Liberals push forward with COVID-19 bill despite likely impasse

The Liberals are pushing forward with a contentious piece of emergency legislation that would extend COVID-19 aid programs, even though opposition parties appear unlikely to allow it to move forward quickly.

Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez says the bill is the quickest and most efficient way to get help to some of the most vulnerable Canadians impacted by the pandemic, and he hopes the other parties will give unanimous consent to allow the bill to be debated today.

The bill would bring in a number of promised measures, including benefits for Canadians with disabilities and an expansion of the wage-subsidy program to include seasonal workers and some additional businesses.

But it would also impose penalties for fraudulently claiming the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) — a move that appears to have no support among the main opposition parties.

The Liberals need unanimous consent from all MPs in the House of Commons to allow the bill to be debated today.

In his negotiations with opposition House leaders, Rodriguez says he does not feel they are heading toward unanimous consent, but he says he remains an optimist and hopes things can change.

He also expressed disappointment at the indications coming from the other parties that they may block the bill from moving forward, as it contains measures they have been pushing government to adopt, including help for Canadians with disabilities.


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