An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy)

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to revise the eligibility criteria, as well as the level of subsidization, under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) as part of the response to the coronavirus disease 2019. It also extends the CEWS to June 30, 2021. The enactment further amends the Income Tax Act to introduce the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) in order to support those hardest hit by the coronavirus disease 2019. This subsidy provides relief in respect of rent and interest on debt obligations incurred to acquire real property used by businesses, charities and not-for-profit organizations in the course of their businesses or other activities. The rent subsidy is effective as of September 27, 2020.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Nov. 6, 2020 Failed Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) (report stage amendment)
Nov. 5, 2020 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy)

Motion in AmendmentIncome Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

moved:

That Bill C-9, in Clause 2, be amended

(a) by adding after line 34 on page 3 the following:

“(5.1) The definition eligible entity in subsection 125.7(1) of the Act is amended by striking out “(entité déterminée)” at the end of paragraph (f) and by adding the following after that paragraph:

It does not include a political party within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Canada Elections Act or of any Act of the legislature of a province relating to provincial, municipal or school board elections. (entité déterminée)”

(b) by replacing line 20 on page 14 with the following:

“(23) Subsections (1) to (10), except subsection (5.1), and subsections (14) to (17) are”

(c) by replacing line 35 on page 14 with the following:

“(24) Subsections (5.1), (11) to (13) and (18) to (22) are”

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the House that the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-9 and is in favour of passing it quickly.

We had several opportunities this week to share our reasons for this. The bill extends the Canada emergency wage subsidy in order to give businesses more security, which is something that we have been calling for for a long time. We have also been calling for the creation of a program that provides businesses with real assistance with their fixed costs, and the Canada emergency rent subsidy meets that need.

However, there is a still a problem with this bill that dates back to the initial bill to create the wage subsidy that was introduced in the spring, and that is the fact that the political parties can apply for the program.

The wage subsidy is an emergency program designed to respond to an emergency. We are in the midst of a pandemic and some businesses were or still are being forced to scale back their operations or even close. In order to stabilize the economy, we are asking taxpayers, through their taxes and future debt load, to collectively support these businesses and help them survive the pandemic.

If we have learned one thing from the field of economics over the past century, it is that it is better to go into debt and pay more to support the economic fabric in times of crisis, since that is the lesser of the evils.

Why are millionaire political parties availing themselves of the wage subsidy when, even in 2020, they are still able to raise millions and millions of dollars through their funding mechanisms?

An article by Catherine Lévesque in The Canadian Press reports that the Liberal Party has received more than $1.25 million through the wage subsidy program. However, in 2020 alone, the Liberal Party has managed to raise nearly $9 million in political contributions. The year is not even over yet, and we know that November and December are generally important months for filling the coffers.

Was the program intended for political parties? In my opinion, no. Is this a serious ethical breach? In my opinion, yes. Why? Because if we look at the legislation that created the wage subsidy, political parties are not listed and even seem to be excluded.

Even so, the Liberal Party opted to apply, and the Canada Revenue Agency chose to say yes and give it the funding. That is unacceptable. It is deeply unethical.

I therefore call on the Liberal Party and all parties in the House to vote in favour of the amendment to close that loophole, clarify the scope of the bill and send a message that those actions were contrary to the spirit of the act. I am also asking the Liberal Party and all parties that received money from the wage subsidy to pay it all back. It is a matter of principle. It is not up to taxpayers in Quebec and Canada to fund political parties through the wage subsidy.

According to the act that created the wage subsidy, an “eligible entity” can be a corporation or trust. Is the Liberal Party a business whose activities are intended to enrich it? Maybe that is how it qualified for the wage subsidy.

Item (b) of the definition of “eligible entity” indicates “an individual”. Clearly, the Liberal Party is not a person or an individual.

Is it then “a registered charity”? I say no. However, if we expand this definition to include crony judges or Liberal cronies winning contracts, like the directors of WE Charity or the former member for Pierrefonds—Dollard, who was awarded an untendered contract to produce medical ventilators at twice the price when he has never made them before, then we could say that the Liberal Party is charitable with its friends. However, serving the public does not seem to be its objective.

The definition then indicates at item (d), “a person that is exempt from tax under”. Here it is referring to unions such as farmers' unions, which the Liberal Party is not, obviously.

Item (e) reads as follows: “a partnership, all of the members of which are described in this paragraph”. This is known as a limited partnership.

Is the Liberal Party a limited partnership? Their experience is in sponsorship, not partnership. In any case, once again, it does not apply. That is what the amendment specifies. It clarifies that political parties, within the meaning of the Canada Elections Act or similar provincial legislation, are not eligible entities. That closes the loophole.

To access the wage subsidy, there must be a 30% drop in the average revenue for January, February and March. A political party can easily meet that requirement by delaying fundraising by one month in order to qualify. Just because we are in a pandemic does not mean that the cupboard is bare. There is approximately $9 million in the Liberal Party's coffers. They have the money. It is a millionaire party that is continuing to raise funds.

The other criterion for the wage subsidy is to compare a given month in 2020 with the same month in 2019. The year 2019 was an election year. All political scientists know very well that during an election year, every party tries to raise more money. Therefore, it was only natural that revenues in 2020 would be lower than in 2019, and not because of the pandemic.

Why should taxpayers, people who are struggling right now, working-class people who pay their taxes, who are in debt and who are having a hard time making ends meet, be asked to make an extra effort to support millionaire parties? This should not even be a question. This is another dirty trick to warp the spirit of the bill in order to make a buck at the expense of taxpayers. That is not why we were elected to the House. We must vote in favour of this amendment.

I believe that the state should provide public financing to political parties, as it did before. When Jean Chrétien was looking for a way out of the sponsorship scandal, he decided that each political party would receive a small amount of money for each vote received. This was intended to cut down on shenanigans and shell games. It was an attempt to put less emphasis on money and to avoid putting parties that defend the interests of the wealthy at an advantage. The point was to improve democracy.

This worthy measure was unfortunately eliminated, and the Bloc Québécois has since been calling for it to be reinstated. That is how it is done in Quebec and in the majority of western democracies. It is obviously less common among Anglo-Saxons, and that culture surely had an influence on this Parliament's decision. The idea of public financing is to level the playing field and support each party based on the number of votes it received.

