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House of Commons resumes to pass $82B coronavirus aid package after last-minute controversy

Last Updated Mar 24, 2020 at 6:55 am PDT

Parliament Hill is seen without any visitors in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

32 MPs are meeting on Tuesday to vote on the federal government's $82-billion COVID-19 aid package

Tuesday's session at the House of Commons comes after last-minute drama over a controversial addition from the Liberals

A draft of the bill from the Trudeau government included a spending and taxing provision

OTTAWA – Thirty-two Members of Parliament are returning to the House of Commons on Tuesday for a one-day session to green light the $82-billion COVID-19 financial aid package put forward by the federal government.

However, the Trudeau Liberals are facing criticism for also trying to use this emergency bill to give the government sweeping new powers to tax and spend.

The main goal of Tuesday’s legislation is to approve measures to help struggling workers and businesses amid the coronavirus crisis. However, a draft of the bill sparked fierce criticisms ahead of Tuesday because it contained a provision that would have allowed the Trudeau government to raise or lower taxes and borrow and spend money without having to go through the checks and balances of parliament.

That power would have lasted until the end of next year.

The Conservatives were quick to condemn the move as a power grab in a time of crisis, and late Monday night, the government backtracked with House Leader Pablo Rodriguez tweeting, “We consulted with the opposition and will bring changes to the draft legislation.”

“We will always work collaboratively and respect the fundamental role of Parliament,” Rodriguez added.

In a minority, the government needs opposition support.

The legislation will now just focus on initiatives like boosting the Canada Child Benefit, creating a new benefit for out-of-work employees, and expanding Employment Insurance.

It’s expected to get quick approval in the House and pass the Senate on Wednesday.