Throne Speech 2013 highlights: From balanced budgets to roaming fees
Published Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:41AM EDT
The federal government unveiled its agenda for the next parliamentary session Wednesday evening in the speech from the throne.
The speech -- which is widely seen as a kickoff to the Tories' unofficial campaign for re-election in 2015 – included such touchstone Conservative issues as the economy, job creation and historical legacy, but also offered promises to strengthen food safety and give consumers a break on some of their bills.
Here's a summary of some highlights from the speech.
- The government will introduce new legislation that will "enshrine in law" a return to balanced budgets in times of economic crisis.
Leaner, more efficient public service
- The government will review the disability and sick-day entitlements for public servants, as well as increase performance accountability. It will also streamline the government email system from 63 different systems down to one.
- The Canada Job Grant program will be implemented, with extra measures to place people with disabilities, youth and Aboriginals in job-training programs.
- The government will complete reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker program so that Canadians always have the first chance at available jobs.
- Negotiations on a free trade agreement between Canada and the EU will soon be completed. Following the speech, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced he was heading to Brussels, Belgium to conclude the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
- Following advice from the Expert Panel on Tanker safety, the government will create a tanker safety system in Canada.
Saving Canadian consumers
The government will take the following steps to help lower consumers’ costs:
- Reduce cellphone roaming fees within Canada
- Unbundle TV cable packages, letting consumers pick and pay for the stations they want
- Enhance high-speed broadband networks in rural Canada
- Eliminate fees charged to customers to receive paper utility bills
- A bill of rights for victims will be introduced to "restore their rightful place at the heart of our justice system."
- New legislation will be introduced to address cyberbullying and invasion of privacy, intimidation and personal abuse. The legislation will include a new criminal offence that prohibits the non-consensual distribution of images.
- The government will end sentencing discounts for child sex offenders, as well as automatic early release for serious repeat violent offenders.
- "Quanto's law" – a law aimed at protecting police service animals -- will be introduced.
- The government will renew its effort to address the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
Food and drug safety
- The government says it will work to strengthen food inspection systems.
- New patient safety legislation will be introduced to help ensure the quick recall of unsafe drugs.
- The government says it will close loopholes allowing for the "feeding of addiction under the guise of treatment."
Conservation and heritage
- A new National Conservation Plan will be unveiled, increasing protected areas in Canada with a focus on marine and coastal conservation.
- Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen activist and survivor of a brutal Taliban assassination attempt, will be conferred honorary Canadian citizenship, making her the sixth person to be given citizenship.
- The government will honour Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017 by holding a number of events, including commemorations of the centennial of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War, re-dedicating the National War Memorial to all the soldiers who fought for Canada and building a memorial to the victims of Communism.
- More support will be offered to homeless veterans.
- Programs to place veterans in good jobs will be implemented.
- The Dempster Highway – a highway connecting Dawson City, Yukon with Inuvik, N.W.T., will be extended to the Arctic Ocean.
- The government said that change is coming to the Senate, whether through reform or abolishment, but only after it receives advice from the Supreme Court on how to proceed.