Party leaders table demands as MPs debate how to resume Parliament

NDP seeks 10 days of paid sick leave for all. Conservatives insist on in-person sittings.

Party leaders brought their demands to the table Monday when the House of Commons met to debate returning to regular sittings of the lower chamber.

Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, says he won’t even discuss the return of Parliament until the liberals respect their commitments to seniors and small businesses.

Blanchet says seniors are still waiting for the extra money promised to them through old age security benefits changes announced May 12.

Andrew Scheer, outgoing Conservative leader, insisted on in-person sittings, saying that’s how it was always done in the past.

But the NDP say they will support a virtual, hybrid Parliament on two conditions.

“We need a commitment very clearly on paid sick leave before we can move forward with any other motion,” said Jagmeet Singh. “In addition, the government committed and we asked the government to commit to previous help for those living with disabilities. We want to see that action. We want to push the government to actually deliver on help for Canadians who are living with disabilities.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to one of those demands.

The government will support the push to ensure that “every worker in Canada who needs it has access to 10 days of paid sick leave a year,” he said. “And we’ll also consider other mechanisms for the longer term to support workers with sick leave.”

Trudeau said he will work with provinces and territories to get those sick days to Canadians as they head back to work in the fall – and, he hopes, ahead of a second wave of COVID-19.

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.