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Canada lawmakers pass budget bill with pandemic supports ahead of summer recess

·2-min read

By Julie Gordon

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian lawmakers on Wednesday passed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's budget bill, approving billions in funding to extend COVID-19 supports on the last day of voting before the summer break and a likely election in the fall.

Bill C-30 passed 211 to 121, as the opposition New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois supported the measure. Trudeau's ruling Liberals have a minority in the House of Commons and must rely other parties to pass legislation.

The bill will only become law once the Senate, or upper chamber, adopts it and it receives royal assent. Senators are expected to have a special sitting on Friday to take up the bill.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland unveiled Canada's first budget in more than two years in April, including an ambitious stimulus plan to kick-start Canada's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Liberals have said they need to pass the budget bill before the summer break as key pandemic support programs were set to expire at the end of June. These include a wage subsidy to help employers pay workers and aid to help businesses pay their rent.

Critics say the Liberals want to push through legislation ahead of a likely election in the fall.

Trudeau's Liberals led the main opposition Conservatives 34% to 30% in a national poll released Tuesday by Leger.

Earlier on Wednesday, the House passed a Conservative bill that will exempt farmers from paying a levy on carbon emitted by burning natural gas and propane for farming operations.

On Tuesday, the House passed a controversial bill to regulate programming on streaming services and social media platforms and a bill criminalizing LGBT conversion therapy, and the Senate opened the way to legalize betting on single games or sporting events.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Bill Berkrot)