$107 Billion Aid Pact Approved
CBJ — An agreement has been reached in the House of Commons — and passed by the Senate — for the federal government to access $107 billion in relief aid for Canadians in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The $107 billion is an increase from the original $82 billion. The COVID-19 Emergency Response Act passed third reading in the House just before 6am on Wednesday morning. The Senate has also approved the bill, wand it received Royal Assent from the Governor General, meaning Bill C-13 is now a law.
However, it took an extra day after the ruling Liberals tried to quickly pass through extremely controversial authoritarian clauses that would have given them widespread sweeping spending and taxing powers. The Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Quebcois all balked at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attempts to obtain that through what is widely being described as an attempted power grab. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says it’s unfortunate the delay was required, but said there was no way the other parties were going to give Trudeau such additional governing powers, which would have amounted to giving him a blank cheque on spending.
For a term limit of six months, Finance Minister Bill Morneau will have the authority to spend money without the usual required Parliamentary approvals. The governing Liberals originally wanted that power to continue through to the end of 2021, which was met with immediate rejection.
For Canadians, the biggest direct impact comes from the $82 billion in aid, which is split into $27 billion in direct funding and $55 billion in tax deferrals and similar measures. Last week, nearly one million people applied for employment insurance benefits. On an average month the government typically gets about 27,000 claims.
Each Canadian that is not being paid for working at their place of employment will be entitled to $2,000 per month for the next four months.
Prime Minister Trudeau said Canadians should expect to see money 10 days after making their application. However, with about one million people sending in applications and 13,000 government workers doing the processing, it is perhaps more realistic that some people may not see any money until closer to the end of April. It remains to be seen how efficiently the process unfolds.