Politics

Parliament to return on Nov. 22 with focus on vaccine mandate: PMO

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday morning that the swearing-in of the new federal cabinet will take place on Oct. 26 and Parliament will return on Nov. 22.

Vaccinations, paid sick leave and conversion therapy ban at top of government's to-do list

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in news release Friday morning that he has reached out to opposition leaders to discuss priorities. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Parliament will return on Nov. 22, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) announced Friday morning in a news release.

"From finishing the fight against COVID-19 to getting the job done on $10-a-day child care for families across the country, Canadians chose to move forward in September," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the release.

"Together, we will keep working hard to beat this virus and get Canadians vaccinated, create jobs and grow the middle class, put home ownership back in reach, accelerate climate action and take important steps forward on the path of reconciliation."

The new cabinet will be sworn in on Oct. 26.

Among the early priorities for the government are vaccinations — ensuring that everyone 12 or older travelling by plane or train is fully vaccinated, as well as all federal employees and workers in federally regulated industries. 

"The government will also deliver on its commitments to establish a standardized proof of vaccination for Canadians travelling internationally while supporting provincial and territorial proof-of-vaccination programs, and introduce legislation to make it a criminal offence to harass or threaten health-care workers," the release said.

Shared priorities

The government is also putting priority on a conversion therapy ban, 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated workers and engaging provinces and territories that have not yet signed on to the government's $10-a-day child-care agreement.

Trudeau has reached out to opposition leaders to discuss shared priorities, according to the release. He will speak with them by phone early next week.

"Among the first orders of business will be working with all parties to ensure all members of Parliament in the House of Commons are fully vaccinated against COVID-19," the release said. "Canadians expect their elected representatives to lead by example in the fight against this virus, and the prime minister will be raising this with other leaders."

The Liberals were re-elected with a minority government in September, meaning they will have to rely on opposition parties to get legislation passed in Parliament.

The PMO says the government is willing to work with other parties, particularly on extending COVID-19 economic support benefits.

"The government is committed to finding common ground with, and to working alongside, our parliamentary colleagues to ensure Canadians continue to be protected from the virus and receive the support they need," the release said.

Parliament should return sooner, opposition parties say

In a tweet, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said it "shouldn't take Trudeau two months to get back to work."

"Let's focus on the issues important to Canadians — like the pandemic, the rising cost of living and getting people back to work," the tweet reads.

In a statement, Conservative House leader Gérard Deltell said five weeks is too long to wait for Parliament to return and criticized Trudeau's decision to call the recent election.

"It's wrong that in the middle of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Justin Trudeau is waiting 63 days to return to work," he said. "That's 63 days that members of Parliament should be working in the House of Commons to address the pandemic, inflation, labour shortages and a number of other issues important to Canadians."

He added that a Conservative government would have returned Parliament sooner.

"We are ready to get back to work immediately to focus on the issues impacting Canadians from coast to coast," Deltell said.

Conservative House Leader Gérard Deltell says Conservatives would have brought Parliament back earlier than Nov. 22. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also said the Liberals are taking too long to get back to work.

"By setting the date to return to the House of Commons on November 22, the Liberals, once again, are showing that they are not interested in helping struggling families and small businesses in this fourth wave of COVID-19," he said in a media statement. 

Singh said the NDP is focused on pandemic supports for small businesses and individuals, a national vaccine passport program and a better sick leave program for workers, among other priorities.

He added that the NDP is prepared to support the government where their interests align.

"When the Liberal government will choose to put the well-being and the interests of people at the heart of every decision, we will be there to work with them," he said. "But if they continue to delay and deny help for people, they have shown that they can work with other opposition parties."

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