Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute honour for me to stand here in this venerable House on behalf of my constituents, the residents of Davenport, to speak on behalf of this very important bill, an act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19.
This key piece of legislation is vital to the government's economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will help ensure that Canadians continue to have the supports that they need to weather the COVID-19 storm.
Since the start of the pandemic, our government has quickly responded to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to Canadians and the Canadian businesses they rely on. The current rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and the start of the second wave shows that we are still grappling with the pandemic.
It is clear that we must not let our guard down when Canadians need us the most. By supporting Canadians who cannot work due to COVID-19, we are making it possible for our country to continue to practise physical distancing and to do the right thing to protect Canadians' health and safety. That is why we are asking all members of Parliament to also do the right thing and pass the bill before us so that the government can continue to finance emergency measures to support Canadians and businesses. As well, in passing the bill, we would ensure that three key measures are introduced that will help many Canadians who are still having a hard time finding a job and making ends meet, who are taking care of loved ones who are affected by COVID or who might potentially be sick and need some coverage in that area.
We can all agree that this pandemic is the most serious public health crisis Canada has ever faced. The job losses are perhaps the most obvious consequence of the global economic disruption that has affected Canadians and people around the world.
Given the job losses among Canadians, it quickly became evident that many workers would need support until they could once again find work. However, existing income support programs were not designed to deal with such an unprecedented situation.
That is why the government quickly created the Canada emergency response benefit, a temporary program to help millions of Canadians get through a very difficult period. Since the CERB was implemented at the start of the pandemic, when we asked Canadians to stay home, almost nine million Canadians have received this benefit, which helps them pay their bills and support their families.
With the economic recovery now well under way, CERB recipients will move over to the EI system. For those who do not qualify for EI in normal times, the government, through this bill, will temporarily create the Canada recovery benefit.
The bill would also create two new recovery benefits to help Canadians who are unable to work because of COVID-19. The government is proposing the Canada recovery sickness benefit and the Canada recovery caregiving benefit, which both aim to support Canadians as we work towards building a stronger and more resilient economy.
The bill would introduce three key measures that I think will be very helpful. I know many residents in my riding of Davenport will find them very helpful. We will be introducing the Canada recovery benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks to workers who are self-employed, who are not typically eligible for EI and still require income support. This benefit will support Canadians who have not returned to work due to COVID-19 or whose income has dropped by at least 50%. We are also introducing the Canada recovery sickness benefit of $500 per week for up to two weeks for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19. We are also introducing the Canada recovery caregiving benefit of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for households of eligible Canadians unable to work because they have to care for someone who is suffering from COVID-19.
I am proud of the immediate and impactful measures that the government has implemented to date. Passing the bill would enable our government to continue this important work. With the bill, our government is also seeking to extend the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act, set to expire on September 30, until the end of the year. This act was instrumental at the beginning of the pandemic in allowing the government to quickly put in place and finance many of the emergency measures through Canada's COVID-19 economic response plan that have supported Canadians and businesses through these difficult times. Failing to extend this act could cause a disruption to these critical payments. This includes measures to support Canadian employers, big and small, which are the backbone of our economy and have helped us weather the storm.
Programs like the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program have provided more than $1.6 billion to help over 121,000 small businesses, which employ more than 1.1 million employees, pay their rent. By extending the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act through the end of the year, we will ensure that everyone eligible for this assistance will be able to access it.
This is just one example of the many emergency measures that will enable the government to protect the health and safety of Canadians, particularly those who are most vulnerable, and enable the support that Canadian businesses rely on.
There is funding for important measures in our fight against COVID-19, including the purchase of personal protective equipment to help keep our essential workers safe and safely restart our economy, and the funding of medical research, to increase our knowledge of the virus and inform our response and the future purchase of vaccines and other treatments.
Now is not the time for austerity. Now is not the time for us not to be doing everything we can to support Canadians and workers, to support our small, medium and large businesses as we continue to grapple with the impacts of this pandemic.
Our government is determined to do what it takes to protect Canadians and businesses from the economic impact of COVID-19.
As a first step, we must ensure that the necessary legislation is in place to ensure that there is no delay in delivering the benefits to Canadians through existing programs and that Canadians receive the assistance and support they need when they need it most.
By supporting this bill, all parties can make sure that happens as we work together to build a stronger, more resilient Canada for the health and safety of Canadians, for their income security and livelihoods, and for families and businesses that continue to need support through this difficult and unprecedented time.
I urge all members of Parliament to join me in supporting passage of this bill.