In a recent interview with The West Block, Conservative MP Erin O’Toole criticized the federal government’s COVID-19 economic response. O’Toole, who is a frontrunner in the race for the Conservative Party’s leadership, disparaged the choice to prioritize aid, such as the CERB benefit, for out-of-work Canadians instead of help for businesses.

In the interview, the MP described as “backwards” the government’s decision to provide financial assistance to workers before doing so to businesses. However, the March 18 announcement that presented the CERB also saw the introduction of a business wage subsidy and tax deferrals for businesses and Canadians alike.

The Conservatives, while not outright opposing the slew of benefits for Canadians, have been critical of the Canadian government’s response. 

During negotiations to pass the legislation for the CERB’s implementation, Conservative MP Scott Reid attempted to block the bill from passing. Last week, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer proposed a reduction to the CERB benefit, describing it as a disincentive to work. The Conservatives also forced an amendment onto the newly announced Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) that would require students to prove that they are actively looking for work in order to receive the benefit. 

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