Politics

Tories, NDP say more support needed for sectors hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Opposition parties are pushing the federal Liberals for targeted COVID-19 relief for some badly hit sectors.

Trudeau accuses Tories of stalling COVID relief, MAID legislation

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole says he is not stalling COVID-19 relief legislation but is doing his job by pressing to ensure the existing programs are meeting existing needs. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Opposition parties are pushing the federal Liberals for targeted COVID-19 relief for some badly hit sectors.

The Conservatives advanced a motion Tuesday calling on the Liberals to implement supports for the hospitality, tourism and charity sectors, all devastated by the pandemic.

"We cannot allow the pandemic to permanently kill these jobs," Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said. 

The Conservatives also say they want airlines to commit to providing consumer refunds, restrict executive pay and restore regional routes in exchange for repayable loans.

In response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that airlines and other industries have received billions of dollars through federal loans and wage subsidies. He accused the Conservatives Tuesday of deliberately holding up efforts to expand and extend those programs.

The Tories have been accused of stalling the Liberals' legislative agenda by using parliamentary tricks like forcing lengthy debates on minor reports or talking out the clock to prevent bills from getting to votes. 

"We certainly hope that parties in the House, particularly the Conservative party, will stop playing games, blocking and obstructing the passage of important legislation, from medical assistance in dying to measures to support families," Trudeau said.

Helping small businesses

But O'Toole said his party is doing its job by pressing to ensure existing programs are meeting existing needs — and right now, they aren't.

"There are thousands of family-owned businesses today holding on by a thread," he said. "They need access to programs now." 

The New Democrats also repeated their ideas for small-business relief Tuesday.

Among them is a call for Ottawa to pick up the tab for employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan contributions to provide an incentive for businesses to hire workers, and an extension to the federal wage subsidy program until the pandemic is fully over.

"There seems to be a big focus on big business, but there's been an ignoring of the place and the struggles of small businesses," NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said.

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