Published Wednesday, June 10, 2020 4:58AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 10, 2020 11:05AM EDT
In a Wednesday morning press conference several hours before the bill is set to be tabled, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said the dearth of support from any of the other parties in the House of Commons was “very unfortunate,” and questioned why parties that called on the government to introduce some of these measures would then not allow them to be implemented.
The Liberals’ minority status means, in order to pass the bill, the government will need the support of at least one major opposition caucus, and negotiations are continuing.
The House of Commons will hold an emergency afternoon session to consider what will be the fifth piece of COVID-19-prompted federal legislation. As part of the bill the Liberals are looking to impose fines and jail time for those who fraudulently claimed or tried to claim CERB, in addition to including new language to encourage people to return to work, rendering claimants ineligible if they turn down a reasonable job offer.
It also proposes changes around the application periods that would allow people to claim CERB for a two-week period rather than the current four-week period, should they need to be off work because they are symptomatic or taking care of someone who may have COVID-19, for example. The program offers $2,000 per month and was introduced in late March in an effort to help those who were out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cross-Canada shutdown it prompted.
The draft bill also includes proposed eligibility changes to the wage subsidy program; proposes to make the changes needed in order to implement promised one-time payments to eligible Canadians with disabilities of up to $600; and would create a new bill to rectify the risk of Canadians being penalized for missing key deadlines in ongoing legal matters due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“What I'm asking them is to consider the importance of this bill. The fact that it facilitates payments for kids with disabilities, it expands access to the wage subsidy for example for seasonal workers. I mean, there are good things in this bill,” Rodriguez said, calling on the other parties to put politics aside, without offering any solid indication the government is willing to make concessions.