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Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet holds a news conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on May 25, 2020.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Canada’s major political parties faced sharp criticism Monday from Conservative leadership candidates and the Bloc Québécois for using an emergency wage subsidy to help cover party staffing costs.

At a news conference in Ottawa on Monday, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet condemned other political parties – particularly the Liberals and Conservatives – for accessing the taxpayer-funded Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy aimed at supporting workers and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“'Critical' is a very gentle word for the way I feel about that," Mr. Blanchet said. “I find it absolutely unacceptable.”

Mr. Blanchet, whose party did not apply for the subsidy, pointed out the Liberals and the Conservatives both raised millions of dollars in political donations during the first three months of 2020 and should not be using the program.

Political donation records for those months show the Conservatives raised $3.8-million, the Liberals $2.9-million, the NDP $963,924, the Greens $576,644 and the Bloc $184,196.

The subsidy is reserved for businesses, companies and people who really need it, Mr. Blanchet added.

“The Liberals don’t need it and the Conservatives don’t need it,” he said. "Maybe the NDP needs it. Maybe the Greens need it. We do not.”

​The program announced by the federal government is designed to help keep employees on the payroll and covers 75 per cent of wages for employees of eligible employers, including non-profit organizations and registered charities.

Conservative leadership hopefuls Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole said on Twitter on the weekend they both take issue with their party accepting the subsidy.

“Under my leadership, the Conservative Party will not take the subsidy and over time will repay the amount it has taken,” Mr. O’Toole said. “I call on all other parties to do the same.”

Mr. MacKay said his party cannot oppose taxpayer subsidies and then “support taxpayer subsidies of political parties.”

When asked Monday about why his own political party is accepting the wage subsidy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau merely said the program allows employees to remain connected to their employers and that it was established for non-profit organizations, charities and other businesses.

“We know families across the country depend on the jobs they do to pay groceries, pay for the rent,” he said. “This is going to be an important part of the economy bouncing back and that’s what we’re focused on.”

On Friday, staff for the federal Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens confirmed to The Globe and Mail that they have all applied for the initiative while citing financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

​NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh defended his party’s application.

“In terms of our party, it was a simple decision," he said Monday.

“When we saw a loss of revenue at the party level and workers potentially being laid off, losing their jobs and having to go on other programs like the CERB [Canada Emergency Response Benefit], this is exactly what the wage subsidy is for – to ensure that workers remain connected to their jobs."

Green Party of Canada executive director Prateek Awasthi said Friday the party has applied for the program but has not yet received the subsidy. As of Monday, the party said it had yet to receive the payment.

Scott Gottlieb says we will be better prepared for a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall, but a spike in new cases may also arrive at a time when other seasonal illness circulate. The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2017 and 2019 adds that Sweden leads Europe in coronavirus deaths despite attempts at herd immunity.

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