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Senate meets to vote on bill on wage subsidy, disability payments for COVID-19

A new report from a committee of senators says the country is ill-prepared to handle a second wave of COVID-19. The Senate of Canada building and Senate Chamber are pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The Senate is meeting today to vote on extending the federal government’s emergency wage subsidy for employers hit hard by COVID-19.

The package passed by the House of Commons last week also includes one-time payments for people with disabilities facing higher expenses, and extensions to legal deadlines for some court matters that the pandemic has made hard or impossible to meet.

The extension to the wage-subsidy program is the core of the Liberal government’s plan to help the economy back into shape through the fall, assisting employers with labour costs so they can operate even if business is slow.

The bill would increase the maximum support available to the hardest-hit employers, but start scaling back subsidies until ending them in December.

The special sitting is also a chance for Conservatives and other senators critical of the Liberal government to criticize its handling of the months-long crisis.

That especially includes the aborted decision to hand management of a student-volunteering program to the WE organization.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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