Grande Prairie-Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin is condemning a new financial aid plan from the Liberal Party that he argues could keep Peace Country workers and businesses in limbo from restarting fully.
The proposal from the Liberals plans to transition from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to Employment Insurance, as well as creating temporary measures to flow through existing benefit programs. This transition is meant to allow the switch to be made without legislation, which could be done during the prorogation of the government.
Warkentin says workers and businesses need to know what their government is doing to restart the economy and get people back to work.
“They cannot afford more extensions and delays. Peace Country residents are telling me they want to get back to work and shuffling Canadians between programs is not a plan,” he says.
The alternative Employment insurance program will take effect, starting on September 27th, transitioning those collecting CERB to the new program. Three new temporary benefits are also being established, including a new form of paid sick leave and a weekly caregiving benefit.
Warkentin says he questions the decision to make such drastic changes virtually without opposition.
“It is absolutely shameful that the prime minister has announced their intention to make these changes mere days after locking out MPs and proroguing parliament to block investigations into Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberals’ corrupt behaviour,” he says.
“My constituents have serious questions about this transition and how these new programs will affect them,” he adds. “They deserve transparency and answers that come from open and honest inquiry in the House of Commons.”
The new financial assistance plans are budgeted to cost in the realm of $37 billion over the next year. The revamp to the employment insurance system will benefit eligible applicants a minimum of $400 up to a maximum of $573 per week based on past earnings. The adjusted benefit would be able to be claimed for between 26 and 45 weeks based on time worked prior to the pandemic.