Liberals introduce new bill – .

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Liberals introduce new bill – .


OTTAWA – The Liberal government introduced a new pandemic assistance bill on Wednesday afternoon that would maintain some financial support for businesses and workers until at least spring 2022.

Bill C-2, if passed, would offer several new targeted programs, recreated from pre-existing benefits introduced at the start of the pandemic.

“With high vaccination rates, more than a million jobs created, children returning to school and the reopening of businesses across the country, the time has come to adapt support measures to these. new and improved circumstances, ”said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland. Wednesday.

As previously announced, the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and the Hardest-Affected Business Recovery Program would provide assistance in the form of wage and rental subsidies.

The tourism and hospitality stimulus package would apply to hotels, tour operators, travel agencies and restaurants with a subsidy rate of up to 75 percent, while the most affected businesses’ stimulus package would would apply to other companies that have suffered “significant losses” with a subsidy rate of up to 50 percent.

Notably, to qualify for the former, companies would have to show a 12-month revenue loss of at least 40% and a revenue drop of the same amount for the current month. For the latter, companies should show a 12-month revenue loss of at least 50% and a revenue drop of the same amount for the current month.

The government is also offering a local lockdown program to help businesses affected by government-imposed lockdowns. These businesses would be eligible to receive the maximum grant amount.

For workers, the bill details a new Canadian worker lockdown benefit, replacing the popular Canadian response benefit. It is also aimed at those whose work is directly impacted by blockages.

It is available to workers ineligible and eligible for Employment Insurance (EI), as long as they do not receive EI benefits during the same period.

The Liberals are proposing to extend and lengthen the eligibility period for the Canadian caregiver recovery benefit and the Canadian illness recovery benefit. The first would go from 42 to 44 weeks and the second from four to six weeks.

Finally, the Canada Recovery Hiring program would be extended for employers with earnings losses greater than 10 percent. The subsidy rate for this benefit would increase to 50 percent.

All programs would be extended until May 7, 2022.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough are expected to speak to reporters on Wednesday evening on the bill.

Bill C-2 is one of four bills the Liberals are prioritizing at the start of the new parliamentary session.

In October, Freeland announced that a number of COVID-19 supports were expiring and being replaced by more “targeted” programs with a price tag of $ 7.4 billion.

The minister said on Wednesday she hoped this would be the last round of pandemic aid extensions.

“I see this legislation as the last step in our COVID-19 support programs. This is what I really hope for and really believe to be the final pivot, ”she said.

POLITICAL MEMBERSHIP

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said on CTV News’ Speech from the Throne special on Tuesday that the party was assessing its position on the bill.

“We are looking at the new bill they are proposing right now… In the election, we said that the hotel industry and tourism need help, need help. This is where we want to direct aid, ”O’Toole said.

“But, we also know that the uncontrollable measures, no accountability measures of the Liberal government have led to a lot of fraud, have led organized crime to defraud the government. So we want to make sure that they close the loopholes, that they tighten the measures. “

On her way to Wednesday’s caucus meeting, Deputy Conservative Leader Candice Bergen said party support for the bill was on the agenda for this closed-door meeting with all MPs.

Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet said the party was likely to support him, but has a point of contention.

“Basically, we agree with the principles. There is one thing that might concern us: it is the fact that workers in the arts and culture sector do not seem to be included or supported in any way at this point. But beside this question, we support the idea which we understand to be the intention of the C-2, so we will see what is the best way to make it go through the whole process, ”he said during Wednesday’s post-caucus press conference.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was quick to point out that the government should not expect an automatic green light from the New Democrats.

“The Liberals should not expect us to support their bills, none of them. This will only be the case we support if there is a benefit to Canadians, ”he said.

COMMERCIAL RESPONSE

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce intervened, saying it was delighted the Liberals had made the bill a priority.

[It’s] an excellent example of a government that listens to and responds to advice from the business community. We urge all parties to work together to pass legislation as quickly as possible to ensure that severely affected SMEs continue to receive the necessary support without disruption, ”read a statement by Alla Drigola Birk, Director of Parliamentary Affairs and SME policy.

Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), who has been a strong advocate for extending aid to businesses, has had mixed reviews, especially regarding the eligibility criteria for business support.

“The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is disappointed that the federal government has not changed the minimum revenue loss requirement from 40 to 50 percent to access small business support programs, which means most small businesses will not be able to access it, ”a statement said.

“CFIB is pleased that the government has added many sectors to its list of those who can access the more generous tourism and hospitality stimulus program, such as gymnasiums, arts and recreation, and weddings / events.

With files from Rachel Aiello of CTV News.

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