«I congratulate both the returning members of Parliament, as well as the more than one hundred who are newly elected, as you take up your duties in ...»
The Government has already appointed a new Chief Public Health Officer for Canada to drive real change. The Government will also proceed with new health protection legislation. And it welcomes the development of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network, which will strengthen collaboration among public health organizations nationwide. The Network will build capacity and provide coordinated responses to infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies.
CHILDREN, CAREGIVERS SENIORSAND For a decade, all governments have understood that the most important investment that can be made is in our children. That is why, even when it was fighting the deficit, the Government established the National Child Benefit—the most significant national social program since Medicare.
There is more that must be done to help families help their children. Parents must have real choices; children must have real opportunities to learn. The time has come for a truly national system of early learning and child care, a system based on the four key principles that parents and child care experts say matter—quality, universality, accessibility and development.
The Government will put the foundations in place with its provincial and territorial partners, charting a national course that focuses on results, builds on best practices and reports on progress to Canadians. Within this national framework, the provinces and territories will have the flexibility to address their own particular needs and circumstances.
As our society ages, Canadian families are caring not only for young children but increasingly for elderly spouses and grandparents as well.
The Government recognizes the vital role of Canadians who care for aged or infirm relatives or those with severe disabilities. It will improve its existing tax-based support and will ask Parliament to consult across the country on additional initiatives.
8 Speech from the Throne, October 5, 2004 Building on previous measures, the Government will assist people with disabilities in becoming more self-reliant by drawing on the upcoming recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities.
Canada’s seniors are healthier and living longer than ever before. Many want to remain active and engaged in community life. To help them, the Government has announced the New Horizons program and will explore other means of ensuring that we do not lose the talents and contribution that seniors can make to our society.
Canada’s seniors have earned the right to be treated with dignity. As one step, the Government will increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Canada’s least well-off seniors.
ABORIGINAL CANADIANSWe must do more to ensure that Canada’s prosperity is shared by Canada’s Aboriginal people—First Nations, Inuit and Métis. We have made progress, but it is overshadowed by the rates of fetal alcohol syndrome and teen suicide in Aboriginal communities. These are the intolerable consequences of the yawning gaps that separate so many Aboriginal people from other Canadians—unacceptable gaps in education attainment, in employment, in basics like housing and clean water, and in the incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes.
The Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable held last April was a major step along a new path of partnership and prosperity. The Government and Aboriginal leaders agreed to measurable goals to reduce these gaps and their consequences.
What could be more profound than targeting real change in the rate of fetal alcohol syndrome and teen suicide?
At their meeting on September 13 of this year, all First Ministers and Aboriginal leaders took action. There, this Government undertook to provide $700 million to encourage greater Aboriginal participation in the health professions, to address chronic diseases such as diabetes, and to create an Aboriginal Health Transition Fund to better adapt existing health care services to Aboriginal needs.
Speech from the Throne, October 5, 2004 9 The Government is working together with Aboriginal Canadians and provincial and territorial governments to create the conditions for long-term development—learning, economic opportunity, and modern institutions of Aboriginal governance—while respecting historical rights and agreements.
The Government and Aboriginal people will together develop specific quality-of-life indicators and a “Report Card” to hold all to account and to drive progress.
Canadians want their communities, towns and cities to be great places to live—safe, with affordable housing, good public transit, clean air and water, and abundant green spaces. Communities are key to our social goals and our economic competitiveness.
They are the front lines in building a better quality of life.
Through the New Deal for Canada’s Cities and Communities, and working with the provinces and territories, the Government will make available, for the benefit of municipalities, a portion of the federal gas tax, growing over the next five years.
These funds will enable municipalities to make long-term financial commitments needed to help contain urban sprawl and to invest in new sustainable infrastructure projects in areas like transit, roads, clean water and sewers.
To address key issues such as urban renewal, immigrant integration and the challenges facing off-reserve Aboriginal Canadians, the Government will expand the partnership approach used to develop the Vancouver and Winnipeg Agreements and proceed to implement its recent agreement with the Government of Ontario to cooperate in service delivery. The Government will also build on the work of the Harcourt Advisory Committee.
Shelter is the foundation upon which healthy communities and individual dignity are built. The Government will extend and enhance existing programs such as the Affordable Housing Initiative, the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative for the homeless, and the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program.
What makes our communities strong is the willingness of men and women from all walks of life to take responsibility for their future and for one another. We can see this in the number of voluntary organizations and social economy enterprises that are finding local solutions to local problems. The Government is determined to foster the 10 S p e e c h f r o m t h e T h r o n e, O c t o b e r 5, 2 0 0 4 social economy—the myriad not-for-profit activities and enterprises that harness civic and entrepreneurial energies for community benefit right across Canada. The Government will help to create the conditions for their success, including the business environment within which they work. To that end, it will introduce a new Not-forProfit Corporations Act.
What makes our communities work is our deep commitment to human rights and mutual respect. The Government is committed to these values. It will modernize Canada’s Citizenship Act to reaffirm the responsibilities and rights of Canadian citizenship and our values of multiculturalism, gender equality and linguistic duality.
It is implementing the Official Languages Action Plan and will continue to promote the vitality of official language minority communities. It will take measures to strengthen Canada’s ability to combat racism, hate speech and hate crimes, both here at home and around the world. And it will table legislation to protect against trafficking in persons and to crack down on child pornography.
