COVID-19: Update on Canada’s Political Landscape

The House of Commons has returned for the second session of the 43rd Parliament, shrouded in the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and pending confidence votes that could trigger an election at any moment.

The session began with a stark reminder of COVID-19’s effects on day-to-day interactions, as House Leader Pablo Rodriguez introduced a motion setting the terms of the sitting agreement for a hybrid parliamentary model with electronic recorded votes permitted. The agreement is in place until December 11, though it could be extended.

The much-anticipated Speech from the Throne followed, with Governor General Julie Payette speaking for nearly an hour as she established the foundation of the government’s plan to stop the spread of COVID-19, support Canadians and Canadian businesses, prepare for any future crisis, and combat inequality.

CREA was pleased to see REALTOR® priorities reflected in the contents of the speech:

  • the role housing plays as a key driver of the economy and a job creator;
  • a need to support those in greatest housing need through investment in affordable housing;
  • a need to provide value for homeowners by committing to help retrofit homes; and
  • it has to be easier for Canadians to buy their first home.

“For the middle class, the government will also move forward with enhancements to the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, including in Canada’s largest cities, so families can afford to buy their first home,” said the Governor General.

The speech is currently being debated and will then be subject to a confidence vote. The Liberals need support from at least one opposition party and appear to have secured backing from the NDP following a few concessions on Bill C-4, which will enact new financial support measures.

Specifically, the agreement increases minimum payments for the three new programs from $400 to $500, bringing them in line with the now-defunct Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), while expanding eligibility for the new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).

In addition to the CRSB, the other two programs introduced in Bill C-4 are the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB). Self-employed individuals should be eligible for all three recovery benefit programs, providing they meet the respective eligibility criteria. We will continue to monitor the progress of the legislation.

The government is expected to outline their economic and fiscal position later in the fall, potentially in the form of a Fall Economic Statement, providing fiscal projections and launching the new measures that were raised in the Throne Speech.

CREA continues to discuss issues of importance to our membership with government and elected officials. We are monitoring developments in the House of Commons and will continue to advocate on behalf of REALTORS®.