Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 124, 125, 128, 131, 133 and 134.
Question No. 124--Mr. Damien C. Kurek
With regard to the Optional Survivor Benefit (OSB) for common-law partners and the statement on the government’s website that “The Canadian Forces Superannuation Act (CFSA) was amended so that a member living in a common-law relationship can provide a survivor pension if the relationship begins after age 60. However, the regulations must be amended to specify the details. Consequently, the OSB is not yet available for common-law relationships.”: (a) when will the regulations be amended to make the OSB available to those in common-law relationships that begin after age 60; (b) why have the regulations not yet been amended; (c) what are the government’s projections regarding how many such individuals will be eligible for the OSB; and (d) of the individuals in (c), what percentage does the government project will opt in to the OSB?Ms. Anita Vandenbeld (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Armed Forces offer competitive salaries and world-class benefit packages that start on the first day of a member’s service, up until after they retire. To ensure members are fairly compensated for their service to Canada, National Defence continues to work on issues, such as the optional survivor benefit for common-law relationships, to better reflect the reality of today’s veterans.
With regard to part (a) of the question, optional survivor benefit regulations are currently in the process of being amended. The amendments are complex and require coordination among multiple departments to ensure they are done properly. This process is being done collaboratively with Treasury Board and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
With regard to part (b), National Defence is currently working collaboratively with Treasury Board and the RCMP to determine a common policy approach for amending regulations. This will ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces, public service and RCMP pension plans are cohesive and contain similar optional survivor benefit provisions.
With regard to parts (c) and (d), National Defence does not maintain this information and it is not available to provide a projection at this time.Question No. 125--Ms. Nelly Shin
With regard to expenditures related to legal proceedings involving veterans and veterans' groups, since January 1, 2018: (a) what is the total amount of expenditures incurred to date, broken down by case; and (b) what are the expenditures in (a), broken down by type and line item?Hon. David Lametti (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with respect to expenditures incurred in relation to legal proceedings involving veterans and veterans' groups, since January 1, 2018, to the extent that the information requested is or may be protected by any legal privileges, including solicitor-client privilege or settlement privilege, the federal Crown asserts those privileges. In this case, it has only waived solicitor-client privilege to the extent of revealing the total legal costs, as defined below.
The total legal costs, including actual and notional costs, associated with legal proceedings involving veterans and veterans' groups since January 1, 2018, amount to approximatively $5,475,000. These costs cover all types of legal proceedings, including individual and class actions brought by veterans, judicial review applications of decisions of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board and appeals. The Crown is usually not initiating these proceedings but rather acts as a defendant or respondent. The total legal costs are with respect to litigation and litigation support services, which were provided in these cases by the Department of Justice. Department of Justice lawyers, notaries and paralegals are salaried public servants and, therefore, no legal fees are incurred for their services. A “notional amount” can, however, be provided to account for the legal services they provide. The notional amount is calculated by multiplying the total hours recorded in the responsive files for the relevant period by the applicable approved internal legal services hourly rates. Actual costs are composed of file-related legal disbursements paid by the department and then cost-recovered from the client departments or agencies, as well as the costs of legal agents who may be retained by the Minister of Justice to provide litigation services in certain cases. The amount mentioned in this response is based on information currently contained in the Department of Justice systems, as of October 6, 2020.Question No. 128--Mr. Garnett Genuis
With regard to the government’s reaction to the genocide and human rights abuses of Uighurs in Xinjiang Province, China, and the decision as to whether to place Magnitsky sanctions on those responsible: (a) will the government be placing sanctions under the Magnitsky Act on the Chinese government officials responsible for the genocide; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, which Chinese government officials will be subject to the sanctions, and what criteria will the government use to determine which officials will be subject to the sanctions; and (c) if the answer to (a) is negative, then what is the rationale for not placing sanctions on those responsible for this genocide?Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the following reflects a consolidated response approved on behalf of Global Affairs Canada ministers. The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canadian foreign policy and is a priority in the Government of Canada’s engagement with China. The nature and scale of the abuses by Chinese authorities of Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minorities, under the pretext of countering extremism, are deeply disturbing. The Government of Canada is alarmed by the mass arbitrary detentions, repressive surveillance, allegations of torture, mistreatment, forced labour, forced sterilization of women and mass arbitrary separation of children from their parents. These actions by the Chinese government are contrary to its own constitution, in violation of international human rights obligations and inconsistent with the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
Canada takes allegations of genocide very seriously. We will continue to work in close collaboration with our allies to push for these to be investigated through an international independent body and for impartial experts to access the region so that they can see the situation first-hand and report back.