What makes our communities vibrant and creative is the quality of their cultural life.
The Government will foster cultural institutions and policies that aspire to excellence, reflect a diverse and multicultural society, respond to the new challenges of globalization and the digital economy, and promote diversity of views and cultural expression at home and abroad.
OUR ENVIRONMENTOur quality of life today, and the legacy we bequeath to future generations, demands fundamental change in the way in which we think about the environment.
The Government will work with its partners to build sustainable development systematically into decision making.
As the ethic and imperative of sustainability take deeper root worldwide, human ingenuity will turn increasingly to ways to produce and use energy more cleanly and efficiently; to eliminate toxins from our air, water and soil; and to build more sustainable communities. Here lie great new opportunities for the world economy.
Canada’s entrepreneurs must aim to be at the leading edge.
S p e e c h f r o m t h e T h r o n e, O c t o b e r 5, 2 0 0 4 11 To that end, the Government will work with the private sector to improve the commercialization of the best new environmental technologies. Major investments funded out of the proceeds of the sale of the Government’s Petro-Canada shares will support their development and deployment.
The Government will work to get its own house in order. It will consolidate federal environmental assessments and will work with the provinces and territories toward a unified and more effective assessment process for Canada. By 2006, the Government will implement a new Green Procurement Policy to govern its purchases. It will also introduce legislation that will strengthen the focus on the ecological integrity of Canada’s national parks.
Nowhere are the challenges and opportunities of sustainability more evident than in the way in which we use and produce energy. The Government will place increased focus on energy efficiency and energy research and development. It will engage stakeholders in developing comprehensive approaches to encourage increased production and use of clean, renewable energy and to promote greater energy efficiency. This will build on efforts already underway, including support for windpower production in Canada, stimulated by a quadrupling of the Wind Power Production Incentive.
The Government reiterates that it will respect its commitment to the Kyoto Accord on climate change in a way that produces long-term and enduring results while maintaining a strong and growing economy. It will do so by refining and implementing an equitable national plan, in partnership with provincial and territorial governments and other stakeholders.
As the Government builds a sustainable society at home, it will continue to pursue multilateral and bilateral approaches to what are ultimately global challenges. For example, it will work with the United States and agencies like the International Joint Commission on issues such as clean air, clean water and invasive species. In 2005, the Government will bring forward the next generation of its Great Lakes and St. Lawrence programs, underscoring its commitment to protect and preserve these internationally significant shared ecosystems.
12 S p e e c h f r o m t h e T h r o n e, O c t o b e r 5, 2 0 0 4 The Government will also move forward on its Oceans Action Plan by maximizing the use and development of oceans technology, establishing a network of marine protected areas, implementing integrated management plans, and enhancing the enforcement of rules governing oceans and fisheries, including rules governing straddling stocks.
A ROLE PRIDE INFLUENCE WORLDOF AND IN THE In today’s world, effective international engagement is needed to advance national aspirations. Now that time and distance have lost their isolating effect, it is no longer possible to separate domestic and international policies. Canada’s internationalism is a real advantage, but we must find new ways to express it if we are to effectively assert our interests and project our values in a changing world.
Just as Canada’s domestic and international policies must work in concert, so too must our defence, diplomacy, development and trade efforts work in concert. This fall, the Government will release a comprehensive International Policy Statement that will reflect this integration. Parliamentarians and other Canadians will have the opportunity to debate its analyses and proposed directions.
Meanwhile, the world does not wait. The new security threats that face Canada demand new approaches immediately. The Government has already responded. In April of this year, it introduced Canada’s first-ever comprehensive National Security Policy, which will ensure a more focused and integrated approach to securing our open society. The Government is now implementing this policy. In this context, the Government is also deepening cooperation with the United States on mutual assistance in the event of major natural or human-caused emergencies.
This new context requires us to manage wisely our relationship with the United States, to know our friend better, and to strengthen our economic and security relations. Our relationship must be built on shared values, on mutual respect, and on a strong and independent voice for Canada.
Enhancing Canada’s security means that we have to invest more in our military as part of defending ourselves at home, in North America and in the world. We have to earn our way in the world. But ours will never be the biggest military force, so it must be smart, strategic and focused.
S p e e c h f r o m t h e T h r o n e, O c t o b e r 5, 2 0 0 4 13 Canada’s proud tradition as a leader in peacekeeping is being tested today by increasing demands in extremely dangerous and politically complicated situations, often involving failed and failing states. We have seen what extraordinary work Canadian men and women can do in places like Afghanistan, Bosnia and Haiti. We know that Canadians are among the best in the world in meeting the challenge of being soldiers to make the peace, diplomats to negotiate the peace and aid workers to nurture the peace.
That is why the Government will be increasing our regular forces by some 5,000 troops and our reserves by 3,000 so that they may be better prepared and equipped to meet these challenges.
As Darfur and other situations have shown, sometimes intervention is best achieved by regional forces attuned to their cultural and geographic conditions. In such cases, particularly in Africa, Canada intends to continue playing a role by training regional peacekeepers, to prepare them to conduct challenging security operations within the principles of international humanitarian law.
In so many of the world’s trouble spots, establishing order is only the first step.