The past week marked a significant change in our government's leadership, with the resignation of former Finance Minister Bill Morneau and the appointment of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. I worked closely with Bill on a number of initiatives, including achieving new collective agreements with many public service bargaining units. I wish him well in his next adventures, though I will miss his cheerful and pragmatic presence in our team. Chrystia and I served together as Opposition MPs for several years before the 2015 election, so we had a chance to get to know each other and work collaboratively on a range of Parliamentary objectives and Liberal policy proposals. I look forward to her skillful stewardship of the government's critical Finance function and, as you will know from my previous writings, I share her deep commitment to reducing income inequality.
In other recent news, our government has announced planned changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program, plus three new Benefits to provide broader support to Canadians affected by the pandemic as we transition away from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in late September. The new EI program will be more flexible, to allow more Canadians to qualify with fewer weeks worked, for a minimum benefit of $400 per week for at least 26 weeks. Both employee and employer premiums will be frozen at current rates, and recipients will be able to keep 50 cents of every dollar earned while on EI.
Details are now available for the three new Benefits including:
I've heard from many constituents with continuing challenges during this difficult time, and I'm very supportive of our federal strategy of creating widespread access to financial help for those who need it. While helping people, it also supports Canada's economic recovery. By the way, if you're a fan of the concept of universal basic income you might enjoy Dutch thinker and writer Rutger Bregman's book Utopia for Realists as much as I have!
In case you missed it, Minister Mendicino recently announced a new temporary program to provide a pathway to permanent residence for asylum claimants working on healthcare front lines during COVID-19 — an appropriate 'thank-you' for their important sacrifice, dedication and much-needed contribution.
Also, important work on Indigenous reconciliation has continued throughout the pandemic emergency. You may be interested in reading the Tripartite Statement on the progress of work towards a Memorandum of Understanding, released by Minister Carolyn Bennett along with the Province of BC and Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs.
Several local opportunities may also be of interest, adding to the half-dozen New Horizons for Seniors grants distributed to Vancouver Quadra organizations this month:
Enjoy your last days of August holiday (or work), and please stay safe!
Hon. Joyce Murray, PC, MP
Minister of Digital Government
P.S. My MP Office is open to serve you. Please email or call for an appointment if you need in-person service.