1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Government gets unanimous consent to quickly pass legislation for COVID-19 help

Government gets unanimous consent to quickly pass legislation for COVID-19 help

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Mar 25th, 2020

The government received unanimous consent to quickly pass emergency legislation to free up $82 billion to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis.

After a day of tense negotiations, MPs began debating the bill in the wee hours of morning, with a vote planned within a couple of hours.

The motion sent to the Speaker stated the House would resolve itself into a committee for no more than an hour to consider the matter with members getting up to five minutes for a question, and will be adjourned until April 20 after the third reading.

Starting the week of March 30, the finance minister will give a biweekly report on all actions undertaken to the pandemic, and will be discussed on April 20.

The Standing Committee on Finance will begin a review of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act within six months of the day on which the it receives royal assent and will report its findings to the House no later than March 31, next year.

The motion also said that unless the Speaker received a notice from the House leaders of all four recognized parties it would remain adjourned until a future date.

Earlier on Tuesday, Conservatives raised objections to what they dubbed a Liberal “power grab,” which led to a late-night discussion and early hours of Wednesday.

An emergency sitting of the House of Commons was suspended moments after it began as Conservatives balked at provisions that would give the government sweeping powers to unilaterally spend, borrow and change taxation levels without Parliament’s approval for the next 21 months.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said early in the day that his party would support emergency efforts to get money to Canadians struggling with the COVID-19 crisis, but would oppose any attempts by the Liberal government to expand its power.

His warning came before a small group of 32 MPs gathered in the Commons to debate and vote on legislation to deliver $82 billion in financial aid and tax deferrals to individuals and businesses, as proposed last week by the government to deal with COVID-19 and its ensuing economic havoc.

They convened as scheduled. However, the sitting had only just begun when government House leader Pablo Rodriguez asked that it be suspended so that the government could continue negotiating details of the legislation with opposition parties.

“Canadians need support to get through this. Fast,” Rodriguez tweeted shortly after the sitting was suspended. He said talks were ongoing and he expected MPs to reconvene later Tuesday.

But almost six hours later, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet angrily denounced the delay. If the government can’t get the unanimous consent needed to pass the legislation in one day, as hoped, Blanchet called on the government to put the bill through the normal, lengthy legislative process necessary to get the money flowing as quickly as possible.

He guaranteed Bloc support to approve the legislation.

The Commons eventually returned briefly Tuesday evening to extend the day’s sitting. Negotiations with the Conservatives were to continue and it remained possible that the Commons could yet approve the legislation by the end of the day.

If it does get through the Commons, the plan was for the Senate to approve it Wednesday, followed immediately by royal assent.

At a morning news conference, Scheer said the Conservatives had no issue with the relief package promised by Trudeau last week. But they wouldn’t agree to give the government a blank cheque to spend and tax as it pleases for almost two years, as initially proposed in a draft of the bill shared with opposition parties on Monday.

“Any conversation about new government powers should not get in the way of passing this much-needed assistance,” he said. “Canadians are counting on us.”

Even as Scheer was speaking, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that the legislation would be tabled “without clause 2,” suggesting the bill would not contain the offending elements.

At his own news conference outside his residence, where he remains in self-isolation after his wife contracted COVID-19, Trudeau said the government is trying to balance the need to act quickly to help Canadians with the need to remain accountable to Parliament.

“It is an exceptional situation that requires extreme flexibility and rapidity of response by governments to be able to help Canadians and react to a situation that we’ve seen is moving quickly every single day,” he said.

“So saying, we have a Parliament that works, we have an Opposition that is doing its job of making sure that we are taking the right steps the right way.”

Trudeau arrived late for his news conference because he was on the phone with opposition leaders.

He said the government was negotiating “up until the last minute” to find a way to give it the flexibility it needs to get the money into Canadians’ hands quickly while maintaining “our democratic institutions and the values that are so important to us all.”

Blanchet said the Bloc agrees the government needs some flexibility to quickly get financial relief to Canadians and businesses without having to recall Parliament each time — but that extraordinary power need not last longer than September.

Scheer, meanwhile, sidestepped questions about whether the Tories are prepared to vote against the emergency-aid bill if it’s not changed to their satisfaction. Defeat of the bill would be a vote of no confidence for the minority Liberal government and possibly trigger an election.

The bill only needs one party’s support to pass the Commons eventually but it needs the support of every MP present to be put through on the one-day schedule the Liberals want.

“Our hope is that (the government) will stay focused on providing to Canadians, not focused on a power grab. Not focused on giving themselves unprecedented new powers,” Scheer said.

