Canadians’ Priorities Ahead of Throne Speech Include Pandemic Measures and Economy, Poll Finds

Canadians’ Priorities Ahead of Throne Speech Include Pandemic Measures and Economy, Poll Finds
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette waves towards the gallery as she participates in a Royal Assent ceremony in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. The speech from the throne marks the beginning of every new Parliament, which comes after a general election, as is the case this year, or following a prorogation. It is read in the Senate by the Governor General, who this time around is Julie Payette, a former astronaut who is reading the speech for the first time since she was named to the vice-regal post in 2017.The Canadian Press/Justin Tang

Health measures to fight the pandemic, getting people back to work, and lowering taxes and the deficit are some of the top priorities for Canadians ahead of the throne speech on Wednesday, according to a new Ipsos poll.

“The biggest priority item for Canadians, they tell us, is support for health care initiatives to fight COVID,” Ipsos CEO Darrell Brickers told Global News, for whom the poll was conducted.

“Then after that it’s pretty much dominated by anything to do with the economy.”

The online survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and over shows that other issues that are top of mind among the respondents include a universal basic income (17 percent), supporting small business amid the pandemic (14 percent), emergency relief for people who have lost their jobs (13 percent), tightening immigration (12 percent), a green economic recovery (10 percent), and race and equality (7 percent).

“Right now, Canadians, when you ask them about tomorrow, they’re not talking about the next decade, they’re talking about literally Tuesday,” Bricker said. “How am I going to get through Tuesday?”

“So the government has to be really, really careful about promising some big things for the future, because what Canadians want is something right now.”

Parliament is set to resume with a throne speech on Sept. 23, which will put forward the government’s agenda for the upcoming session of Parliament. Delivered by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, the speech is expected to cover similar concerns to those shown in the Ipsos poll, as well as issues such as health care, child care, and housing.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said a main focus will be health and safety amid the pandemic.

“We’ve been saying very clearly that the pandemic and the health and safety of Canadians is the priority. So, people shouldn’t be surprised that the government’s focus will be squarely on that,” he said Sept. 20 on Global’s West Block program.

“But as I’ve said, they also expect the government to focus on issues as important as climate change and a successful economic recovery. We’ll be speaking to those issues as well in the throne speech.”

The Liberals will face a confidence vote regarding its proposed new agenda and that could then trigger an election—something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he doesn’t want.

“I have been very clear. The government has no interest in seeing an election this fall,” he told reporters on Sept. 9. “It will be up to the opposition parties to decide whether or not they have confidence in the plan this government’s going to put forward to help Canadians to build a better future.”