Canada has continuously relayed its concerns about China’s actions directly to Chinese officials. Canada has also taken action to speak out at the United Nations in co-operation with partners. For example, in June 2020, during the 44th session of the HRC, Canada and 27 other countries signed a joint statement voicing concerns on the human rights situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Recently, at the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, on October 6, 2020, Canada co-signed, along with 38 other countries, a joint statement on the human rights situation in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. As part of joint communications, Canada and other countries have repeatedly called on China to allow unfettered access to Xinjiang to UN human rights experts and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Canada is judicious in its approach regarding when to deploy sanctions and/or draw on other courses of action in our diplomatic tool kit based on foreign policy priorities. The regulations enacted under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act allow the Government of Canada to target individuals who are, in the opinion of the government, responsible for, or complicit in, gross violations of internationally recognized human rights or acts of significant corruption. Canada takes the matter of listing individuals under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act very seriously. A rigorous due diligence process has been established to consider and evaluate possible cases of human rights violations or corruption anywhere in the world against the criteria set out in the act, within the context of other ongoing efforts to promote human rights and combat corruption. Our government believes that sanctions have the maximum impact when they are being imposed in collaboration with other countries.
Please also note that the trade commissioner service has updated its guidance for businesses on the risks of doing business in China, including risks related to human rights abuses. Ensuring companies adhere to responsible business practices is essential to manage social, reputational, legal and economic risks. The Government of Canada expects Canadian companies active abroad, in any market or country, to respect human rights, operate lawfully and conduct their activities in a responsible manner consistent with international standards such as the UN “Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights” and the OECD “Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises”. Among other things, the Government of Canada expects Canadian companies to adopt global best practices with respect to supply chain due diligence in order to eliminate the direct or indirect risk of involvement in any forced labour or other human rights abuses.
Please be assured that the promotion and protection of human rights are core priorities of Canada’s foreign policy. The Government of Canada will continue to raise its concerns regarding the human rights situation in Xinjiang and all of China, and will continue to call on China to live up to its international obligations.Question No. 131--Mr. Robert Kitchen
With regard to isolation housing or quarantine facilities provided to foreign visitors to Canada during the pandemic: (a) how many foreign visitors have required the government to provide isolation housing or quarantine facilities upon arrival to Canada since March 2020; (b) what is the monthly breakdown of the amount spent on housing or quarantine facilities to foreign visitors; and (c) are foreign visitors required to reimburse Canadian taxpayers for the costs related to isolation housing or quarantine facilities, and, if so, (i) how many visitors have paid reimbursements, (ii) what is the total dollar amount collected by the government for such reimbursements?Mr. Darren Fisher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), federal quarantine facilities are for any travellers arriving in Canada who do not have suitable options to self-isolate or quarantine through their own means. To date, the Public Health Agency of Canada, PHAC, has housed approximately 32 foreign nationals in federally designated quarantine sites. This excludes repatriation of cruise ship passengers in March 2020. This accounts for less than 3% of travellers who have used these facilities.
With regard to (b), due to current contracting activities, including potential competitive processes, the exact breakdown of costs cannot be publicly disclosed at this time.
With regard to (c), no, foreign visitors are not required to reimburse the Government of Canada for their stay in federally designated sites. With regard to c)(i), PHAC has received quarantine cost reimbursements, approximately $40,000, from a small number of foreign national crew members of four foreign vessels, because there was a failure by shipping agents to abide by public health measures upon entering Canada. With regard to c)(ii), to date, PHAC has invoiced approximately $40,000 to shipping agents for the quarantine of their crew members in federally designated sites.Question No. 133--Mr. Dean Allison
With regard to the Veterans Affairs Canada area offices, which have all been closed to veterans since March 2020: (a) which offices have reopened to clients and what was the reopening date of each office; and (b) of the offices that are still closed, what is the projected reopening date when they will be open to clients, broken down by location?Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), Veterans Affairs Canada continues to serve veterans and their families by phone and online. In addition to regular services, Veterans Affairs Canada has reached out to 18,000 vulnerable clients since the beginning of the pandemic.
With regard to (b), the health, safety and well-being of veterans and their families, as well as Veterans Affairs Canada employees, is the priority of Veterans Affairs Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Essentially, all Veterans Affairs Canada employees are equipped to work remotely, enabling Veterans Affairs Canada to continue to provide services to veterans and their families in the midst of this global pandemic.
Veterans Affairs Canada will continue to take guidance from public health officials and work with its partners across government to support easing restrictions in a gradual, phased and controlled manner that prioritizes the health and safety of employees and those accessing services at departmental buildings. While access to Veterans Affairs Canada offices is suspended, veterans and their families are still accessing Veterans Affairs Canada programs and services. Veterans Affairs Canada staff are available, working remotely and prioritizing getting benefits to veterans in greatest need.Question No. 134--Mrs. Rosemarie Falk
With regard to sanitizer product purchases since March 13, 2020: (a) how many litres in total have been purchased; (b) of the amount in (a), (i) how many litres have been distributed through the government distribution system, (ii) how many litres of sanitizer have been purchased from off-shore suppliers, (iii) how many litres of sanitizer have been purchased from domestic suppliers; (c) of the amount in (a), how many litres have been purchased from suppliers that have been recalled by Health Canada; (d) have any sanitizers on the recall lists been distributed to Canadian health care providers; and (e) how is the government tracking sanitizer products and other personal protective equipment that has been distributed but later recalled?Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), 20,649,819 litres have been purchased.
With regard to (b)(i), 20,649,819 litres have been distributed through the government distribution system.