Letting political parties receive the wage subsidy does not level the playing field. It actually increases disparities because the parties that get the most money will hire the most people and will therefore receive more wage subsidies. This creates an imbalance that is unacceptable.

The Bloc Québécois is not against the principle of public financing, but we are absolutely against the notion of warping the spirit of the wage subsidy bill by claiming that they gave it a shot and got it. This is unacceptable and needs to be fixed. That is the purpose of this amendment. I urge all political parties in the House that accessed the wage subsidy to pledge to immediately pay back the money they received. It is a matter of honour.

Motion in AmendmentIncome Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his work.

Yesterday in the House I had the chance to ask the President of the Treasury Board questions about Bill C-9. He admitted that the wage subsidy was meant for people with urgent, pressing needs, as my colleague said earlier. He also admitted that recipients cannot double dip. For example, a restaurant cannot receive the same subsidy twice for the same location.

Then I mentioned that the Liberal Party was not in that situation, but it received the same amount twice, as my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue just said.

Is this a double standard that applies to the Liberal government? In this case, the government is both judge and jury.

Motion in AmendmentIncome Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the government's plan to support businesses and the economic recovery in response to COVID-19.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, the government has had two main goals: to protect the lives of Canadians, and to protect and preserve Canada's businesses, jobs and economy. In the face of an uncertain economic situation, our government took decisive action to support businesses affected by COVID-19 and to help protect the jobs that Canadians depend on.

While some sectors of the economy are recovering, others are still struggling with declining revenues, increased costs and uncertainty because of the pandemic. Many entrepreneurs and businesses in Canada still need help with cash flow and operating costs. That is why our government introduced an act to amend the Income Tax Act with respect to the Canada emergency rent subsidy and Canada emergency wage subsidy.

Bill C-9 would implement new targeted supports to help hard-hit businesses. These measures are designed to help businesses get through the second wave of the virus so that they can protect jobs, continue to serve their communities and be positioned for a strong recovery.

From very early on in the first wave of the pandemic, it was overwhelmingly clear that one of the most important ways to help businesses survive these trying times was through rental supports. Many Canadian businesses either had to shut down for months on end or lost a significant percentage of their revenues, yet still had to pay their landlords.

That is why our government quickly responded and developed a program: the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program, or CECRA, to help businesses with rent so that they could stay afloat during the pandemic. One of the problems with this program was that it required landlords to apply for assistance, rather than the businesses themselves.

Businesses reached out to me when this program was announced to let me know that, while they needed the rental support in order to make it through, their landlords refused to apply for the program. They were being forced to pay full rent amounts with almost no revenues. As much as I tried my absolute best to help my constituents and the businesses in my riding asking for help or trying to access programs, I had no idea what to tell these people. They were at the mercy of their landlords.

I raised the issue at caucus, as did many of my colleagues, and we were very happy to see that the government listened. Our comments were listened to, and the new and improved version is being discussed today: the Canada emergency rent subsidy. We are proposing to provide an easy to access commercial rent and mortgage program until June 2021 to organizations and businesses affected by COVID-19, with a subsidy of up to 65%.

The new rent subsidy follows the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program, which targets small businesses and has already helped more than 133,000 such businesses and supported 1.2 million jobs in Canada. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been working closely with small businesses. The new rent subsidy will be better targeted and easier to access. On top of that, it will be paid directly to small business tenants.

What would this look like in real terms for Canadian businesses? Let us consider a hair salon owner, for example, who followed public health safety precautions and closed to the public in March or April. They then opened during the summer as they were allowed to serve the public at a much lower capacity, and limited the number of customers in order to follow social distancing rules.

In Quebec, they had been given permission to remain open until further notice and were open during the months of September and October. Let us say that in October the revenues were down 25% compared with last year. On top of this, they incurred $2,500 in eligible rent costs for the first period of their rent subsidy. For this period, thanks to the new Canada emergency rent subsidy, they would be eligible for a rent subsidy of 20%. However, we know that not all businesses have been able to remain open.

The Speech from the Throne underscored our commitment to providing direct financial support to businesses that had to temporarily close their doors by order of local public health authorities. We are following up on this commitment by also proposing lockdown support, which would provide an additional subsidy of 25% for organizations required to temporarily close their doors as a result of an order issued by an eligible public health authority.

This support would be on top of the Canada emergency rent subsidy, which could cover up to 65% of rent, resulting in a total subsidy of up to 90%.

Take, for example, a chain of restaurants that saw its revenues down by 70% in September, and then 80% when six of its 10 locations were shut down under a regional public health order effective October 1. If this chain of restaurants incurred rent costs of $400,000 for the eligible period, $120,000 of which related to the six locations closed by the public health order, then under the rent subsidy the chain would be eligible for a base subsidy rate of up to 65%, plus the new lockdown support of up to 25% with respect to the six locations closed by the public health order, for the days that they were affected. The base subsidy would apply a benefit of $195,000 and the lockdown support would be $16,071, for a total rent subsidy of $211,071 for the month of October. This would go a long way in helping the chain of restaurants cover its total of $400,000 for 10 locations, of which more than half were significantly impacted by closures due to public health orders.

In addition to this assistance for fixed costs such as rent, employers can also apply for the Canada emergency wage subsidy to keep their employees on the payroll. The subsidy will also encourage them to rehire workers they have laid off, which will put them in a better position to prepare for a strong economic recovery.

The Canada emergency wage subsidy has supported more than 3.8 million Canadian employees. More than $45 billion has been disbursed under this program.

Throughout the summer, my colleagues and I heard from witnesses at the industry, science and technology committee. One of the very clear messages was that the wage subsidy had to be extended in order for businesses to keep their employees on the payroll.

The extension of the Canada emergency wage subsidy until June 2021 proposed by the government in this bill will continue to protect jobs by helping businesses keep their employees on the payroll and by encouraging employers to rehire their workers. What is more, the wage subsidy will remain at the current rate of up to 65% of eligible wages until at least December 19, 2020.

This extension is part of the government's commitment to create more than one million jobs and restore employment to pre-pandemic levels.

