report on relevant details as they are released.  HRAI will also continue to engage with key federal Ministers and senior bureaucrats, making best efforts to ensure that the details are favourable to the interests of the HVACR industry.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 416-453-5899 or email mluymes@hrai.ca.