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NDP poised to prop up Lib­er­als

- Mia Rabson Joan Bryden and Canada News · Politics · Elections · New Democratic Party (Canada) · Jagmeet Singh · British House of Commons · Democratic Party (United States) · Metropolitan Police Service · British Columbia · New Westminster · Pablo Rodriguez · Michael J. Barrett · Joe Peschisolido · Mario Dion · Law Society of British Columbia

OT TAWA • Govern­ment House Leader Pablo Ro­driguez says pro­posed leg­is­la­tion for new COVID-19 aid pro­grams will be a mat­ter of con­fi­dence in the minority Lib­eral govern­ment.

The move ap­pears to dare the op­po­si­tion par­ties to bring the govern­ment down as the pan­demic surges across the coun­try.

The risk of that hap­pen­ing is low, given NDP Leader Jag­meet Singh has al­ready said his party will vote for the bill be­cause the Lib­er­als agreed to in­crease ben­e­fit pay­ments and ex­pand el­i­gi­bil­ity for paid sick leave.

The Lib­er­als and NDP to­gether have a ma­jor­ity of seats in the House of Com­mons.

The Canada Emer­gency Re­sponse Ben­e­fit ex­pired on the week­end. The ben­e­fit was in­tro­duced in the spring to pro­vide up to $500 a week to Cana­di­ans who lost their jobs be­cause of COVID-19.

The new bill seeks to re­place the CERB with a re­vamped em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance sys­tem, and three sep­a­rate ben­e­fits for self-em­ployed and gig work­ers, par­ents and care­givers, and peo­ple who are sick.

The bill ad­justs the hours needed to qual­ify for EI and sets a min­i­mum weekly ben­e­fit pay­ment for the first time.

There are also three new ben­e­fits for those who still wouldn’t qual­ify for EI, in­clud­ing self-em­ployed work­ers, peo­ple who need to say home to look after a child or some­one else who needs care due to COVID-19, and a new sick leave ben­e­fit.

Orig­i­nally the Lib­er­als sought to set the min­i­mum weekly amount for EI and the three sep­a­rate ben­e­fits, at $400 a week, but in­creased that to $500 on the urg­ing of the NDP.

The Lib­er­als also agreed to change el­i­gi­bil­ity for the sick leave ben­e­fit so not only peo­ple who test pos­i­tive for COVID-19 can ac­cess it. The new bill adds peo­ple who have to stay home be­cause of un­der­ly­ing health con­di­tions or other ill­nesses, like the flu, that make them more sus­cep­ti­ble to COVID-19.

Ro­driguez moved Mon­day to fast-track the bill so that it can be passed in a sin­gle day after just 4.5 hours of de­bate.

With the sup­port of New Democrats, the Lib­eral govern­ment won a vote Tues­day to limit de­bate on Ro­driguez’s mo­tion. A vote on the fast- track­ing mo­tion it­self was ex­pected to take place Tues­day night. New Democrats have al­ready in­di­cated they’ll sup­port it.

If the mo­tion passes, as ex­pected, de­bate on the ac­tual bill will fol­low, with a vote oc­cur­ring in the wee hours of the morn­ing.

While the New Democrats are back­ing the govern­ment to get the aid bill through — and in the process al­low­ing the Lib­er­als to avoid an elec­tion — the NDP joined with the other op­po­si­tion par­ties to draw fur­ther at­ten­tion to Lib­eral eth­i­cal lapses.

All mo­tions and de­bate on the aid pack­age were de­layed for two hours Tues­day, while MPS de­bated a mo­tion from Con­ser­va­tive MP Michael Bar­rett to force for­mer Lib­eral Joe Peschisoli­do to apol­o­gize to the House of Com­mons for breach­ing con­flict of in­ter­est rules when he was still an MP.

Ethics com­mis­sioner Mario Dion is­sued a re­port eight months ago say­ing Peschisoli­do re­peat­edly failed to dis­close his pri­vate in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing as­sets, loans, his mar­riage and the fact his B. C. law firm was taken over by the Law So­ci­ety of Bri­tish Columbia.

Bar­rett said it was just another ex­am­ple of Lib­er­als ig­nor­ing the rules.

Bar­rett’s mo­tion passed eas­ily with all op­po­si­tion par­ties sup­port­ing it.

 ?? Justin Tang / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS file S ?? Govern­ment House Leader Pablo Ro­driguez moved to fast-track a bill that seeks to re­place the Canada Emer­gency Re­sponse Ben­e­fit with
a re­vamped em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance sys­tem. The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion will be a mat­ter of con­fi­dence in the Lib­eral govern­ment.
Justin Tang / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS file S Govern­ment House Leader Pablo Ro­driguez moved to fast-track a bill that seeks to re­place the Canada Emer­gency Re­sponse Ben­e­fit with a re­vamped em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance sys­tem. The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion will be a mat­ter of con­fi­dence in the Lib­eral govern­ment.

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