FILE – Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises to ask for an extension of the sitting day in the House of Commons Parliament in the House of Commons Tuesday March 24, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Deadline looms for agreement on reopening House of Commons

With no agreement, the Commons could resume business as usual with all 338 MPs and their staff back at work

COVID-19 claimed another 160 lives across Canada Saturday as politicians in Ottawa continued to argue over how to conduct business in the House of Commons during the pandemic.

The Liberals and Opposition parties are still negotiating whether the Commons will re-open Monday, and under what terms.

If they fail to reach an accord before tomorrow, the Commons will resume business as usual with all 338 MPs and their staff back at work.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was hopeful an agreement would be reached that would maintain current guidelines for physical distancing.

Trudeau is proposing one in-person sitting each week, with a small number of MPs and extended time for question period. The Liberals are also proposing one additional session be held each week with another lengthy question period, but this one would be held virtually.

Only the Conservatives seem opposed to that plan, with leader Andrew Scheer demanding three in-person sittings per week, to hold the government to account for its response to the health crisis. Scheer has scheduled a news conference for 1:30 p.m. today to discuss the issue.

Except for two single-day sittings to pass emergency aid bills, Parliament has been adjourned since mid-March. And it was announced on Friday that the Senate, which was to resume Tuesday, will not return until June 2 at the earliest.

While there are signs some regions of the country may be closer to re-opening parts of the economy than others, caution remained the watchword as Canada and the United States moved yesterday to extend the border closure to all but essential traffic for another 30 days.

“Let us be very clear, while we want to be optimistic, we need to be absolutely cautious,” Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said.

The total number of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada rose by 1,456 to 33,383 yesterday, with Quebec and Ontario accounting for the vast majority.

Sad reminders of COVID-19’s deadly threat were heard throughout the day as case numbers continued to climb in Canadian nursing homes and prisons.

In Quebec, 125 military personnel with medical expertise geared up to deploy to devastated nursing homes in the Montreal area after Premier Francois Legault issued a plea to Ottawa for help from the Canadian Armed Forces.

The Canadian Press

CoronavirusParliament

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Protect kids from online predators: Surrey RCMP

Reports of child porn increased between 2017 and 2019, police say

Education minister announces new South Surrey elementary school

Additions at two elementary schools also announced

Liquor permission considered for White Rock’s Memorial Park

Council mulls business-boosting measures, including picnic benches

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Vancouver Island First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

VIDEO: Pitt Meadows dentist gets grand welcome home after two-month COVID-19 battle

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

No need to get out of your car at food truck festival in Abbotsford and Langley

Annual event takes drive-thru approach during COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read

l -->