Canada's New Democrats will back Trudeau's government, averting election

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s left-leaning opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) on Friday said it would back Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a confidence vote to be held in coming weeks, averting the threat of a fall election.

In a so-called Throne Speech delivered on Wednesday, Trudeau sought the support of at least one opposition party on a sweeping agenda to battle COVID-19, help those hurt by it, and foster economic growth.

Trudeau’s Liberal party does not have a majority in parliament and needs the support of at least one of three opposition parties. The other two groups had already signaled they would not back the government.

After reaching a deal on a bill to expand the recipients of unemployment benefits and to provide paid sick leave for many who previously did not get it, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said he would back the government.

“We will support that bill and then, yes, we will be able to support that Throne Speech,” Singh said, provided Liberals indeed follow through on their promise when the bill’s modifications are presented to parliament on Monday.

On Thursday, the Liberals increased the proposed weekly unemployment payout to match the amount millions of unemployed Canadians had received as emergency support during the pandemic to win the NDP backing.

That emergency support expires this weekend and will be replaced by the revised unemployment package.

“We now have an agreement with the NDP on a bill that will deliver the help that Canadians need,” Pablo Rodriguez, Liberal House of Commons leader, said on Twitter. “It’s by working together that we will get through this pandemic.”

Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Timothy Gardner