Our government continues to assess the impacts of COVID—19. These programs are built to be flexible in order to help the businesses that have been hardest hit. As circumstances improve, the level of help will decrease, and as circumstances get worse, more support will be given to businesses and organizations.

As we have said since the start of this crisis, we are ready to take additional actions when needed. That is why I would encourage all members in the House to put the immediate needs of Canadians and businesses first, and support Bill C-9.

Canadian businesses need this new rent subsidy and the extension of the wage subsidy to get through the crisis. This bill will enable us to help them.

Motion in AmendmentIncome Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House will be supporting Bill C-9, a bill that will be providing rent subsidies to Canada's small business community.

Quite frankly, this is a welcome bill although it has many flaws in its history. Over six months ago our party was encouraging the Liberal government to adopt many of the amendments and changes to this program. Unfortunately, at that time, our pleas for amendments and changes fell on deaf ears. Primarily, I think it is because the Liberal government does not understand the plight of small businesses.

On the Conservative side, we most certainly understand. I know, for example, many small businesses in my province of Saskatchewan are not only struggling, they are on the verge of bankruptcy primarily because of the pandemic. There is no question about that. I am not trying to sugar-coat this by saying the program the Liberals brought in was a flawed program. It was brought in during a time when the pandemic was first rearing its ugly head across Canada.

I appreciate the fact that the Liberals acted quickly. They acted quickly with the CERB. They acted quickly with the rent subsidy program, however, it was flawed. What we have been doing consistently since that time is trying to point out, not only to the Liberal government but to Canadians, where the flaws are in this program and encourage the government to make positive changes to help small businesses across Canada.

I will give credit where credit is due. Although six months too late, the government actually did make some positive changes that will help small businesses across Canada.

Initially, as many Canadians and many small business owners know, the restrictions placed upon them were too onerous. The uptake of the initial program was less than 10%, primarily because the program was designed to go through landlords rather than directly to tenants. Because of that, many landlords chose not to apply. Therefore, their tenants, the small business owners or leaseholders, were left in a very uncomfortable position, because their landlords would not apply for the rent subsidy program. That way it left the small business owners, who had to pay rent on a monthly basis, in a position where they were offered no relief whatsoever. That was almost untenable.

Now, however, there have been some positive changes and, as I said earlier in my remarks, I applaud the government for doing so. However, let us take a look back, a short brief view of the history to see exactly how we came from the initial bill that was introduced by the government six months ago to today's debate on Bill C-9.

As I mentioned, initially the government proposed that this rent subsidy program would be designed in such a way that landlords would have to apply. If they were successful in their application, then they would be the ones who would offer rent relief to their tenants. While some people may say that sounded like a reasonable approach, in reality it was anything but, as evidenced by the fact that less than 10% of landlords actually made application.

What should have been done initially is what the government has finally done in the current Bill C-9, and that is to offer rent relief directly to tenants so that those most affected by revenue drops and revenue losses will be able to gain relief and some financial assistance.

Initially, not only did the government fail to see that, it chose a very onerous and bureaucratic way in which to deliver this program. Initially the government decided that CMHC should be the delivery mechanism to bring this program into the pocketbooks of small business owners across Canada. However, CMHC was simply not designed to administer such a program, and that was discovered very early on in the process. Then the government doubled back and decided that if CMHC was not the way to deliver this program, it would find another way, and it came up with MCAP. MCAP is a mortgage insurance and financing company that the government determined, for whatever reasons, would be appropriate to deliver this program to small business owners.

However, shortly thereafter it was discovered that one of the principals of MCAP was a gentleman by the name of Rob Silver. In fact, he is a vice-president of that company and very influential because he is married to the current Prime Minister's chief of staff.

Anyone with any knowledge of how governments work would recognize that this was a complete conflict of interest. Here we had an individual, Mr. Rob Silver, who had been a spokesperson for the Liberal Party on many occasions over many years, now contracted by the government to deliver a program that would assist his company. That is absolutely a blatant conflict of interest that should have been obvious to anyone, anyone except, of course, the Liberal government.

However, we should not be surprised. We have seen conflicts of interest arise so many times before with the Liberal government. Whether it be the Prime Minister accepting gratuitous gifts to the Aga Khan's island or whether it be the Prime Minister embroiled in the WE Charity scandal, we have discovered time and time again that the ethical compass of the government has long been missing. The delivery of the government contract to MCAP is one more example of that ethical wrongdoing.

Thankfully, however, saner voices were heard and MCAP was removed from the bidding to deliver this program. The government avoided another messy ethical conflict that would have proved to be incredibly disappointing and embarrassing for the government. It finally took our advice and gave the administration of this program to CRA, which is where it should have been delivered in the first place. CRA has proven, through its administration of CERB and many other government delivery programs, to be the most effective mechanism that the government has at its disposal. Therefore, we are to a point now where, I think, the government has finally got it close to being right, but it is still not perfect.

What this has done over the past six months is demonstrate to small business owners that the government, despite the Liberals' protestations, does not in fact have their backs. If they had the back of small business owners, the Liberals would have employed the changes that we had suggested long ago.

Let us make no mistake. The small business owners across Canada are in an untenable position. Many of them, for example in the restaurant industry, are facing a reality that once rent and wage subsidies expire, come the summer of 2021, they may be forced to close their doors. In fact, many independent analyses have been done and have shown that over 60% of restaurants could be shuttered permanently unless these temporary wage subsidies are extended. Whether that will happen, I do not know.

We need many things to combat this pandemic. I believe, in all sincerity, that the government is working as hard as it can to try to find a vaccine, and I hope a vaccine is found because the lives of Canadians are at stake. The economy of Canadians is at stake.

The small business community in our country is the backbone of the Canadian economy. Small businesses have to be protected. They have to be given an opportunity, as they would be given with Bill C-9, to be able to tap into the government largesse and, at least for the foreseeable future, see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Motion in AmendmentIncome Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I believe my colleague misspoke when he asked if I could make comment on whether the Province of Ontario was better positioned, as it was actually the Province of Saskatchewan.

