Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Etobicoke North.
I am proud to speak to the Speech from the Throne. A Speech from the Throne gives us an opportunity to reset our clock, to say that the things we talked about before the election are not valid anymore, because this thing called COVID-19, this pandemic, began to take us off track. All of the old economic and social systems, etc. that we had are not working anymore. We are in a new world and we have to do something about it. I think we expected that COVID-19 would not last and we would be out of it now. We now are braced for a second tsunami of COVID-19, which we hear globally that it will be worse than the first.
With this Speech from the Throne, we reset new systems because the old ones left a lot of people very vulnerable as well as let a lot of people down.
The first thing in the Speech from the Throne was that this government decided that if we did not do something to contain the spread of COVID-19, whatever we did for businesses, individuals or jobs would not be sustainable and could not be permanent because COVID would be there. COVID-19 does not give a fig about jobs. It does not care about boundaries. It does not care what province or territory people are in. It is a global pandemic.
We decided to talk about how we would help Canadians, workers, individuals, families and business owners through the second wave. Because we have a AAA rating, being the only country in the world besides Germany to have that, we can borrow from ourselves at 0.25%, so Canadians and business owners do not have to borrow from the banks at 5%, or use their credit cards at 19%, or even remortgage their homes so they can carry on during this pandemic.
We talked about how we expanded. We brought back new support systems. CERB has now been taken over by a new CRB. People will be moved into EI seamlessly so they can be supported. Interestingly enough, individuals who are self-employed or in the gig economy were not covered by EI before but now they will be.
We looked at how we would support seniors who had fallen between the cracks in the old system. A lot of the system is about innovation and WiFi and many seniors are too poor to afford that, at least they are in my riding. We have looked at how we can help them get more financial stability during this difficult time because they were afraid they would be kicked out of the places where they live.
We looked at people who were very vulnerable, the homeless and people who have substance use disorders, and how we could help them. We brought in an emergency rapid response fund. Homelessness increases our susceptibility to COVID, so we want to get rapid money for those who have no place to live to get them into shelters and other places to live. This is the kind of thing we are doing.
It is not a rehash of what was happening. If anybody understood what was going on, they would realize that this is about helping to protect people and looking at how we diminish the spread of COVID. We have put money into protective equipment. We have millions for testing and tracking. We have given $2.2 billion to provinces to make it okay for kids to go to school and be safe.
That is all provincial jurisdiction that we are putting money into: housing, homelessness, schools. We do not care. We are the Government of Canada. We want to help all Canadians. We are not discriminating against what province they come from. That is what we are doing in this Speech from the Throne.
We are there. We have vaccines now lined up, millions of vaccines so every Canadian, no matter how poor, no matter how rich, no matter what they do will be able to have access to a vaccine. We have upgraded the tracking and testing mechanisms and sent more money to the provinces so they will be able to test and track quicker and to move forward. We have now just got a new test that is for quick testing. We are always guided by science as we look at how to protect people against COVID, against the spread and against spreading it to each other, etc.
People complain about it, but we are looking at a national standard for long-term care homes. The COVID does not care if we live in one province or another. The provinces think it is okay for the federal government to contribute 87¢ on every dollar to provinces to help them make decisions in their jurisdictions.
This is not about interfering with the provinces. This is about recognizing the reality of a pandemic and a virus that does not care. We have moved forward on all of that. Then we talked about how, in the interim, we were going to try to support businesses. We have extended the Canadian wage subsidy and we have expanded it until next summer. We are working on the details of some of the things businesses told us did not work for them. We are trying to deal with that.
We are looking at how to help the tourism industry, which is stranded. The industry used the CEWS, and that is there for them until next summer so businesses can at least be sustained and look at how they can transform into the new economy through innovation. They are going to have to do business differently now. The government is here to help them with all the things they need in terms of innovating for business, in terms of Wi-Fi, looking at schools and how we are able to do things differently to keep citizens safe. This is part of a plan. This is not business as usual.
This is the worst crisis we have had since the Second World War. In fact, all of the things we put in place after the Second World War to sustain Canadians economically, socially and culturally have not been upgraded for 50 years. They are not valid anymore. They are not working anymore.
We now have to look at how to reinvent the wheel by looking at what other countries are doing. We are putting money into innovation so we can have far more companies shift from what they were doing to new, innovative jobs. We are going to be helping young people connect with their first jobs, because some of them cannot find jobs in this new environment. We are looking at how we rescale and train people for the current economy.
This is a forward-thinking document. The economy is always something we have to keep resilient and sustainable. We are saying that we have to do it differently, because the old ways do not work anymore. COVID-19 has exposed all of the cracks in our system. We needed a Speech from the Throne to make sure that we did not just cover those cracks, but filled them in so people would not fall into them anymore.
This is saying that yes, people need to get jobs. Yes, we have to look at the economy. Yes, we need to protect people from illness. Yes, we have to strengthen the health system, which we talked about. We have to look at how mental health fits into the Canada Health Act, and how people access pharmaceuticals when they need them. We are working on all of those tranches at once, so that people do not fall between the cracks.
What is also important to remember, when we start talking about provincial jurisdiction and what we have not been doing, is that we are dealing with a pandemic. All over the world people are suffering. We have also decided it is time for us to step up and help countries around the world so they can develop health care systems, access vaccines and have the equipment needed to test and track.
We are sharing and building alliances with like-minded countries because we can no longer talk about our country alone. We have to talk about how we work with other countries to strengthen the global economy. We have to look at how we fight a pandemic together, and how we shift and change. This is not the first pandemic. Speaking as a physician, it is not going to be the last. If we do not want to have more pandemics, we need to make sure that when diseases start around the world, they remain as epidemics and that countries are able to cope with them.
We need to look at how we trade differently. We need to look at human rights. We need to look at rising fascism around the world and right-wing extremist governments that are denying human rights to people. We have to look outward, as well as inward. COVID-19 does not really care what country one lives in, what borders are between provinces or whose jurisdiction it is. I do not know that COVID ever read the Constitution.
We are here as a federal government responsible for all Canadians and remembering that it is our duty to make sure nobody falls between the cracks, whether because of the health system, which needs to be there to support them, or because of the economy. We are focusing on job creation and new ways of building an economy. If one reads the Speech from the Throne, one would find out that is exactly what we are doing and what we need to do now.
It might be a time for us to sit down and stop talking about partisan politics. All of us need to do what countries around the world are doing. Countries around the world are saying, let us get together and look at how we work together to prevent this from happening. This is a global problem. We might want to say this is a Canadian problem. Let us all come together—