NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh confirmed his party would vote in favour, as long as the Liberals honour the agreement reached to secure their support.
“I still maintain my concerns that the Liberal government likes to say a lot of empty words and don’t back it up with actions, but if this agreement is reflected in the bill that’s proposed, if the same language is there, we will support the bill and we will also support the throne speech,” he told reporters in Ottawa on Friday.
An NDP source previously told Global News that the party struck the deal after Liberals agreed to work with the NDP and expand the number of people who are able to access paid sick days under the next phase of the government’s emergency benefits programs.
The minority Liberal government needs the support of at least one other party in order to remain in power. The Conservatives have said they will vote against the throne speech.
Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez also confirmed Friday afternoon that a deal had been reached.
“We are entering the second wave (of the COVID-19 pandemic) and millions of Canadians are still struggling to make ends meet,” he said. “We now have an agreement with the NDP on a bill that will deliver the help that Canadians need.”
Singh had vowed the party would not back Justin Trudeau’s government without legislation guaranteeing that unemployed Canadians wouldn’t see a reduction in coronavirus benefits as the Liberals had initially proposed.
The Liberals agreed to tweak the proposed programs so that recipients could receive as much money as they did through the $2,000 per month Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which ends this week.
The bill introduced Thursday includes a new sick leave benefit for anyone who falls ill or must isolate due to the pandemic, a benefit for caregivers, along with payments for those who do not qualify for Employment Insurance.
Eligibility for Employment Insurance has also been expanded so an additional 400,000 Canadians will be able to qualify, according to the government. EI recipients will receive at least $500 per week.
Figures released by the federal Finance Department Friday showed that Canada’s deficit for the first four months of the fiscal year has ballooned to $148.6 billion, in part due to the new income support measures established to help the record numbers of Canadians who lost their jobs.
In an interview airing on The West Block on Sunday, Singh told Global News’ Mercedes Stephenson that while he is concerned about the cost, he considers the emergency benefits an investment in workers.
“What would a family getting by on $2,000 a month do if they had to all of a sudden try to be forced get by on $1,600? … how would they afford their groceries and their bills?”
— With files from The Canadian Press
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