CPWA Ottawa Report

June 1, 2020
 
The next edition of the Ottawa Report is scheduled to be sent June 22.
 

Latest News


Funding delivered through the federal Gas Tax Fund accelerated
On Monday, June 1, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that funding delivered through the federal Gas Tax Fund will be accelerated this year to help communities as quickly as possible while respecting public health guidelines.This means that $2.2 billion in annual federal infrastructure funding for communities will be delivered in one payment in June. Early delivery of the full funding for 2020-21 will help communities quickly move forward with infrastructure projects and help restart local economies.
The House of Commons to meet in hybrid form until September
On Tuesday, May 26, the House of Commons adopted Government Motion No. 7, which extends the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic until Thursday, June 18, 2020. The motion also states:
  • Starting Wednesday, May 27, the Special Committee will meet in the Chamber at noon every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and Members will be able to participate either in person or by videoconference.
  • The House will meet on June 17, July 8, July 22, August 12 and August 26. It will then adjourn until September 21, 2020.
  • Until the return of the House in September, eight committees will be able to hold virtual meetings related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses open for applications
On Wednesday, May 20, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that application documents and updated criteria for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses are now available.On Monday, May 25, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that applications are now being accepted for small businesses.This program, which is receiving some criticism over its complexity and reliance on landlords, is a shared-cost program with provincial governments.
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) open for applications
On Wednesday, May 20, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains announced the opening of the application process for the government’s Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF).The program will support Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing. Additional information on the application process is available on the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDEV) website.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) eligibility criteria expanded
On Tuesday, May 19, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses. The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends.
Border closure to non-essential travel with the United States extended to June 21
On Tuesday, May 19, Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed the agreement between Canada and the United States to close the border to non-essential travel had been extended until June 21.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) extended to August 29
On Friday, May 15, Prime Minister Trudeau sent a message that the Canadian economy needed support beyond what has already been put in place. Accordingly, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is extended by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau will be consulting with industry and labour groups regarding whether the 30% threshold that triggers the subsidy should be changed.
The government also announced extended eligibility to the subsidy to the following groups:
  • Partnerships that are up to 50-per-cent owned by non-eligible members;
  • Indigenous government-owned corporations that are carrying on a business, as well as partnerships where the partners are Indigenous governments and eligible employers;  
  • Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations;
  • Registered Journalism Organizations; and
  • Non-public colleges and schools, including institutions that offer specialized services, such as arts schools, driving schools, language schools or flight schools.
The government also intends to propose legislative amendments to ensure that the CEWS continues to meet its objectives. These proposed amendments would:
  • Provide flexibility for employers of existing employees who were not regularly employed in early 2020, such as seasonal employees;
  • Ensure that the CEWS applies appropriately to corporations formed on the amalgamation of two predecessor corporations; and
  • Better align the treatment of trusts and corporations for the purpose of determining CEWS eligibility.
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) applications open
On Wednesday, May 13, Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly announced that applications for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), available to small businesses through the six regional development agencies (RDAs), are now being accepted.
Government working with provinces and territories to boostwages for essential workers
On Thursday, May 7, Prime Minister Trudeau announced agreements with provinces and territories to boost wages for low-wage essential workers.The Government of Canada will provide up to $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers and provinces and territories will contribute another $1 billion to the top-up wage payments. Each province or territory will determine which workers would be eligible for support, and how much support they will receive.

Legislation


Parliament has been recalled for four sittings, since it adjourned on March 13, to pass legislation to implement the government’s economic response to the COVID-19 outbreak.This includes two sittings since the last Ottawa Report.
Parliament adopts Bill C-15, An Act respecting Canada Emergency student benefits (coronavirus disease 2019)
On April 29, the government introducedBill C-15, An Act respecting Canada emergency student benefits (coronavirus disease 2019), which received Royal Assent on May 1, 2020. Bill C-15provides for the creation of the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), which provides financial support to post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19.
Parliament adopts Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Dairy Commission Act
On May 13, the government introduced Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Dairy Commission Act, which received Royal Assent on May 15, 2020. Bill C-16 includes amendments that will increase the Canadian Dairy Commission’s (CDC) borrowing limit from $300 million to $500 million to allow cheese and butter to be temporarily stored and avoid waste.


Committee Activities


House Committees Convening Virtually
The following committees are now meeting virtually, and are no longer restricted to studying matters solely related to COVID-19:
  1. House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food
  2. House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance
  3. House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
  4. House of Commons Standing Committee on Health
  5. House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
  6. House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology
  7. House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs
  8. House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates

Departmental Updates


Infrastructure Minister signals desire to invest in infrastructure to drive post-COVID-19 recovery
CPWA has been in close contact with Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna’s staff to express support for the Minister’s focuson accelerating access to infrastructure funding and increasing the federal cost share for municipal projects. 
A key area for continued consideration is the future impact on municipal budgets and the ability for municipalities and utilities to manage the increasing cost and effort for day-to-day operations and maintenance of existing infrastructure. Many communities are challenged with keeping existing infrastructure in good condition and maximizing its useful life.
In addition to supporting building and construction projects, CPWA has encouraged the Minister to continue to look for ways to support existing infrastructure needs, including operations and maintenance costs.


On the Horizon


Finance Committee expected to proceed with Pre-Budget Consultations
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance normally launches its annual pre-budget consultation process in June. Despite the unusual circumstances in which Parliament is now operating, it is anticipated that the Committee will follow its normal schedule and ask interested parties to provide their written submissions by August. As in years past, CPWA will submit its public policy priorities for the consideration of the Committee.
Procedure and House Affairs Committee continues to study potential rules for a virtual House of Commons
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairscontinues to study how Members of Parliament can fulfil their responsibilities while maintaining appropriate physical distancing, including the potential for virtual sittings of the House of Commons. The Committee has been directed to present its report no later than June 23.
On Wednesday, May 27, Members of Parliament made history by participating in a hybrid proceeding. For the first time ever, MPs were able to participate in proceedings either by being in their seats in the House of Commons or being logged in virtually. The successful installation of technology for this hybrid proceeding is likely to have some influence on the Committee’s report.