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House of Commons passes motion to permanently allow virtual attendance, voting

OTTAWA — The House of Commons passed a motion Thursday evening to keep hybrid workplace rules adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This means members of Parliament can attend sittings and committee meetings virtually, and keep voting through an app.

The final vote on government House leader Mark Holland’s motion passed 171 to 137, with support from most Liberal and NDP MPs.

Most Conservatives and Bloc Québécois MPs voted against it.

Holland has said MPs should be able to continue their work while also attending important events in their ridings or dealing with personal and family matters, arguing that people such as young parents may now be more attracted to a life in Parliament.

Detractors have said that in-person proceedings produce the best decisions and discourse, while virtual hearings have been costly to simultaneous language interpreters’ health.

Reports of hearing injuries from translators increased after hybrid rules came into force.

In February, a tribunal ruled the government breached the labour code by failing to protect interpreters from workplace injuries.

New rules have been created to standardize the type of headsets and microphones used by committee witnesses and MPs when they are participating remotely.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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