COVID-19: Political Landscape Update

Please note: the federal government is constantly updating their website as new information is announced. Remember to check Canada’s official coronavirus webpage and CREA’s COVID-19 online hub to stay up to date.

After a busy week in Ottawa, Canada has a new Minister of Finance and a new Leader of the Official Opposition, giving the House of Commons a decidedly different look. Canadians won’t be able to see that new look until the fall, however, at which point its occupants may not be sitting very long.

Bill Morneau resigned from his role as Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre on Monday, August 17. He was replaced the next day by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Chrystia Freeland, who will continue to serve in her role as Deputy Prime Minister. President of the Queen’s Privy Council Dominic Leblanc will reprise his responsibilities as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Ms. Freeland is the first woman to serve as Canada’s finance minister.

Following Ministers Freeland and Leblanc’s swearing-in, the Prime Minister asked Governor General Julie Payette to prorogue Parliament, effectively ending all ongoing work in the current session and setting up a throne speech for Wednesday, September 23. It’s rumoured the throne speech will outline transformative changes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expects to shape the country going forward as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of that transformative change is a revamped Employment Insurance (EI) program, which the government expects to accommodate three million Canadians still receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), set to expire on Sunday, September 27. To ensure no one relying on the CERB falls through the cracks, the government will also be launching three complementary benefits: the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB); the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB); and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB). For more information about the EI revamp, CRB, CRSB, or the CRCB, please consult last week’s communication to members.

The federal government will table the required legislation to enact these changes in the fall, at which point it will also be subject to a confidence vote on the speech from the throne. Should the Liberals fail to secure support for their new agenda from an opposition party, government will fall and Canadians will go to the polls before the year is out.

Across the aisle, the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership election was held by postal ballot earlier this week, with Ontario MP Erin O’Toole being selected to replace outgoing leader and former leadership rival Andrew Scheer. In his victory speech, the new leader emphasized the need for unity and expanding the party’s base.

Despite the prorogation of parliament, CREA continues to discuss issues of importance to our membership with government and elected officials. We will continue to advocate on behalf of REALTORS® as the House of Commons prepares for its fall return.

This is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. If you need professional advice you should consult a lawyer, accountant or other qualified professional.