Parliament sets its course as economic relief measures expand

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As the pandemic stretches out and Canadians carry on with their efforts to limit the ravages of COIVD-19, parliament has developed a plan to get back to work.  This will allow for necessary legislation to be developed and maintains a level of transparency in accountability that the institution delivers.  The resumption was mandated by the agreement all parties struck 5 weeks ago and will feature one physical and two virtual question and answer sessions a week.  This ensures the participation of more MPs, especially those who don’t live near the national capital.

New Democrats welcomed the agreement which allows us to focus on helping more people as quickly as possible. The wage subsidy and the CERB programs are only in place because parliament was able to meet in person and act quickly. That said, we understand that we need to keep working to make sure everyone across the country can get the help they need.  That will mean making some of the relief programs less complicated.

Among the items parliament will be dealing with shortly are the announcements made this week with respect to students, and the charitable sector.  Both represent groups whose concerns had not been addressed by other relief measures.

While the situation for both was grim, charities, non-profits and community organizations are performing important work helping Canadians right now and have been, in many instances, struggling for resources to maintain those efforts.  The $350 million fund announced this week will flow from the Emergency Community Support Fund and will go directly to smaller independent frontline organizations or to larger, national groups, such as the United Way Canada, that will deliver the funding to local groups quickly. The money will allow Canada’s non-profits and community organizations to continue to support people across the country. While this is a step in the right direction, the government still needs to allow more non-profits and charities to have access to the wage subsidy by removing the 30% loss in revenue criteria for them.

Despite the announcement, the government still needs to make the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) universal and increase its capacity to support more people in a quicker fashion so that these organizations aren’t so strained trying to help everyone in need.  Had they done that from the start they also wouldn’t have had to create another mechanism to help students in need.  Despite that oversight, the announcement this week will help student who have been waiting for a signal their concerns would be addressed in this crisis.  Unfortunately, the government has come up with another program that is complicated and delivers less than the CERB. On top of that, with its late start date (May 1st) many students are already behind on important things like rent.

Although there was good progress on some fronts this week, there are still a lot of gaping holes to be addressed.  One of those is the plight of sole-proprietor businesses who don’t meet the criteria for assistance being offered for either payroll assistance or low cost loans.  In this part of Ontario, we have a lot of these Mom and Pop type businesses and their survival is no less critical than it is for small businesses that meet existing criteria.  I am hopeful that the government will continue to listen to NDP MPs who are asking them to find a mechanism to help these businesses now that the concerns of our bigger employers have been addressed.

Le Parlement fixe son cap alors que les mesures d’aide économique se développent

Alors que la pandémie s’étend et que les Canadiens poursuivent leurs efforts pour limiter les ravages de la COIVD-19, le Parlement a élaboré un plan pour se remettre au travail.  Ce plan permettra d’élaborer la législation nécessaire et de maintenir un niveau de transparence dans la responsabilité que l’institution assure.  La reprise a été mandatée par l’accord conclu entre les parties il y a cinq semaines et comprendra une session physique et deux sessions virtuelles de questions et réponses par semaine.  Cela garantit la participation d’un plus grand nombre de députés, en particulier ceux qui ne vivent pas à proximité de la capitale nationale.

Les néo-démocrates ont salué l’accord qui nous permet de nous concentrer sur l’aide à un plus grand nombre de personnes le plus rapidement possible. Les programmes de subventions salariales et de la Prestation canadienne d’urgence (PCU) sont en place parce que le Parlement a pu se réunir en personne et agir rapidement. Cela dit, nous comprenons que nous devons continuer à travailler pour nous assurer que tout le gens à travers le pays puissent obtenir l’aide dont ils ont besoin.  Cela signifie qu’il faudra rendre certains des programmes d’aide moins compliqués.

Parmi les points que le Parlement abordera prochainement, il y a les annonces faites cette semaine concernant les étudiants et le secteur caritatif.  Ces deux secteurs représentent des groupes dont les préoccupations n’ont pas été prises en compte par d’autres mesures d’aide.

