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MP says throne speech leaves Victorians in the dark for a sustainable economy

The speech announced the country’s first disaster adaptation strategy
Laurel Collins is the NDP MP for Victoria. (Courtesy Laurel Collins campaign)

The federal government’s priorities, outlined in last month’s speech from the throne, fell short in its commitments to a sustainable economy necessary to Victoria residents, according to the riding’s NDP MP.

The Nov. 23 throne speech was a symbolic ceremony that outlined priorities as the Liberal Party returned to session with an identical balance of power following a five-month election hiatus.

Mary Simon (who made history as Canada’s first Governor-General to read the speech in a third language and her first: Inuktitut) announced the country’s first national adaption strategy for climate disaster, which will fund each level of government once implemented before the end of 2023.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Insurance Bureau of Canada ran an analysis in 2019 of what it would cost to handle the adaptation needs in Canada’s cities and towns and concluded at least $5.3 billion is needed from various governments every year.

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Nikki Macdonald, who ran for the Liberals in Victoria in the last election, said she was confident in her party to work as a minority government with the NDP to pass climate and disaster prevention policies beneficial for Victoria residents. “We saw in the last parliament that both parties had the ability to work together on key issues, and I anticipate that going forward,” she told Black Press Media.

Victoria MP Laurel Collins, however, said the Liberals’ announcements didn’t do enough to assure Victoria residents of an economy sustainable in a world facing climate change. Collins, who is also the NDP’s critic for environment and climate change, said she asked Trudeau why there was no mention of a former promise to end federal fossil fuel subsidies, which amounted to $18 billion in 2020.

Workforce retraining should be a priority, she said, with a scope broader than Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland fossil fuel workers. “That includes ensuring that our innovative tech companies, that are doing incredible low carbon work, have the workforce that is trained and available,” she told Black Press Media.

Tackling inflation, which brought a 4.7 per cent increase to the price of goods in October, was also considered a priority of the government during the speech. Their methods, Simon said, would see investing into the housing crisis through municipal funding and rent-to-own programs, and the establishment of $10-a-day childcare nationwide.

Liberal affordability goals missed the mark on making either housing or childcare affordable to residents of Victoria, Collins said. “The (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) defines affordable as 30 per cent of someone’s income … yet Liberals continue to call units affordable housing where people are paying up to 50 per cent on their housing,” she said.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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