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43rd PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 050

CONTENTS

Tuesday, January 26, 2021




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 150
No. 050
2nd SESSION
43rd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    Yesterday, the government failed to move a unanimous motion concerning a bill that must be passed immediately. The government claimed to be outraged about this situation. I am certain you will find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion: That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, a bill standing on the Order Paper in the name of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, entitled An Act to amend the Canada Recovery Benefits Act and the Customs Act, be deemed to have been introduced and read a first time.
     This being a hybrid sitting of the House, for the sake of clarity, I will only ask those who are opposed to the request to express their disagreement.
    Accordingly, all those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.

[English]

Petitions

Farmers' Protests in India 

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table my second petition as a Conservative member of Parliament. It is for concerned Canadians regarding the safety of farmers from the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana who are protesting domestic legislative changes affecting their livelihoods.
    Legislative independence of sovereign nations must be respected, but Canada will always stand for the protection of fundamental freedoms, both at home and around the world. Indeed, every day is a great day to be a Canadian when we can raise our voices and fight for what we believe in through peaceful protests.
    That is why I stand with the farmers in India who are peacefully protesting. I also stand with my constituents peacefully protesting in Canada, who are making their voices heard through tractor rallies, car rallies, car decals and daily protests in my riding.
    They are being heard. Their voices are elevated today. Without farmers, we do not have food and we do not have a future.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy  

    Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting petition e-2868, with 3,710 signatures. It is petitioning the Minister of Health regarding a rare disease, spinal muscular atrophy. Health Canada has just approved a gene therapy called Zolgensma that can be close to a cure if administered before the age of two, but it costs $2.8 million per dose. The petitioners are asking the federal government to work with the provinces to help families with the high cost of these treatments and with other rare diseases so that we can save these children.

Physician-Assisted Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to present petition e-2378. This petition has over 1,000 signatures. The petitioners are calling on Parliament to amend legislation on medical assistance in dying to allow for advance requests if individuals have lost cognizance or cannot provide consent prior to the MAID process.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to support the individuals who put forward a petition on behalf of the Uighur community in China. The Chinese Communist Party is impacting them through forced sterilization, abortions, anti-religious indoctrination, arbitrary detention, the separation of children from their families, invasive surveillance, destruction of cultural sites, forced labour and forced organ harvesting. Up to three million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in what can only be described as concentration camps.
    The petitioners are calling on our government to stand up for these people who are being abused in this way by formally recognizing that Uighurs in China have been and are being subject to genocide, and to use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the Magnitsky act, to sanction those who are responsible for the heinous crimes being committed against this community.
    Mr. Speaker, during the summer, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights conducted an investigation into the genocide of Uighur Muslims. All members of Parliament from all parties who sat through those hearings and heard the evidence and survivor testimony agreed that Uighur Muslims are being subject to an ongoing genocide at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
    The petitioners call on the Government of Canada and all of Parliament to recognize this genocide and our commitment and responsibility to protect those who are subject to genocide, impose Magnitsky sanctions against those involved in perpetrating this genocide to hold them accountable and end the global culture of impunity regarding gross human rights violations.

Trans Mountain Pipeline  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to present petitions from constituents in Saanich—Gulf Islands. The petitioners want to underline to the federal government that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would ensure rising greenhouse gas emissions from increased production in the oil sands. They note this is incompatible with the government's commitments on climate change, a point confirmed recently by a report form the Parliamentary Budget Officer. The petitioners call on Parliament not to allow the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, nor the expenditure of public funds while the Government of Canada owns this pipeline.

  (1010)  

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition today that highlights the treatment of the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities by the Chinese government.
    The petitioners believe Canada cannot remain silent in the face of this ongoing atrocity. They are calling upon the Government of Canada to formally recognize that the Uighurs in China have been and are being subject to genocide, and to use the Magnitsky act to sanction those responsible for the heinous crimes being committed against the Uighur people.

Questions on the Order Paper

     The Speaker: Is that agreed?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

    The House resumed from January 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with Canada's favourite grandfather: the member for Cariboo—Prince George. I would remind him of the Speaker's stern warnings not to show any pictures or props of grandchildren. That would be completely inappropriate.
    It is my honour to rise again virtually to speak to Bill C-14. The Liberal government's failure to protect Canadians and the Canadian economy, by approving and acquiring rapid tests and by securing vaccine doses on time, has put us at risk. Of course, the impact on the health of Canadians is the most significant impact, but the issues for the Canadian economy are very serious. Our unemployment rate is among the worst in the G7. Our GDP is continuing to lag behind most other industrialized economies'.
    If Canadians can return safely to work, they will. They will re-energize our economy and bring energy and jobs flooding back to our economy, but the question is whether there will be jobs for them to return to by the time the vaccine rollout is completed, without a plan for the economy. A plan is more than just a willingness, a desire or dream to spend $100 billion. It is an actual plan. Without that plan, the answer to that question may be no, which would be tragic.
    The fiscal update did not provide any concrete answers on how we can recover from the millions of jobs we lost in the pandemic or how we can emerge as one of the world's economic leaders as we did so famously after the great recession. We led the global economy out of that most terrible recession. We need a plan that builds on Canada's proven areas of economic strength, such as energy, manufacturing and information technology. Now is not the time for grand experiments or radical transformations. We need to rely on the reliable, relentless power of our workers, business owners and free-market enterprise.
    The fiscal update and Bill C-14 do nothing to put in the conditions required to empower our workers and job creators to bring prosperity back to our wonderful land. While the fiscal update has little direction, it does have a lot of spending. What the Liberal government is ostensibly asking for is a $500 billion blank cheque. That is a tremendous amount of money. What has the Liberal government done to deserve a rise in the debt threshold to $1.8 trillion? I will repeat that: $1.8 trillion.
    During the pandemic, Liberals have spent the most and gotten the least. We are outpacing all of our G7 counterparts with respect to deficit spending; however, our GDP growth and unemployment rates are among the worst in our peer group. What have the Liberals done to develop and build this trust, to raise the debt ceiling to $1.8 trillion? We have seen repeated violations of Canadians' trust. From the WE scandal to the SNC-Lavalin affair, we have seen breach after breach of Canadians' trust.
    In fact, unbelievably, at the beginning of the pandemic the Liberals exploited the crisis to attempt to obtain an unlimited and unfettered ability to tax and spend. What is more, the finance minister, who said she does not believe in projections, says she will not limit the Liberal government's spending with a fiscal anchor. The fiscal anchor is of course meant to protect the government's finances and protect future generations from an excessive burden of debt.
    The finance minister does say she is putting up guardrails. With respect, Canada's national debt is now over $1 trillion. Our deficit in 2019-20 is going to be over $400 billion. We do not need guardrails. The car is already in the ditch. We need a plan to get out of the ditch. The audacity of asking for $500 billion of additional borrowing authority, given the government's pathetic record of reckless spending and financial mismanagement, is nothing short of shocking.
    Before Canadians can be asked to assume more debt, the government must create a credible economic recovery plan: a path back to fiscal sustainability. To give the government a $500 billion blank cheque would not just be reckless. It would be negligent. Our Conservative Party believes that Canadians, including those not yet born, deserve the opportunity to be prosperous. The government is putting this aspiration at risk.