I am speaking, holistically, about the fact that small business owners across Canada, regardless of region, need support. They desperately need support. I can assure my hon. friend that small business owners in Saskatchewan are no different than small business owners in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia and right across this great country of ours.

They are not looking for handouts. They are just looking for a level playing field that allows them to be able to put food on the table for their families, operate a business, and be able to walk home each month with pride to their families and say that their business is still alive and operating.

That is the purpose of Bill C-9, and for that we offer our unqualified support, but it has taken far too long to get to this point.

Motion in AmendmentIncome Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with my hon. colleague that this program was flawed from the outset. Mistakes were made by the government and not rectified for a full six months. I believe that most small business owners in Canada would love to see a retroactive aspect to this bill, so that going back to April 1 they would be able to have taken advantage of the current provisions within Bill C-9.

However, I do not believe the government is going to be listening to that or acting upon that, although I would encourage my friend from Vancouver East to keep pressuring the government. Perhaps we will see some relenting in its approach in the future.

COVID-19 Emergency ResponseOral Questions

November 6th, 2020 / noon
See context

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Liberal

Sean Fraser LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and to the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Saint-Laurent for her ongoing advocacy on behalf of businesses in her riding, as well as the workers who live there.

As Montrealers and Canadians across Canada fight the second wave of this pandemic, we know that businesses and workers are counting on us to get through this. With Bill C-9, our government is proposing a new Canada emergency rent subsidy, covering up to 65% of rent for businesses, and additional lockdown support that could cover up to 90% for those who are impacted hardest by public health orders.

We said we would be there for businesses and workers every step of the way through this pandemic, and that is exactly what we are going to do.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech given by my colleague from Courtenay—Alberni.

There are some things we agree on but others we do not.

The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-9. We think that the criteria for the Canada emergency wage subsidy should have been changed well before this in order to ensure greater stability.

With regard to the commercial rent assistance program, we already knew in May that it would not work. At the time, I called upon the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to make changes to that program, but it was easier for the government to shut down Parliament and prorogue than to change a program that we knew was ineffective from the start. Access to commercial rent assistance was on a voluntary basis.

My colleague from Courtenay—Alberni and I do not agree when it comes to political parties being able to receive the wage subsidy. We are trying to understand how on earth it is fair that political party employees are protected from being laid off when employees of other businesses that are suffering greatly are not. These businesses are on the verge of collapse too, and it is very difficult for them.

It is outrageous that the Conservative Party, which raised $13 million from its supporters in three quarters, collected close to $1 million from the emergency wage subsidy. The Liberals also took in $1.2 million in public funds from the emergency wage subsidy, and they raised $8.6 million from their supporters.

The NDP cashed in on the emergency wage subsidy starting in May. In June, we learned that the NDP would be getting about $60,000 per month. Yesterday, November 5, reporters asked the NDP how much money it would be getting. They did not get an answer.

My question is simple. Does my colleague support the Bloc Québécois's amendment to make the emergency wage subsidy off-limits for political parties?

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand today and speak to Bill C-9, an act to amend the Income Tax Act.

The legislation has three main components to it. The first is to create the Canada emergency rent subsidy, which would provide rent relief for qualifying businesses until June 2021. The second is to provide some lockdown supports, providing a top-up from the Canada emergency rent subsidy. The third is to extend the Canada wage subsidy until June 2021. All these pieces have been called for by the business community, as a whole, due to the conditions they are facing during this pandemic.

I will talk about some of the concerns the opposition had with the legislation. These things could have been dealt with had Parliament been sitting, as the opposition was calling for. Members may recall that the Conservatives were the only party consistently calling for the return of the House to deal with the hundreds of billions of dollars that were literally going out the door with little to no debate. Of course this caused some problems.

In the last rent program, in order for businesses to qualify, they to prove that had a 30% drop in revenue. That caused a number of problems. Obviously, a great number of businesses, mostly small business, had that hurt.

In part, this was due to provincial restrictions as they were told to lockdown. I will not even go into the side of the debate where the big box stores were allowed to stay open, many of which provided the same service small businesses provided. However, the mom and pop shops and stores on main street were told to lockdown and their employees were told to stay home. However, the big box stores continued to operate, most likely stealing some market share on top of what they already had and increasing their profits as a result, while almost breaking the backs of small business.

In order to qualify, businesses had to show that they had a 30% revenue drop during this pandemic. Obviously, some sectors are doing very well during this pandemic. Some sectors are hurting. What it did is it caused some businesses to watch that 30% line that had been drawn by the government. If a business earned $1 more, it would not qualify for that subsidy.

The other problems we had were that the initial rent subsidy only covered about 10% of businesses across the country, which left 90% of businesses without that coverage. If anyone needed more proof that this was a complete disaster, the Prime Minister initially gave control of this program to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which does residential mortgage insurance and not commercial rent. Incapable of running that program, the Crown corporation subcontracted that to a company whose vice- president was married to the Prime Minister 's chief of staff.

We have businesses that are hurting, trying to get by and figuring out a way through. They are being hampered because of problems with government legislation. As I have mentioned before, the House was not back in a meaningful fashion to debate these pieces of legislation.

Early on, we saw problems with the CERB. We had problems with the wage subsidy. When it first was announced, the government said someone would only get 10% of the initial wage subsidy. Thankfully, through opposition parties, business communities and stakeholders alike, they were able to raise that level. Other countries such as Germany already had upward of 70%.

These key pieces in the legislation should have been debated. However, Parliament was then prorogued. The Liberals said that they were so focused on looking at the programs and developing them. This was done basically in a silo because Parliament was not sitting and legislators were not allowed to debate in this place.

As we move forward, we need to talk about recovery and how we do that. Rapid testing is a key part. Rapid testing has been approved in numerous countries around the world. There are products available in the European Union and the United States, but not approved here in Canada. If we want to return our economy and give it the firepower it needs, without a cure, vaccine or treatment, tools like rapid testing are our path forward.

We can imagine tourism, which has been massively impacted. We can talk about local marathons or running events. Any event and any kind of travel has been severely impacted. Hotels are feeling it. Restaurants are feeling it. However, if people can get on an airplane knowing they can take a test and in a few minutes have their result, it is our path forward. They can know the results with confidence because a number of these tests have a higher accuracy rate than the swabs that are being done now. Anyone who has had a swab knows it is not the most pleasant feeling in the world. This is our path forward. If people want to go on a cruise ship, they could go with confidence, knowing that everyone was tested and everyone had a clean result, yet the government continues to drag its feet on this.

