Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Opposition MPs are getting ready to review the Liberals’ latest package of pandemic aid and grill Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on countless economic issues.

The House of Commons Finance Committee with 12 members is scheduled to meet on Monday to move the Development Aid Act closer to a final vote before MPs leave on their holiday in two weeks.

As part of a compromise to speed up legislation, the Liberals agreed to let Freeland sit in the committee for at least two hours.

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Liberals present COVID-19 support proposals with targeted support to companies, workers

It gives opposition members a chance to grill Freeland about issues facing the domestic economy and the government’s pandemic response in general.

NDP financial critic Daniel Blaikie, who is on the committee, says he plans to pressure Freeland on ways to turn refunds for income-tested benefits to low-income seniors and families whose earnings were supported by emergency aid.

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The new Democrat adds that his party has concerns about how only workers subject to lockdowns will receive income support, leaving out thousands who are still struggling.

“The Liberals are talking about a recovery that leaves no one behind, but that’s not what their bill does,” Blaikie said.

“While inflation is rising higher and Canadians are struggling to afford housing and necessities like groceries or medicine, the bill the government has proposed shows liberals choosing to let vulnerable Canadians fall through the cracks.”

Click to play video: 'Small businesses prepare for less financial support in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic'

Small businesses are preparing for less financial support in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic

Small businesses prepare for less financial support in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – October 20, 2021

Inflation is also likely to be on the minds of conservative MPs in committee when the party tries to put the problem on the government, despite pressure from a number of global factors, including supply chain issues.

MPs in the committee are to decide when Freeland will testify as part of the review of the bill, but her office said Sunday that the government is looking for swift action from the committee.

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“We urge all parties and all parliamentarians to work with us to quickly pass this legislation and get this support for Canadians without delay,” said Freeland spokeswoman Adrienne Vaupshas.

The committee’s bill proposes a $ 7.4 billion renewal of benefits to send them only to workers subject to lockdowns, and rent and wage subsidies to only the hardest-hit businesses until May 7th.

Benefits for parents who need to stay home with sick children and another for workers who need sick days from work will also be extended until the spring.

The Liberals argue that there is no longer a need for broad income support measures and that there is no longer a need for business support given the strength of the economic recovery to date.

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The number of heavily indebted households increases as COVID-19 assistance is phased out: BoC

The latest figures from Statistics Canada showed that the economy grew at an annual rate of 5.4 percent in the third quarter of the year, just a hair below what the Bank of Canada expected.

Friday’s jobs report also showed gangbuster growth in November, as the addition of 154,000 jobs a month lowered unemployment to its lowest level since COVID-19 first hit the country, and within 0.3 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.

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But below these figures, there are pockets of weakness in sectors such as hospitality and tourism, as well as an undercurrent of uncertainty from the COVID-19 itself, including new variants.

“People need to know that if another shutdown is imminent, or if they need to stay home because they are sick … that there is stability there from income support,” Unifor economist Kaylie Tiessen said Friday.

“It has been a really important piece to get us through this crisis less affected than we otherwise would have been.”

Meanwhile, the Liberals are planning to put forward a bill that will revive an earlier legislative push to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes.

The government on Friday gave the House of Commons a procedural notice that a bill amending the penal code and federal drug laws would be tabled on Monday.

© 2021 The Canadian Press


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