Liberals calling for boosted benefits in new COVID-19 aid programs

Proposed legislation also calls for emergency spending powers and labour training funding

Liberals calling for boosted benefits in new COVID-19 aid programs

Federal Liberals have proposed a significant increase to the value of new COVID-19 benefits to continue providing support for households once the Canada Emergency Response Benefit ends.

“We’ll wait and see some more of the details, but that’s what I was waiting for,” said Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party. “I wanted to see some commitment on those actions before I could take the throne speech on its word, and now it looks like … some of those steps have been taken.”

Should the measure receive approval from Parliament, employment insurance proceeds and benefits for unemployed workers will both be raised from $400 to $500 per week, BNN Bloomberg reported.

“We knew that a lot of Canadians are worried. … They have no job to go back to because their sectors have been shut down by COVID-19 – I’m thinking about tourism, the service sector and hospitality – and we know that people need to have paid sick leave so they don’t go into work sick,” Singh said.

Aside from the crucial boost to fiscal aid programs, the Liberals’ legislation is requesting Parliament to grant the federal administration emergency spending powers on vaccines and other anti-pandemic policies.

The bill has also earmarked $1.5 billion to be set aside for provincial training programs aimed at Canadians who are seeking new skills to improve their labour prospects in the new normal.

“We really were trying to be flexible from the beginning. We landed here because this is where the country is now in terms of the support workers need,” said Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough. “We have been working with the other parties all along through this process, so I stress urgency because we’re now rolling up our sleeves to get this past the finish line.”

According to government estimates, around 2.8 million CERB beneficiaries will be shifting to EI over the next few days.