Greens agree with all-party consensus to suspend the House of Commons due to COVID-19

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada agrees with today’s unanimous decision by parliamentarians to suspend the House of Commons until April 20 in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“I want to thank all my colleagues in the House for today’s unanimous consent motion to suspend the House proceedings,” said Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “There is hope for democracy when we can come together in a time of crisis and make urgent, non partisan decisions that protect all Canadians. On behalf of our caucus and the party, I would like to extend good wishes for a speedy recovery to my friend, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau. This situation affects all our relatives, our friends, our fellow citizens in our riding and everyone affected by this epidemic.”

“We cannot tell moment to moment what lies ahead with the spread of COVID-19. I want to express thanks to the Canadian public health authorities at every level and in my own province, particularly B.C. public health officer Bonnie Henry, who has been courageously handling a rapidly evolving situation in a calming and efficient manner. The B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix and others have moved quickly to take strong precautionary action, which is of the utmost importance when dealing with the spread of this epidemic.”

During this unprecedented time, Greens are concerned for the welfare of workers, particularly those in the gig economy who lack any sort of financial safeguard. Green MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) emphasises the importance of ensuring that vulnerable populations are protected during this challenging time.

“Many Canadians live from paycheck to paycheck,” said Mr. Manly. “There are no safeguards in place for those who do not have access to unemployment insurance, such as those in the gig economy. I’m also concerned about the effect on small business operators and contract workers – they are not protected by EI, and could suffer greatly. It’s crucial that we quickly enact measures to protect Canadians across the country to help them get through this without sustaining crippling, financial hardship. We would like to see a comprehensive package for workers that will bring a measure of comfort during this difficult time.”

Green caucus health critic Jenica Atwin (MP, Fredericton), added: “It is my hope that citizens will take precautions seriously and do what they can to avoid gathering in large groups, change traditional greetings to elbow taps, bows or waves, use proper cough and sneeze etiquette and avoid ERs for Covid-19 like symptoms. We all have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable and to come together as Canadians and members of the global community as we face this unprecedented health challenge.”

Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts pointed out that reducing the amount of air travel between provinces for MPs returning to their ridings, is sensible and timely at this time. “This is such a rapidly evolving situation. The more proactive we can be in adopting social distancing practices and reducing travel internationally and from coast to coast to coast, the more ability we will have to flatten the curve.”

“I have confidence in our health authorities. I have confidence in Canadians. I join with all colleagues in thanking our health authorities for their diligence and the Minister of Health, because we are blessed to live in a country with a responsible government that does not try to make up the science as they go along. I would also like to thank the first responders, nurses and doctors and all who will be working long hours to protect the health of us all. The Green Party consents to the adjournment and looks forward to seeing everyone again in good health in this place,” concluded Ms. May.