Dan Albas Dan Albas

COLUMN: Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

House of Commons reconvened to pass Bill C-20

This week the House of Commons reconvened briefly to allow Parliament to pass Bill C-20: “An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures”.

Bill C-20 proposed a number of different measures, such as allowing the extension of the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) until Dec. 19, 2020.

The bill also included the ability of government to update much of the CEWS program criteria until Nov. 21, 2020.

A CEWS “top-up” subsidy, of up to an additional 25 per cent, will now be available for employers that have been harder hit by the pandemic and are in industries that may be require more time to recover.

Aside from the many changes to the CEWS program, Bill C-20 also allows the federal government to share some personal information.

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The reason for this is to complete a one-time payment to Canadians with disabilities.

To qualify, an applicant must hold “a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate (eligible persons not yet in possession of such a certificate would be able to apply for one up to 60 days after Royal Assent to be considered for the one-time payment.)”

Canadians currently receiving the Canada Pension Plan disability benefits or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefits as well as those receiving disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada will also qualify.

Those who meet this eligibility criteria will receive a non-taxable, one-time payment of up to $600.

It is expected that approximately 1.7 million Canadians will qualify for this benefit.

Aside from the debate and passing of Bill C-20 in the House of Commons, there were also two days of question period.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not participate in question period the first day, he did attend the second day and was questioned heavily on the decision of his government to sole-source a $910 million volunteer program to the WE Charity, that has since been cancelled.

As the shadow cabinet critic for employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, I was pleased that Parliament was able to pass the much-needed disability benefits in Bill C-20.

My question this week is not about parliament. In the Okanagan there have been reports of a growing number COVID-19 cases from local social gatherings.

How satisfied are you about the current actions undertaken by all levels of Government to contain COVID-19?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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