The plan, while it is still in its infancy, takes over in part the direction of the government’s economic strategy before COVID-19 does everything: a budget-budget.
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“When the recovery begins, Canada can build a stronger and more resilient economy by investing in a cleaner, healthier future for all,” said Moira Kelly, spokesperson for Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.
The Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Maryam Monsef, said in a recent interview that there were three parts to the government’s response, starting with direct assistance to people, then supporting businesses to that they can continue during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the same time, we are setting up another path so that, when it is time to start cleaning up quotation marks and economic and community recovery, my team has done its job by preparing a master plan for the next steps,” she declared.
Some ministers, whose portfolios are less directly linked to the pandemic response, are taking a closer look at the longer-term situation. This includes ministers like Wilkinson and Minister of Infrastructure Catherine McKenna.
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Before COVID-19, Wilkinson and McKenna were major players in the preparation of the federal budget, which was to be a down payment on the government’s strategy to achieve zero net emissions by 2050. This policy, an electoral promise that Trudeau made l last fall would cut emissions to the point where the rest can be absorbed naturally or with technology, leaving none in the atmosphere to trap heat and warm the planet even more.
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Some of the budget plans are expected soon, including a massive investment to clean up abandoned oil wells in Alberta as part of the federal strategy to find new jobs for energy workers leaving the oil zone. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on March 18 that such an investment was coming, and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told his province last week to expect a federal investment ” extraordinary ”for the wells of orphans.
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Another election promise, interest-free loans of up to $ 40,000 for homeowners to install cleaner energy solutions and energy savings such as solar panels and better windows, is also in the pipeline. It would mimic previous stimulus packages that inject money into the economy by making it easier for consumers to renovate their homes.
Wesley Johnston, President of the Canadian Solar Industries Association, said that Ottawa has identified certain programs it is working on for clean energy investments. He said the government mainly wants programs that can be implemented quickly and create jobs and liquidity in the economy.
Johnston was one of the signatories to an open letter to Trudeau last week encouraging him to consider clean technology and energy investment as the keys to the economic stimulus package.
The Green Budget Coalition also wrote to the government on Thursday asking it to ensure that the global climate emergency and loss of biodiversity remain at the heart of planning for the recovery process.
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Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said his party would have more to say about the stimulus package after the immediate health crisis ended, but added that the government could not return to liberal policies as usual, particularly with regard to concerns the damaged oil and gas sector.
“We will have to start discussing how we can have a much more competitive tax system, and less and less regulations that prevent investments from entering,” he said. “We are going to have to talk about how we are going to launch big projects that are already in the books and these conversations will take place. “
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Ralph Goodale, former Minister of Public Safety and Finance, has overseen a number of stimulus packages following smaller disasters such as floods and major forest fires. However, he said that people on the front lines who are not needed will be invited to join the effort for the stimulus package, which will be complex and forge new ground.
“Determining exactly how to do it will take a lot of ingenuity,” he said.
Goodale said he thinks there should be a longer-term stimulus for sectors like transportation, tourism and energy, who will feel the pain of this slowdown deeper and longer than others . He also encouraged his former cabinet colleagues to be creative in packaging recovery programs that do more than one thing, such as fighting climate change and Canadian self-sufficiency in medical supplies or agriculture, at the same time.
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The Conference Board of Canada’s chief economist Pedro Antunes told the Canadian Press that a major economic stimulus package to restore the economy, as we saw during the 2009 financial crisis, could be unnecessary, because the damage done now should be reversed when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. .
“Once we start reopening the economy, eliminating this social distancing requirement, I think the economy will rebound pretty well on its own,” he said.
Antunes said some industries will take longer to return to normal as the government reports that things will reopen slowly, rather than all at once. Travel, in particular, will take longer to return, and industries with large gatherings, such as sporting events or theaters.
—With files from Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press
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