This Week in Ottawa: February 16, 2024

Top news

  • The Auditor General released a report on the development of the ArriveCAN App, noting a disregard for policies, controls, and transparency in CBSA’s oversight of the contract, which saw the initial budget for the app go from $80,000 to at least $59 million. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre responded to the report by asking the RCMP to expand its investigation of ArriveCAN.
  • The NDP and Liberals continued discussions on the Pharmacare bill, which must be tabled by March 1st under the NDP’s agreement with the government. Reports this week indicated that the two parties are discussing a proposal that would see the federal government pay for the cost of birth control and diabetes medications.
  • The government announced it was rebranding the Climate Action Incentive payment to the Canada Carbon Rebate as it announced the 2024-25 payments. The government hopes that rebranding will increase awareness of the rebates issued for the carbon tax.
  • Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s comments that the federal government would no longer invest in road infrastructure drew quick criticism from several premiers and denials from the federal government that it had adopted such a policy.
  • A federal court ruling criticized the federal government for failing to fill judicial vacancies in a timely manner. The lawsuit was brought by a lawyer who argued that a shortage of judges is impacting Canadians’ ability to access the court system.

Government announcements

  • Environment Minister Guilbeault released an update on the consultations and the design options being considered for the final Clean Electricity Regulations with changes that would offer more flexibility on gas-powered plants. Stakeholders have until March 15 to submit comments about the revised proposal for the Regulations.
  • Canada’s Chief Accessibility Officer released her first report reviewing the progress made under the Accessible Canada Act, which noted areas she sees as key to faster progress.
  • Defence Minister Blair announced Canada would contribute $60 million towards the UDCG Air Force Capability Coalition, which will support Ukraine’s F-16 fighter fleet.
  • The federal government has doubled the loan forgiveness available to doctors and nurses working in underserved rural and remote regions, who will now be eligible to have up to $60,000 of student loans forgiven.
  • The federal government continues to sign healthcare funding agreements with provinces and territories. This week, it signed a $733 million deal with BC to support seniors’ care, a $24 million deal with the Northwest Territories to improve healthcare services, and a $633 million deal with Manitoba.
  • The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board published a summary of its consultations in December regarding the Board’s plan to develop new Guidelines for drug pricing in Canada.

In House of Commons

  • Bill C-62: This bill to delay the expansion of Medical Assistance in Dying was approved at 3rd Reading in the House and sent to the Senate.
  • Bill C-273: This bill to remove the provision in the Criminal Code that allows parents to use corporal punishment was passed a 2nd Reading and sent to the Justice Committee for study.  
  • Bill C-317: This PMB to establish a national strategy respecting flood and drought forecasting was passed at 2nd Reading and sent to the Environment Committee for review.
  • Bill S-202: This bill to create a Parliamentary Visual Artist Laureate was approved at 3rd Reading in the House. Because the bill was amended by the House the revised version was returned to the Senate for consideration of the amendments.
  • Treasury Board President Anand tabled the Supplementary Estimates (C) in the House with $8.9 billion of spending, including compensation and programs for Indigenous communities, funding to support Ukraine’s military operations, support to cities for the costs of asylum seekers, and increased funding for the Canada Housing Benefit.

Economic numbers of the week

  • 0.3%: Canada’s wholesale trade sales grew by 0.3% in December to $82.9 billion for the month, with personal and household goods seeing the largest increase.  

Coming Up

  • The House of Commons will not sit next week. MPs will return on February 26.

Key Resources


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