Trudeau gov’t survives vote as bill for workers’ passed

OTTAWA: The Canadian government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has survived a confidence vote as the House of Commons Wednesday passed a bill authorizing new benefits for workers left jobless or underemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bill C-4 was passed in the House of Commons in the wee hours of Wednesday after a day of political maneuvering and just four-and-a-half hours of debate on the actual contents of the legislation.
The bill introduces a series of new COVID-19 benefits for Canadians to ease their transition away from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which came to an end last weekend after helping nearly 9 million Canadians weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also sets up three new benefits for Canadians who will not qualify for employment insurance but are still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
The new benefits include the Canada Recovery Benefit for self-employed and gig workers, expansion of sick leave, and a caregiver benefit for workers who must stay home to care for a child or another dependent if their school, daycare or other day program facility has been shut down due to COVID-19. In the process, the Canadian minority Liberal Party government survived its first confidence test, assuring at least for now that there will be no election as the second wave of COVID-19 is ravaging the country. In the end, MPs from the Conservative Party, who strongly protested against fast-tracking the bill and used procedural tactics to hold it up, voted for it. So did Bloc Quebecois MPs, who had also opposed fast-tracking. The Canadian Senate is scheduled to meet later Wednesday to pass the bill. At the behest of the New Democratic Party, the Trudeau government has increased the proposed new benefits to 500 Canadian dollars (about 374 U.S. dollars) for each worker per week from the originally proposed 400 Canadian dollars (about 299 U.S. dollars).-–Agencies