  (1015)  

    We need to see legislation from the government that offers stability, confidence and compassion. Unfortunately, Bill C-14 offers a lot of spending and a lot of debt, without building the framework for security and prosperity.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague and friend makes reference extensively to the issue of the deficit and the amount of money the government has borrowed. The Government of Canada has recognized the importance of that by investing in Canadians through programs such as the wage loss subsidy for small businesses and, for eight million to nine million Canadians, the CERB program. All are meant to be there to support Canadians through this pandemic.
    Is my friend and colleague trying to suggest that the federal government should not have been supporting Canadians through this pandemic? Following that, would he recognize that the Conservative Party did not do a good job of managing debt while it was in government? Why should we take advice from the Conservatives on deficits?
    Madam Speaker, Conservatives have been clear that we have supported programs like the wage subsidy and CERB. In fact, if the hon. member checks the voting records he will see that.
    The reality is that the Liberal government has bungled some of these plans, such as the wage subsidy. Because the Liberals bungled them and miscommunicated them, they were slow out of the gate, such as with the rent subsidy which, eight months later, the government had to redo. Canadians have felt the brunt of this, and our economics are lagging because of that. Small businesses are lost that will never come back. Employment is lost.
    With respect to the great recession, we led the global community out of it, leading in growth rates, GDP and unemployment numbers. We led back to a balanced budget. Five years after the great recession, we had a balanced budget. I doubt that, under the current Liberal government, we will be anywhere near a balanced budget. In fact, the Liberals' own forecasts say so.
    Madam Speaker, I was talking to Jackie Ryan, who owns Jacqueline's Aesthetics in Port Alberni. She is a constituent of mine. She is self-employed, and her home-based business has struggled immensely since the beginning of the pandemic. First she closed her doors to protect public health. Now she is down 50% because people are afraid to get out into the community.
     Jackie, like many other Canadians, turned to CERB to help pay back the bills and support her family. She would not have been able to buy food or support her children and deal with her prescription medications. Now the Liberals are telling Jackie she needs to pay back the CERB, which she cannot do. She, like many others, is angry. She is disappointed. She is scared. She does not know how she is going to survive the next few months without support from the government, never mind pay this back.
    Does my colleague agree? Does he have constituents who are honest business owners who maybe had a tax-filing year where they showed a loss and a carry-forward, and then were caught in this quagmire, where the Liberals say that they have their backs and they do not? Many women, as we know, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID crisis. This is impacting people like Jackie.
    Does my colleague agree that the government should back off and not be asking people like Jackie to pay back the government for supports it promised them?

  (1020)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his great question and his long history of intervening on behalf of small business owners. I am sure the small business owners in my community also appreciate his great work and interventions.
    The miscommunication that occurred with respect to gross versus net income is nothing short of extremely disappointing. I too have constituents in my riding who are facing audits and other actions from the CRA right now that relate back to poor communication by the government.
    In fact, right now, I have constituents who were collecting the CERB and the government has audited them. Instead of saying, “You provide the proof and we will continue to pay”, the government is actually cutting off the payments before people continue to receive the CERB. These people are just like Jackie. I have thousands of Jackies in my riding who were struggling to get by but are having their benefits cut off because the government lacks compassion.
    Before we go to resuming debate, I notice that there seem to be some technical issues where we have dropped the audio a couple of times on the two previous speakers. I would ask the interpreters, if they are losing the ability to understand what has been said, to let me know somehow and we will have the presenter repeat.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.
    Madam Speaker, we are speaking on Bill C-14, and I want to thank my hon. colleague from Northumberland—Peterborough South. He reminded me of my beautiful granddaughter, and I know I am not allowed to show those photos, so I will not do that again, but if any of my colleagues want to see them, I can do that. We are here to actually speak on serious terms, but I have to say that in troubling times and challenging times, my granddaughter and my family, and all our families, bring us back and remind us what is truly important.
    I want to remind Canadians that it has been almost two years since we have had a federal budget. Unbelievably, and through good faith, our Liberal colleagues in the government have had an unprecedented amount of autonomy with their spending, based on goodwill and good faith collaboration from the opposition. When Canadians needed help the most, the opposition and all parties came together and dropped partisan politics, and we worked together in a team Canada approach. Sadly, we have seen that the Liberals have failed Canadians once again. They blew it, and today they are asking for another $500 billion. They want us to just trust them. They know what is best for Canadians.
    It is disappointing. Our colleague from Courtenay—Alberni mentioned Jackie, his constituent, and her small home-based business that is struggling. As our colleague from Northumberland—Peterborough South mentioned, there are thousands of Jackies right across our country who are failing, whose businesses have been shuttered and have closed their doors. They are facing financial hardship. A Liberal talking point is that they are investing in Canadians. Today, I am going to highlight some of the businesses in my riding that the Liberals have absolutely failed. While I will mention only a few, due to the time that I have to highlight them, I can tell members there are literally thousands of businesses right across our country that have fallen through the cracks and been left behind due to the Liberals' lack of a plan to get relief to those Canadians who need it the most.
     Roy Call is a constituent of mine I have known since I was in high school. Roy's family operates C+ Rodeos in my riding. It is among the top 10 rodeo stock providers in our country. The family has worked and built this operation for over 35 years. Three generations of the family work their ranch. Their stock has been bred for over 35 years and sadly, they have fallen through the cracks. They are among those tourism or events-based businesses that have absolutely fallen through provincial relief programs and federal programs. Repeatedly, we have brought the situations of C+ Rodeos and others to the government and the ministers, trying to work collaboratively with them on that team Canada approach that they so desperately want to foist back on the opposition, saying we should work together.
    Sadly, today if Roy and his family do not receive any help, they have to downsize. In a rodeo performance-based business, what does downsizing mean? It means euthanizing perfectly good, healthy rodeo stock animals. I do not think anybody wants to see us get to that point. That is where we are, with business people having to make those hard decisions.

