NDP leader Jagmeet Singh gestures during a news conference Tuesday June 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Singh says it is irresponsible and wrong-headed for the Liberal government to draft a bill that would fine or imprison people who made fraudulent claims under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Singh says NDP won’t support Liberal bill that would jail, fine CERB fraudsters

Singh says new criminal penalties will hit poor and racialized people harder

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says it is irresponsible and wrong-headed for the Liberal government to draft a bill that would fine or imprison people who made fraudulent claims under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Singh says a bill the Liberals are proposing would hurt the very people that the CERB was designed to help — vulnerable people who have faced financial hardship because of COVID-19.

He also says it was hypocritical for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take a knee on Parliament Hill during Friday’s nationwide anti-racism demonstrations while such a bill was being drafted.

He says the NDP was given a copy of the draft bill on the weekend by the Liberals, ahead of a sitting of the House of Commons tomorrow, and his party can’t support it as is.

Singh says new criminal penalties will hit poor and racialized people harder, and that the tax system should be used to recover funds that should not have been paid, rather than fining or jailing people during a pandemic.

Singh says all parties previously agreed that people should not be unduly penalized if they applied for benefits in good faith.

“They’re effectively opening up the floodgates to retroactively charging people just for applying … That is the opposite of what we should be doing during a pandemic,” he said Tuesday.

“I am outraged at the Liberal government that Prime Minister Trudeau can take a knee on one day while at the same time the Liberal government is drafting a bill that’s going to penalize potentially people who applied in good faith but maybe didn’t meet a certain criteria. That is wrong.”

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre wouldn’t comment on the legislation that has yet to be tabled in the House of Commons, or on whether the Tories support extending the CERB.

He said federal program should focus on encouraging people to get back to work.

“There’s no way you can replace the workforce with a government program,” Poilievre said, in an appearance with the Conservative Treasury Board critic Tim Uppal.

“That’s why the economy needs to open up and people need to have the opportunity to go back to their jobs, to earn a paycheque.”

The most recent federal figures show 8.41 million people have applied for the CERB, with $43.51 billion in payments as of June 4.

The figures surpassed anything the government originally expected, which is why the Finance Department recently updated its spending projections to put a $60-billion price tag on the measure, up from $35 billion.

At the same time, the government is revising downward how much it will spend on a wage subsidy program to $45 billion from $73 billion.

All the spending, and changes in plans, require a thorough review by the federal auditor general, Poilievre said. The Tories are calling on the government to increase the auditor general’s budget by about $10.8 million.

The watchdog has said that’s roughly what it needs to review COVID-19 and infrastructure spending without having other work fall by the wayside.

READ MORE: Payments for CERB top $40 billion as feds open doors for commercial rent help

READ MORE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirusJagmeet SinghJustin Trudeau

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

UPDATE: Fire above Sparwood no threat to community

Mayor David Wilks reported it may be due to an exposed coal seam

Conservative opposition critic tours through Kootenay riding on listening tour

Pierre Poilievre, the Tory finance critic, gathering local feedback on pandemic supports, recovery issues

EKC makes $5,000 donation to Elk Valley ultrasound campaign

The EKC challenged other businesses to help the campaign hit its $300,000 target

City of Fernie to extend pilot snow removal program

Councillors voted unanimously on Sep. 17 to extend the program due to a lack of data points and disruption due to the pandemic

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read