The Speech from the Throne delivered this past week by the Governor General outlines many significant wins for Canadians. Many of the commitments and directions conveyed in the Speech were the result of consultation and advocacy work by myself and my fellow Liberal caucus members. I really do see it reflecting and responding to the needs of Canadians, while signalling major progressive changes on the near horizon as we eventually emerge from this worldwide pandemic.
There is a sense in which I and others were hoping for even more bold measures for the future to be outlined in that Speech but the context shifted dramatically leading up to the Throne Speech. Whereas two weeks earlier COVID-19 had been relatively successfully held at bay and case numbers were dwindling, numbers began to shoot up sharply as the season changed and students began to return to school. It was clear that getting Canadians safely through this pandemic needed to be a continued priority.
Below, I outline some of substantive features of the recent Speech from the Throne that demonstrate again our Government is listening and responding to the needs of Canadians. These are all directions that I personally fought for and strongly advocated for as a member of the governing Liberal Party caucus. I always say it’s good to be ambitious and many of my constituents’ ambitions are reflected in this inspiring Speech from the Throne. I know that my constituents here in Whitby are ready for our government to lead us through an era of crisis, to overcome this pandemic and to take on transformative changes that will help Canada become stronger and more resilient. This challenging time will be defined in how we define it, it’s up to all of us! We can emerge from this stronger and more capable of taking on the biggest challenges of our time.
A National Standard for Long-term Care
Probably one of the biggest “wins” in the Speech from the Throne is the strong commitment our Government has made to developing a National Standard of Care for Long-term Care. One of my first official acts as the Member of Parliament for Whitby on the Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) Standing Committee was to make a motion to study how we could improve Long-term Care. This includes building more facilities and having more highly qualified health care workers to ensure a higher standard of care. This motion seems like eons ago and was well before the current COVID-19 pandemic, which adds additional urgency. The Motion I put forward got Unanimous Consent, something I’ve learned is extremely challenging to achieve in Parliament.
Just prior to the pandemic, I hosted a consultation in my riding with Seniors whose perspectives I listened to and whose input my team and I summarized and wrote up into a briefing, which I subsequently presented to the Minister of Seniors, the Honourable Deb Schulte. One of the highest-level priorities was improving care for seniors, developing more affordable housing options and developing a strategy for developing the human resources necessary for ensuring that Senior Care of all types would have enough skilled workers to meet the demand.
In addition, I put forward a policy resolution on a National Standard for Long-term Care for the Liberal Caucus’ policy development process and worked with my fellow MPs to combine our similar resolutions into one stronger policy resolution, which could garner more support, and it was successful in being one of the highest priorities in that process.
I also wrote a letter to Minister Schulte and put out a public statement calling for our Government to prioritize a National Standard for Long-term Care as we move forward, given the many inadequacies in our current system that have been laid bare during this pandemic.
Lastly, in the lead up to the Throne Speech, I participated in consultations with the Honourable Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity to voice the need for the National Standard for Long-term Care to be a prominent feature in the Throne Speech.
Hearing the words spoken by the Governor General on this topic, echoing what I and others had advocated strongly for, was truly fulfilling, and now of course there is much work to be done to fulfill this commitment.