The Conservative government has successfully passed a ways-and-means budget motion that will avert an election in the short-term and pave the way for the implementation of the long-awaited Home Renovation Tax Credit among other measures.

The motion passed in the House of Commons Friday morning with the support of Bloc and NDP members, marking the first time that Jack Layton's party supported the Conservatives since the election last fall. The final tally was 224 to 74.

Because the vote was also a confidence matter, it could potentially have triggered an election if it wasn't passed. The two opposition parties that supported the motion had previously signalled that they would vote in favour of it, while Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has said his party will no longer prop up the government.

Following the vote, Ignatieff spoke briefly to reporters.

"My sense is the question is: Is this government good enough? Yes or no? I've said no and now my job is to present Canadians with a clear alternative," he said.

The $3 billion Home Renovation Tax Credit was introduced at the start of the year, as an incentive that the government hoped would help stimulate the Canadian economy during the early days of the recession.

Many Canadians completed home renovations this summer with the expectation of using the tax credit to help defray the costs -- though it still has yet to be passed in the House of Commons.

It allows homeowners to receive a non-refundable tax credit worth up to $1,350, depending on the expenses associated with eligible renovations or improvements made after Jan. 27, 2009 and before Feb. 1, 2010.

The renovations must be worth more than $1,000, but not more than $10,000, in order to qualify for the tax credit. Homeowners are required to provide receipts and appropriate documentation in order to claim it.

EI debate

Meanwhile, a debate is raging in Ottawa as to whether a proposed set of employment insurance reforms should be fast-tracked through the legislative process.

The Conservatives want to offer extended employment insurance to some 190,000 long-term workers. The bill would cost up to $1 billion to implement, if approved in the House of Commons.

The opposition parties have a variety of opinions on the bill.

NDP leader Jack Layton has said the bill needs to be carefully reviewed, but also that his party will support the government until the EI reforms can be implemented.

The Liberals and the Bloc, however, want the process to move ahead more quickly.

The Bloc want to skip a parliamentary debate, so that the bill can be sent to a Commons committee for examination.

The Liberals want the bill rushed through all stages of the legislative process, so that it can be approved by the Senate before the first week of next month -- when the party intends to introduce a motion of non-confidence against the government.

"We don't want to give Mr. Layton any alibis," Ignatieff said Thursday, when explaining his party's position on the matter.

With files from The Canadian Press