Yes, we are in a pandemic and yes, Canadians were told to stay at home, lock down and stay safe and we continue to do that. However, we also need to talk about those businesses that are able to reopen in a safe manner because, at the end of the day, outside of all the printing the government is doing of hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air, we still need the tax revenue coming in to continue to spend into the future. If the businesses shut down, where is the government getting the money from? If people who are working in these businesses are unemployed, where does this money come from?

The simple truth through all of this is that if we want to ensure economic expansion as we move forward, and we talk about it all the time, we need to ensure that we are prepared for this.

A number of anchors within our economy, such as the oil and gas industry and the mining industry, have taken a hit because of the current government's policies. I can name a few: Bill C-69 and the tanker ban. I could go on and on. We have, coming up, the clean fuel standard, which would significantly increase the price of food that is produced in our country. Of course, I am sure the government will come up with yet another program to solve the problem it caused in the first place, and around and around we go.

When the economy is firing on all cylinders, more people are able to keep more of their money, and that means more spending outside their necessities of housing, clothing and food. They have more discretionary spending. With discretionary spending, people are able to make purchases beyond those needs that I just listed. There are some people who believe it is just frivolous. Why would anybody want anything extra? It is because we like it. It gives us joy in our lives.

If our factories are shut down, people are not able to go back to work because we have seen uncompetitive advantages that the government has brought in through the tax code, that are forcing jobs elsewhere. I can give an example. Here in the province of Ontario, where there are some of the highest electricity prices of anywhere in North America, manufacturing is running out the door. During the Ontario Liberal rule, we lost 300,000 jobs in manufacturing.

As we go on, we need to ensure that businesses remain strong, that these programs are debated in legislatures such as this, and that the provinces work with the federal government within their own jurisdictions to manage this pandemic. Also, we need to work to ensure that we are able to safely reopen the economy. Rapid testing is one way, but so is ensuring that the programs, as in Bill C-9, are implemented in the best fashion possible. We do that through debate back and forth in chambers like this.

I appreciate the time and I look forward to the questions.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have been talking all along about the need for Canada's economy to get on track and the government to fine-tune the programs it implemented with basically no oversight, because in large part it hampered the role of Parliament. With respect to these jobs, we in the opposition had come back with a number of solutions to the programs that were not working in the past. My friend from Carleton wrote to the government a number of times as the finance critic with possible solutions and I see many of those are in Bill C-9. We could have dealt with this months ago. We could have fine-tuned these programs months ago so we could get on a better trajectory to get back to normal or get to the new normal, yet we were not given the opportunity because the Prime Minister was trying to hide his WE Charity scandal problems.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my friend from the NDP. He has been very busy today. It is always good to see his face and hear his contributions to this debate and other debates going on today.

To the surprise of the NDP, when my friend asks what programs we would cut, we are talking about what programs would have done better. A lot of the solutions the Liberals put in Bill C-9 are things we have been talking about for months. I am sure my friend from the NDP is hearing these very concerns that have finally been addressed in Bill C-9 from his own community, his own chamber of commerce. I know I have.

The rent subsidy was a horrible disaster as 90% of businesses did not bother applying. That was a complete travesty, but something that could have been fixed had the House of Commons been in session. Therefore, I would ask my friend this. Why did the NDP support the Liberals in shutting down this place?

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here today. I am joining members virtually from my home in Surrey Centre, B.C., to speak to Bill C-9, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, Canada emergency rent subsidy and Canada emergency wage subsidy. This bill has been very anticipated.

The topic of these subsidies came up earlier this week when I had the pleasure of welcoming the Prime Minister to my round-table meeting with the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association. The new rent subsidy is especially on the minds of the members of the downtown BIA. My office has been responding to many questions over the last few weeks from Surrey business owners who were wondering when these subsidies would be available.

These subsidies in their previous forms have been vital to the survival of many businesses. Small businesses are the heart of Surrey Centre, and we know that they are the backbone of the Canadian economy. It is why I am so pleased to support Bill C-9 today.

Bill C-9 would address some of the key areas where businesses are still feeling a real pinch from the pandemic. It would create access to the new Canada emergency rent subsidy, which would give businesses, charities and non-profits rent and mortgage support until 2021. It would create the new lockdown support, which is an extension of the rent subsidy, in the event of a closure ordered by public health. Lastly, it would extend the Canada emergency wage subsidy until next summer.

For small businesses in Surrey and across Canada, this support will be essential. For employers and employees, certainty and surety are vital. To know one has a job, that the rent will be paid and that business will survive and be carried until next summer allows SMEs to plan, pivot and retool for the new post-COVID economy without laying off employees or being kicked out of their leases.

More than $2 billion has already been distributed to 138,000 small businesses, through the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program, to support their rent payments. This has, in turn, supported 1.2 million jobs in our country.

The new rent subsidy would address some of the challenges that business owners continue to face and would close the gaps in the previous rent subsidy program. We know that some landlords were not keen to sign on to the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program, and that left some renters without access to this important support. In contrast, the new Canada emergency rent subsidy would go directly to small business owners and tenants. That way, if they qualify for the subsidy, they will receive it. There is no middleman to approve or block the much-needed support for small businesses.

The new rent subsidy would work much like the wage subsidy in that it would go directly to the tenant through the CRA, making it easier and simpler to access. This new subsidy would help businesses that were left out of the program previously or that had difficulty accessing the support because their landlords would not sign on to the program. The new rent subsidy would work on a sliding scale of up to a maximum of 65% of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would also be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began on September 27 and ends on October 24, 2020.

The next important aspect of this bill is the newly created lockdown support. An additional 25% allocated through the Canada emergency rent subsidy would go to eligible organizations in the event of a closure issued by public health. It would support businesses as public health officials work to keep communities safe from the spread of the virus. The lockdown support would have an important role to play as our businesses and non-profits manage getting through the second wave and any future waves of this virus.