  (1025)  

    I also want to talk about Central Display, an events-based business, and Jack and Sheldon. They go from community to community and help put on those events that are such economic drivers that our small communities depend on, such as conferences and other events. They provide the resources and services for those events to be put on. When they go into these communities, they temporarily hire local staff. They teach them a skill and hire them to actually provide the services in those communities. They work with dry grad groups and support special groups, like the women's hockey team in Smithers, British Columbia. However, in 2020, they lost in excess of $650,000 and are projected to lose up to $1 million in just the first six months of 2021.
    These are real numbers. The government is asking for more money and it says it wants to invest in Canadians, but that money is not getting to where it is needed the most.
    Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with a lady who was celebrating her 100th birthday, Margaret Sweder. I phoned her to congratulate her on her 100th birthday, and she told me that she was just missing the simple things, like a hug. She is a sweet lady and very sharp. She said that it was the first time she had a call from Ottawa that she actually wanted to take. She thought it was the tax man who was calling. I gave her a virtual hug and made a date with her for tea when the “COVID thing”, as she called it, ceases to exist.
    These are the real stories that I am not sure those across the way get. I could go on about the failed vaccine promises that the Liberals have mentioned. Yet again, we know they have let Canadians down.
     Unbelievably, throughout this pandemic the Liberals have taken the opportunity for pet projects. Unbelievably as well, what they want to do is shutter airport towers just when we need them the most. In our critical time for recovery, they want to shutter airport towers in places like Prince George, my riding, where we have the third-longest runway in Canada. We are part of the northern corridor project and part of the Asia-Pacific gateway. They want to take a key economic driver in our region and shutter the doors. How blind are they?
    The government comes to us, the opposition, to say “Just work with us.” Trust is not just given; it is earned. Respect is not just given; it is earned. Time and time again what we see is that they just do not get it. We see a lot of sabre-rattling where the Prime Minister threatens the opposition with going to an election and talks about a confidence vote. Let me be very clear: The only person who wants an election right now and wants to send Canadians to the polls is the Prime Minister. The rest of us are concerned about our constituents, about the fact that it is unsafe and we are seeing increased closures and quarantine measures.
    This brings me to a very important point, and I want to thank my colleague from Carleton for bringing this up yesterday. He pointed out that there is a very human toll to what is going on here. He said, “The University of Calgary published a study recently showing that there is a two percentage point increase in suicides for every one percentage point increase in unemployment. Imagine the human cost of 7% unemployment.” We also know that substance and alcohol abuse grows with unemployment. Increased isolation and anxiety have led to increased suicide and domestic violence crises.
     We have to do more. Sadly, what we have seen is that the Liberals have left Canadians behind. They have blown it.

  (1030)  

    Madam Speaker, I am glad to see that my colleague had an opportunity to share his picture of his grandchild, and I want to say congratulations to him on that recent addition to his family.
    I did take issue with what he said, when he said that the only person who wants to go to the polls is the Prime Minister and that the rest of us are concerned about our citizens. I think that this government, through the collaboration with all members of this House, has demonstrated that all members of this House are extremely concerned about Canadians and their well-being during this pandemic, but indeed coming out on the other end of it.
    My question is very simple. My colleague talked about businesses in his riding that are suffering. I think it is fair to say that we all have businesses in our ridings that are suffering, but that is exactly why we are investing in Canadians now. Previous Conservative colleagues have gone on about the amount of debt that we have had to take on as a result of supporting businesses. Does he not agree that the investments that were made to support businesses were important to get us through this? If he does not, and if his concern is that we are spending money in the wrong places, can he suggest where he would have not spent money in order to help businesses in his riding and his constituents?
    Madam Speaker, I am glad that my hon. colleague mentioned something about the last year being a little bit tumultuous and that it is an anniversary. I will also let Canadians in the House know that today marks another anniversary. Today marks the very first time I stood in this House to raise the increasing concerns of COVID coming into our country. I suggested that we perhaps look for a plan like shutting our borders to make sure that we do everything in our power to stop COVID from coming in. We were pressing the government for what its plan was.
    To this day, we are still pressing it for what its plan is. What we have seen is that the money we all worked together to provide to Canadians, that we gave autonomy to the government to develop a plan to get to Canadians, has failed.
    The Liberals want to say, time and again, “Well, you voted for it.” Yes, we voted for it, but the responsibility to deliver to Canadians lies right squarely on that front bench. I gave only a few prime examples of the thousands that we have of Canadians who have fallen through the cracks.

