Canadian Manufacturing

Freeland urges MPs to approve pandemic aid bill citing Omicron

The parliamentary budget officer says the federal government's plan to extend its wage subsidy will push the overall price for the program to almost $106.7 billion.

December 9, 2021  The Canadian Press

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the need for MPs to approve a new round of pandemic aid has become more important amid fears related to the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Speaking to the House of Commons finance committee, Freeland says the variant has injected renewed uncertainty into the economy, in arguing for the government’s latest benefits package.

The Liberals are proposing to extend pandemic aid until early May to still-hurting businesses and provide a $300-a-week benefit to workers subject to a lockdown as part of a $7.4 billion aid bill before the House of Commons.

The Liberals want the bill, known as C-2, to get approval before parliamentarians go on their winter break at the end of next week.

Advertisement

Freeland says the lockdown support contained in the bill would act as an economic insurance policy if there is another surge in the virus or new variants of concern.

Freeland’s appearance is scheduled for two hours, which was part of an agreement with opposition parties to fast-track the aid bill through the House of Commons.

The parliamentary budget officer says the federal government’s plan to extend its wage subsidy will push the overall price for the program to almost $106.7 billion.

The budget officer’s report released this morning estimates that the majority, about $4.8 billion, in subsidies will flow to businesses that continue to see a steep, and persistent drop in revenues.

The remaining $666 million will flow out under a program targeting hard-hit companies in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Budget officer Yves Giroux’s office has previously estimated that extending the rent subsidy will cost $676 million, and adding extra weeks to the sickness and caregiving benefits would cost $373.8 million and $554 million.