Madam Speaker, that was one comment. My other comment is based on a question that I had posed and that the Conservatives also posed. It is the question of how the economy is doing today compared to the way it was. It is a fair question.
We can look at the pre-pandemic economy, from prior to coronavirus. Coronavirus has had a very profound impact not only on Canada's economy but also on the economy around the world. This is something that is affecting every country, and some countries are doing a better job than others in terms of managing and providing for their citizens. Generally speaking, prior to the pandemic, Canada's economy was doing exceptionally well. When we compare it to the Stephen Harper days, members will find that it was doing exceptionally well, especially in terms of job creation.
There will always be a different approach from a Conservative administration than there will be from a Liberal administration. A Liberal government understands and appreciates the role a national government can play in providing the incentives necessary to support the economy and to move us forward in terms of creating jobs, opportunities and hope. We provide individuals who do not have much, through tax incentives and directed grants, the ability to become that much better off. We have demonstrated that very clearly.
What I want to say to Canadians today is that when the pandemic started and it was necessary for the government to engage, the government, without hesitation, made it very clear that it did not want Canadians to have to worry about paying bills. We wanted to ensure that Canadians knew we were going to be there for them in a very real and tangible way.
A Conservative member was being somewhat critical and said that the Liberals spent a lot of money. Yes, we have spent a lot of money. However, I believe that money has been well spent. If we listen to Conservatives, we do not hear any of them saying to cut back on any of the specific program dollars we have allocated. Conservatives recognize that programs like CERB are helping more than eight million people. Over eight million people are being helped by CERB.
We must remember that the CERB program started from nothing. Previously, there was no CERB program. It came into its very existence because of the coronavirus. That process, from the creation of the program to its getting money into the pockets of Canadians, happened relatively quickly. The program was not that complicated. It was more important that we put money in the pockets of Canadians so they could buy groceries, pay their bills and stay in their homes. That was the priority of this government, and we have seen the results.
The impact the coronavirus has had is second to no other. We would have to go back generations and generations to find this type of economical and social impact. There are people who have had to go through a great deal of hardship. I send my condolences to the families and friends of those who have passed from the coronavirus, to those who have been infected and to the individuals going through some very difficult times.
I recognize, appreciate and value the work of essential workers. We often talk about health care workers or first responders, as we should, and recognize the important role they have played. What about the long haul truck drivers who are ensuring groceries get to the supermarkets we are so dependent upon? What about the taxi drivers who are driving individuals to health care facilities?
Many essential workers have stepped up to ensure that we are able to continue to provide the types of services that are absolutely critical for us as a society. I express my appreciation, and the government's appreciation, to all those individuals who continue to contribute to the lives of individuals in a very real way.
There comes a point when we recognize that it is not just the government's cabinet ministers who sit around the table. The leader of the New Democrat Party said the NDP forced the Liberals to do this or that. If we listen to the leader of the NDP, everything we have ever done is because the NDP forced us to. The reality is that this government listens to what Canadians are saying. We introduce the programs. I was on virtual phone calls every day to the cabinet indirectly providing input, as many of my colleagues were. There were technical briefings provided for all members of the House. It did not matter which political party members were part of.
With regard to the coronavirus, our Prime Minister challenged us to consult and work with our constituents and report what we needed to do to ensure that Canada comes out okay. There should be no surprise that when we generate programs from nothing that there is going to be a need for modification of those programs. One would expect that.
I made reference to the Canada emergency response benefit allotment of $2,000. It was very simple so that we could get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. I remember the former government House leader would say that small business is the backbone of Canada's economy. Other members have said likewise. We understand that if we want to see the economy grow, or minimize the negative impact on the economy, we have to recognize the important role that small businesses play and support them. This government is doing just that.
We see that through loans and from dialogue created with financial institutions, in terms of their important obligations to businesses and directing money through wage subsidies. That is what this legislation is changing. It is taking into consideration many changes that are necessary. These things are having a very real impact. They are not necessarily all coming from the mind of the leader of the New Democratic Party. These are flowing from ideas from constituencies and from Canadians in every region of our country. This is a government that is committed to working with other levels of government. It is brilliant. We just committed $19 billion to help restart the economy working with the provinces.
