Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Honourable Rosa Galvez, independent senator, made the following statements in reaction to the Speech from the Throne this afternoon:

Environmental Measures and Green Recovery

“The Speech from the Throne is a step forward; unfortunately, it comes at a moment where the country needs the courage and hope to take a giant leap forward. The electrification of transport and energy efficient retrofits are good initiatives but represent low-hanging fruits that have been ripe for the picking for a long time. Otherwise, the Throne Speech represents the highest environmental achievement of the last year for this government: it has successfully recycled its previous environmental commitments. We are far from the paradigm shift we needed to avoid future crises. Just this morning Climate Action Tracker released their latest report on Canada’s “insufficient”, 3.0°C-compliant climate action plan, which shows we are still off-track with the Paris Agreement goals. This is due to commitments that have never been ambitious enough and implemented poorly. The Speech is a missed opportunity to see this recovery as a chance to reset the course as other countries have done.”

“The government has turned its back on the bold, green and inclusive recovery that had been in preparation since June. Yet, zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 are intrinsically linked to environmental degradation, pollution and climate change. Scientists have been showing for decades – and indigenous peoples for centuries – that human well-being is dependent on the quality of our environment. Our future prosperity depends on building an economy that at last respects this basic truth.”

“This was a key moment for Canada to show we have learned from experience and set the course for years to come. If we focus solely on immediate response rather than acting to prevent future crises, we are not learning nor building the resilient future that Canadians expect and deserve. I fear this government is letting the transformational opportunity of this crisis go to waste and that we will all pay for it for generations to come.”

“In poll after poll since the beginning of the pandemic, Canadians have showed they are ready to create a new normal that works for all, including future generations. It is not too late for elected leaders to hear their call.”

Polls:  Abacus Data, Abacus Data (#2),  Pollara Strategic, and Ipsos

Fiscal Inequality

“Beyond the positive steps announced to further social justice - the vague commitment to tax extreme wealth inequality and to address corporate tax avoidance by digital giants - I am disappointed this government didn’t provide more specific policies to address the growing wealth inequality that tends to worsen in times of crisis. For example, since the March 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, the total wealth of the 20 richest Canadians has increased by $37 billion."

"The latest polling indicates 82% of Canadians believe that the wealth of Canada’s richest people are better off or has not been impacted by the pandemic while most think the economic and social well-being of youth, racialized Canadians, and women have been negative impacted and that 85% think it is at least important to create or increase taxes for richest Canadians to recover from the COVID-19 crisis."

"There is still time for the Liberals to build on their willingness over the last few years to increases taxes on the 1% to finally address the tax loopholes and tax havens through which we lose billions in tax revenues every year, billions which could help pay for a fair recovery. Further, my office estimates, based on a recent Parliamentary Budget Officer report on wealth distribution, that a 10% tax on the 13,800 households with wealth above $20 million would yield $56.1 billion in revenue in its first year and could repay the entire COVID-19 direct emergency funding to date in less than five years. This crisis is an opportunity to robustly implement tax justice – and pay for the recovery without resorting to harmful austerity measures.”

Guaranteed Livable Income

“I am heartened to see the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through to next summer and the creation of Canada Recovery Benefit to support the Employment Insurance system, but I am disappointed the government did not seize the opportunity to establish a permanent guaranteed livable income as more than 50 senators, under the leadership of senators Kim Pate and Frances Lankin, had asked for this measure early in the crisis and were eventually backed by the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance in its interim report on the COVID-19 economic response.”

About Senator Rosa Galvez

Rosa Galvez is an environmental engineer, professor, pollution expert, and independent senator from the province of Quebec since 2016. In the previous session, she was a member of the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance which provided oversight for the federal government’s emergency COVID-19 response and attended all Senate sittings to adopt emergency measures since the beginning of the crisis.

She recently organized a webinar series on a clean and fair recovery for parliamentarians and government decision-makers with six experts including Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel prize in economy and will soon be releasing a white paper on the same topic. She published a white paper on Canada's Building Code in the Context of Climate Change, Adaptation, and Sustainability in June 2019. She was the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources from 2017 to 2019.

For more information please contact

Karine Péloffy | Parliamentary Affairs Advisor | Office of Senator Rosa Galvez
613-996-2210 | Karine.Peloffy@sen.parl.gc.ca

Learn more about Senator Rosa Galvez at rosagalvez.ca
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