Bloc Québécois moves to block parties from dipping into pandemic aid

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Bloc Québécois moves to block parties from dipping into pandemic aid
Bloc Québécois moves to block parties from dipping into pandemic aid

Bloc Québécois' Leader Yves-François Blanchet is pitching a measure to prevent political parties from accessing pandemic aid earmarked for struggling businesses.

"They are not in difficulty," Blanchet told a news conference today. "They should never, even if they would have been in difficulty, touch that money."

Blanchet said he's proposing an amendment to Bill C-9, legislation the government tabled recently to update its pandemic assistance to small businesses. The amendment, he said, would bar parties from dipping into pandemic assistance meant to help businesses and organizations pay rent and employee salaries.

VIDEO | Bloc Québécois blasts parties for taking money meant for struggling businesses

The Bloc has not considered using federal pandemic subsidies, he said. The NDP, meanwhile, has confirmed it is still relying on the wage subsidy.

"I believe the wage subsidy is important," NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters. "As long as we qualify, we should use it to keep people employed. And if we don't qualify, then we won't use it."

VIDEO | Jagmeet Singh answers questions about the NDP's wage subsidy use

The Liberal and Conservative parties said in emailed statements they are no longer taking advantage of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

The Liberal Party of Canada has received $1,253,833.07 in emergency support since March. The party's senior communications director, Braeden Caley, said the Liberals rely on grassroots donations and the emergency subsidy kept more than 80 people employed.

Caley said the party has since stopped collecting the subsidy.

"The Liberal Party of Canada suspended further applications for the emergency wage subsidy beyond the end of August," Caley said. "In-person fundraising events were paused as of early March in line with public health guidance, and that has continued to be the case — with all new fundraising taking place online, via email, and over the phone."

The Conservative Party of Canada, which has about 60 full-time employees, has received $1.02 million since mid-March. Leader Erin O'Toole has instructed the party to stop accepting the subsidy and to repay the money it has received.

"Erin O'Toole believes that the wage subsidy was designed to help businesses survive and not to subsidize political parties," said party communications director Cory Hann. "At the same time, Erin O'Toole has been very clear that he would not allow the Trudeau Liberals to use taxpayer money as an unfair advantage, particularly as they were trying to orchestrate an early election."

The Green Party of Canada says it will not support the Bloc's call. Figures provided by the party show that it has received $361,853 from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.