- Dec 11, 2018
The federal government's wage subsidy legislation is now under Senate review as the House of Commons moved to adopt the emergency bill Saturday evening in a sitting that saw MPs applauding collaboration between parliamentarians of all political stripes.
The legislation was passed after days of protracted negotiations between the government and opposition parties produced an agreement to pass a bill that will flow billions of dollars to companies during the COVID-19 crisis.
The bill is expected to receive royal assent from Governor General Julie Payette this evening.
House Speaker Anthony Rota characterized the occasion as an "exceptional day in the midst of exceptional times" after announcing that the Commons had passed the bill.
MPs across all federal parties thanked their colleagues for working together to push the legislation forward as quickly as possible.
Addressing a small contingent of MPs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an impassioned speech that Canadians' determination to fight the virus and look out for one another could be put to the test — though he thinks they are up to the challenge.
The prime minister likened the current situation to a war, but instead of a front line marked with barbed wire, he said the front line in this pandemic is everywhere — in homes, hospitals and grocery stores.
"Without reservation, without pause, we must fight for every inch of ground against this disease. We must be there for one another as we spare no effort to safeguard our collective future," Trudeau said.
The bill at the heart of Saturday's debate would put in place the multi-billion-dollar Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which is designed to help companies avoid laying off employees during a pandemic that has led to many businesses shutting their doors.
The CEWS is intended to encourage companies to rehire workers by offering a 75 per cent wage subsidy over the next three months to businesses that have lost 30 per cent of their revenue due to the crisis. Companies will need to reapply for the program each month.