Speech from the Throne: steps in the right direction, still more to be done
On September 23, 2020 Governor General Julie Payette delivered a particularly important Speech from the Throne that outlined the government’s priorities and plans for the critical months ahead.
In the Speech, the government made a number of statements on issues of great importance to our members and to all Canadians. Most notably:
- It said explicitly that this was no time for austerity.
We can’t agree more. With the pandemic, Canadians need a strong and reliable government and public service more than ever.
- It will modernize the government’s IT infrastructure
The government definitely needs to update its outdated IT systems and PIPSCs has been advocating for this work to happen sooner than later. But we need to ensure that these projects are done right. The disastrous Phoenix pay system is only the most obvious and far-reaching example of the government’s numerous technology failures over the past decade. The wholesale outsourcing of megaprojects to the private sector has led only to costly failures. Instead, let’s rely on our public service professionals to do the job right and cost-effectively.
- It wants to remain agile
Public servants recently showed how agile they can be with the quick and successful set-up of CERB. This is not a good time to shake up the public service and slash programs Canadians depend on and the people who deliver them.
- It plans to address Systemic Racism
The government says it’s dedicated to increasing the diversity and representation in public service hiring, appointments and leadership development.
This is a positive development but we need to acknowledge there’s more work to be done. There are still actionable items from previous work on this issue — a Joint Union-Management Task Force report on “Building a Diverse and Inclusive Public Service” with 40-odd recommendations, for instance, has yet to be fully implemented despite having been prepared in 2017. In November 2018, PIPSC made a number of recommendations on this issue in its Submission to the Government Consultation on Anti-Racism.
- It will take action on child care
We are encouraged to see it is paying more attention to this issue, which affects so many of our members.This pandemic has clearly demonstrated the need for reliable, high-quality and affordable childcare for Canadian women and families.
- It will introduce measures to promote tax fairness
The Throne Speech mentioned plans to limit stock option deductions - one of the worst tax loopholes - and address corporate tax avoidance by digital giants operating in Canada. The government also plans to introduce automatic tax filing, which will be good for all Canadians if it frees up Auditors to focus on big corporate and individual tax cheats. PIPSC has been advocating for these much-needed measures for a long time, and they were included in the recent AFS Group survey on how new kinds of software technology are affecting our members’ jobs.
The fact that the 2020 Throne Speech emphasizes so many of the issues that matter to our members shows that our advocacy efforts and our work with our partners such as Canadians for Tax Fairness are paying off!