  (1035)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his speech and let him know that I would be happy to see the photos of his granddaughter anytime. We need these kinds of positive things in our lives, especially these days.
    In his speech, he talked about Liberal management in general. We were just talking about borders a few minutes ago. I would like to hear my hon. colleague's opinion on the Liberal government's desire to encroach on provincial and Quebec jurisdictions, especially in health care.
    When we look at border management, as well as how the vaccines are being managed, we have every reason to wonder about the federal government's qualifications when it comes to managing health and the national standards it wants to impose on the provinces regarding long-term care facilities. I would like to hear my colleague's opinion on that.
    Does the federal government not have a duty to fund the Quebec and provincial health care systems?
    Does the member think the feds should be interfering in those jurisdictions and imposing standards on the provinces?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, in a time of a global pandemic and a global emergency, it behooves all of us to put away our personal agendas, our provincial agendas and our national agendas, and work together on a team Canada approach.
    There has to be leadership seen from the top, but what we have seen is no plan from the Liberal government: no plan to help the provinces, no plan to assist in getting those vaccines to the people who need them the most, the people in our long-term care facilities, which are facing unprecedented amounts of concern over COVID deaths. We have not learned in the last year. Sadly, we still face the same issues that we faced a year ago. We know more than we did over a year ago, but the Liberals have not been able to develop a plan and they have failed Canadians, writ large.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Brampton East this morning.
    It is great to see the Speaker and all of our colleagues, despite this being in a virtual setting. It is the world we are living in right now.
    Today I have the privilege of speaking to Bill C-14. For those sitting at home, this means the implementation of commitments that were made by our government in the fall economic statement. What I hope to do with my time here today is talk about those commitments and how they relate to what I have heard in my constituency of Kings—Hants and in Nova Scotia, and talk a bit about where I see the future in terms of our economic recovery.
    I will first talk about support announced in the fall economic statement that is part of this bill. There are $1,200 to help support children under six years old in households that are making under $120,000 a year. I cannot say how much I have heard on the doorsteps in my riding of Kings—Hants about the power and benefit of the Canada child benefit and what it has meant for low- and medium-income households to have a little extra money at the end of the month to buy healthy groceries and make sure their dependants have opportunities in recreation, arts and different activities.
    In Kings—Hants alone, though I do not have the exact number, I believe the program means that $15 million or $16 million a month go to my riding. My hon. predecessor, Scott Brison, talked about what this program meant for the people in Kings—Hants and, indeed, across the country. Every member of Parliament in this House could speak about the importance of what this program means. It is a temporary measure. It is $1,200 for 2021, recognizing the fact that families are going through challenges right now and we need to be there for them as a government. It is certainly something I applaud as a parliamentarian, and I expect that all members of the House can speak about the benefit of what this represents.
    I turned 30 not too long ago. I am one of the youngest members in the House and the youngest in the governing party, and I am not too far removed from my days in university. I was fortunate to attend Saint Mary's University in Halifax and Dalhousie for a law degree, and I can say that the cost of education is a challenge for many individuals. I still hold student debt. We need to make sure we are helping to protect those students, in particular, who are most vulnerable. Right now, as I understand it, as part of this bill, 1.4 million Canadian students will not have interest accrue on their student loans during this time. That is extremely important. We know that we need to support our next generation of young workers and leaders in our country, and I certainly applaud the government in this direction.
    I want to talk about long-term health care. In my part of the country, in Nova Scotia, we have seen the challenges in Northwood. There were 51 deaths in long-term care in Northwood. We have seen challenges across the country, in Quebec and Ontario in particular. I have heard from constituents in my riding who reached out to me to say that we need to do more on long-term care, that the federal government needs to be willing to help step up and support, and that is exactly what we announced in the fall economic statement.
    We have dedicated over $500 million to help support the provinces and territories in battling COVID and making sure measures are in place. We know there are probably longer-term conversations that need to happen around long-term care, but this is a meaningful step in the right direction. We recall that during the height of the pandemic, when premiers and provincial governments called upon the Canadian Armed Forces to intervene and help support, we were there to make sure that happened.
    Through the safe restart program, $19 billion went to the provinces and municipal governments to help support them through some of the most challenging times in the pandemic. This is another demonstration of the work this government has been doing to support the provinces and territories, particularly in an area that is extremely important, which of course is long-term care.
    There are also $133 million allocated in Bill C-14 for virtual care. As chair of the rural caucus, I know that for some of our most rural and remote communities having access to care may not allow for a direct relationship. We may in some cases need to be able to access tools and technologies, very similar to the way we are running a national Parliament right now on a Zoom call. We can make sure that telemedicine and telehealth options are available. Given the pandemic, this is extremely important as an interim measure, but in the days ahead it is going to be even more important moving forward.

  (1040)  

