The soon-to-expire Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) - where unemployed people have been able to claim $500 a week during the pandemic - was to be replaced with a new benefit, the Canada Recovery Benefit, and reduced to $400 a week under proposals announced by the Liberals in August.
The Liberal government introduced legislation Thursday the NDP said it considered a victory on its first demand, by ensuring that jobless Canadians will continue to receive same benefit provided under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
The same floor would be placed on employment insurance benefits for those eligible for the program, matching a demand from the federal New Democrats to not cut the value of benefits.
Addressing the media in Parliament Hill later in the day, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh confirmed the agreement, adding that the Liberal government was willing to boost the number of people who can access a proposed sick leave benefit, which was one of the three new measures within Bill C-2.
The House of Commons of Canada has 338 seats.
"We really were trying to be flexible from the beginning".
To help build a stronger workforce, the Government of Canada will also invest an additional $1.5 billion in the Workforce Development Agreements with provinces and territories to offer Canadians the skills training and employment supports they need.
For those who don't qualify for EI, Bill C-2 will create a temporary new Canada Recovery Benefit as well as a sick leave benefit and another benefit for caregivers who are forced to stay home to care for a dependant who falls ill or is forced to self-isolate.
The government has to pass the legislation quickly, before the end of the month, to avoid people being left without income when the CERB program ends.
And it also asks Parliament to give the government emergency spending powers until the end of the year on what Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said are specific measures to combat the pandemic, such as vaccines.
The CERB has paid out some $78 billion to almost 8.8 million people since the onset of the pandemic, covering those who are and are not eligible for employment insurance.
With the end of the CERB, which has been used by nearly nine million Canadians to stay afloat during the pandemic, the government is transitioning recipients back to a more robust, generous employment insurance regime.
The government estimates that about 2.8 million people receiving CERB payments will move on to EI in the coming days, and Qualtrough said she was confident it would be a smooth transition for the decades-old EI system.
Maryam Monsef spent time highlighting the Canada Recovery Benefit.
"We just try to manage all the phone calls as quickly as possible and just walk people through the process and the steps", she said of the centre's work over the pandemic. "We are definitely way, way, way closer to the finish line". This Benefit would support Canadians who have not returned to work due to COVID-19 or whose income has dropped by at least 50%. "Businesses want to reopen and welcome back staff and customers", he said in a statement.