With regard to (b)(ii), 10,243,813 litres of sanitizer have been purchased from offshore suppliers.
With regard to (b)(iii), 10,406,006 litres of sanitizer have been purchased from domestic suppliers.
With regard to (c) of the amount in (a), none of the sanitizer purchased by PSPC has been recalled.
With regard to (d), none of the sanitizer purchased by PSPC has been recalled.
With regard to (e), none of the sanitizer or personal protective equipment purchased by PSPC has been recalled.
Mr. Speaker, if the government's response to Questions Nos. 126, 127, 129, 130, 132 and 135 to 137 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Question No. 126--Ms. Nelly Shin
With regard to spending on stock photographs or images by the government since December 1, 2019, broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation, and other government entity: (a) what is the total amount spent; and (b) what are the details of each contract or expenditure, including (i) vendor, (ii) amount, (iii) details and duration of the contract, (iv) date, (v) number of photographs or images purchased, (vi) where were the photographs or images used (Internet, billboards, etc.), (vii) description of advertising campaign, (viii) file number of the contract?
(Return tabled)Question No. 127--Ms. Rachael Harder
With regard to government expenditures on membership fees, broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation, or other government entity, since December 1, 2019: (a) how much money has been spent; and (b) what are the details of each expenditure, including the (i) name of the organization or vendor, (ii) date of purchase, (iii) amount, (iv) number of memberships purchased?
(Return tabled)Question No. 129--Mr. Kenny Chiu
With regard to federal funding in the constituency of Steveston—Richmond East, between January 2019 and October 2020: (a) what applications for funding have been received, including for each the (i) name of the applicant, (ii) department, (iii) program and sub-program under which they applied for funding, (iv) date of the application, (v) amount applied for, (vi) whether the funding has been approved or not, (vii) total amount of funding allocated, if the funding was approved, (viii) project description or purpose of funding; (b) what funds, grants, loans, and loan guarantees has the government issued through its various departments and agencies in the constituency of Steveston—Richmond East that did not require a direct application from the applicant, including for each the (i) name of the recipient, (ii) department, (iii) program and sub-program under which they received funding, (iv) total amount of funding allocated, if the funding was approved, (v) project description or purpose of funding; and (c) what projects have been funded in the constituency of Steveston—Richmond East by recipients tasked with subgranting government funds (e.g. Community Foundations of Canada), including for each the (i) name of the recipient, (ii) department, (iii) program and sub-program under which they received funding, (iv) total amount of funding allocated, if the funding was approved, (v) project description or purpose of funding?
(Return tabled)Question No. 130--Mrs. Karen Vecchio
With regard to the electronic format of documents provided through the Access to Information and Privacy Act and the government’s digital government strategy: (a) which institutions still provide large files, such as those too large for transmission via email, to the individual making the request using CDs or DVDs; (b) for those institutions that use a different format, such as e-post or USB sticks, for providing large files to the individual making the request, which format is used; (c) does each institution in (a) plan on transitioning to a format that does not require an optical disc drive, and, if so, what are the details, including the timeline; and (d) of the computers and laptops purchased by the government in the past two years, approximately what percentage of the (i) computers, (ii) laptops, contained an optical disc drive required to read CDs or DVDs?
(Return tabled)Question No. 132--Mr. Dean Allison
With regard to Service Canada Centres: (a) which centres have reopened to the public since the shutdown in March 2020, and what was the reopening date for each location; and (b) what is the projected reopening date for each of the locations still closed to the public, broken down by location?
(Return tabled)Question No. 135--Mr. Michael D. Chong
With regard to Canadian drone technology being used by the Azerbaijani military after being exported through Turkey: (a) why did the government reinstate export permits of military equipment to Turkey in the spring of 2020; (b) were there any assurances provided to the government that the exported military equipment would not be used against Armenia and, if so, what are the details of any such assurances; (c) what are the details of all military equipment exported to Turkey to January 1, 2019, including (i) supplier, (ii) description of equipment, including volume, (iii) value, (iv) intended purpose of equipment, as written on the application; and (d) what are all details of any documents, including correspondence, sent or received by the Minister of International Development or her office relating to military exports, including (i) date, (ii) sender, (iii) recipients, (iv) title, (v) format (memorandum, email), (vi) file number, (vii) summary of content?
(Return tabled)Question No. 136--Mr. Marc Dalton
With regard to the Canadian government's reaction to the report from the United Kingdom's National Cyber Security Centre and Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, which indicated that Huawei 5G technology could put national security at risk: (a) has the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security conducted its own Huawei risk assessment, and, if so, what were the results; and (b) has any other government department or agency conducted a risk assessment in relation to Huawei, and, if so, what are the details, including the scope of the assessment and the results?
(Return tabled)Question No. 137--Mr. Arnold Viersen
With regard to the government’s Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles program and the purchase and lease incentives which came into effect on May 1, 2019: (a) how many vehicle purchases have qualified for the incentive; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by make and model; (c) what is the total amount paid out to date under the program; and (d) what is the breakdown of how much has been paid out by (i) manufacturer, (ii) dealership, including the location and name of each dealership?
Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
Some hon. members: Agreed.