One aspect of the weekly Parliament Hill events cycle that I have neglected to mention in my recent reports is Opposition day motions. Also known as “allotted day” or “supply day” this is a day reserved for the Opposition to introduce a motion on an issue that the opposition believes is deserving of greater attention. There are twenty two of these days in the Parliamentary calendar that are divided and shared amongst the opposition parties based on the share of seats each party holds in the House of Commons. Last week the Liberal Party held the opposition day motion and this week it will be the NDP. The topic and debate of this week’s Opposition motion will be Employment Insurance.
Aside from Opposition Day, there will also be second reading votes on Government Bills C-44 and C-21 including a number of votes on various private members bills. Bill C-44 “Helping Canadian Families in Need Act” proposes a number of changes to Employment Insurance Act and to the Canada Labor Code. These changes will help protect the jobs of parents who take leave to care for critically ill children. There will also be new provisions for self-employed individuals to opt in to Employment Insurance for maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits and also an expanded definition of family members eligible to qualify for benefits who are caring for someone who is gravely ill. Another new benefit is for parents of murdered or missing children that will provide a financial grant during this challenging time. These changes, if passed, will be implemented on various dates in 2013. Since this election commitment was formerly announced, I have been presented with a concern that this new program (and the expected 6000 Canadian families that would benefit from this temporary help) would put too much of a burden on employees and employers, I should also add that we as elected officials must always be mindful that there is only one taxpayer and if we were to consider a stand alone program, it would represent higher costs as a new offices, managers and employees to set up the office. That being said, I appreciate hearing what taxpayers back home might have to say on this matter.
Bill C-21 The “Political Loans Accountability Act” proposes to ensure that all political loans are treated equally. For example under this act money loaned for a leadership contest would be treated no differently than funds loaned to a candidate for an election. Further the legislation will apply to all contestants, political parties and associations. Terms such as repayment information, the amount of funds borrowed and the interest rate charged must also be fully disclosed, including the identity of the lenders and guarantors. Under the proposed act private corporations and unions would also be banned from loaning funds to political interests and restrictions will also be placed on the total amount of funds that can be borrowed from an individual who is acting as a lender. These proposed changes add transparency and increase accountability to electoral finance and also close some loopholes that exist today. My understanding is that there is general consensus in support of these changes and this Bill is expected to pass quickly.
There will also be five different Private Members Bills either being debated or voted on at various stages throughout the week. I would also like to congratulate our very own Nicola Valley cattle rancher Judith Guichon who was named by our Prime Minister as British Columbia’s next Lieutenant-Governor. The Rural ranching community in B.C. is an often overlooked one and I am certain that Mrs.Guichon will serve as an excellent ambassador for the Nicola Valley region.
Next week the House of Commons will rise briefly for Thanksgiving festivities and I will be back in the riding from October 9th-13th. If you would like to schedule an appointment please give my office a call. Your input is both needed and necessary and I look forward to hearing your concerns, suggestions and criticisms.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.