September 23, 2020
Today in the Speech From the Throne (SFT), the federal government laid out its new plan to address the gaps the COVID-19 pandemic has “unmasked” in Canada. Today’s SFT provides a high-level overview of four foundations for the government’s ambitious plan to sustainably rebuild a more resilient Canadian economy and society. Today’s plan seeks to update the government’s agenda to account for the realities of living with COVID-19.
- The CPA was pleased to see that the Government will 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. This was a measure the CPA recommended in both our brief to the House of Commons Finance Committee on the budget and the Health Committee on the Government’s response to COVID-19.
- The CPA also applauds the Government’s commitment to work with the provinces and territories to set new national standards for long-term care so that seniors get the best care possible and looks forward to the additional action government has committed to taking to help people stay in their homes longer.
- The CPA is encouraged to hear that the Government will ensure that everyone - including in rural and remote areas – has access to a family doctor or primary care team. COVID-19 has also shown that our system needs to be more flexible and able to reach people at home. The Government will continue to expand capacity to deliver virtual health care. The CPA appreciates the Government’s commitment to increasing access to community-based care and virtual care – both measures we have advocated for in relation to the next federal budget and federal health policy broadly.
Also, the Government is extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) right through to next summer (2021). The Government will work with businesses and labour to ensure the program meets the needs of the health and economic situation as it evolves.
The Government re-stated its commitment to a national, universal pharmacare program and indicated it will take steps to accelerate action. The SFT also commits to creating an action plan to ensure women are supported in returning to the workforce and investing in a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system – two themes that will be key to many of our members, as 70 percent are women.
Additional important health care commitments to continue to address gaps in our social systems were named in this speech, including:
The Opioid Epidemic
- The Government will also continue to address the opioid epidemic tearing through communities, which is an ongoing and worsening public health crisis.
- Additionally, the Government will further increase access to mental health resources.
- The Government will walk the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and remain focused on implementing the commitments made in 2019. However, the pandemic has shown that we need to keep moving forward even faster on a number of fronts, including by expediting work to co-develop distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation and a distinctions-based mental health and wellness strategy.
The full text of the Speech From the Throne is available here.
The CPA will continue to work with the federal government to ensure all opportunities to strengthen the health of Canadians through increased access to physiotherapy and the many positive contributions of the profession are considered as they implement this plan.