Federal Politics: Week in Review

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the federal government is deploying additional measures to assist Canadians and businesses across the country.

Quebec Government Priorities Unveiled

Now that the two-week construction holidays are over, the Legault government is busy planning its agenda for the National Assembly’s fall sitting.

With fears of a potential second wave of COVID-19 on their minds, the government has instructed each ministry for their action and mitigation plans against a possible second wave. This has been flagged as their top priority.

As for the legislative agenda, CHG has learned that Premier Legault wants Bill 61, An Act to restart Québec’s economy and to mitigate the consequences of the public health emergency declared on 13 March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, to be the first piece of legislation debated when MNAs return on September 15th. It remains unclear whether the Bill will be returned as is or reintroduced with some amendments and a new start communication wise.

The bill will now be guided through the legislative process by Sonia LeBel, the new President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Government Administration. Premier Legault is on record stating that the government has not ruled out using closure to pass the bill quickly to get priority infrastructure projects running and loosen some procurement rules to relaunch Québec’s economy. It is hoped that Minister LeBel’s credibility in fighting corruption in the construction industry will calm down fears of new corruption in fast tracking these projects.

Another hot file awaiting Minister LeBel is the upcoming negotiations with public sector employees. Given how powerful the unions are in Québec, the Legault government is reticent in rocking the boat at the moment when it comes to measure related to automation or the perception that they are looking to cut down the bureaucracy. They want to keep good optics. That being said, CHG is meeting with political staff and Ministers to discuss clients whose products would help the government’s goal of modernizing the administration of government and aid in their plans for digital transformation.

CHG will keep you updated on our efforts and on any news or events that may be of use to you as you determine your Québec strategies.

Federal Government plans to retaliate to U.S aluminum tariffs with $3.6 Billion in measures

The Canadian government will impose retaliatory measures valued at $3.6-billion on the United States in response to new American tariffs on Canadian aluminum announced by President Donald Trump this week.

In a move deemed as an election strategy by U.S president Donald Trump this week he imposed a 10% tariff on all Canadian aluminum coming into the United States.  The tariffs are set to take effect as of August 16tt.  Meanwhile today, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland announced that Canada will take measured retaliatory measures on American products with an emphasis on imposing our own tariffs on American aluminum.  These made in Canada measures are set to be imposed on August 31st.

In the end it will likely be consumers who suffer the most the tariffs imposed by both countries will likely drive up the cost on everything from soda and beer cans to bicycles and washing machines. 

Donald Trump’s administration has been deemed by Canada as the most protectionist government that we have seen come out of Washington.  Donald Trump is lagging in the polls compared to rival Joe Biden and this move is targeted right at his base of American workers. 

Government of Canada announces deal to secure Covid – 19 Vaccines

Minister Anand announced that, following the careful review and recommendation of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, the Government of Canada has entered into two agreements with Pfizer and Moderna to secure millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Pfizer will supply its BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine candidate, while Moderna will provide its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate. All potential vaccines will require Health Canada regulatory approval prior to being used to vaccinate Canadians.

Minister Bains unveiled the members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, who are advising the Government on how best to support vaccine research in Canada and help ensure Canadian leadership in vaccine development, related bio-manufacturing and international partnerships to secure access for Canadians to safe and effective products.

The Vaccine Task Force includes vaccine and immunology experts, as well as industry leaders with a proven ability in developing and commercializing vaccines. The co-chairs are Joanne Langley, Head of

Infectious Diseases at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax and Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University, and J. Mark Lievonen, former President of Sanofi Pasteur Limited in Canada.

Source: Government of Canada

Infrastructure program expands to support COVID-19 community resilience

This week, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, announced new steps to help provinces and territories deal with the stresses brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program is being adjusted so that provinces and territories can use federal funding to act quickly on a wider range of more pandemic-resilient infrastructure projects. Whether retrofitting schools to allow kids to go to school safely, upgrading hospitals and long-term care homes to deal with social distancing requirements, building new parks, cycling and walking paths to help Canadians get access to nature to stay healthy, active and safe, or disaster mitigation projects that protect against floods and fires, these changes will help get more projects underway faster, and support longer-term goals of sustainable, economically healthy, low-carbon, and inclusive communities.

Under a new COVID-19 Resilience funding stream worth up to $3.3 billion, projects will be eligible for a significantly larger federal cost share – up to 80 per cent for provinces, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations in provinces, and raising it to 100 per cent for remote, northern and territorial projects designated under the new stream. A simplified funding application process will ensure that projects can get underway as soon as possible, and accelerated approvals will ensure that provinces and territories can address pressing needs in a timely manner.

  • To support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, the over $33-billion Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program now includes a new stream to directly respond to the immediate pressures and concerns as a result of the current pandemic, new eligible project categories, and faster approvals.
  • The COVID-19 Resilience stream will help other orders of governments whose finances have been significantly impacted by the pandemic by increasing the federal cost share for public infrastructure projects to 80 per cent in the provinces, and funding 100 per cent of the cost of projects in the territories and for projects with Indigenous recipients.

Source: Government of Canada

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil stepping down

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced this week he will step down.  McNeil said he had made the decision to resign prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but he reconsidered when the virus arrived in Nova Scotia in March.

All of those plans were put on hold, and I gave this my all. I spent five weeks here without ever getting home to my own property and my own home. [I was] away from my family because I was working with Public Health and with our team to try to get control of it.”

McNeil said he will continue to act as premier and Liberal Party leader until the party chooses a replacement. He said he expected a leadership campaign to take months. Nova Scotia does not have fixed election dates but is due for an election by 2022.

 Mr. McNeil during his press conference pointed to his government’s track record for balancing the budget, which is a point of pride often touted by McNeil. His government’s latest budget, passed in March, was balanced at the time before being completely disrupted due to the arrival of Covid – 19.

Sourced from CBC News

House of Commons Special Covid - 19 Committee to resume sitting August 12

The House of Commons special all party committee will resume sitting next week to review the governments continued response to the Covid – 19 pandemic.  These meetings will be for procedural rule and parliamentary privilege purposes, meetings of the special committee and not a meeting of the House of Commons.

The House of Commons will not conduct regular sittings until September 21.  Unless there is a change of procedure MP’s will resume a hybrid sitting at this time with virtual voting being tabled by the house procedure committee as the best option to allow members to vote on bills.

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