We have already seen the impact of the second wave on businesses. Targeted restrictions on certain industries that operate in areas with high case numbers have meant that many businesses, such as restaurants, gyms, banquet halls and event centres, have needed to reduce their capacities again or close altogether. It has been a very challenging time for businesses, like the banquet halls in Surrey, which have been particularly hard hit because of public health closures. When businesses are not able to generate any income to pay rent, the mortgage or hard-working employees, support from our government will be their only way through the pandemic.

In May 2020, and then again in September, local businesses that were severely affected by the public health restrictions met with elected officials and asked for assistance. They appreciated, in particular, the federal government's assistance for rent and wage subsidy but were worried that it was coming to an end. Their ask was that we support them if things continued the way they were, and be there for their employees if health restrictions during the pandemic continued.

I am proud to say that, as a government, we have and will be there for them. This new bill would extend and simplify the support we have given to Canadian small and medium-sized businesses, and would continue to keep our main streets alive.

Businesses like Bozzini's Restaurant and Nahm Thai Bistro, which were hit hard with provincial health restrictions, would be able to continue to stay open and pay their hard-working employees. They would continue to serve the best pasta and Thai cuisine Surrey has to offer. It would help banquet halls and conventions centres like Aria, Crown Palace, Mirage, Grand Taj and Taj Park pay their rent or mortgages and keep their chefs and server staff, despite having to close down because of provincial health restrictions.

As it is Veterans' Week, I want to offer my appreciation for the courage, bravery and sacrifice of our veterans, who have put their lives in harm's way so that we can live free and safe. We are forever indebted to them.

The bill would help Tony Moore and Jim Holland of the Whalley Legion. They have had to temporarily rent a building for their Legion hall while their new state-of-the-art Legion village is built. This would help with their rent and wages for staff to keep their facility open and help it thrive once again when the pandemic is over.

The bill would help Nazia Bajwa from Beautyland Salon pay the rent and keep her employees. It would help Andy Dhaliwal from Top Quality Lumber and Surinder from Mill & Timber Products continue to pay their employees so they can put food on the table and pay their rent and mortgages.

This support helps. It helps people continue to have meaningful work and helps SMEs keep their businesses open, pay their rent and mortgages, and avoid bankruptcy. It helps real Canadians, the Canadians who have built this country and now count on the government to support them in their time of need.

The sliding scale of up to 65% support in the Canadian emergency rent support, combined with lockdown support, would mean that hard-hit businesses subject to a lockdown could receive rent support for up to 90%.

Finally, the bill would extend the Canada emergency wage subsidy to June 2021. So far the wage subsidy has protected the jobs of more than 3.8 million Canadians by helping employers keep employees on the payroll and rehire their workers. Continuing to support employers in this way will mean that Canadians can keep their jobs despite decreases in business or in the event of future closures ordered by public health.

In my riding of Surrey Centre, this has helped local restaurants, trucking companies, hair salons and retail stores stay open; has given a sense of certainty; has alleviated the anxiety of employees by letting them know they will get through the pandemic; and has protected business owners from collapsing.

We had to move quickly at the beginning of the pandemic to get support to individuals and businesses as quickly as possible, and we knew there was a chance that gaps would need to be filled as a result of that speed. I know my constituents have been reassured to see the evolution of these programs over the course of the pandemic, as they have addressed the gaps. This bill would do just that. It would ensure that our small businesses have the support they need to keep their businesses up and running and keep their employees on the payroll.

I am grateful to the Minister of Small Business, the Deputy Prime Minister and their teams, who have taken the time to listen to the needs of Canadians to make the necessary changes to the rent subsidy, create the new lockdown support and extend programs like the Canada emergency wage subsidy. As we continue to navigate new waves of the pandemic, these business subsidies will help businesses stay afloat and help Canadians keep their jobs while we continue to recover.

I hope we can work together to quickly pass this legislation and get help to our struggling small businesses, charities and non-profits as soon as possible.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2020 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here this afternoon as one of the final speakers on Bill C-9. It is a key piece of economic legislation with much-needed support programs for businesses, not only in eastern Ontario where I reside but in every part of the country.

I have said this before during debates, particularly ones where we are dealing with economic measures for small businesses. I am not a fan of pushing bills through at some of the pace and time that we have done during COVID-19. I was not a fan last time when we only had about four hours of debate back in September to put some of these things through. I am happier with the process this time around. Albeit not perfect, it is a step in the right direction in terms of the committee of the whole and more debate. I appreciate the chance to rise here today.

A lot of times people see us in the chamber and see their local member of Parliament put their speeches up and wonder why we go through what we do with the legislation. They think that once we see the bill, we should vote on it and get it over with, whichever way we fall. We have to keep reminding not only us here in the chamber but all Canadians that this process is so fundamental to getting the best piece of legislation we possibly can. We need proper scrutiny of legislation to make sure that we get it right and get the best bill possible, and now, more than ever.

We are spending billions and billions of dollars of new money in the new programs in a very quick period of time. This scrutiny, the back-and-forth debate and discussion that we have, is so key.

When things are rushed through too fast, mistakes sometimes happen. We learned this morning that, for the Minister of Finance and the House leader's team, one of the amendments that was proposed or suggested by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, a reasonable proposal, was actually struck down by the Speaker earlier this morning because it was not organized and prepared properly. I think the term used was that it was a procedural error. The reality is that it was a mistake on the government's part because we are rushing things through at the last minute, and it was not able to be votable in that circumstance.

We were told with the prorogation of Parliament for six weeks that the government was going to be doing a reset. That was the real reason we had, apparently, for prorogation for six weeks. It was in the name of getting organized, having a cabinet retreat and getting all these bills lined up and ready to go.

As much as I talk about the concerns and sometimes about the lack of debate, my understanding is that this amendment is now going to have to be brought forward likely in a separate piece of legislation with debate and scrutiny, so we are going to have more time in this chamber and hopefully in committee to look at some of these issues and their responses in the coming weeks.

On Bill C-9, the vote was unanimous at second reading. I think the way the direction is going today we will find the same thing again, in favour of these programs and sending the message to small businesses wherever they are in this country that their Parliament and their MPs understand the seriousness and severity of the situation they are in.

