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Hybrid sittings to continue in Senate

Senators will be able to participate in Senate proceedings in person and virtually.

The Senate has approved a hybrid sitting model for the new Parliament, allowing Senators physically present in the chamber and those participating virtually to debate, ask questions and vote.

Senator Marc Gold, the Government Representative in the Senate, gave notice of a motion on Tuesday to reinstate hybrid Senate sittings and committee meetings, as the previous agreement expired last Parliament. It was adopted on Thursday.

“Last year, the Senate worked furiously to put in place a hybrid system so that senators from all corners of the country could participate fully in daily sittings, important debates and votes. And, equally importantly, senators were able to participate virtually in committee meetings,” Senator Gold said during a speech in the chamber.

“A global pandemic may have shuttered the doors of this chamber to all but a few, but it did not halt the legislative agenda that moved through Parliament and assisted those individual Canadians and Canadian businesses who so desperately required support to weather this storm. We performed our duty last Parliament and did so with the input and participation of our colleagues from as far as the Yukon, northern Alberta and Prince Edward Island.

As we commence this new Parliament, no one should be prevented from participating in their constitutionally mandated duties when we have the wherewithal to provide a viable and proven option.”

Senator Gold noted that without a hybrid model, senators would be required to commute back and forth to Ottawa from their homes situated across the country.

“For many of us, our homes are a flight or two away, a walk through a crowded airport and many hours to reach our destination. Having to make this journey every week, for two or three weeks each month, is quite frankly, tempting fate,” Senator Gold said.

“There are many colleagues among us whose health or an underlying medical condition puts them in a vulnerable category. This doesn’t mean however, that they are unable to do their jobs. It just means they should have the option of not traveling to Ottawa when we have the means for them to join us virtually.”

Hybrid sittings to continue in Senate