Canada

Government promises move on hybrid Senate sittings to move worker aid bill

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OTTAWA —
The government’s representative in the Senate is promising to introduce tomorrow a motion to hold hybrid sittings of the upper house during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Marc Gold’s promise clears the way for the Senate to deal swiftly with a bill authorizing new benefits for workers left jobless or underemployed by the health crisis.

Frustration over the Senate’s failure to find a way to resume full operations in the midst of the pandemic prompted some senators Wednesday to block Gold’s attempt to speed Bill C-4 through the chamber.

The bill replaces the now-defunct Canada Emergency Response Benefit with a more expansive employment insurance regime and three new benefits for those who don’t qualify for EI, fall sick or have to stay home to care for a dependent.

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It was passed unanimously in the House of Commons in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The Senate has sat only occasionally and briefly since mid-March to pass emergency aid legislation; many senators want to adopt a format similar to that now being used in the Commons, with members able to participate in all proceedings, including votes, either in person or virtually.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2020.

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