OTTAWA — The continuing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the work needed to recover are the undercurrents of Liberal plans for this session of Parliament and throughout Gov. Gen. Mary Simon's first speech from the throne.
The throne speech promises action on climate change, reconciliation with Indigenous communities and growing the economy, all while fighting COVID-19 and rebuilding Canada's health-care systems.
"In this difficult time, Canadians made a democratic choice," Simon said Tuesday. "Their direction is clear. Not only do they want Parliamentarians to work together to put this pandemic behind us, they also want bold, concrete solutions to meet the other challenges we face."
The government vows to work with provinces and territories on a myriad of health-care issues either highlighted or exacerbated by the health crisis, though Simon provided few details about how they will solve the problems at hand.
"To build a healthy future, we must also strengthen our health-care system and public health supports for all Canadians, especially seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities, vulnerable members of our communities, and those who have faced discrimination by the very system that is meant to heal," Simon said.
That includes improved health accessibility and bolstering data collection across health systems to inform future decisions — something the government has faced heavy criticism about during the pandemic response.
The government will also work to address delayed procedures, put off while hospitals focused on incoming cases of COVID-19, and the treatment of mental health and addictions.
Simon said the best thing Canada can do for the economy is to put the pandemic behind us.
To that end, she said the government is securing next-generation COVID-19 vaccines, boosters and doses for kids aged five to 11.
Canada will keep working to ensure equitable access to vaccines globally as well, she said.
“Building a better future starts with getting the pandemic under control and finishing the job on vaccines," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
Simon also specifically thanked the workers, particularly those in health care, who have kept Canadians safe during this rocky start to the decade, and offered her deepest condolences to those that lost loved ones during the pandemic.
She closed her remarks by reminding parliamentarians that never have Canadians depended so much on their work.
"In addition to ending this pandemic, their priorities for this 44th Parliament are clear: a more resilient economy, and a cleaner and healthier future for all of our kids," she said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2021.
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press