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Freeland to face questions on bill covering new business aid, rent relief

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Chrystia Freeland listens to a video conference speaker during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, May 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will face questions on the government's latest bill to provide aid to businesses

Senate must pass Bill C-9 in order for the proposed package, which aims to help struggling businesses, to be enacted

Bill C-9 would extend federal wage subsidy and loan programs, redo commercial rent relief program

OTTAWA – As more COVID-19-related measures take effect across the country, struggling small businesses are still waiting for the federal government to pass emergency relief measures.

Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will face questions on Thursday from senators scrutinizing the government’s latest bid to provide pandemic aid to hard-hit businesses.

Freeland is scheduled to testify in the afternoon to the Senate’s National Finance Committee, that is reviewing the aid bill known as C-9.

The House of Commons agreed last week to pass that proposed package of measures quickly, but none can be enacted until the Senate passes it as well.

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Bill C-9 would extend the federal wage subsidy until next summer, as well as expand the popular business loan program. It would also redo a program for commercial rent relief that was widely criticized because its original design needed buy-in from landlords, many of whom did not participate.

The proposed bill would also provide top-up help for businesses whose revenues crash because of local lockdowns, similar to those being imposed in parts of the country right now as COVID-19 case numbers rise.

Late last month, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that half of small businesses in the country had seen a further drop in sales amid the second wave of COVID-19.