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

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

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head inmates in Metchosin receive their first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Dallas Road

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Firefighters respond to a fire on Heatherly Road in Colwood Jan. 19. (Photo courtesy of View Royal Fire Rescue)
Two people escape injury in Colwood house fire

Heatherly Road fire started on a covered porch

A Sooke woman is speaking up after she was almost tricked by a lottery scam, claiming she had won $950,000 with Set for Life Lottery. (File Photo)
‘I wanted it to be true so badly’: Sooke woman almost falls for lottery scam

88-year-old received letter stating she had won $950,000

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Updated: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A mattress on fire gutted the second floor hallway at Town Park Apartments C-block Jan. 17. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue images)
‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months

A burning mattress created smoke and heat, causing several tenants to jump from windows

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Most Read