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Senate approves two key funding bills

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Senate approves two key funding bills

Bill C-18 and Bill C-19, both funding bills for the federal public administration, received Royal Assent on Friday.

The Senate approved two key federal funding bills after two weeks of significant debate focused on the global COVID-19 pandemic and the need to address systemic racism in Canada.

Senator Marc Gold, the Government Representative in the Senate, thanked Senate leadership – and all Senators – for working together in a spirit of collaboration to put Canadians first during this challenging pandemic period.

“I want to thank all Senators for rising to the occasion. None of us anticipated this situation. Workarounds had to be put in place with very little notice,” he said.

The collaborative spirit shown to move the Government’s emergency agenda forward in this difficult time was inspiring. I want to thank Senators for recognizing the urgency of the job at hand during the early days of this catastrophe.

Senator Gold noted that he had envisioned a much different agenda in the Senate when he took over the role of Government Representative this past January.

“I had thought the Senate would see spirited and in-depth debates and studies relating to medical assistance in dying, the reintroduction of legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and changes to the Parliament of Canada Act. I imagined lengthy, and possibly heated, discussions on emissions targets, tax cuts and defence procurement,” he said.

“Instead, on March 13th, Parliament Hill and, indeed the world, stopped in its tracks and began a fight against a virus that was turning personal lives and economies upside down. In this country, everything planned was laid aside and the priority of providing for, and protecting, Canada and Canadians became the number one job.”

New laws this year

The Senate adopted Bill C-4, legislation to implement the new North American free trade agreement, as well as key funding bills, on March 13 ahead of an extended break in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Parliament was recalled several times during the pandemic to adopt measures to help ensure Canadians get the support they need amid widespread shutdowns and related job losses.

  • On March 25, the Senate adopted Bill C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, to help ensure Canadians get the support they need during the pandemic.
  • On April 11, the Senate adopted Bill C-14, which implemented an emergency wage subsidy for businesses, among other measures.
  • On May 1, the Senate adopted Bill C-15, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit Act, to assist students who lost work and income opportunities due to the virus.
  • On May 15, the Senate adopted Bill C-16, to give the Canadian dairy sector a financial boost to help weather pandemic-related losses.

Two funding bills for the federal public administration – Bill C-18 and Bill C-19 – received Royal Assent on June 26 before the Senate adjourned. The Senate is set to return on September 22; however, the Senate could be recalled over the summer should the need arise, as it has been over the course of the spring.

Systemic racism

In addition to its work on legislation, the Senate also turned its focus on the issue of systemic racism, as protests gained momentum in Canada and beyond.

Senators acknowledged longstanding systemic racism in Canada during a four-hour emergency debate on June 19.

Senators also had the opportunity to question federal ministers about the Government’s response to racism during a Committee of the Whole on June 25.

Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen answered questions for two and a half hours.

Senate approves two key funding bills

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