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Senate passes grocery rebate bill, health funding top-up

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The Senate has passed legislation to implement the Liberals’ promised “grocery rebate” and federal health transfer top-ups.

After a condensed study, the upper chamber gave the final stamp of approval to Bill C-46 on Wednesday.

The legislation pulled out two specific elements of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s 2023 federal budget that the Liberals wanted to see passed in short order.

Once the bill receives a royal assent, it will allow for the one-time $2.5 billion affordability-focused “grocery rebate” payment to be administered to approximately 11 million eligible recipients, something the Canada Revenue Agency says will happen in July.

It also means that the provinces and territories will soon receive their respective promised portions of a total $2 billion in “unconditional” health-care top-up funding, thanks to amendments made to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act.

The bill had been before the Senate since April 19, when MPs agreed to move the legislation—billed as the “Cost of Living Relief Act, No. 3,”— through all stages of debate and study in one fell swoop.

Following the all-party lead in the House, senators agreed to an expedited timeline for its consideration of the bill. This agreement saw the Senate National Finance Committee hold one meeting to hear from Associate Minister of Finance Randy Boissonnault and a pair of Finance Canada officials, before signing off on the legislation without amendments.

Despite the push for a quick passage, last week, the CRA confirmed to CTVNews.ca that it is planning on rolling out the food-inflation focused rebrand of the GST rebate for low- and modest-income Canadians in early July, in line with the pre-scheduled next quarterly GST/HST credit payments.