FILE – Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan(right) and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez look on as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Chrystia Freeland holds out her arms as she speaks about physical distancing at the start of a news conference in Ottawa, Monday March 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds amplify stay-home message as cost of financial aid to Canadians mounts

Liberals have unveiled around $200B in direct financial aid and tax deferrals

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers are expected today to amplify their message that Canadians have a duty to stay home, even as the massive cost of compensating them for doing so becomes clearer.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is scheduled to testify this afternoon at a teleconference meeting of the House of Commons finance committee, where he’ll be peppered with questions about some $200 billion in direct financial aid and tax deferrals already promised to help individuals and businesses weather the brutal economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He can expect to hear demands from opposition parties to do more, faster.

Conservatives have been calling on the government to scrap an increase in the carbon tax, to $30 per tonne from $20 per tonne, that went into effect Wednesday.

They’ve also called on the government to refund GST payments made over the past six months.

New Democrats, meanwhile, have been pushing the government to provide relief for Canadians who can’t afford to pay their rent.

And the Bloc Quebecois is pushing for faster implementation of the emergency 75-per-cent wage subsidy, the details of which the government has been fleshing out in bits and pieces for a week. It is expected to take six weeks to get up and running.

Trudeau has called the $71-billion program ”the largest economic program in Canada’s history” and officials point out that such a massive undertaking would normally take months, if not years, to develop.

READ MORE: Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Because of the magnitude of the program, the government is planning to recall Parliament again to authorize it — a move Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet fears will cause more delays.

Parliament, adjourned in mid-March until at least April 20, sat briefly last week to approve a first phase of financial aid.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer blames the government for failing to include the enhanced wage subsidy in that initial package. But Blanchet blames the Conservatives for playing partisan games and forcing the Liberals to withdraw a provision that would have allowed the government to proceed quickly with the program without recalling Parliament.

READ MORE: ‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

Meanwhile, the parliamentary budget officer is to post today reports on the cost of four measures that were included in last week’s aid package: special payment of the GST credit, the insured mortgage purchase program, a temporary increase in the Canada Child Benefit and a decrease in the minimum withdrawal rate from registered retirement income funds.

At today’s daily news conference, Trudeau is expected to amplify his message that it’s up to Canadians to determine how bad the crisis will get and how long it will last. As he stressed Wednesday, the more Canadians abide by orders to stay home and keep their distance from others, the sooner they’ll be able to get back to normal.

Today’s daily briefing from ministers is expected to include an update on efforts to bring home Canadians stranded abroad and the government’s strategy for dealing with COVID-19 in Indigenous communities, particularly remote communities in the North.

READ MORE: A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

’We’ve been dealing with racism all our lives,’ says family of Tla-o-qui-aht woman fatally shot by police

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

End of an Era: Tofino hair studio closes shop

“We were getting excited to start ramping up and then all of sudden we had to close our doors.”

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Alberni Valley, West Coast First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Most Read