PM calls for swift passage of Senate COVID-19 aid bill, emphasizes severity of pandemic


OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he hopes the latest COVID-19 assistance bill – extending the federal wage subsidy and changing the commercial rent subsidy program – will get a quick passage through the Senate, as calls continue for more federal support for businesses facing a new round of closures amid a still-booming second wave of the pandemic. Bill C-9 went through a fast-track process in the House of Commons the first week of November, and the Senate is currently considering the bill, but there are still several legislative steps to be taken before it becomes law.

Trudeau said he hoped the Senate would pass the bill “shortly” and noted that some of the business supports in the bill will be retroactive and include additional supports for businesses in areas with closures. forced have occurred recently.

In the past month, cases have soared across the country, taking Canada above the 300,000 case threshold, which has raised new questions about the need for national emergency measures. Trudeau continues to promise federal aid to the provinces, which must ultimately appeal to the public health measures in place in their regions.

“We know this is extremely difficult for Canadians and businesses, but the federal government’s position from the start has been to make the tough decisions – by regional authorities, by provincial authorities, by local public health authorities – easier to know than businesses that need to close will receive strong support, ”Trudeau said.

Trudeau’s comments follow Toronto Mayor John Tory, who called on the Senate to speed up its work.

“These companies need help now”, he said in a series of tweets. “We cannot afford to delay any longer.”

“I understand the role of the Senate and believe that its deliberations can often be useful in the cause of good public policy. But if there was ever a need to sit late at night and on weekends to get this emergency bill passed, this is it, ”Tory said.

If passed, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has previously signaled that a correction to a section of the bill would be needed to clarify payment requirements for business owners before applying for the grant. at updated rent.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business raised the issue with senators as well, and it remains to be seen whether senators choose to try to amend the bill in the upper chamber instead of waiting for a second bill to make the change. If the Senate amends the bill, it will have to return to the House for another consideration.

In the meantime, Freeland told senators that the government had notified the Canada Revenue Agency of the Liberals’ intent for the bill and that it planned to process all of these rental applications, keeping this in mind. the mind.

In a statement earlier this month announcing the pre-study of C-9 in the Senate, Government Representative Senator Marc Gold said the study plan “allows for in-depth study of the bill while recognizing the urgency of legislation for Canadian businesses. ”

He expects the bill to go to a final vote this week.


During his press conference on Tuesday, the Prime Minister also sought to speak directly to young people about the reality of the role they can play in flattening the second wave of COVID-19.

Citing record COVID-19 cases, new closures and the threat of hospitals reaching capacity, Trudeau said everyone needed to double down to get the virus under control, but focused with a message directly to young people.

“This virus may seem like a concern to your grandparents rather than you, but even if you are young and healthy, catching COVID-19 can be incredibly serious. It could cause you heart and lung problems or cost you your life. ”

The Prime Minister said he was not saying this to scare people, but “because we have to be honest with ourselves about what we are up against.

He once again stressed the need for people to avoid gatherings, wear masks and keep a physical distance from people who are not part of their household.

Trudeau also encouraged those who test positive for COVID-19 to contact loved ones virtually or by phone because he knows it can be a frightening time.

“I remember how we felt after Sophie got her results in March,” he said.

“There is uncertainty and anxiety, but putting together and following public health guidelines will get us through all of this,” he said, adding that while the vaccine news looks promising, a effective and approved candidate could still be months away.

At the time, Trudeau said it would be an intergovernmental effort that “may well involve the Canadian Armed Forces.”

As reported on Monday, the military is preparing to play a key role.

“Obviously getting these vaccines from an airport tarmac or port to Canadians across the country is a significant logistical challenge, one that the government is focused on and working hard on,” Trudeau said.

“There are many different vaccines that require different logistical supports ranging from extreme cold storage to simple refrigeration to potential doses at room temperature. These are things that will require a differentiated approach, and we are working very carefully and closely with the provinces and other partners to ensure that vulnerable Canadians receive these vaccines as a priority.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tam said on Tuesday that military personnel who are already helping her agency plan are “amazing logisticians” and that provinces are also in the process of deciding where they want their staff. batches of vaccine are shipped when ready. She said preparations underway include the possibility that the seven vaccine candidates that Canada has signed up to can be approved and sent out next year.

“We know that providing vaccines to Canadians is the best way to get through what is going to be a very difficult winter for all of us,” Trudeau said.


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