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Trudeau government exchanges sick days for NDP votes to limit Parliamentary seatings through summer

Trudeau said he will encourage the provinces to implement 10 days of paid sick leave per year as Canada deals with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Jonathan Bradley Montreal, QC

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will encourage the provinces to implement 10 days of paid sick leave per year as Canada deals with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. This according to CP24.

Establishing paid sick leave meets a key demand from New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh. This appears to be a trade off, sick days in exchange for the NDP's support for a motion to limit sittings and votes in the House of Commons through the summer.

Singh laid out the NDP's demands on Monday morning, a short time before a small number of MPs returned to the House of Commons to begin debate over parliamentary hearings for the next few months.

The debate will revolve around a Liberal proposal to waive House of Commons sittings and to expand the COVID-19 committee which has been acting as a stand-in for the past month.

Singh said paid sick leave was a necessary condition for the NDP to support the Liberals' motion.

"We are continuing to make it clear that we need a commitment that the government is willing to provide paid sick leave for all Canadians," Singh said at a news conference on Parliament Hill.

"We're suggesting the government can use something like the (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) or Employment Insurance to deliver that program federally immediately. But we want to see something that is long term and that will require working with provinces and employers to deliver a long-term commitment so that forever in our country, everyone who needs paid sick leave will have access to it."

Singh demanded the government fulfill their promise to provide more help for people with disabilities who are struggling during the pandemic.

"If the government does not deliver on paid sick leave for all Canadians and real support for Canadians with disabilities, then we will not be supporting the motion," he said.

Trudeau said it is sensible to implement paid sick leave to ensure that people who might be infected with COVID-19 do not have to choose between going to work sick and sitting at home unpaid. Trudeau acknowledged that he had discussions with Singh about the issue on Sunday.

The Liberals need the support of one other main opposition party to pass this motion because they are a minority government.

The Conservatives are expected to oppose the motion as they push for ending the COVID-19 committee and resuming House of Commons sittings with no more than 50 MPs in the chamber at any time.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said Monday his party is not participating in negotiations about Parliament returning.

The Bloc laid out a set of conditions it wanted met before it would engage in negotiations about how Parliament could resume. These conditions included more help for businesses to cover their fixed overhead costs and a straightforward plan for how the Liberals would follow through on their promise to provide financial support for seniors.

Blanchet said the Liberals have followed through on neither of these conditions, and ensuring they do is his priority.

"Every time we spend five minutes talking about parliamentary rules, we're spending five minutes less talking about what Quebecers require," said Blanchet.

He said his party will likely go along with whatever consensus is agreed to for how the House of Commons should run.

The Liberals’ motion proposes adding another day to the COVID-19 committee's current schedule of one meeting per week in person, with fewer than three dozen MPs present, and twice per week online.

The Liberals want to have four meetings per week until June 17, through a combination of in-person and online attendance, with a small number of MPs in the House of Commons and others participating through two large video screens set up on either side of the Speaker’s chair.

The motion proposes four sittings of the House of Commons in July and August, and each will have a question period that would allow MPs to ask cabinet ministers about issues unrelated to COVID-19.

Jonathan Bradley
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