In my statement of March 22, 2021, regarding Private Members' Business, I expressed my concern about Bill C-265, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (illness, injury or quarantine), sponsored by the member for Salaberry—Suroît.
At the time, I encouraged the hon. members who wished to make arguments regarding the need for a royal recommendation for this bill to do so, which the members for Kingston and the Islands and Elmwood—Transcona did during points of order on April 12 and 14, respectively. I thank them for the precedents and the information they shared during their interventions. I am now ready to rule on the matter.
During his intervention, the member for Kingston and the Islands argued that Bill C-265 would extend sickness benefits and would thus seek to authorize a new and distinct charge on the consolidated revenue fund not authorized in statute. He added that there is no existing authorization to cover this new and distinct charge and that a royal recommendation is therefore necessary.
Here is what it says at page 838 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, and I quote:
Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown’s financial initiative.
Furthermore, a royal recommendation may only be obtained by a minister, the granting of such recommendation being a prerogative of the Crown.
In order to determine if Bill C-265 requires a royal recommendation, the Chair can rely on a number of similar precedents, including the ruling made by my predecessor on Bill C-269, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act regarding improvement of the employment insurance system, and Bill C-308, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act regarding improvement of the employment insurance system, both of which would have, among other things, extended the length of the benefit period.
A reading of Bill C-265 reveals that it would amend paragraphs 12(3)(c) and 152.14(1)(c) of the Employment Insurance Act to increase the maximum benefit period in the case of a prescribed illness, injury or quarantine from 15 weeks to 50 weeks.
Clearly, the bill’s goal is to permanently lengthen the period for employment insurance benefits, which would increase the expenditures made under the act’s system. It is, therefore, my opinion that Bill C-265 would increase an existing appropriation and must be accompanied by a royal recommendation before it can proceed to a final vote in the House on third reading.
When this item is next before the House, the debate will only be on the motion for second reading of the bill, and the question will be put to the House at the end of this debate.
I would like to thank the hon. members for their attention.