There was a price the government of Justin Trudeau had to pay to survive its first vote of confidence and stay in office: $ 5 billion. That is what the improvements to Ottawa’s aid measures should cost to satisfy the NDP.
In August, the federal government announced that it would extend the Canada Emergency Benefit (ECP) for a final month and then transfer beneficiaries to either employment insurance or a transition program for those who do not qualify. not employment insurance. Cost of the measure announced: $ 29 billion, plus $ 8 billion for the additional month of PCU, for a total of $ 37 billion.
The NDP denounced the changes because they would have resulted in some claimants receiving less than the $ 500 per week from the PKU. In fact, on employment insurance, an unemployed person receives 55% of his insurable salary, up to a maximum of $ 573 per week. Some workers earning little or being part-time could have received less. Ottawa had set a minimum benefit at $ 400. The benefit for those not qualifying for employment insurance would also have been $ 400.
The NDP demanded an improvement in these measures in return for its support for the Speech from the Throne, which is a vote of confidence. He got it. Ottawa has raised the floor for both benefits to $ 500 per week. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough revealed late Tuesday night that it inflated the bill by $ 5 billion. The expected initial cost of $ 29 billion will increase to $ 34 billion (or $ 42 billion including the PCU).
According to the minister, this will also cover the cost of the new two-week sick leave, paid $ 500 per week by Ottawa. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also demanded – and obtained – that this leave be offered not only to people with COVID-19 and those needing to self-isolate from the coronavirus, but also to people with illness (such as cold or flu) would make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. According to the NDP, this change will ensure that “millions” of people will qualify for this leave rather than just “thousands”.
Bill C-4 establishing these measures was passed unanimously by the House of Commons on Wednesday morning at 3 a.m., after four and a half hours of debate. The Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois deplored the fact that the bill was passed under the gag order, but supported the initiative nonetheless.
Bill C-4 also authorizes Ottawa to spend up to $ 17 billion more on existing programs if urgently needed, without obtaining further authorization from Parliament. The total cost of C-4 is therefore potentially, if these sums are actually used, 59 billion.
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