North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney (Supplied by Blaney's office)
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney says the time to help Canadians is now.
That’s why she was among the MPs who unanimously passed a $82-billion aid package today.
It means Canadians will soon have access to financial aid.
Blaney said that while she understands the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were some sticking points in the legislation.
When the draft legislation was sent to MPs late Sunday, additional measures were included that had not been previously discussed.
“We were really taken by surprise by some of these new measures,” said Blaney. “They gave the Ministers of Finance and Health extreme spending and taxation powers for nearly two years without any parliamentary oversight.”
Negotiations finally came to a close at 2:30am EST on Wednesday morning.
“We made sure that Canadians would get the support they need, even though that meant intense negotiations and little sleep. These are unprecedented times, and those call for unprecedented measures from the government,” Blaney said.
“I understood that from the beginning. But there needed to be a balance with accountability, and I think we managed to strike that balance.”
Blaney said dealing with the uncertainty of COVID-19 on a daily basis has been overwhelming for all Canadians.
“We have a lot of businesses and families across the riding saying, ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to pay my rent? How am I going to pay my mortgage?” Blaney said before the legislation passed. “So I want those issues addressed and there are areas in the legislation where that is partially addressed. If it was up to me we just let go of the other things, put that aside for another day, get this done today so that people can get the resources.”
Blaney said all parties are working together for the same cause: “We know that Canadians are struggling. You just have to walk down any busy street in our country to see just how quiet it is,” Blaney said.
“We know that small businesses across our riding are saying ‘Hey, we don’t know how we are going to make ends meet. What does this mean?’”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit will replace what was announced last week in order to streamline the process of getting money to Canadians.
It will put $2,000 a month for the next four months into the pockets of people who are unemployed, sick or quarantined, caring for someone who is ill or taking care of children.
Blaney joined party leader Jagmeet Singh and London-Fanshaw MP Lyndsay Mathyssen as the three NDP members in a reduced Parliament.
It included 14 Liberals, 11 Conservatives, three NDP, three Bloc Quebecois, and three Green MP as per an agreement negotiated among the official parties.
Blaney has been in Ottawa since Parliament was suspended on March 13, so she could continue her role as party whip which includes negotiating and liaising with the other parties.
Following the session, Blaney will return to her riding for 14 days of self-isolation.
“It has been very hard to be away from my family and my community with all that is going on, but it’s critical that the government be able to enact measures right away to give Canadians the support they need,” Blaney said.
Singh has previously indicated to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the NDP will support the upcoming legislation, giving it the votes needed to pass.
He urged the Prime Minister to begin rollout of programs immediately rather than wait for legislation to pass, adding that “Canadians cannot wait a moment longer for help.”
Singh, Blaney and the NDP also proposed additional measures to help Canadians including:
- a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility cut-offs;
- ensuring banks waive interest fees for the next two payments cycles;
- increasing the wage subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses; and
- ensuring that supports for big businesses are tied to protecting jobs in Canada.