From the get-go, we have understood how important it was to work with the different levels of government because we each have a very important role to play in serving our constituents and Canadians. The Minister of Employment embodies a great deal of what many of us hope to achieve, and she shared that in some of her comments, if not directly, then indirectly. I will be a little more direct. The minister is very passionate about disabilities. We saw that with the historic disability accessibility legislation we brought in last year. It was quite a moment. I was not only happy for Canadians, but I felt good that a minister who felt so strongly about that issue was able to see it come to light.
Today, she was talking about the importance of somehow fixing the disability system and the way we allocate money out, whether it is tax credits or direct cash. What provides me comfort is that we have ministers like that, who are so committed to trying to make a difference, who share that personal story and are prepared to fight for those individuals with disabilities. It is individuals such as her, and I would suggest that she does not have a monopoly on it, because many, if not all of us in our own way, either directly or indirectly, try to influence government policy.
For myself, I can think of a wide spectrum of things that I would like to kindly gesture the government to move toward. There is no end to the things that I would like to see happen, but I recognize that it takes time. I think one of the issues that will come out of the coronavirus is that we will see a number of future modifications to programs that will be in the long-term best interest of a wide spectrum of people. I am anxious to see those types of changes take place in the coming years.
I want to highlight the impact at the grassroots level, and what is happening at the grassroots level today, compared to January or the beginning of February. For example, I have many constituents who travelled to India, particularly Punjab, and to the Phillippines, on holidays. They were enjoying their holiday, but unfortunately, with the coronavirus and the shutdown of airports and all sorts of issues, thousands of individuals were trapped abroad, hundreds from my own riding. For many, it has taken weeks, if not months, to ultimately be able to return, but we do not really hear about those examples.
The examples we typically hear about are of small businesses having a difficult time being able to keep their doors open, and it does become an issue of cash flow. When we look at the wage subsidy program, I believe it is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2.5 million jobs that have been subsidized to date. I believe this is the minimum; it is probably quite a bit more than that, but I am not 100% sure. I can tell members that many of those jobs would have completely disappeared without the wage subsidy program. When an employer might have just as well laid someone off indefinitely, that program provided the employer an option instead. As a direct result, two million to three million Canadians were able to continue with the jobs they had.
I make reference to the eight million people in the CERB program. I am very much interested to see how that shakes out in the riding of Winnipeg North, but I do know there are tens of thousands of people in my home province of Manitoba. I hate to imagine what the economic plight of many of those individuals who have collected the CERB would have been like had it not been for that program. I have a family member who was dependent on that program. We all have friends and know of others who needed that sort of general program to be there as a backstop to support Canadians. I am very proud of that particular program.
When we think of other ways in which we can support Canadians, the Canada child benefit program allows for a direct deposit of cash into the accounts of families. Some of those families, because of COVID-19, are that much more challenged. The government brought through a top-up for the Canada child benefit program, helping thousands of people in virtually every province. I know I often refer to the Canada child benefit program. Under a normal situation, just over $9 million every month goes into the riding of Winnipeg North. That was topped up because it is easily identified and it is a good way to get money into the pockets of Canadians.
The GST affects us all. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 12 million people benefited from the GST one-time payment also.
One of the things I am very proud of is that many of us have been wanting to support seniors. I tabled a petition earlier today about how we can support seniors. I am very grateful that the current Minister of Seniors, through an email, said she would love to be able to speak to the group at a meeting of my committee on seniors. It was wonderful. Seniors are important to all of us. It was so nice to see that we were able to create one-time payments for individuals on OAS. For the poorest seniors in Canada, we gave a separate increase to the GIS, which totalled about $500 for individuals who qualified for the GIS and OAS increase.
The point of this is to recognize that the coronavirus changed things profoundly. This government worked with everyone it could to ensure it could provide programming to make sure that Canadians would get out of this coronavirus situation and be well served when it comes time to restart the economy. We are starting to see that today. We are in a better position today to deal with a second wave, if it occurs, because of the hard work of legislators in the House of Commons and because of the fine work being done by the provinces, city councils, non-profits and private individuals.
With that, I will leave myself open for questions.