With employers and employees still suffering through the limbo of the coronavirus pandemic, Wednesday’s throne speech clarified how the federal government plans to continue to support Canadians.

In her speech, Governor General Julie Payette said the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be extended into 2021. She also said the government intends to shift away from emergency benefits in favour of beefing up the current employment insurance system to fold in pandemic-related support. Although, regarding these and other promises, the speech gave no specific timelines or numbers.

“Canadians should not have to choose between health and their job, just like Canadians should not have to take on debt that their government can better shoulder,” she said.

Read: Survey finds 76% of Canadian businesses used federal wage subsidy to keep employees

The speech also highlighted the particular burdens Canadian women have taken on during the pandemic. The speech noted many women have taken on more unpaid care at home, while at the same time, low-income women have been hit hardest by cuts to paid work. In a bid to support parents — in particular, women — Payette said the government intends to make a long-term investment in creating a national early learning and childcare system.

“We must not let the legacy of the pandemic be one of rolling back the clock on women’s participation in the workforce, nor one of backtracking on the social and political gains women and allies have fought so hard to secure.”

The speech also promised additional access to mental-health resources and touched on the government’s commitment to the formation of a national pharmacare system, particularly in light of many Canadians losing employer-provided medical benefits.

Specifically, Payette said the government plans to accelerate progress toward a national system by developing a rare-disease drug strategy to help Canadians save on high-cost medications; establishing a national formulary to keep drug prices low; and working with provinces and territories that are willing to move forward quickly on the issue.

Read: How can employers support staff with children during pandemic schooling?

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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