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Feds open up pandemic benefits
As usual, the bulk of assistance will go towards businesses, not people
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that the feds are opening up the eligibility for the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and the Local Lockdown Program for businesses who face capacity restrictions as omicron tears through the country.
Of course, there are no jurisdictions in Canada that are under lockdown, so the government is broadening its definition of a ‘lockdown’ to jurisdictions where there are capacity restrictions of 50% or more.
The worker benefit offers $300 a week for those who have lost work as a result of the restrictions, while the business benefit subsidizes wages anywhere from 25% to 75% based on how much revenue has been lost. That floor was reduced to 25% from 40% at the urging of business lobby groups.
These benefits are expected to cost $4 billion and will apply retroactively from Dec. 19, lasting until Feb. 12, 2022, the CBC reports.
Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) called the Liberals’ new policy “good news,” while Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) policy director Alla Drigola Birk said it will “bring reassurance to businesses across Canada.”
If the CFIB and the CCC support an expansion of benefits, you know they’re not designed to help the vast majority of the population who don’t own businesses.
Meanwhile, there’s no word on when the $742 million the government committed to reimbursing low-income seniors who had their guaranteed income supplement (GIS) clawed back because they received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or the Canada Recovery Benefit will be paid out.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland wouldn’t commit to a firm date.
"I would like to assure seniors, though, that we're aware of their needs. Seniors who qualify for the GIS are among the most vulnerable people in Canada and we are working really hard to get this done as soon as possible," she said.
There are, as of writing, 101,197 active COVID cases in Canada. As of Dec. 5, 17.3% of new cases are omicron, compared with 1.8% the week before.
The Canadian government has agreed to spend at least $6 billion over nine years to fund water infrastructure and operations on hundreds of reserves, while paying out $1.5 billion in damages to 140,000 Indigenous people.
From The New York Times: Since 1977, the government has been promising to provide Indigenous reserves with water and wastewater systems equal to those enjoyed by most Canadians, but has fallen short of the goal and, in March, missed a deadline imposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I’m just so thrilled,” said Chief Emily Whetung of the Curve Lake First Nation, one of the bands who brought forward the lawsuit against the feds that led to the settlement. “Now that we’ve turned this corner, we can keep going down this road and ensure that we get access to clean drinking water for all First Nations.”
The mandate letter to Carolyn Bennett, the new federal minister of mental health and addictions, makes no mention of the opioid crisis, which has taken the lives of 25,000 people and counting, with a sharp increase this year.
The letter does, however, does mention "problematic substance use," and the need to support “evidence-based treatment and harm reduction."
Petra Shulz, a co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm whose son Danny died of opioid poisoning in 2014, said an explicit acknowledgement of the crisis would have demonstrated the government’s seriousness in addressing it.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has delayed regulations that would change how the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board sets a cap on prices for six months, the fourth such delay.
According to Health Canada, these regulations would save Canadians billions of dollars on patented drugs.
From the Canadian Press: Life-sciences groups, patient advocates and drug companies have called on the minister to reconsider the changes entirely over fears a steep drop in the price of drugs could make Canada an unattractive place to launch life-saving new therapies.
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