    The final piece I want to talk about in the key points I wanted to highlight in this bill is a change under the ability for business owners to access the rent subsidy. Before Christmas, the Minister of Finance, through I think Bill C-9, announced changes on the wage subsidy to help support businesses and simplify support for rent for businesses. This was extremely important in my community of Kings—Hants.
    I live in an area called East Hants about half an hour outside of Halifax. Although Nova Scotia has been spared and we have worked collectively to avoid some of the case counts we have seen across the country, there was a rise in cases just before Christmas that required significant shutdowns, particularly for restaurants and hospitality organizations. This was something they were able to take advantage of. The provision under this act allows them to access the benefit before rent is actually due, which is extremely important because we know cash flow for businesses is challenging, particularly in the hospitality and restaurant sectors.
    I have had the chance to listen in on this debate, which was happening yesterday, and will continue today and I believe tomorrow as well. I want to point something out. I have heard members of the opposition talk about the debt. As someone who considers himself a business Liberal and who certainly appreciates that we have to be fiscally prudent, I recognize that is not a bad direction, but it is hypocrisy.
    There are members in this House who, in one sense, talk about the debt, which is a valid concern and we have to be mindful about managing that in the days ahead, but then in the other sense, they say this government has not done enough. In one breath they say we have taken on too much debt and are concerned about it, and then in the next breath they talk about all the measures the government should have taken further.
    I would like to ask my Conservative colleagues across the way which it is. Is it that they are concerned about the debt and we should not have taken as much on, or is it that we need to do even more for our businesses? Most Canadians at home are going to recognize that talking out both sides of their mouths is hypocrisy.
    I want to finish by talking about where we are going. Yesterday, the member for Carleton talked about the concern with rising debt levels. I agree with him that we need a strong economic strategy on the other side. We have a budget that will be forthcoming, I suspect, in the next couple of months. Our government is focused on ways to drive economic recovery. We have talked about providing up $70 billion to $100 billion of temporary economic stimulus.
    The Minister of Finance has been quite clear, both in this House and outside, that her focus will be on those temporary measures. We have to be mindful of adding large structural spending that is not sustainable over the long term. I applaud her in that regard. Our government is going to have a strong plan to be able to bounce back and manage the debt load by growing our economy. That is traditionally how all countries of the world have been able to do this: growing their economy to be able to make the proportion of the debt to their economy go down and down. That was certainly the case before the pandemic, as we had the lowest unemployment in 40 years and a lowering debt-to-GDP ratio.
    I want to put on the record some things I think are going to be important in the days ahead. The first is child care. This is not just an idea of social programming anymore, this is beneficial. Economists and business leaders around the world are talking about the importance of child care to help support parents getting back into the workplace. That is certainly something we need to see in the days ahead.
    The second is agriculture. As the chair of the rural caucus, the agriculture industry in Canada is extremely important to me. It represents over $130 billion to our GDP and we are poised to be able to grow even further. I hope to see in the days ahead our government leveraging that industry for success.
    I will finish with a few others such as natural resources, particularly our forest industry. I look to British Columbia around mass timber and the success it is having in being able to drive innovative practices and sustainable business practices for our forestry sector. On the Atlantic and the Pacific in our coastal communities, small craft harbours is an extremely important program to help support our fishing community.
    The final point is on regulatory reform and modernization. We are talking a lot about spending, which is important. We are following other OECD countries. We also have to look at ways to leverage the private sector to be able to let it grow and create jobs, and so we have to be creative in the days ahead as well.

  (1045)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to comment on the member's very first statement in regard to the Canada child benefit, which of course we deeply appreciate because we initiated it. However, in speaking to young families in my riding, I had one conversation with a young mom who said the money is so important to them. She said the government is not understanding it is helpful. It was there in addition to the income their family was earning, and now they are in a very perilous situation. She asked why the government was not now taking the money it wants to spend on these various programs and focusing on borders, long-term care, front-line workers with rapid tests and PPE available for Canadians; leaving it at that and letting our economy get back to work, so they can earn the income their family needs.
    Madam Speaker, the member started by talking about the fact that families had lost income and that the Canada child benefit was beneficial. She then seemed to make the parallel that the economy will return back to normal, that all we have do is seal up the borders and get some more PPE, and then everything will be back to normal.
    We have been there for Canadian workers, through the wage subsidy, through the CERB when it was needed, and this is in addition to the CCB. We are providing additional support. We are doing all of those things the member mentioned, including testing, money for PPE and the safe restart program.
    I would ask the member to look at the bill and the measures behind the legislation. We are already doing them.

