In what might be the final Throne Speech before the 2015 federal election, on Wednesday, Governor General David Johnston read out the key platforms of what should form Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s agenda for the upcoming Parliamentary session.
The overriding theme of this year’s Throne Speech was a promise to impose federal spending restrictions, a move that might see future governments forced, by law, to balance their budgets during “normal economic times.” Some suggest this means the Conservatives will begin to cut down on the size of the government workforce and to cut other non-essential spending initiatives.
The Throne Speech also contained issues of particular concern to older Canadians, which CARP said will be welcomed:
- Drug labelling and safety. This may mean plain language labelling, reporting adverse reactions and new patient safety legislation to help identify potentially dangerous drugs, and ensure the quick recall of unsafe drugs;
- Working with employers to better accommodate Canadians caring for older family members;
- Renew investments in health research to tackle the growing onset of dementia, and related illnesses;
- The prohibition on fees for paper bills;
- Expanded no-cost basic banking services.
Other key items from the Speech included:
- Consumer protection: A number of vague promises on protecting the middle class including: lower cell-phone roaming charges, ending the practice of charging consumers a fee for paper billing, lower bank fees and reforming the cable industry.
- Crime: The Throne Speech promised an end to “coddling criminals, a Victim’s Bill of Rights, cyber-bullying legislation and longer sentences for child abusers.
- Immigration reform: A new model that would choose immigrants who possessed job skills that are needed in this country.
- Senate reform: The throne speech deemed the current senate status quo as “unacceptable” saying it must be reformed or “vanish.”
- Pipelines and Pollutions: Higher safety standards for companies which operate pipelines and new measures to punish companies that pollute.