The Trudeau Liberals’ push for changes to a key benefit for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic hit political roadblocks as the New Democrats withdrew support for a draft bill that would fine or imprison people who made fraudulent claims.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday the legislation would enact punishments for those who knowingly and wrongfully claimed the $2,000-a-month benefit — not those who simply made mistakes in good faith.
Speaking outside his Ottawa residence, Trudeau said he believed his minority government would gain opposition support for the legislation, which has been subject to closed-door negotiations among the parties.
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The opposition parties were given a copy of the draft bill on the weekend by the Liberals, ahead of a sitting of the House of Commons on Wednesday.
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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said his party couldn’t support the legislation because it would hurt the very people the Canada Emergency Response Benefit was designed to help: vulnerable people who have faced financial hardship because of COVID-19.
0:46Coronavirus outbreak: Liberals looking for support for bill reforming COVID-19 benefits
Coronavirus outbreak: Liberals looking for support for bill reforming COVID-19 benefits
He also said it was hypocritical for Trudeau to take a knee on Parliament Hill during Friday’s countrywide anti-racism demonstrations while such a bill was being drafted.