  (1050)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would first like to wish my colleague a happy belated birthday. He said that he recently turned 30. I, too, completed my university studies not too long ago. I just finished my doctoral studies two and a half years ago.
    It resonated with me when he spoke about the issue of the gradual elimination of interest on the federal portion of student loans. That is an issue that Quebeckers care a lot about. In 2012, there was a major education movement involving more than just students. Society as a whole got involved.
    That being said, to make the connection with my aside, Quebec already has a loans and bursaries program. It would have been nice if there was some compensation announced, compensation for young Quebeckers on a per capita basis for post-secondary students.
    Will the Liberals commit to doing that?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member is asking me, as a member of the governing caucus but not cabinet, for a commitment from government; this is asking in the wrong place. I will steer him to our ministers and our cabinet on the best approach.
    I would certainly agree with the member that students in Quebec are well organized. This is something that Quebec has a history of, making sure that there are lower tuition rates. Quebec is certainly an example within the federation of a province that supports students and has lower tuition costs.
    I know that students in Nova Scotia have talked about the way that Quebec students organized to get that. I would agree with the member in that regard.
    Madam Speaker, before the pandemic, over one million Canadians had been injured in the workplace. We know that when someone is injured in the workplace, every day that goes by without them getting accommodation from their employer means it is harder and harder for them to return to work.
    Right now there is a lack of support and training to scale up workers in return to work disability management. We are hearing about long haulers. Due to COVID, we are going to be in an absolute crisis. The government has not even trained its own HR staff in disability management to prepare its own civil service to get back to work and be accommodated while they are dealing with these injuries due to COVID.
    Would my colleague agree that the federal government needs to invest quickly in training in return to work disability management in institutions like the Pacific Coast University in my riding, so that we are ready for the crisis that could happen, whether it be mental health or COVID itself? Right now, we need to be ready to accommodate workers and get them back to work after they have been injured.
    Madam Speaker, I would agree with my colleague opposite that skills training writ large for individuals, whether they have disabilities or have been impacted by the pandemic and are searching for work, is important.
    I believe our government is focused on this. This is something we are delivering. I would agree with the member, particularly as it relates to individuals with disabilities. Our government has been focused on this for the last five years. We will continue to do so in the days ahead.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to start off by wishing my colleagues a very safe and happy new year. The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented stress and hardship on Canadians, from small business to long-term care homes and front-line and essential workers. Every Canadian has a story to share of how this pandemic has impacted them. Constituents in my riding of Brampton East are concerned about their businesses, the safety of their workers or simply when they can pay a visit to loved ones they have not physically seen in months.
    For said reasons and countless others, the federal government has committed to the implementation of a strong and robust recovery plan presented by our finance minister through the fall economic statement. Our government's message is clear: We will do whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of Canadians for as long as it takes.
    This message extends to our commitment to strengthen the economy by creating one million good jobs, investing in training and skills, creating valuable opportunities for youth and investing in green technologies to help combat climate change. This is a critical component in providing Canadians the support they need in Bill C-14. The economic statement implementation act would help put into action what the fall economic statement set out to do, which is supporting middle-class families, helping students manage their debt and investing in resources that will help better protect Canadians and the economy.
    Amendments to the Income Tax Act will mean that families entitled to the Canada child benefit will receive additional temporary support of up to $1,200 for each child under the age of six. Families have had to transition their entire household routines in order to accommodate more time being spent at home, which means facilitating extra child care, buying additional school supplies to aid in virtual learning or simply helping with the cost of raising a family.
    Throughout 2020, our government saw that families needed our help, which is why we stepped up to provide an extra one-time $300 payment in May and increased the Canada child benefit payment amounts in July. The proposed temporary $1,200 support for families is an increase of almost 20% over the maximum annual CCB payment. Our goal for a stronger and more resilient middle class involves ensuring that families have the resources they need in order to help nourish and support their children's futures. This plan includes a Canada-wide early learning child care program that will help ease the burden of arranging affordable child care. We know that this pandemic has disproportionately affected women. Doing better is not simply a choice, it is a responsibility that this government takes very seriously.
    We will continue to support Canadian students. Our government plans to eliminate the repayment of the federal portion of the Canada student loans and apprenticeship loans from April 2021 to March 2022. Students in Canada can feel a sense of relief once these measures are in place to help them manage their student debt. This investment will help 1.4 million Canadian students who are trying to achieve higher education and ultimately begin their careers. I have listened to their experiences. I know that this support is essential. By easing the federal interest portion of student debt, we are allowing students the opportunity to focus on working toward their career goals and not being worried about incurring additional debt.
    We also provided financial support to post-secondary students and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who were unable to find work last summer due to COVID-19. Eligible students received $1,250 for a four-week period for a maximum of 16 weeks between May 10 and August 29, 2020. Those with a disability or dependants also received an extra $750.
    Most post-secondary students in my riding were unable to access the Canada emergency student benefit and are very positive toward our government's support for students, including the doubling of the Canada student grant amount to a maximum of $6,000 in response to the increased need for the 2020-21 school year.
    Our government is actively creating opportunities for youth, whether that be through the investments of over $300 million into the Canada summer jobs program or the youth employment and skills strategy investment. These investments help young Canadians gain practical experience and make meaningful connections in the workplace. Students need our help. They have adapted to new learning methods and have overcome tremendous adversity during these troubling times, which is why our government is here to lend a helping hand.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has put immense strain on our health care systems. The amendments made to Bill C-14 mean that we can help better protect those most vulnerable, like seniors, by investing through the new safe long-term care fund. This funding will help prevent and manage outbreaks in long-term care homes, which will ultimately help save lives.
    The heartbreak and fear that many Canadians have felt knowing that they have a loved one living in a long-term care home or, God forbid, losing someone to the virus are all too common. We will also be establishing a new national standard for long-term care facilities to ensure that none of our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles or friends must endure a substandard level of care. No person deserves that. Amending the Food and Drugs Act means that we can increase our investments in order to support access to virtual health tools, mental health supports and substance use programming.

  (1055)  

