Opposition parties, federal government in talks on pandemic supports bill | CBC News

Talks are underway between the government and opposition parties to expedite a review of proposed legislation to extend financial supports for workers and businesses still struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Bill C-2 was introduced last week in the Commons. Government House Leader Mark Holland has said he’s confident it will be approved by the Commons before MPs return home for the holidays in just over two weeks.

But no standing committees have been set up yet to review C-2 — or three other bills the government wants to get through before the winter break. And time is running out.

Sources tell CBC News that the parties’ house leaders have been meeting regularly to discuss how to proceed. They say two options are on the table to move C-2 through the Commons as quickly as possible.

The first is to use a legislative committee to review the subsidy package to ensure that companies and workers needing support continue to get it.

The other option is to introduce a motion to refer the bill directly to what’s known as committee of the whole — a procedural move that bypasses committee review altogether.

It’s not clear which option is being given priority.

A government spokesman today described talks among the parties as positive in tone, but declined further comment. A Conservative spokesman, speaking this week on background, said the party wants to get all committees up and running as soon as possible — and blamed the Liberals for any delays.

Bill provides several financial supports

Calls to the NDP were not returned. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has indicated already the party fears that the proposed benefits are insufficient.

C-2’s proposed support programs include wage and rent subsidies for sectors — such as tourism as hospitality — that continue to sustain losses because of the pandemic.

The bill also would create a new Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit to help people who find themselves unable to work in future because of local lockdowns related to COVID-19. The new benefit would give affected workers $300 a week and is to run until May 7, 2022.

The legislation also would extend the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit to the same date.

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