Feds weigh cutting COVID-19 reward for travellers as Canada surpasses 600,000 cases

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal authorities mulled the risk of barring Canadians who travelled abroad from receiving a unwell go away advantage aimed at those who must quarantine because of to COVID-19 on Sunday amid contemporary admissions of overseas excursions from a growing checklist of politicians and a countrywide scenario rely that surpassed 600,000.

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The Canada Restoration illness reward was introduced in the slide to help Canadians who are not able to perform since they need to quarantine through the pandemic. It pays $500 for each week to a utmost of two months. 

But Work Minister Carla Qualtrough said the authorities is “actively searching at all options” in the encounter of queries more than regardless of whether Canadians who have travelled abroad should be permitted to obtain the dollars.

Controversy about the difficulty mounted on Sunday as two customers of the federal Liberal caucus stepped down from their parliamentary responsibilities soon after disclosing journeys abroad around the getaway period of time, joining a slew of provincial legislators who also flouted prevalent community health tips to keep residence as COVID circumstances skyrocketed.

Federal information showed Canada surpassed 600,000 situations of the novel coronavirus on Sunday after going numerous days devoid of reporting clean figures.

The countrywide total now stands at 601,663. 

It took just over two weeks to add 100,000 diagnoses to the countrywide tally the place attained the 500,000 situation milestone on Dec. 19, in advance of several of the jet-location politicians remaining the place. 

Qualtrough stated globetrotters were under no circumstances intended as the recipients of the federal ill benefit.

It is really designed “to provide staff with a paid out ill-go away choice in which 1 may not be available by means of their employer, so that staff did not have to decide on concerning heading to perform and putting food items on the desk,” Qualtrough mentioned in a assertion.

“The Canada Restoration Illness Reward was never ever meant to incentivize or inspire Canadians to not abide by public wellness or international journey recommendations. … We are actively seeking at all offered options to handle this challenge.”

Concerns about the ill-leave reward ended up 1st raised around the weekend by Bloc Québécois Chief Yves-Francois Blanchet, who stated it was “absurd in most cases” that any individual in a position to leave the country would require government guidance to quarantine.

“If an individual is travelling because it is vital for their perform, you may imagine they will not likely eliminate earnings,” he added in a assertion in French. “And if somebody is travelling for pleasure, they are now remaining suggested not to travel.”

NDP Chief Jagmeet Singh, whose bash pushed the Liberals to build the benefit, welcomed the government’s overview, expressing Canadians were being “rightly upset individuals who can manage to go on a holiday could get $1,000 to continue to be house when they come back again.”

Nonetheless he also warned Canadians would proceed to depart the country as lengthy as non-crucial journey was allowed.

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The emerging discussion around the sick-go away added benefits will come as Canadians have been buffeted over the previous 7 days with revelations that some politicians have disregarded their own government’s suggestions and taken non-crucial excursions overseas.

These journeys have arrive even as tens of millions of Canadians face govt-imposed lockdowns across the nation aimed at curbing the 2nd wave of COVID-19 bacterial infections, which bundled 1000’s of freshly reported conditions on Sunday to choose the countrywide complete around the 600,000 threshold.

That contains just about 3,000 new optimistic assessments in Ontario around the previous 24 several hours and extra than 7,600 new instances in Quebec considering that Thursday, with hundreds of people today hospitalized in both provinces.

In a unusual bit of great news, however, Nunavut described that the territory has no regarded conditions as all 265 people who have formerly tested beneficial are now recovered. The territory has logged just one virus-similar demise around the study course of the pandemic.

The listing of politicians identified to have travelled outdoors the nation in modern weeks grew on Sunday as the federal Liberals disclosed that two of their MPs experienced frequented the U.S. in late December. 

Chief federal government whip Mark Holland reported in a statement that Montreal MP Sameer Zuberi and Brampton MP Kamal Khera, parliamentary secretary to International Improvement Minister Karina Gould, still left the place without the need of his awareness.

In a separate assertion posted to social media, Khera claimed she travelled to Seattle to show up at a memorial for her late uncle, who died at the end of September.

“Although the reason of my journey is considered essential given the circumstances,” she wrote, “I have made the decision to move aside from my duties … in an effort to make sure my options do not distract from the crucial get the job done of our federal government to carry on battling this pandemic.”

Holland explained Zuberi was also stepping down from his function on various Residence of Commons committees.

A few other Liberal MPs travelled outside the nation in between July and September, but Holland explained he was informed of the visits at the time and there was no sign that they would encounter any ramifications. 

Primary Minister Justin Trudeau’s spokesman Alex Wellstead mentioned Overseas Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is the only minister to have travelled exterior Canada considering the fact that March, noting all a few journeys ended up for federal government company.

Thoughts about politicians’ travel strategies very first surfaced very last 7 days when it was revealed that previous Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips experienced taken a holiday getaway to the Caribbean. He resigned from the position on New Year’s Eve shortly right after his return to Canada.

At least 5 Alberta legislators also remaining Canada over the holiday seasons, though Premier Jason Kenney has declined to punish them.

The federal NDP stripped Manitoba MP Niki Ashton of her duties as the party’s transport critic and deputy critic for females and gender equality right after she travelled to Greece last month. Ashton said she left to be with her ailing grandmother.

The NDP mentioned Ashton is the only caucus member to have travelled outside the house the place because March, whilst no just one in the business office of social gathering chief Jagmeet Singh or the party’s research bureau has remaining Canada.

Bloc Québécois Whip Claude DeBellefeuille also claimed that none of her party’s MPs experienced remaining Canada given that the onset of the pandemic, stating in a assertion in French that she had issued a directive prohibiting international travel.

Conservative Chief Erin O’Toole’s business did not directly answer to a query on Sunday about which MPs and workers had travelled exterior of Canada considering the fact that the starting of December.

“Since starting to be leader, O’Toole has ongoing to emphasize the requirement for all members of caucus to follow all public well being direction together with journey advisories,” spokeswoman Chelsea Tucker explained in an e-mail. “It is our knowledge that all associates of caucus have.”

This report by The Canadian Push was first published Jan. 3, 2021.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Push