Infrastructure investment and climate risk mitigation are key to the Canadian government’s goal to create one million jobs and “build back better” from the economic slump of COVID-19. Governor General Julie Payette unveiled a slate of promised actions with potential implications for commercial real estate, facilities management and the green building sectors earlier today as she delivered the Speech from the Throne, outlining the agenda for a new session of Parliament.
That includes a new effort to surpass Canada’s 2030 target to reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels, as a step toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Both emissions reductions and “thousands of jobs” are foreseen from energy retrofits of homes and larger buildings to be made over the next two years. Investments in affordable housing, public transit, climate change resilience, clean energy and rural broadband are also pledged for the same timeframe.
Facilities managers in the seniors’ care sector should expect heightened vigilance, including plans for Criminal Code amendments to “explicitly penalize those who neglect seniors under their care, putting them in danger”, while childcare operators can look for enhanced funds via a “significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system”. Municipalities are promised government support to expand urban parks.
A previously hinted successor program to Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) is not specifically mentioned. However, the government does commit to “introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts”.
Meanwhile, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will remain in place for qualifying employers until the summer of 2021. Enhancements to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) are also promised.
Of note for the investment community, the government plans to press forward to limit stock option deductions for established corporations and wealthy individuals. In another example of reactivating initiatives from its previous term, it also plans to ban single-use plastics.
An updated COVID-19 Economic Response Plan is to be released later this fall. “The economic impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has already been worse than the 2008 financial crisis. These consequences will not be short-lived. This is not the time for austerity,” the Speech from the Throne states.