North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold dealt harsh words to the Liberal government while speaking in support of new legislation that will bring more COVID-19 relief to Canadian businesses.
On Nov. 24 the federal government introduced a new pandemic aid bill that would extend some financial supports for workers and businesses until May 2022. Bill C-2 would extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program until May 7 next year for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10 per cent. The Canada Recovery Caregiving and Canada Recovery Sickness benefits would also be extended to May 7, 2022.
If passed, the bill would also provide targeted support to businesses that are still struggling amid the pandemic. The Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program would provide support to hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, restaurants and more through wage and rent subsidies to a maximum subsidy rate of 75 per cent.
Arnold voiced his support for the bill in the House of Commons Monday, Nov. 29.
“It is an honour to rise to speak to Bill C-2, an act to provide further support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged our nation for the past 20 months,” Arnold said.
Arnold has heard from people in his riding who work in the food production and processing sector who continue to be hit hard by the pandemic.
“I see orchards in my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap with thousands of pounds of apples hanging frozen and withering on the trees because the orchardist could not find pickers to hire,” he said. “I have heard from meat processors that are running 30 per cent to 40 per cent short on staff and are unable to process food for Canadian dinner tables because they cannot fill shifts.”
He’s also heard from businesses from every sector, from food service to professional offices, that have been unable to fill job vacancies “because too many are finding it easier to stay home on relief benefits.”
The total cost of Bill C-2 measures would come in at $7.4 billion.