The house is back

Think your Sunday Scaries are bad? Members of Parliament returned to Ottawa after a six-week winter break with enough on their plates to keep yours truly hiding in bed. 

Driving the news: Parliament’s return kicks off a consequential year that will have far-reaching impacts on the economy, with healthcare, cost-of-living, and a high-stakes spring budget set to dominate the agenda, per POLITICOHere’s what’s on our radar:

  • Healthcare negotiations: The federal government and the Premiers are working towards a new deal on healthcare funding that could shake up healthcare systems.
  • Spring budget time: The government is under pressure to use the next budget to compete with massive new spending set aside by the Biden Administration for infrastructure and clean energy through the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • A Biden visit: Pressures are mounting to strengthen Western ties and boost energy and battery supply chains to compete with China (and stimulate a slowing economy).
  • Investigations: A report on the fed’s use of The Emergencies Act is due in February, all while the opposition grills them over their extensive use of McKinsey consultants.
  • Bills, bills, bills: Proposed legislation covers firearm use (Bill C-21), control over Internet giants (C-11), and funding childcare and early learning programs (Bill C-35). 

Meanwhile, there are also three bills before the House that would enact new environmental protectionsreform the Official Languages Act and create a public complaints and review commission to oversee the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency, per the CBC. 

Why it matters: The government has about a year to move the needle on the most pressing issues affecting Canadians and the economy, all with the looming risk of a federal election should the supply-and-confidence agreement between the NDP and Liberals fall apart.