Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that his government intends to continue talks with the provinces and territories to ensure that every worker in Canada who needs it is given 10 days of paid sick leave a 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. “No one should have to choose between taking a sick day or being able to pay their bills.”
The Prime Minister also spoke about the commercial rent relief program that was launched Monday morning, offering owners of commercial buildings repayable loans to cover 50% of the three monthly rents if they reduce their tenants’ rent by 75 %.
Trudeau said that homeowners with up to 10 eligible tenants located in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Alberta or Quebec can apply today.
Owners in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the territories, who also have up to 10 eligible tenants, can apply tomorrow, while owners of more than 10 tenants can apply later this week .
As Prime Minister holds press conference, small number of MPs have started a debate in the West Block on the government’s new proposal on how to continue meeting as parliamentarians as part of ‘an ongoing pandemic, while keeping in mind the necessary public health precautions. There will also be a question period on Monday afternoon, in which Trudeau will participate.
HYBRID HOUSE PROPOSAL
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 may participate from their homes, although screens are installed inside the Chamber. .
Under the proposal, the committee would continue to meet until June 17, when, instead of the usual summer adjournment, members of Parliament would hold four more meetings during the summer.
In addition, the motion – which will be presented by the Leader of the Government in the House, Pablo Rodriguez – includes: a new ability for committees to conduct studies, including allowing the House Affairs Committee to further assess how an official House of Commons hybrid session could take place, with the implementation of new tools such as remote voting.
POSITIONS OF THE OPPOSITION PARTIES
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.
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet is less concerned about the fine print of the motion and is happy to let other parties debate the proposal, saying it focuses 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.
Conservatives oppose 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. Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has argued in recent days that with some businesses able to reopen and offer their services to Canadians, MPs should be able to resume parliamentary business in person rather than by video conference.
Scheer said his caucus is confident about the way forward allowing for greater accountability over the huge government policies deployed in the past two months while respecting the health and safety of everyone on Parliament Hill.
“It is not a partisan issue. The question is whether or not a country like Canada can have a functioning parliament during a crisis. The other parties don’t seem to understand this, “said Scheer last week.