Liberal cabinet retreat set for Hamilton before parliament returns Pipa News

Liberal cabinet retreat set for Hamilton before parliament returns

The ongoing affordability crunch and the looming recession threat will be front and center as the federal Liberal cabinet wraps up the post-holiday cabinet this week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers will spend the next three days at the Hamilton Hotel, laying out their political and policy strategy for the coming weeks and months.

In a written statement last week, Trudeau said ministers at the retreat would focus on ways to make living more affordable, and “seize new opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses.”

He’s fresh from a week of cross-country travel that focused heavily on Canada’s push to expand its battery and electric-vehicle industries, including mining the vital minerals on which they both depend .

But the retreat comes as Canadians continue to feel the financial pinch of elevated inflation for more than a year, and with an economy now many expect to head into recession this year.

“We’re facing tough times right now,” Trudeau said last week during a stop at the Stellantis assembly plant in Windsor, Ont.

The recession will come after three years of volatility and anxiety driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supply-chain disruptions related to the pandemic. Both contributed to inflation and later raised interest rates to slow it down.

Braden Kelly, executive director of Canada 2020 Think, said, “Much of the prime minister’s time in office has been defined by how he has to respond to a series of emerging crises, and Canadians are looking at this year once again Huh.” tank and former director of communications for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Affordability was also a top priority at the last Liberal cabinet retreat in Vancouver in September. The government did offer some help, including a temporary increase in GST exemptions and federal housing benefits for renters. It also passed on a dental care benefit for young children as part of the confidence and supply agreement the Liberals reached with the NDP last March.

The fall economic statement promised to help low- and modest-income workers by making quarterly money advances with adjustments to the Canada Workers’ Benefit and permanently eliminating interest on federal student loans.

Carlin Varian, associate vice president at Summa Strategies and a former senior staffer in the offices of several Liberal ministers, said if more measures are coming it will be one that has already been introduced.

“I think we know what the playbook of this government is on measures to support Canadians in times of economic downturn, it’s always going to be policies that focus heavily on workers and measures to reduce rather than provide direct assistance to families,” she said.

Varian said he hoped the retreat would be an opportunity for the cabinet to take a step back and reconsider their mandate letters, a little more than a year after they were issued ahead of the 2021 election.

“I expect they will spend a fair amount of time in Hamilton next week on what they have been able to accomplish in a year and what they realistically expect to be able to accomplish over the course of the rest of the mandate,” he said.

“World events have changed a lot of the dynamics, whether it’s trade or the economic situation, or obviously the war in Ukraine. So how have those priorities evolved or changed?”

Trudeau spent much of last week meeting in person with most of his ministers to begin that process. There was some speculation that Trudeau would prefer to reshuffle his team before returning to the House, but there will be no reshuffle at this time.

Cabinet also has to take into account the government’s trust and supply deal with the NDP. New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh indicated last week that a promise to pass pharmacare legislation this year must be upheld to keep the deal going.

The fall economic statement pointed to the government’s financial priorities for 2023, with the promise that the coming spring budget will include more details on how the government will be competitive with other jurisdictions in clean technology investment.

The government is also promising “just transition” legislation this year — a bill to help workers in Canada’s oil and gas industries retrain for new jobs in clean and renewable energy, or reduce fossil fuels. Technology to make emissions intensive. That bill has already caused some political battles with the Alberta government, which faces an election in the spring.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is also making progress in talks with the provinces for a new federal-provincial health funding deal and will likely provide an update on it while in Hamilton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 22, 2023.


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