Greens urge government to declare Public Welfare Emergency

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada today called on the government to use its powers under the Emergency Act and declare a Public Welfare Emergency to deal with the mounting fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic

“We will work with this government to move quickly to provide what this crisis demands,” said Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “However, we must also ensure that the process is not abused. By demanding oversight we are protecting the rights of Canadians and the members of this government.”

“The Emergency Act  provides room for parliamentary review and oversight. It does not suspend civil liberties, except to the limited extent necessary to protect public health. Invoking a Public Welfare Emergency under the Emergency Act would cover just about everything in Bill C13. But any extra powers would be limited to those that are necessary for dealing with the emergency.”

Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith) said that because the collapse of world oil prices is not related to the COVID-19, the Bill must not include  a blank cheque to bail out the oil and gas industry.

“We can use the tools prepared for us when the Emergency Act passed in 1988, tools that respect the role of parliament, that get help to those who need it and do so in ways that do not open the door to massive abuse of power. “

Two relevant components of Part I of the Public Welfare Emergency Interpretation are:

  • Public welfare emergency means an emergency that is caused by a real or imminent  disease in human beings;
  • A declaration of a public welfare emergency expires at the end of ninety days unless the declaration is previously revoked or continued in accordance with this Act.

Jenica Atwin (MP, Fredericton) will address parliament on behalf of the Green caucus at the emergency session today. Ms. Atwin said: “The most important thing we do today is enable the government to get money flowing to Canadians,” said Atwin. “I am proud that opposition members of the House of Commons have worked together to ensure the government measures proposed will include appropriate checks and balances to protect Canadians.”

“The role of parliament and the rights of Canadians need to be respected as we find the path forward to providing the support Canadians need in this crisis,” concluded Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts.

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For more information or to arrange an interview:

Rosie Emery

Press Secretary


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