The Conservative position on the bill was complicated by one of its own MPs, Scott Reid, who threatened on his website Tuesday to show up in the Commons, despite not being one of the designated 11 Tories who were supposed to be present, and deny the unanimous consent needed to expedite the bill’s passage.

He later amended his post to say he has no objection to same-day passage of the relief measures provided MPs have enough time to read and understand the bill.

Parliament adjourned on March 13 until at least April 20 as part of a countrywide effort to curb the spread of the virus. It was recalled Tuesday to deal with the emergency aid package but with only about one in every 10 MPs present in the Commons, seated at least two metres apart.

After agreeing to extend the sitting beyond 7 p.m., Scheer began to cross the aisle to speak privately with Rodriguez. The two men pulled up short and spoke to each other at a safe distance.

Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Mar 25th, 2020

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his office said Wednesday.

The 71-year-old is showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 and is self-isolating at a royal estate in Scotland, his Clarence House office said.

It says his wife Camilla, 72, has tested negative.

“The Prince of Wales has tested positive for Coronavirus,” Clarence House said. “He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.”

Britain’s Press Association, citing a source, said the prince and the duchess remained in good spirits, and that Charles was not bedridden.

The tests were carried out by the National Health Service in Scotland.

“It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”

Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II remains at her home in Windsor.

“Her Majesty the queen remains in good health,” the palace said. “The queen last saw the Prince of Wales briefly after the investiture on the morning of 12th March and is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.”

Charles’ last public engagement was March 12. He has had a number of private meetings, and participants at those sessions have been made aware of his condition.

What food delivery services are running?

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Mar 23rd, 2020

In isolation and need groceries? These digital services can help.

– Uber eats

  • $0 delivery fee for independent and  local restaurants *follow the eat local banner on the app*
  • You can request orders to be left on doorstep

– SkipTheDishes

  • Suspending the cash payment option for all orders

– HelloFresh

  • Working closely with their network of suppliers to ensure they are still delivering fresh meals to customers
  • Spokesperson for HelloFresh says they have not been impacted by COVID-19

– Foodora

  • Issued a series of informed measures, including work-travel restrictions
  • Work-from-home policy for those who’ve travelled recently to areas with outbreaks

– DoorDash

  • Focused on drivers – offering financial assistance to any employee who has been with the company for 60 days if they contracted the virus

– Grocery stores delivering and changing their hours

  • An app called Instacart – you can order groceries through your smartphone
  • Shoppers Drug Mart changing their first hour to be for elderly people
  • LCBO changed their hours from 11am-6pm

 

A list of restaurants now offering takeout or delivery:

  • Adamson Barbecue
  • Aloette
  • Blood Brothers
  • Descendant
  • Elm Dt. Deli
  • Favorites
  • Fourth Man In The Fire
  • Hotel Delilah
  • Imanishi Japanese Kitchen
  • Indie Ale House
  • Maker Pizza
  • Sotto Sotto
  • South Indian Dosa Mahal
  • Roselle Dessert
  • Tinuno

 

Transat AT lays off 3,600 staff, about 70% of its workforce

Kyle Mack | posted Monday, Mar 23rd, 2020

Transat AT Inc. says it has temporarily laid off about 70 per cent of its workforce in Canada, about 3,600 people.

The decision comes as non-essential travel around the world comes to a standstill as governments close borders in an effort to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transat says some of these layoffs are effective immediately, while others will take effect following advance notice of up to one month.

The layoffs include all flight crew personnel.

The company says the final Air Transat flight prior to the full suspension of its operations is scheduled for April 1.

Transat says operations are being stopped gradually in order to enable it to repatriate as many of its customers as possible to their home countries.

Canada refuses to go to Tokyo Olympics unless Games postponed 1 year

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 23rd, 2020

Canada won’t be at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics unless the Games are postponed by a year.

The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee issued joint statements on Sunday saying that they refuse to send their teams to Tokyo unless their respective Games are pushed back a year.

The Tokyo Olympics are currently scheduled to start July 24 and the Paralympics are slated to follow on Aug. 25.

“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” reads the COC’s statement.

“This is not solely about athlete health – it is about public health. With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games.”

The COC and CPC’s statements come amid a chorus of criticism aimed at the International Olympic Committee’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

IOC president Thomas Bach said earlier Sunday that they’d set a deadline of four weeks to determine the fate of the Games, and that the global organization is considering options including postponement.

Cancelling the Games entirely, Bach said, is not being considered. It was the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began that the IOC had admitted that it would consider other options.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics would be unavoidable if the games cannot be held in a complete way because of the coronavirus impact.

He was commenting on the International Olympic Committee plan to examine the situation over the next few weeks and make a decision, which could include a postponement.

Abe, speaking at a parliamentary session, ruled out the possibility of a cancellation.

Page 5 of 512345