This Week in Ottawa: December 15, 2023

Top news

  • Today was the House of Commons’ final sitting day of 2023. MPs are scheduled to return to Ottawa for the start of the 2024 sitting on January 29th.
  • The Liberals and NDP have agreed to extend the deadline to introduce legislation creating a national pharamacare program. Their original agreement required the government to pass legislation by the end of the year. The two parties have now agreed the government has until March 1 of next year to introduce the long-promised legislation.
  • House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus has made a 2nd apology to MPs in response to a committee report that recommended the Speaker offer a new apology and pay a fine rather than resign over his video to the Ontario Liberal Convention. The Conservatives and BQ dissented from the report saying the Speaker had lost the trust of the House and should resign. 
  • Justice Minister Virani indicated in an interview that the government is considering a further delay in the expansion of Medical Assistance in Dying to include cases of mental illness. The expansion will automatically happen on March 17 unless the government brings forward new legislation.

Government announcements

  • The government has launched online pre-budget consultations. Canadians can make submissions about Budget 2024 at up until February 9, 2024.
  • Finance Minister Freeland announced the federal government transfers to provinces will be worth $99.4 billion in 2024-25.
  • Innovation Minister Champagne and Agriculture Minister MacAulay met with their provincial counterparts on the government’s efforts to stabilize grocery prices. The Ministers noted their determination to explore options to ensure that the Grocery Code of Code comes into effect.
  • The government announced the rollout of the Canadian Dental Care Plan. The plan will start accepting applications using a phased approach, with seniors over 87 being able to apply for the program beginning in December. All Canadians with family incomes under $90,000 who do not have current dental coverage will be able to join the program by 2025.
  • Sports Minister Qualtrough announced the creation of the Future of Sport in Canada Commission, which will review maltreatment in the Canadian sports system.
  • Trade Minister Ng announced she will lead Team Canada trade missions to Malaysia and Vietnam from March 24 to 29 and South Korea from April 21 to 25, 2024. The government is inviting Canadian companies interested in joining the trips to register.
  • Labour Minister O’Regan reviewed the report of the Employment Equity Act Review Task Force. The report recommends several updates to the Equity Act, including adding two new designated groups.
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada published a draft protocol for a program to incentivize the reduction of emissions at beef farming operations by allowing farmers to sell offset credits if they reduce methane emissions.
  • Minister Freeland announced the government will continue its suspension of its involvement in the Asian Infrastructure Bank while it consults with international partners.
  • The government has released the final regulations of the Online News Act. The regulations will limit the amount of funding distributed to broadcasters to 30% of the funding distributed under the Act.
  • The government has opened a Call for Proposals for the Organizational Capacity Building (OCB) component of the Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Program.
  • Housing Minister Fraser announced the government would consult on a housing design catalogue initiative which could accelerate the construction of homes by standardizing housing design.

In Parliament

  • Bill C-21: The Senate approved the bill to legislate the ban on handguns and assault rifles.
  • Bill C-50: The government chose not to bring forward C-50 for report stage debate this week after the Conservatives tabled over 200 amendments that could have triggered another all-night voting session on the legislation to create a framework to transition workers from the fossil industries.  
  • Bill C-56: The Senate passed the government’s legislation to remove the GST on rental construction and amend the Competition Act.
  • Bill C-61: A bill to establish a framework for clean drinking water on First Nations land was introduced in the House.
  • Bill C-57: The updated Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement was approved at report stage.
  • Bill C-234: The Senate approved the bill to extend the carbon tax exemption for farmers after passing amendments significantly reducing the scope of the new exemptions. The bill has now returned to the House for consideration of the amended version of the bill.
  • S-210: An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material, passed 2nd reading in the House of Commons and was sent to the Public Safety Committee for review.

Economic numbers of the week

  • -2.8%: Statistics Canada’s monthly survey of manufacturing found that sales in October declined by 2.8% to $71 billion for the month.   

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