Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that, as Canada enters the “recovery phase” of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government will continue talks with the provinces and territories to ensure that every worker in the Canada who needs it can have access to 10 days of paid sick leave per year.
The announcement comes after the NDP supported Monday’s motion on how the rest of the spring session will be structured around a firmer commitment to paid sick leave for all Canadians.
“To get out of this crisis, our country needs workers more than ever,” said Trudeau, citing a Sunday call with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh about it. “No one should have to choose between taking a sick day or being able to pay their bills.”
Singh wasted no time in celebrating the victory, saying his caucus “will continue to press the government to make sure it lives up to that commitment and works with the provinces to make workers’ sick leave permanent.” ‘to come up “.
Trudeau said that “without delay” he will speak with the Prime Ministers in a way to ensure that those who need to stay at home can do so without penalty.
The Prime Minister also said that the federal government will consider other forms of long-term sick leave.
He said British Columbia Premier John Horgan first raised the issue when he called all the first few weeks ago.
Trudeau said that the concern “rightly” raised by Prime Minister Horgan is whether, in the fall of the flu, people could stay home without economic impact if they developed COVID-19 symptoms . The Prime Minister said he agreed that it would be important that anyone who felt bad had the opportunity not to go to work and rather have a test to limit the risk of a second wave.
Although the mechanisms for implementing a sick leave program are the responsibility of the provinces, Trudeau mentioned other joint federal-provincial relief measures COVID-19 which have been agreed as examples of how this can be done. done, like the commercial rent relief program that launched Monday morning.
“Today’s announcement means front-line workers will no longer have to choose between work and health,” said Canadian Labor Congress president Hassan Yussuff in a statement, stressing the inter-party cooperation that made this commitment a reality. “At present, it is extremely important that any worker who has been exposed to COVID-19 be able to self-quarantine without fear of loss of wages.”
“It is good to see Parliament focusing on Canadian workers during this crisis,” said Yussuff.
ONGOING DEBATE ON MOTION
A small number of MPs spend the afternoon in the West Block discussing the government’s new proposal on how to continue meeting as parliamentarians in an ongoing pandemic, while keeping in touch ‘mind the necessary public health precautions.
Advocating for the current situation, Trudeau said that work may have continued in the midst of the pandemic, but that the focus must still be on this crisis which has plagued almost every aspect of the lives of Canadians and our economy.
For the motion to pass, the government will need the support of at least one other recognized party. Now that the government has talked about the main stopping point for the NDP, they will likely go along with it.
“We are in a pandemic. No Canadian should have to choose between going to work sick or staying at home without knowing if they can pay the bills, “said Singh, drawing his huddle line in the sand before Trudeau’s speech.
Rather than actually taking over the House of Commons, the government suggests that members of parliament continue the current meetings of the special multi-stakeholder committee focused on COVID-19. The committee holds two virtual meetings per week and one in-person meeting.
Now, the Liberal minority suggests that the committee meet four days a week – Monday to Thursday – in a hybrid manner that would allow some members to participate in person, while others can participate from their homes, via screens installed inside the Chamber. , until June 17. Future special committee meetings would allow MPs to question government on matters unrelated to COVID-19, although concerns remain regarding representation in the House of Deputies from across the country given the propensity for technical and connectivity encountered to date. .
The proposal would also allow MPs to attend four additional meetings over the summer and provides new capacity for committees to conduct studies, including allowing the House Affairs Committee to further assess how including an official hybrid session of the House of Commons could take place, with the introduction of new tools such as remote voting.
Speaking on the motion on Monday, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Pablo Rodriguez, argued that the work of Parliament continued during the pandemic, highlighting the hundreds of witnesses heard, the dozens of committee meetings outfits, as well as the handful of emergency bills. who have passed.
He also noted that under the current structure of special committee meetings, the government has faced more questions from the opposition than it would have within the normal parameters of the sitting at the meeting. Bedroom.
However, this approach continues to be unsuitable for Conservatives, who remain opposed to the current structure of House meetings and have long called for a more solid resumption of sittings with up to 50 members, suggesting that Parliament be declared an essential service .
Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen has accused the Liberals of using the COVID-19 crisis to “stop” parliamentary responsibility. She also noted that many of the usual functions of the House – such as advancing private members’ bills and tabling questions on the order paper – had been on hiatus for more than two months now, with no plans to resume these aspects of the work of the House.
“The House of Commons must function and must be seen to function during this crisis. Contrary to what the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Québécois may think, this home is an essential service for the country and we, its members, are essential workers, “outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said on Monday which could be one of his last. speech in the House of Commons as party leader.
He continues to advocate for a way forward that allows greater accountability for the massive government policies deployed in the past two months while respecting the health and safety of everyone on Parliament Hill, which he described as ” beating heart “of the federal government. .
Although for his part, the leader of the Bloc Québécois Yves-François Blanchet is less concerned with the fine print of the motion, and is happy to let the other parties debate the proposal, saying that he is focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on real people.
“We will probably get on the bus when it arrives, but we will not negotiate when it will arrive or who will drive the bus,” said Blanchet.