CPWA Ottawa Report
The next edition of the Ottawa Report is scheduled to be sent August 31.
On August 14, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that Canada and the U.S. had agreed to extend the restriction of travel between the two countries for essential purposes only to September 21.Trade and commerce are considered essential under this agreement.
On August 13, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) released projections that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will cost $14.4 billion less than the $82.3 billion allocated for this program in the federal government’s Economic and Fiscal Snapshot published on July 8. The PBO estimates the total net cost of the program to be $59.2 billion - $67.9 billion in wage subsidies and $0.5 billion in forgone employer payroll contributions, offset by $9.1 billion in corporate income tax revenues from wage subsidies. The CEWS continues to be one of the government’s main initiatives to support the reopening of the Canadian economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CEWS applications for claim period 5 (July 5 to August 1) are now open.
On August 11, National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier announced the launch of an updated and improved CEWS online calculator.
During a televised news conference on August 12, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet threatened to force a non-confidence motion to trigger an election if Prime Minister Trudeau and his Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, as well as Finance Minister Bill Morneau, do not resign in light of the WE charity controversy. The earliest Mr. Blanchet could put forward such a motion is October 2020.
In a minority government situation, early elections are always a possibility. The Liberal government needs the co-operation of one of the three recognized opposition parties to pass legislation and to hold the confidence of the House. The Conservatives expect to announce their new leader on Sunday, August 23, so it remains to be seen whether the new leader would join Mr. Blanchet in pushing for a fall 2020 election. The NDP have indicated that they would continue to support the Liberal government if their conditions on Employment Insurance and child care are met.
Former Bank of Canada and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has been tapped to be an informal advisor to the Trudeau government on the COVID-19 pandemic response and economic recovery plan. The move brings some significant economic star power to a government looking to move forward from the WE charity controversy engulfing both Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The move also signals a recovery plan that will likely include focus on “greening” the economy.
Mr. Carney has worked with both Liberal and Conservative governments in the past and was a key player during the 2008 financial crisis as Bank of Canada Governor. Since ending his term as Bank of England Governor in early 2020, Carney has taken on a role as UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, and has been working on a book on ways to build a more inclusive society following the COVID-19 pandemic—two focuses that align closely with the Trudeau government.
Mr. Carney has also called for industrialized nations to make green investment a key part of the post-pandemic recovery, arguing that “we can’t self-isolate from climate change.” This focus too fits with the Trudeau government’s public policy agenda.
The House of Commons is adjourned until Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. (EDT). The Senate is adjourned until Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. (EDT).
On July 27, Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures received Royal Assent. With the proclamation of this Bill, the government has obtained the authority it requires from Parliament to carry out all of its announced COVID-19 initiatives, including:
On August 6, CPWA participated in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Financepre-budget consultations process by submitting its budget priorities. These consultations will result in a report to be tabled in the House of Commons in December 2020, which will be considered by the Minister of Finance in preparation of the 2021 federal budget. CPWA’s submission can be found here.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Financeand the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethicscontinue to examine the circumstances surrounding a COVID-19 relief program aimed at providing financial and job support to students, which has brought to light allegations of conflict of interest against Prime Minister Trudeau and Finance Minister Morneau. The Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, testified before the House Finance Committee on July 30. Minister Morneau testified before the Committee on July 22. Other Ministers involved with the student support program are appearing before the House Ethics Committee.
The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, an independent and non-partisan Office of Parliament, continues its investigation into the activities of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.
On August 13, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna announcedthat a new Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will provide up to $31 million in federal funding to support community-led solutions that respond to immediate and ongoing needs arising from COVID-19 over the next two years.The Initiative will fund smaller-scale local projects under three main themes: creating safe and vibrant public spaces, improving mobility options, and digital solutions. Potential projects could include: expanding outdoor seating on main streets, remodeling a playground to allow for proper physical distancing, building multi-modal paths that would allow bikes, scooters, and personal mobility devices to share space with pedestrians and cars, or creating digital apps to allow residents to access municipal services remotely. Details on the application process will be available soon.
On August 12, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced an additional $305 million to support Indigenous Peoples during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Indigenous Community Support Fund.The Fund was first announced on March 18, and to date has allocated $380 million in funding to Indigenous communities and organizations. The additional $305 million in funds bring the total investments to date in the Indigenous Community Support Fundto $685 million. The fund can be used for a wide variety of measures including emergency response services and preparedness measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
On August 5, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna announced new steps to help provinces and territories deal with the pressures brought on by the COVID-19 health and economic 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.
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 territorial and Indigenous 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.
For projects that can start in the near-term, eligibility criteria in the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program’s other existing streams have also been expanded. For example, mobile phone and cellular projects are now eligible under the Rural and Northern Infrastructure stream, and inter-city transit projects are now eligible.
The Conservative Party of Canada’s Leadership Election is underway, with postal ballots due prior to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on August 21, 2020. It is a four-way race among leadership candidatesLeslyn Lewis, former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay, MP Erin O’Toole (Durham, Ont.), formerly the Official Opposition Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, MP Derek Sloan (Hastings—Lennox and Addington, Ont.). The Party expects to announce their new leader on Sunday, August 23.