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World

Canada's Trudeau to unveil plan to address coronavirus outbreak, revive economy

  • Trudeau, who has consistently vowed to do more to combat climate change, is paring down talk of a green revolution.
  • The three prongs of what we are doing are fighting COVID-19, supporting Canadians, and a resilient recovery.
Published September 23, 2020

OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government will unveil on Wednesday what it has billed as a far-reaching plan to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring that efforts to fight the outbreak do not falter.

Trudeau, who has consistently vowed to do more to combat climate change, is paring down talk of a green revolution and slashing reliance on fossil fuels as Canada faces a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

"The three prongs of what we are doing are fighting COVID-19, supporting Canadians, and a resilient recovery," said a senior government source who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

The so-called Speech from the Throne, outlining government plans to shore up the nation, is a confidence-building measure. But given that Trudeau's Liberals only have a minority in the House of Commons, they will need the support of opposition legislators to avoid being toppled and plunging the country into an election.

The left-leaning New Democrats, at least, have made clear they are likely to vote in favor of Trudeau's plan.

The prime minister's popularity initially soared over his handling of the pandemic, but opinion polls suggest he and the Liberals were damaged by an ethics scandal over his close ties to a charity chosen to run a student grant program.

Parliament is usually packed for the occasion, but COVID-19 means few legislators will be present when Governor General Julie Payette - the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state - delivers the speech at around 3 p.m. (1900 GMT).

Later on Wednesday, Trudeau plans to address the nation on the urgency of fighting COVID-19.

Canada is at a "crossroads" in the fight against a second surge of the infection, health officials said on Tuesday, when cases rose by 1,248 from the previous day.

There have been an average of 1,123 cases reported daily over the last week, compared to a daily average of 380 cases in mid-August, the Public Health Agency said on Wednesday. Canadians are more worried about COVID-19 than they have been since April, an Abacus Data poll showed.

Officials say the throne speech will contain policy proposals such as childcare and an expanded employment insurance program rather than specific spending commitments, some of which will be disclosed in a fiscal update later in the year.

But the government will stress the need for environmental policies such as retrofitting buildings, boosting the use of electric vehicles and biofuels, aides say.

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