We said that where things are good we will support the government and where scrutiny is needed, we will certainly give it. Because of that scrutiny and feedback, I am going to say that, in this legislation, the government has taken up some of the good ideas and good fixes.

There is one thing this pandemic has created. There never was a shortage of acronyms in the parliamentary world, and there certainly have been a few more in the last seven months. We have the CEWS, the Canada emergency wage subsidy. We have the CERS, the Canada emergency rent subsidy, which replaces the CECRA.

Before I get into some of my comments about the details, I want to first thank the businesses in my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. I am very fortunate as I am one of the few members of Parliament who can drive back to my riding in about an hour or an hour and a half.

One of the things I enjoy every weekend, lately by Zoom, is having a lot of meetings with chambers of commerce and local business owners, and dropping by with what I call a bit of a wellness tour, asking for their feedback and if they were able to get the CEBA emergency business loan or able to get the wage subsidy. It is from those tours that I am able to share on social media some of my visits and encourage constituents to learn about the businesses in our community. More importantly, it is a good way to get feedback that I can bring back here to Ottawa to say, “Look, this program is not running effectively. There are gaps and there are holes in there”.

The wage subsidy was a perfect example. In the opening days of the pandemic, the government proposed a 10% wage subsidy. That was not helpful in the minds of many businesses. Many did not find it would be enough to keep their employees on the payroll. Many transitioned to CERB.

We advocated for a much higher number, and at 75% it was certainly an improvement. We appreciated the government taking up the calls we heard from businesses and the calls we made. In created a bit of chaos in terms of businesses laying some people off onto CERB and then coming back, but nevertheless, we will take that step in the right direction.

One of the other things I know our shadow finance minister, the member for Carleton, raised several times as well was that the cut-offs are an issue in a lot of these programs. It was actually pitting businesses when it came to the rent subsidy and the wage subsidy and their drop in revenues, where if they were able to recover 70% of their pre-COVID revenues, they were totally cut off the program. By finally taking the idea of indexing these programs, it was not an “all or nothing” situation.

We actually had businesses saying they did not want to bring on more staff or that they wanted to be careful about the number of hours of their stores because they did not want to lose the benefits keeping them afloat. It is really more of a cliff's edge. I feel this legislation had some challenges, and I am glad to see our idea of indexing it and having a sliding scale being used, as it is certainly going to help businesses in the country.

CERB was the same way. If someone made more than $1,000 they were cut off. There were people who wanted to go back to work but could not get full-time hours. They had to decide whether to take the $2,000 in CERB or go back. There was no hybrid model on that. We are seeing that advocacy from our side of the aisle, which will be continuing as these programs continue and we go through the second wave and back to more normal times.

On the rent program, the original program was rushed, and frankly, I do not think it was very effective. My understanding is that 10% of businesses were eligible for that program. It was a messy situation with landlords and tenants, and there was sometimes the sharing of financial information by tenants with their landlords, who had to apply. It was just not the best program. Thankfully, months later, the government has now listened to opposition members and made some changes to it.

The big thing I want to mention on the rent subsidy program is why opposition parties matter when it comes to this kind of matter, and why parliamentary scrutiny and asking the tough questions and digging a little are so important. When I saw the rent subsidy program being announced, I thought, yes, we do need this support program, and I thought CRA, the Canada Revenue Agency, would be the natural body to administer it. We then received information that it would be the CMHC, another acronym for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. I thought that was kind of weird because it handles residential mortgages, not commercial ones. I thought it was kind of a strange organization to run the program.

We were told by the government that there was nothing to see, that we should stop complaining, stop delaying, stop attacking, and that we were team Canada and all in this together. That is the case, but we also need to make sure we are scrutinizing each other in the decisions we are making, so we started to dig and ask questions. All of a sudden, we found out that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation was in fact not administering it. It was the organization that had it from the top but it was now subcontracting it to MCAP.

Who is at MCAP? It would be the Prime Minister's chief of staff's husband. We were told there was nothing to see, that we should stop suggesting a conflict of interest and that it was a ridiculous line of questioning. Now we realize there were inappropriate meetings at the Prime Minister's Office, and the lobbying commissioner is now investigating this potential scandal. Actually it is not “potential”; it is a scandal now. I am just waiting for the report to come out from the lobbying commissioner.

The bill would correct a lot of the things that were rushed through earlier, and now have the CRA involved in the process. I will wrap up my comments by making two key points on dealing with this economic legislation. The reasons for rushing things through, and the lack of ability to scrutinize and hear committee testimony from stakeholders like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, are a challenge. With proper scrutiny, we get better bills. We get better legislation that does not need corrections to be brought in, and we are able to expose corruption, conflict of interest and wasteful spending when it happens.

Second, to my colleagues on the government side, the take-it-or-leave-it approach we saw earlier needs to end. We see that when we have reasonable ideas, work better in collaboration and do not bring these bills up at the last minute and say to take it or leave it in a rushed manner, we can actually get better scrutiny, better bills and better confidence from Canadians on the things we are presenting.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak here today and I look forward to hearing questions and comments from my colleagues, as always.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2020 / 3:45 p.m.
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Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

There has been discussion among the parties and I think you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), shall be disposed of as follows:

(a) the second reading stage of the bill shall be taken up as the first order of the day on Wednesday, November 4, 2020, provided that at the expiry of time provided for Government Orders or when no member rises to speak, whichever comes first, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and put, forthwith and successively, every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill, without further debate or amendment, provided that any recorded division shall stand deferred according to the provisions of the order made on Wednesday, September 23, 2020;

(b) if the bill has been read a second time, it shall stand referred to a committee of the whole and paragraphs (c) and (d) of this order shall apply;

(c) on Thursday, November 5, 2020, at the conclusion of the time provided for Private Members' Business, the House shall resolve into a Committee of the Whole on the said bill and on the economy generally for a period not to exceed four hours, provided that

(i), the Speaker may preside,

(ii) the Chair may preside from the Speaker's chair,

(iii) the committee be subject to the provisions relating to hybrid sittings of the House;

(iv) the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance be invited to appear and the minister shall be questioned for four hours, provided that

