Senators set to question Freeland on bill to provide new rent relief, business aid

Chrystia Freeland

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will face questions today from senators scrutinizing the government’s latest bid to provide pandemic aid to hard-hit businesses.

Freeland is scheduled to testify early this afternoon to the Senate’s national finance committee that is reviewing the aid bill, known as C-9.

The House of Commons agreed last week to pass the proposed package of measures quickly, but none can be enacted until the Senate passes it as well.

Bill C-9 would extend the federal wage subsidy until next summer, cancelling a previously planned decline in its value, as well as expanding a popular business loan program.

The legislation would also redo a program for commercial rent relief that was widely criticized because its original design needed buy-in from landlords, many of whom did not participate.

And it would also provide top-up help for businesses whose revenues crash because of local lockdowns, similar to those being imposed in parts of the country right now as COVID-19 case numbers rise.