#CanadaParliament; #Covid19pandemicResponse; #FederalBudget
Ottawa/Canadian-Media: With Canada's House of Commons set to reconvene on Monday for the first time this year, it is still unclear if MPs will meet virtually with no members physically present in the Commons or whether they'll continue to follow last year's hybrid model.
House of Commons. Image credit: Twitter handle
"We have been having discussions with the other parties about the return of Parliament on Monday. Those discussions have been constructive," read a statement from the office of Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez.
The resuming of the Parliament on Monday amid the soaring COVID-19 pandemic in parts of the country would also see Ottawa's preparation for its first federal budget in two years.
In a panel interview on CBC Radio's The House, Conservative MP Michael Chong and Liberal MP Arif Virani debated over the priorities to be included in the budget over Canada's pandemic response.
"We need to see some action from this government," NDP deputy House leader Heather McPherson told The House in the same interview. "I mean, we have seen things like child care, we have seen things like pharmacare, over and over and over again in these Liberal throne speeches. But we haven't seen the action taken. If [the Liberals] continue to help deliver for Canadians, then we'll continue to work with them."
Chong said that his party is "looking for two measures in the upcoming budget that we believe is really important, one of which the government has indicated it's supportive of, and that is the changes to the Canada Child Benefit that would help Canadian families, particularly working women and single mothers," said Chong and added that his party is also looking for additional measures to help small businesses affected by the second wave of pandemic restrictions.
Liberal MP Arif Virani said he was looking b to immediately working to close a loophole in the federal sickness benefit that allows Canadians quarantining after personal travel to claim sick pay.
Virani, who is also the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, said the new Biden administration in the United States also changes what's on the government's to-do list.
"We've now got a co-operative administration that understands the importance of greening the planet," Virani said, "as well as working on issues that are germane to both of our nations."
These issues include a rise in systemic discrimination and online hate, the latter of which he's been tackling with Justice Minister David Lametti, said Virani.
"We're looking for progress on a number of files, but it starts with the pandemic and addressing the pandemic," he said.