OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government survived a confidence vote Tuesday on its throne speech, with crucial support from New Democrats.

The speech was approved by a vote of 177-152 in the House of Commons.

There was little suspense about the outcome of the vote, which could have plunged the country into an election had the Liberals lost it.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had said his party would support the speech after winning some key changes to legislation last week setting up new benefits for workers left jobless or underemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Conservatives and Bloc Québécois had promised, almost immediately after the speech was delivered on Sept. 23, to vote against it. And newly minted Green Leader Annamie Paul announced earlier Tuesday that her party’s three MPs would join them.

Paul said there were some very good things in the Liberals’ agenda-setting speech last month but the Green party won’t support it because it lacks a plan to protect those living in long-term care from COVID-19. 

“I’m not just speaking of seniors. I’m also speaking of people with special needs and with disabilities,” Paul said at a news conference on Parliament Hill.

“Those people are not protected.”

Paul was to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.

The Greens also faulted the throne speech for failing to promise a guaranteed livable income, which Paul said would make Canadians more resilient against economic shocks.

Paul said she was encouraged to hear many Liberal and New Democrat MPs talk about the need for a guaranteed basic income before the throne speech.

“They call it a guaranteed basic income, we call it livable income, because you need to be able to live on it and live in dignity,” she said. “I had been looking for at least an indication that the government was going to be introducing a pilot program.”

Paul said she was pleased to see the government extend emergency pandemic benefits to those who are most in need, but she said the plan still leaves out too many Canadians, including students.

The new leader said the Liberal government is also failing to demonstrate national and international leadership on climate change and the Green party could not support any plan that does not protect Canadians’ future in this way.

“The climate emergency is as urgent today as it was when the pandemic hit,” she said.

“I will remind the prime minister that we were obliged to increase our Paris (emission reduction) targets this year. It was a non-negotiable date.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2020.

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