Bien que la situation soit sombre dans les deux cas, les organisations caritatives, à but non lucratif et communautaires effectuent un travail important pour aider les Canadiens en ce moment et ont, dans de nombreux cas, lutté pour obtenir des ressources afin de maintenir ces efforts.  Le fonds de 350 millions de dollars annoncé cette semaine proviendra du Fonds d’urgence de soutien communautaire et ira directement aux petites organisations indépendantes de première ligne ou à des groupes nationaux plus importants, tels que Centraide Canada, qui achemineront rapidement les fonds aux groupes locaux. Cet argent permettra aux organisations à but non lucratif et aux organisations communautaires du Canada de continuer à soutenir les gens dans tout le pays. Bien que ce soit un pas dans la bonne direction, le gouvernement doit encore permettre à un plus grand nombre d’organisations à but non lucratif et caritatives d’avoir accès à la subvention salariale en supprimant le critère de perte de revenus de 30 % pour ces organisations.

Malgré l’annonce, le gouvernement doit encore rendre la Prestation d’urgence canadienne (PUC) universelle et augmenter sa capacité à soutenir plus de personnes plus rapidement afin que ces organisations ne soient pas si tendues en essayant d’aider toutes les personnes dans le besoin.  Si le gouvernement avaient fait cela dès le début, il n’aurait pas eu besoin de créer un autre mécanisme pour aider les étudiants.  Malgré cet oubli, l’annonce de cette semaine aidera les étudiants qui attendaient un signal pour que leurs préoccupations soient prises en compte dans cette crise.  Malheureusement, le gouvernement a mis en place un autre programme qui est compliqué et qui offre moins que la PCU. De plus, avec sa date de démarrage tardive (1er mai), de nombreux étudiants sont déjà en retard sur des choses importantes comme le loyer.

Bien que des progrès aient été réalisés sur certains fronts cette semaine, il reste encore beaucoup de trous béants à combler.  L’une d’entre elles est la situation critique des entreprises à propriétaire unique qui ne répondent pas aux critères d’aide proposés pour l’aide salariale ou les prêts à faible coût.  Dans cette partie de l’Ontario, nous avons beaucoup de ces entreprises, et leur survie n’est pas moins critique que celle des petites entreprises qui répondent aux critères existants.  J’espère que le gouvernement continuera à écouter les suggestions du NPD afin d’agir pour mieux aider ces entreprises maintenant que les préoccupations de nos plus grandes entreprises ont été prises en compte.

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Carol is a three-term MP who has worked hard for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing since being elected in 2008. In addition to her role as MP, Carol serves as Assistant Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole in Canada’s 42nd Parliament. A tireless advocate for the communities she serves, Carol was a leading figure in the fight to preserve ten federal constituencies for Northern Ontario. She has been a prominent spokesperson for passenger rail service, preserving postal service outlets, and good jobs in the region. Carol has worked with First Nations on local and national issues and served as the New Democrat critic for First Nations Health prior to assuming the responsibilities of Assistant Deputy Speaker. With decades of labour experience, Carol understands the priorities of hardworking families. She has introduced legislation to expand access to Employment Insurance benefits and to require mandatory reporting of workplace accidents and occupational diseases. She has also worked with veterans on legislation that will create a Defence of Canada Medal to honour those who served domestically to protect Canada during the Cold War. Committed to serving all her constituents, Carol maintains full constituency offices in both Kapuskasing and Elliot Lake. She also holds regular clinics in communities throughout the riding. Before entering politics, Carol was a regional representative for the Canadian Labour Congress. Earlier, she worked for Probation and Parole Services in Elliot Lake and Youth Justice Services in Sudbury. A long-time community volunteer and activist, Carol lived in Elliot Lake for nearly three decades with her husband Kieth. And as a proud mother and grandmother, Carol is committed to building a better Canada for future generations.

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