    Asking Canadians to stay at home can impact the mental health of so many. Restricting social interaction for long periods of isolation and job anxiety can take a toll on people's mental health. As the government, we want to make sure that every Canadian has access to the supports they need.
    As we begin this new year, there is a great sense of hope among Canadians. This sense of hope was created by the hard work that was put into composing the largest vaccine portfolio in the world. I was excited to hear that all the long-term care homes in the region of Peel have received doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. As a government, we will continue to ensure that our vaccine rollout happens as efficiently as possible. We will also continue to prioritize those who are at high risk of or vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
    The amendments made in Bill C-14 under the Food and Drugs Act will help our government increase funding to support testing, vaccine procurement and distribution, as well as isolation sites. In November, the federal government, in collaboration with various levels of government, granted $6.5 million to establish an isolation centre for residents of Peel, in my riding of Brampton East, and throughout the region, to isolate safely if they cannot do so safely at home.
    It is imperative that the messaging we continue to convey to Canadians is that we will support them for as long as it takes. That means including investments, such as the one proposed in the fall economic statement, which will help upkeep our efforts for medical research, countermeasures and rapid testing, and ensure that every Canadian can receive the vaccine.
    Adapting to new research and trusting the science our health officials advise us on is how we can best protect the health and safety of Canadians. That is why investing in research is so critical under the presented amendments of Bill C-14.
    The Canadian economy cannot function without the success of our small businesses across the country. Unfortunately, this pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on the ability of our small businesses to succeed. They account for over 90% of all businesses in Canada, and our economy cannot afford to stand back and allow businesses to close their doors. We must continue to provide a prudent fiscal plan that helps businesses stay viable and keeps employees on the payroll.
    The Canada emergency rent subsidy saw over 20,000 organizations apply within the first four days of the application period. As a government, we are also cognizant of employees who have seen a reduction in their working hours or have been told not to come into work. Therefore, supports such as the Canada emergency wage subsidy have been extremely important to small businesses and their employees.
    In my riding of Brampton East, I had the pleasure of speaking with various small business owners who were able to access both programs. I spoke with Mr. Dheri, the general manager of a local Turtle Jack's restaurant, who was thankful to have access to the Canada emergency wage subsidy so that he could keep his employees on the payroll. His is one of the over 350,000 small businesses across Canada accessing the Canada emergency wage subsidy program.
    We want small businesses to be able to open back up once it is safe to do so. As we continue to fight COVID-19, our government will be there for Canadian small businesses every step of the way, so we can safely rebuild our economy and make us stronger than ever before.
    While speaking to constituents, I have heard first-hand their concerns surrounding climate change and the state our children and grandchildren will inherit. Our fall economic statement represents actionable steps and investments to tackle these concerns. By taking steps to making homes greener and more energy efficient, Canadians can reduce their carbon footprint while lowering their energy bills.
    Our government's efforts to establish a network of zero-emission vehicle charging stations across the country in convenient locations, including where we work, live and travel, will help accelerate the use of zero-emission vehicles. We will build on current investments and zero-emission vehicle infrastructure by providing an additional $150 million over three years to help ensure that charging stations are available and conveniently located where and when they are needed. This is on top of the 500 electrical vehicle charging stations at more than 250 locations across Ontario announced last year. Brampton is currently home to many electrical vehicle charging stations, and I look forward to welcoming many more.
    Building back our economy requires a jump-start of investments to help stimulate growth once we get through this pandemic. As we stated in the fall economic statement in November, the federal government will invest billions of dollars over three years to help make this happen. The amendments proposed will help our government continue to make investments in resources to best manage the pandemic and support the recovery of our economy.
    As I said before, there is a sense of hope among Canadians. We will continue to roll out and distribute vaccines over the coming months, and Canadians will be ready to return to a sense of normality. We must support these hopes and ensure that the economy, and Canadians' return, is adaptive, innovative and strong.
    A lot of changes have happened this year due to COVID-19. Working from home has now become common practice among businesses. Students have adapted to online learning, and businesses have amplified their online capacities. The decisions and amendments that we decide on as members of Parliament will allow positive change to come to fruition. It will help us save lives, improve mental health supports, help middle-class families and create a more inclusive economy and society for all. Let us continue to move forward together.

  (1100)  

    Madam Speaker, we are here today to discuss something very significant. We are looking at massive spending and an increase of $500 billion in the debt ceiling, but we have not received a budget in over two years. We do not have detailed information on how the money that is currently in the deficit has been spent. While yes, a significant portion of the deficit spending went toward the emergency benefits, not all of that spending did. There is a great deal of money that has yet to be accounted for.
    Could the hon. colleague give us some indication of when we will get information about what that money was spent on and when we will get a budget, before we approve this substantial increase in the debt ceiling?

  (1105)  

    Madam Speaker, the notion of accumulating debt at a much lower interest rate than individual Canadians can access on their own and not thoroughly helping Canadians through the biggest crisis of our lifetime was not a question our government was willing to ponder. We were not going to consider putting austerity or partisanship above supporting Canadians through this crisis.
    The significant federal support provided throughout the pandemic is working well to put Canada in a stronger position for a robust recovery, especially when compared to our international peers. This stimulus will help us grow out of this recession toward an economy that is greener, more innovative, more inclusive and more competitive.
    The opposition loves pointing to this, but we ask the Conservatives what they would have cut out to save money. Would they cut supports to businesses or to Canadian workers? To this they have no response.
    As I said earlier, our government will always be there for Canadians.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to greet all of my colleagues in this new year.
    My question is very simple. I spent the holidays talking to my constituents in Laurentides—Labelle and one question kept coming up: When there is a desperate need for health care services, how is it that the government, who claims to be there for us, is not taking any concrete measures to distribute the money that the provinces, particularly Quebec, need? Everyone was unanimous and came together on this issue.
    There are things that the government needs to take care of, but unfortunately, it is not giving the provinces what it should.
    I would like my colleague to tell us why transfers are still not being made.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the federal government has been there with the provinces through the safe restart program, which was really important across the board and across the country in supporting provinces in terms of increased testing capacity, contact tracing and other federal support programs through the health agencies.
    Bill C-14, the bill we are discussing today, is extremely important to so many Canadian families, and I would like to mention a few things on that end.
    Inequality makes our economy less resilient. We are committed to building back a more inclusive Canada, but I am also proud of our efforts to support middle-class families throughout the pandemic, as well as our support to our promises. For families, in addition to the Canada child benefit, the government quickly provided the Canada emergency response benefit, along with many other supports.
    I have heard from parents in my riding who had to buy additional school supplies to support virtual learning for their children. Bill C-14 includes measures that would introduce a temporary and immediate support for low and middle-income families entitled to the Canada child benefit. Over 18,000 families in Brampton East, including 30,000 children, have been supported through this program, so I know the federal government has been there—
    I want to give the opportunity for another question.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre, with a brief question, please.
    Madam Speaker, although my hon. colleague speaks about nobody being left behind, in my riding of Winnipeg Centre, we currently have cases of trench fever, a disease of extreme poverty, occurring in the middle of a pandemic. I would also like to remind him of other people who have been left behind, such as students, disabled persons and seniors in long-term care homes.
     Let us not forget the government's current climate bill, Bill C-12, which will not allow us to meet our climate targets. In the midst of all of this, the vaccine rollout is not happening. We know the impacts of the climate emergency are exacerbating the pandemic.
    I would like my colleague to let Canadians know what his government plans to do, outside of political sound bites, to make sure that people are really not left behind.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg Centre mentioned many different subjects and various topics. What I would like to focus on is students and on our relief for students. As I mentioned in my remarks, I have spoken to many students who are very appreciative of the government's response. We provided the Canada emergency student benefit. We are doubling the Canada student grant amount to $6,000.
    Bill C-14 proposes to eliminate the interest on repayment of the federal portion of the Canada student and apprenticeship loans for 2021 and 2022. This would bring over $300 million in relief for up to 1.4 million Canadian students.
    This is not just a talking point. This would be real for students and would help put money back into their pockets, so they can support their livelihoods.

