This Week in Ottawa: October 6, 2023

Top news

  • On Tuesday, Hull—Aylmer MP Greg Fergus was elected as the 38th Speaker of the Commons. The Liberal MP will be the first Black Canadian to serve as Speaker. He replaced Anthony Rota, who resigned from the post last week over the recognition of a veteran of the Waffen SS during the address of Ukraine’s President to Parliament. 
  • Minister Champagne announced the government had secured commitments from Canada’s five largest grocers on stabilizing prices. The government plans to establish a Grocery Task Force in the Office of Consumer Affairs to monitor whether the retailers follow through with their commitments.
  • Minister Champagne has ordered a temporary pause on new project funding at Sustainable Development Technologies Canada (SDTC) following his receipt of a report into allegations of improper practices at the organization that provides funding to pre-commercial cleantech companies. The funding pause allows SDTC to put in place corrective actions to address the concerns raised.
  • Google has indicated that the regulations proposed by the CRTC do not satisfy its concerns about the impact of the Online News Act and that unless more significant changes are made, it may proceed to follow Facebook’s lead and block Canadian news links from its platform.
  • The NDP and Liberals have yet to agree on the scope of a promised pharmacare bill. While the two parties have committed to passing legislation to create a national pharmacare program by the end of the year, the NDP said this week they rejected the first proposal the Liberals had drafted which has delayed introduction of a bill as disucssions continue.

Government announcements

  • Treasury Board has issued new guidance on the use of contracted professional services as the government looks to reduce the use of contractors by the federal government.
  • The federal government has opened consultations on the implantation of several measures in Budget 2023, including Cracking Down on Predatory Lending Faster, Upholding the Integrity of Canada’s Financial Sector, Carbon Contracts for Difference, Labour Requirements for Investment Tax Credits and Exempting Indigenous Settlement Trusts from Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • The CRTC has released details of its new regulatory plan for internet streamers. The first phase of the regulation will require all services with more than $10 million in revenue in Canada to register with the CRTC. The CRTC is currently conducting a consultation on what requirements it will impose on streamers to support Canadian content.
  • Minister Blair announced the launch of the Conduct and Culture Research and Policy Database. The database makes research and policies related to sexual harassment and misconduct, gender, sexual orientation, race, diversity and inclusion, and culture change in the Canadian Forces available to the public. The creation of the database was a recommendation of Justice Arbour’s External Review.
  • Minister O’Regan announced a call for concepts for the New Horizons for Seniors Program. The program funds projects of up to $5 million that support Canada’s seniors.
  • The Federal and Quebec governments have opened a call for proposals for the Innovation bioalimentaire 2023–2028 program with, $157 million in funding available for projects that will advance research and innovation in Quebec’s bio-food sector.
  • Minister Wilkinson released a statement saying the government will accept the Integrated Strategy for Radioactive Waste (the Strategy) developed by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. The Strategy updates Canada’s management plan for nuclear waste.
  • Minister Ng welcomed the decision of the NAFTA dispute panel that found the US government’s final dumping determination of Canadian softwood lumber was inconsistent with US law.

In the House of Commons

  • Bill S-12: This bill to amend the Sex Offenders Registry passed 2nd reading in the House of Commons and was referred to the Justice Committee for study.
  • The House rejected a Conservative motion calling for the “repeal all carbon taxes” by a margin of 209 to 119, with one Liberal MP, Ken Macdonald, joining the Conservative members to support the motion.

Economic numbers of the week

  •  64,000: September’s Labour Force Survey found that Canada saw 64,000 net new jobs created last month. The unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5%.

Coming Up

  • The NDP will hold its 2023 National Convention in Hamilton, Ontario from October 13 to October 15. 
  • The House of Commons will not sit next week. MPs will return on October 16.
  • Canada will host leaders from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on October 17-19 in Ottawa for a Canada-CARICOM Summit.

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