In the News
Parliament to Resume Sitting on January 31
Status of Business in the House of Commons
The Liberal Government’s plans for the resumption of the House of Commons on Monday, January 31 are yet to be revealed. The Liberals tabled eight pieces of legislation in the House of Commons during its 19 sitting days from November 22 to December 16.
Four bills have received Royal Assent: the pandemic relief legislation which revamped supports available to businesses and workers impacted by COVID-19 (Bill C-2); another criminalizing protests at health facilities and establishing ten days of paid medical leave for federally regulated employees (Bill C-3); a third amending the criminal code to make it a crime to cause a person to undergo therapies aimed at changing their sexual preference or orientation. It bans conversion therapy advertising and prohibits anyone receiving any financial or other material benefit from providing the service (Bill C-4); and the fourth authorizing an additional $8.7 billion in government spending for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022 (Bill C-6).
Four bills are making their way through the House.
Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act stands at second reading. It eliminates some mandatory minimum sentencing provisions in the criminal code and introduces a declaration of principles in the drug laws to treat substance abuse “primarily as a health and social issue.”
The same legislation was introduced during the 43rd Parliament, but did not make it past first reading when it died on the order paper due to prorogation. At that time and even more so now, the legislation is facing criticism, particularly from people who are dealing with the drug crisis and are calling for decriminalization and a health-centered approach.
Criticisms have become stronger against a backdrop of the increasing opioid crisis and continued incarceration of people for minor drug offences. The Liberals promised to eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing in their 2015 election campaign.
Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Parliament Act provides for additional payments to be made to Senators who lead their particular factions, along with other executive positions, such as Whip or Deputy Whip. Senate-introduced legislation with the exact same provisions has made its way to third reading and adoption in the Senate.
Bill C-8, Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act was tabled on December 15. It is a seven-part bill authorizing expenditures outlined in the update.
Part 1 amends the tax law and related regulations. It creates a refundable tax credit for business ventilation equipment; a deduction for certain work-related travel expenses for northern residents; and expands farming business fuel credits. It increases the School Supplies Tax Credit from 15 per cent to 25 per cent, meaning teachers can get a tax credit of up to $250 instead of $150 when they spend $1,000 to purchase supplies which the education system fails to provide.
Part 2 will establish an annual one per cent tax on vacant and underused residential property owned by non-resident non-Canadians.
Part 3 establishes a six-year limitation period for the recovery of loans to businesses under the Canada Emergency Business Account program established by Export Development Canada.
Parts 4 to 6 authorize spending for proof-of-vaccination initiatives, ventilation equipment in schools, and COVID-19 tests.
Part 7 amends the Employment Insurance Act provisions pertaining to seasonal workers.
Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Judges Act was introduced on the last day of sitting. It will revamp the standards used to review allegations of misconduct by federally appointed judges; reasons for removal from office are those which would “undermine public confidence in the impartiality, integrity or independence of the judge.”
(Renewal Update, posted January 19, 2022)