OTTAWA – The Conservatives are calling for more “sector-specific” support in the Liberal government’s upcoming budget, including increased support for small and medium-sized businesses facing the prospect of third wave lockdowns.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole will announce Tuesday morning that his party is using its opposition day motion to ask the government to include “measures to help workers and their families who are suffering the most from the current economic downturn” – including in the hospitality, tourism and charitable sectors.
O’Toole recently told The Star that the post-COVID economic recovery will be the ballot box question in the next federal election, although the party has yet to put much economic policy out of the window for undecided voters.
That could change this week, with Conservatives pushing forward with a debate on how best to support struggling sectors as the pandemic continues. The Conservative leader is due to address reporters at a press conference on Tuesday morning.
Ed Fast, the Conservative finance critic, was unavailable to discuss the opposition motion on Monday evening.
The Conservatives are also calling on the government to provide repayable loans to airlines “in exchange for reimbursements to consumers, job guarantees, restrictions on executive pay and restoration of regional routes.”
Airlines cut jobs and services to small communities in talks with federal government possible rescue plan, because COVID-19 has decimated the travel and tourism industry.
The Liberals are approaching two years without an official budget, although parliament has debated many economic and political supports linked to the pandemic. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to unveil her first budget later this spring, possibly as early as April.
This budget should include the highlights of the Liberals’ $ 100 billion post-COVID recovery package, detailing where exactly the government intends to inject unprecedented federal spending to boost the rebuilding of the economy after the pandemic.
But even as the Conservatives press the government for specific budget measures, the Liberals accuse the opposition of hampering critical funding related to the pandemic.
Freeland’s office pointed out that after weeks of debate, the Tories voted against legislation to implement the government’s fall economic declaration on Monday. Freeland publicly called on the Conservatives for delaying legislation – which includes aid to small businesses and funding for vaccine research – last month.
“It is rich for the Conservatives to present this motion one day after voting against the Fall Economic Statement bill, which would provide urgent financial support to small businesses, families with children, long-term care facilities and the Canadian vaccine effort, ”Freeland office spokesperson Katherine Cuplinskas said in a statement to The Star Monday night.
“The Conservatives are proposing supports that our government created last year.