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CRB Increase and National Sick Leave for Workers as NDP and Liberals Reach Agreement

Amidst speculation that Canadians would head to the ballot box in the fall, the NDP and governing Liberals managed to negotiate additional aid for workers and CERB-recipients in an effort to avoid an election.

Confidence Vote: A formal process in which people (such as members of a legislature) vote in order to indicate whether they support a government.

The Takeaway: After 6 long days of debate over the Government Throne Speech, the House of Commons unanimously voted in favour of the confidence vote, preventing a fall election.

  • The agreement includes an increase from $1600 to $2000 per month for CERB recipients and a temporary national sick leave program for workers.
  • NDP Leader, Jagmeet Singh, was cautious to initially support the Throne Speech until further negotiations could take place.

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Agreement Details

An extension of CERB was needed regardless of the Throne Speech taking place, but the NDP decided to include increased support for recipients in their list of demands for their support for the Throne Speech. After a national childcare program was announced in the Throne Speech, the NDP moved on to include national paid sick leave as a mandatory prerequisite for their support.

  • The Liberals needed the support of one of the main opposition parties and there was increased speculation of a fall election after the Bloc Quebecois and Conservatives said they would not support the Throne Speech.
  • Although the national sick leave program agreed to is temporary, it is an historic achievement as it is the first for Canadian workers and will be a crucial tool to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Politics of a Confidence Vote

The move to include the confidence vote in the bill that would see paid sick leave and increased CERB payments forced the Bloc and Conservatives to vote in favour of the confidence vote.

  • This was a big reversal from the previous stances after the Throne Speech as the two opposition parties expressed their disappointment and noted their intention to vote against a confidence vote, threatening a fall election.

Political Implications

The implications of the unanimous vote of the confidence vote seem to suggest that a federal election during the pandemic is at best unlikely. This does spell out a potential issue for the NDP heading into the next election.

  • The NDP taking the initiative to fights for workers and COVID-19 recipients, as cynical as it might be, may be seen as the NDP propping up the federal Liberals, something which the Conservatives have often attacked them on.
  • Opposition parties in minority parliament settings that have chosen to support the governing party have historically shown poor results in the following election.
  • This might not be the case as the confidence vote passed unanimously and the agreement is not a coalition, meaning the NDP can still criticize the Liberals and vice-versa.

The Bottom Line: The agreement between the two parties is a historic victory for workers and eligible recipients of CERB.

  • The long list of omissions from the Throne Speech will still be intensely debated in the House of Commons as parliament is divided as ever.
  • But the agreement shows a well-needed show of bipartisanship and fresh air for people cynical with politics.

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