Justin Trudeau and his Liberal cabinet made their way to Hamilton, Ont. on Monday for the first day of a three-day retreat that will focus predominantly on growing and strengthening the economy, making life more affordable and improving health care for Canadians.
“We want to make sure that every Canadian has access to high-quality public health care across the country, the kinds of universal services that are necessary,” Trudeau told Global News in an interview.
The prime minister’s inner circle will spend most of their time at the convention center downtown to map out priorities ahead of upcoming sessions in Parliament.
However, Trudeau and his ministers are expected to make appearances across the city in the next few days.
A multi-million dollar airport expansion, a demonstration on King Street and the prime minister’s trek down Locke Street were just some of the highlights during Day 1 of the get-together.
$23.5 million of expansion of John C. Munro airport
The Liberals put down $23.5 million of a $46.9-million expansion and sustainability project at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport in an effort to increase its annual economic activity.
Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra and Federal Economic Development minister Filomeena Tassi revealed the funding will increase cargo operations by expanding the airfield, increasing de-icing capacity and building a new independent road to reduce congestion.
“It will also create new permanent middle-class jobs for Canadians in the region,” Alghabra said during a tour of the airport on Monday.
The investment is will double the arrival capacity for Cargojet’s 777 aircraft set to fly into Hamilton on a regular basis and build a dedicated service road allowing ground equipment to move goods quickly and safely between aircraft and facilities.
The upgrades will also expand gate capacity by 125 per cent and de-icing capacity by 250 per cent.
The goal is to generate some $2.1 billion in total economic activity annually for the airport.
Cash for Hamilton-Burlington fetal alcohol disorder program
Canada’s Minister of Justice David Lametti and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MP Chad Collins made a visit to the Barton Street chapter of the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington and Area, to make a contribution for vulnerable youth.
The $600,000 over four years will support John Howard’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Youth Justice Program providing support services to youth aged 12 to 17 diagnosed with, or believed to be affected by, the disorder.
“This funding allows us to advocate for these youth within the justice system while building greater capacity for justice professionals to meet the needs of FASD-impacted youth within the system,” John Howard’s Manager of Youth Services Kim Gibson-Chalmers said Monday.
More than 1.5 million Canadians have FASD as of January 2023 – more than autism, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome combined.
It’s estimated that as many as 30 to 60 per cent of youth and adults with FASD may have some level of contact with the criminal justice system, according to Ottawa.
'Status for all' demonstration on King Street
About 200 people shut down a portion of King Street outside the convention center Monday where the retreat is taking place to demonstrate support for migrant workers.
The rally was held to call for an uncapped and inclusive regularization program in Canada, through which an estimated half a million undocumented people and their families would get permanent resident status.
The pitch also includes permanent resident status for all migrants, including Florence Gerald, who says she came to Canada from Kenya in 2019 and has been working as a personal support worker and HVAC technician throughout the pandemic.
“Putting my life in danger out there when Canadians stayed home because then they qualified for emergency insurance, which most of the migrants did not qualify for,” Gerald told 900 CHML.
“Now that the pandemic is almost over, we are being sent out.”
Also at the rally was Hamilton-based chef John Mulwa who says he’s been repeatedly denied protected refugee status after leaving Kenya in 2014, a country he fled after threats were made on his life.
“What I’m asking from the government of Canada is for them to grant me status so I can walk and be at peace and not be killed,” Mulwa said.
“If I go home, something bad will happen to me.”
Mulwa has worked as a chef for the Students’ Association at Mohawk College and runs a catering business that provides meals to Hamilton’s unhoused communities.
He’s facing deportation on Jan. 28.
Trudeau visits Locke Street
The Prime Minister took a stroll down Locke Street with MP Filomena Tassi on Monday stopping to pick up a burger and soup at the Burnt Tongue.
Trudeau would take pictures with the eatery’s staff before hopping on a nearby HSR bus to greet a number of riders.
However, his ride back to the convention centre would be in a private car rather than on the bus.