(A) the Chair shall call members from all recognized parties and one member who does not belong to a recognized party in a fashion consistent with the proportions observed during Oral Questions,

(B) no member shall be recognized for more than five minutes at a time which may be used for posing questions,

(C) members may be permitted to split their time with one or more members by so indicating to the Chair,

(D) the rotation used for questions be the one used by the former Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic, and

(E) questions shall be answered by ministers, and

(v) at the conclusion of the time provided for Committee of the Whole, the committee shall rise, the said bill shall be deemed reported to the House without amendment, and the House shall adjourn until the next sitting day; and

(d) the report stage of the said bill shall be taken up as the first order of the day on Friday, November 6, 2020, provided that

(i) the deadline for notices of report stage motions shall be 10 p.m. on Thursday, November 5, 2020, provided that copies of the notices shall also be provided to the House leaders of the recognized parties and, if required, the Order Paper and Notice Paper be published for the sitting day of Friday, November 6th, 2020,

(ii) the time provided for Government Orders shall be extended, if necessary, to allow for one representative of each recognized party to speak,

(iii) at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders, when no member rises to speak at the report stage, or if the Speaker does not select any amendments for consideration at the said stage, whichever comes first, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith and successively, every question necessary to dispose of the said stage of the said bill, without further debate or amendment; provided that (A) any recorded division on any amendment considered at the said stage shall not be deferred, and (B) the motion for concurrence at report stage be deemed adopted on division, and

(iv) the said bill may be debated at the third reading stage at the same sitting, provided that, at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders or when no member rises to speak at the said stage, whichever comes first, the said bill shall be deemed read a third time and passed, on division.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2020 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think I need to remind anyone in this place that we are battling an aggressive second wave of the coronavirus across Canada and around the world. In order for us to create the conditions for a robust and lasting economic recovery, we must take the right steps now to keep Canadians healthy and safe. We have to do that to flatten the curve, conquer the coronavirus and put it behind us.

While we are doing that, we must mitigate the economic harm of this pandemic in the short term, but also in the long term. That is why I am very happy to speak today in support of Bill C-9, a series of measures that, taken together, will provide Canadians and Canadian businesses with urgently needed support.

We realize that the best economic policy is a sound health policy. Life will not get back to normal in our factories, malls, movie theatres and restaurants until the virus has been eradicated.

We know that the best economic policy is a smart health policy. Normal life, including in our gyms, shopping malls, movie theatres and restaurants, will only resume in full measure once the virus is truly beaten.

The reality is that we must fight against any outbreak of COVID-19 regardless of where that might be. The way we fight this virus is by limiting our social contacts. That also means limiting our economic activities. In return, we must support Canadians and businesses when they face revenue losses. That is the only thing to do that is both fair and practical.

This is precisely what Bill C-9 would achieve.

First, it includes a new Canada emergency rent subsidy to provide direct rent support until June 2021 for businesses and other organizations that are losing revenue because of COVID-19. It allows for coverage of up to 65% of rent or mortgage payments for businesses that suffer a revenue drop of 70% or more. Support will be fixed at this level until December 19, 2020. For businesses suffering a revenue loss of less than 70%, there will still be support in proportion to how much revenue they have lost.

Like the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the new rent subsidy will be delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency, providing easy-to-access support directly to businesses. Critically, it will be directly available to organizations that rent their premises as opposed to requiring participation from their landlords.

In addition to the new rent subsidy, eligible businesses, non-profits and charities will have access to an additional 25% subsidy through our new lockdown support. If businesses have to close their doors because of an emergency COVID-19 lockdown restriction or have to significantly restrict their operations as mandated by a qualifying public health authority, these businesses will have the additional support they need and deserve.

As business circumstances improve, the levels of support we provide will decrease. If, sadly, circumstances worsen, the level of support provided will increase. That is built into these programs, which are designed to be flexible and to provide targeted support where it is needed most.

In addition, Bill C-9 would extend the Canada emergency wage subsidy through to June 2021. This fulfills a commitment in the Speech from the Throne. As we know, the wage subsidy was initially put in place for 12 weeks as an emergency measure to help employers keep workers on the payroll.

Starting last spring, we consulted widely with businesses and their employees. We were told loud and clear that the program was essential. Bill C-9 extends that essential support. It freezes the subsidy rate at 65% until December 19 to ensure that organizations can continue to pay their employees during the second wave.

Together, thanks to the measures in Bill C-9, Canadian businesses and organizations will receive the help they need when they need it. Let's be clear: these measures are based not just on our willingness to help people, but also on the economic realities.

Our economic objective is to stave off long-term economic damage, whether for a major manufacturer or a small family restaurant. Every business we lose creates a void in a community and the repercussions of that loss are felt throughout the country. We must put a stop to that.

Our public health objective is to support local public health officials in the agonizing decisions they must make, and are making, in our fight against the coronavirus. If public health officials anywhere in Canada believe that limited local lockdowns are the best way to stop the spread of the virus, our government will step in with additional economic support for affected businesses. That is what these programs, particularly the lockdown support, will provide.

As the Prime Minister has said, we can and will do everything in our power to help Canadians through this pandemic. In doing so, we will build the foundation for a strong, equitable recovery.

I would like to close by briefly addressing some economic fundamentals.

When COVID-19 hit, Canada had the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. Today, following our country's most ambitious emergency response since World War II, we are still expected to have the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. Our borrowing costs are at historic lows. Today's interest charges on Canada's debt as a share of GDP are the lowest in a century.

Our government is aware that the necessary fiscal measures for fighting the coronavirus are not unlimited. These are temporary but essential measures. These investments are a bridge to a safer and more prosperous future.

The proposed measures in Bill C-9, such as the new rent subsidy, the new lockdown support and the extended wage subsidy, are fundamental pillars of that bridge.

I ask all members of the House to join me in supporting Canadians and Canadian businesses as we confront this pandemic, as we conquer the virus and then, ultimately, as our economy comes roaring back. At a time when we see this global pandemic dividing so many societies around the world and thereby paralyzing their responses, I hope and trust Canadians will remain united.

We unanimously supported the income support measures. I hope we can do the same thing with these business support measures. We can get through this together.