Liberals Present New Pandemic Aid Bill as ‘Last Step’ in COVID Recovery

Ottawa – The Liberal government on Wednesday introduced its latest, and what it hopes to be the latest, pandemic aid legislation, proposing a scaled-down package of financial support for Canadians still suffering from the public health crisis.

“Bill C-2 is designed with the understanding that our economic recovery continues to be uneven and that public health measures that are saving lives continue to restrict some of the economic activity,” the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister told reporters. of Finance, Chrystia Freeland.

“I see this legislation as the last step in our COVID support programs,” he added. “He is what I really hope and I think he is the final pivot.”

Freeland introduced the relief bill a month after it first announced that the Canada Response Benefit, as well as the emergency wage and rent subsidy programs, would end on October 23. At the time, he said those programs would be changed and renewed. at $ 7.4 billion in specific support for workers facing local lockdowns, those in the tourism and hospitality sectors, and other heavily affected businesses.

The deputy prime minister also said that eligibility for Ottawa’s sick and care benefits will run through May 7, 2022. The Canada Recovery Recruitment Benefit, for employers who need support to cover employee wages, also it will run until that date.

Legislation introduced Wednesday expanded the proposed Hospitality and Tourism Recovery Program, stating that companies in the cultural sector that “satisfy the artistic or cultural interests of their sponsors, including live performances or exhibitions intended for the public” would now be eligible.

Businesses could receive a subsidy rate of up to 75 percent, but must demonstrate a loss of income of at least 40 percent during the past year, plus a loss of income of at least 40 percent during the current month. .

Under the budget execution law, the government was able to temporarily implement some of these changes in October, before Parliament was resumed.

But minority liberals now require the support of at least one other party to pass the bill, which is one of four priority pieces of legislation the government hopes to pass by the time the House of Commons breaks the holiday on Dec. 17.

“Personally, and my colleagues in the House leadership have also been speaking very forcefully, with many MPs from opposition parties and we have provided a technical briefing,” Freeland said. “So yes, absolutely. We are talking to parliamentarians from other parties ”.

The Bloc Québécois has expressed its support for the bill, provided that workers from the cultural sector are included.

On Tuesday, conservative financial critic Pierre Poilievre said it was “too early” to decide how he would vote on the bill, a view the party held on Wednesday.

However, Jagmeet Singh of the NDP has stated that his party “cannot support a bill that is going to harm” the people.

New Democrats have criticized the Liberals’ decision to leave the CRB amid a fourth wave of the pandemic. The party is calling for an end to the recoveries facing older people and low-income families, who are seeing child support payments drop because they received other forms of help during the pandemic. NDP finance critic Daniel Blaikie told the Star that ending those recoveries would be a sticking point for the party to support whatever bill the Liberals introduce this fall.

In a press conference with Freeland, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said the government was “working on a way forward” to recognize those problems, which are not included in Wednesday’s bill.


Raisa Patel is an Ottawa reporter covering federal politics for The Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel


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