Toronto Star

Liberals introduce ‘last step’ crisis aid


The Liberal government on Wednesday introduced its newest — and what it hopes to be its last — pandemic aid legislatio­n, proposing a scaled-back suite of financial supports for Canadians still bruised by the public health crisis.

“Bill C-2 is designed with an understand­ing that our economic recovery is still uneven, and that the public health measures that are saving lives continue to restrict some economic activity,” Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters.

“I see this legislatio­n as very much the last step in our COVID support programs,” she added.

Freeland introduced the aid bill one month after she first announced that the Canada Response Benefit, as well as the emergency wage and rent subsidy programs, would wind down on Oct. 23.

The legislatio­n introduced Wednesday expanded the proposed Tourism and Hospitalit­y Recovery Program, stating businesses in the cultural sector that “meet the artistic or cultural interests of their patrons” would now be eligible.

Businesses could receive a subsidy rate of up to 75 per cent, but need to demonstrat­e revenue losses of at least 40 per cent over the past year, plus a revenue loss of at least 40 per cent during the current month.

Under the budget implementa­tion act, the government was able to temporaril­y put some of these changes in place in October, before Parliament resumed.

But the minority Liberals now require the support of at least one other party to pass the bill, which is one of four priority pieces of legislatio­n the government hopes to adopt by the time the House of Commons breaks for the holidays on Dec. 17.

The Bloc Québécois has signalled its support for the bill, provided that workers in the cultural sector are included.

On Tuesday, Conservati­ve finance critic Pierre Poilievre said it was “too early” to decide how it would vote on the bill, a view the party continued to hold Wednesday.

The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, however, has stated his party “can’t support a bill that’s going to hurt” people.

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