“I really want people to walk away from today realizing that we did a really good job as a country in dealing with what was a devastating crisis.”

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OTTAWA – Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has said the Canadian economy is strong and has weathered COVID better than many other countries, while rejecting Conservative claims about inflation at committee of the House of Commons Thursday.

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Freeland attended the finance committee as she tried to push through the government’s pandemic relief bill in the House of Commons and gain the support of at least one opposition party to pass the law Project.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre has repeatedly asked Freeland to explain how the government will tackle inflation that is pushing up food prices and other costs across the country.

“Food prices will go up by $ 1,000 this year for single mothers who cannot afford their bills. Young people live in their parents’ basements because they cannot afford houses, ”he said.

Freeland argued that the country’s economy is strong and improving as jobs return, GDP growth increases and the economy grows.

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“It’s really important for Canadians not to be misled by a false story,” she said. “I really want people to walk away from today realizing that we did a very good job as a country in dealing with what was a devastating crisis and what could have been much, much worse.”

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Poilievre has also repeatedly asked Freeland if the Canadian real estate market, which has seen massive price spikes this year, is stable and if the country is heading for a real estate crash.

She said it was dangerous for MPs to speculate that the economy was heading for a crash.

“Irresponsibly speculating and making claims that could damage confidence in the Canadian economy is highly irresponsible, so let me just assure you that our banks are very stable and our government took action last summer.” to ensure that Canadians do not take undue risks. “

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Despite the Conservatives ‘concerns about the Liberals’ fiscal management, the Conservatives have not yet ruled out supporting the bill on benefits. The party issued a series of demands for support last week, which included Freeland’s appearance at the committee, but also inquiries into whether some CERB payments went to organized crime.

Freeland described government benefit bills as the latest economic step as Canada hopefully emerges from the pandemic and such supports will no longer be needed. The bill proposes to expand subsidy programs for wages and rents, but limits them to businesses in hard-hit sectors like tourism and hospitality that still face a sharp drop in income.

It also extends sickness benefits to people with COVID-19 and provides a benefit to workers who cannot work because their workplace is locked or closed.

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She said, especially with the new Omicron variant, the government needs to have out-of-the-box support.

“There is a lot of uncertainty and unpredictability. We must maintain and increase a containment support insurance policy. Keep this targeted support for the most affected sectors

Freeland said she hoped the foreclosure benefit was not necessary, but the government needs to be prepared.

She said she is also committed to finding a way to extend support to people working in the cultural industry. The Bloc Québécois raised the issue as one of its main concerns regarding the bill on benefits in the event of a pandemic.

We understand this is a difficult situation

Freeland also said the government was looking for a solution for seniors who need to recoup their Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments. She did not say when a change might come, but said the government was aware of the problem.

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“We understand that this is a difficult situation. Seniors who received GIS are among the most vulnerable Canadians and they accepted the ECP at a time when the whole country was in crisis, and they really needed it, ”she said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said there was no excuse to delay addressing the issue.

“There is no reason that a senior on GIS, a vulnerable senior who does not have enough resources to cope, should have their GIS recovered because they needed help. during the pandemic, ”he said.

Singh said this issue should be addressed immediately, but said the party still cannot support the government’s pandemic benefits bill because it is reducing support while the pandemic is still ongoing.

“The Liberals are proposing to cut aid to people when we still need that support. And that is why we oppose the bill.

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