Politics

COVID-19 benefit bill will be a confidence vote: Liberal House leader

Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez says the Liberals' recently introduced COVID-19 economic package bill will be a vote of confidence — one which could put the minority government to the test over the next few hours.

NDP has said it will support Bill C-4, which introduces new benefits to move Canadians off the CERB

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez says the Liberals' new COVID-19 aid bill will be a vote of confidence. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez says the Liberals' recently introduced COVID-19 economic package bill will be a vote of confidence — one which could put the Liberals' minority government to the test over the next several hours.

The legislation in question, Bill C-4, would introduce a series of new COVID-19 benefits for Canadians to ease their transition away from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

"We are in the [second] wave of #COVID-19, but we have a plan. Our bill on sick leave and support to families is at the core of it. We will consider the vote on the legislation as a matter of confidence," Rodriguez tweeted Tuesday morning.

"Canadians can't wait. We need to move forward. Together."

This means the Liberals' minority government could face its first make-or-break test of the fall sitting tonight.

It appears the government is in a good position to avoid a snap election, however.

Last week, the government secured NDP support for C-4 by boosting the value of the weekly benefit for self-employed or gig workers to $500 from $400 and expanding eligibility for paid sick leave.

The New Democrats' support would all but guarantee the bill's passage.  

Path cleared for early morning vote

Rodriguez has been asking Parliament to fast-track the legislation so that it can be passed in a single day after just 4.5 hours of debate — infuriating opposition critics who accuse the government of ducking another debate after it prorogued Parliament in August.

With the support of New Democrats, the Liberal government today won a closure vote — a motion to limit debate on Rodriguez's motion — by 173 votes to 142.

If Rodriguez's motion passes later this evening, as expected, debate on the actual bill will follow and debate on the confidence vote is expected to carry on into the early morning hours.

The Senate is already planning to sit on Wednesday to deal with the emergency benefits bill.

Watch: Hilarious House of Commons' first virtual vote:

Monday night's vote in the House of Commons was the first one in history to see MPs participating virtually. The vote was successful but not without its share of bloopers. 2:42

The bill would set up three new benefits for Canadians who won't qualify for EI but are still affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

They include the Canada Recovery Benefit for self-employed and gig workers, expanded sick leave and a caregiver benefit for workers who must stay home to care for a child or another dependent because their school, daycare or other day program facility has been shut down due to COVID.

The House held its first virtual vote last night, which was delayed due to technical glitches.

The first scheduled confidence vote had been the upcoming vote on the speech from the throne. The Conservatives have said categorically that they will not support the speech.

With files from The Canadian Press

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