  (1110)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères.
    I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-14, which implements certain provisions of the economic statement of November 30, 2020, including adjustments to child benefits and the emergency rent benefit, as well as provisions affecting student loan interest. It also puts certain provisions in place to facilitate the importing of foreign COVID-19 vaccines.
    I would like to comment on some of the bill's measures. It is normal to want to support students during this crisis. However, we must remember that Quebec has its own loan and bursaries program. We must therefore ensure that these measures will not put Quebec students at a disadvantage.
    Two provisions of the bill will help expedite the distribution in Canada of COVID-19 vaccines produced abroad, but there is still nothing to facilitate local production. That would require reintroducing the amendments to the Patent Act that the government introduced in the spring but ultimately allowed to die on the Order Paper on September 30.
    The delayed delivery of the Pfizer vaccine and the headache that this has created for Quebec and the provinces is a clear example of the ramifications of Canada's overreliance with respect to medical procurement. Investments of almost $1 billion were included in the economic update to increase the production of vaccines in Canada. We will have to carefully monitor the federal government's handling of these investments.
    It is definitely unfortunate that the economic update does not provide for an additional and sustainable increase in health transfers considering that the federal government currently covers only 22% of health care costs when it should cover half. Additionally, the amounts allocated by this bill to long-term care again bring to the fore the federal government's desire to impose so-called national standards for health care. Quebec and the provinces would not accept this blatant intrusion into their jurisdiction when the federal government has failed miserably in carrying out its responsibilities to address the health crisis, for example on such issues as border control and vaccine supply.
    The bill makes no mention of other measures in the November 30 economic statement, leaving our businesses in complete uncertainty. What about the credit programs for hard hit sectors? A year into the pandemic the federal government is indicating that it is still not prepared to help the tourism and hospitality sector or arts and culture. It is also frustrating that the federal government is still failing new entrepreneurs, whose fearlessness is at the very heart of our economy, who often have to make major sacrifices to start their business and achieve their dream, and who are now facing the agonizing prospect of bankruptcy.
    I would like to read a letter that three young entrepreneurs in my riding sent to the Minister of Finance before Christmas and to which no one has yet bothered to respond.
    Dear Minister of Finance,
    My name is Joanie Raymond. I am 26 years old. I have been working in the restaurant industry for the past 8 years.
    One year ago, with two other people, Dominik (26) and Veronique (33), after saving some money and borrowing some from friends and family, we collected $250,000.00 and we decided to pursue our dream of opening a restaurant.
    We invested $250,000.00 with the group, Barbies Resto Bar Grill, a Quebec based chain and we started working to build our restaurant in the city of Ste-Julie in Quebec.
    Our first target opening date was to be March 1st 2020 but with a couple of small delays, the opening date was moved to March 27th 2020.
    Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 and the first lockdown we were only able to open June 22nd 2020 at the end of the first lockdown.
    We started paying rent March 1st 2020. We started having a small payroll in March 2020. We have our GST, QST numbers, we had our CRA business number, everything was set to go.
    Based on all eligibility criteria set out in the beginning of the pandemic, we were not eligible to receive any rent subsidy (CERS) from March 15th 2020 to September 30th 2020.

  (1115)  

     Also, we were not eligible for any wage subsidy (CEWS) from June 22nd to September 30th 2020. Even though it was difficult for our restaurant as all other restaurants, we did understand that were not lucky and we hoped for better future days for our business.
    With the second lockdown since October 1st 2020 we are still not able to receive any rent or wage subsidy. The drop in revenue is still only for businesses that were open in 2019 or January/February 2020.
    We are the forgotten ones. As the pandemic progresses, Mrs. Freeland, we see our dreams turning to ashes. Our hope is vanishing and we only see dark days ahead of us.
    We pay rent, we invested $250,000.00 of our savings and $1,000,000.00 in loans.
    Bankruptcy is imminent for business like ours.
    Is any help on the way for us? Or should we simply lock our doors declare personal bankruptcy and never dare to purse a dream again?
    We would like to have an answer from you.
    If you decide there is no help for us at least we know and we go back to a miserable life.
    Christmas holidays are approaching and for us it's usually a time to celebrate but this time for us it's of mourning.
    WE NEED HELP, late is better than never.
    Our head office sent several emails to you and to the Liberal MP in Brossard.
    We wait to hear from you.
    Let us know if you plan to help us or not or simply forget about us.
     Thank you from all of us, Joanie, Veronique and Dominik.
    This letter was signed by Joanie Raymond. Our young entrepreneurs need help.
    Another change the government should have made has to do with the minimum withdrawals seniors make from their RRIFs.
    In early spring last year, the government lowered the minimum amount that seniors had to withdraw. However, in the meantime, some of them had already withdrawn the full mandatory minimum from their RRIFs. They wanted to be able to put the difference back into their RRIFs, but the federal government refused.
    The problem is that these retirees, having met their obligations promptly, are financially disadvantaged by the change the government made mid-fiscal year. Not only will they have to pay taxes on the excess amount they withdrew under the previously legislated provisions, but the excess amount withdrawn will not be allowed to continue to grow in their RRIFs.
    We have consistently advocated for measures to financially support our seniors, who are particularly affected in many ways by the current health crisis. In this case, however, it is the federal government itself which, in addition to being ungenerous to seniors to date, is penalizing some seniors who have been more willing to comply with their legal obligations. This is patently unfair to them. Worse still, all RRIF recipients are being penalized in some way by this measure, which has the effect of reducing the tax exemption they can benefit from.
    My colleague for Joliette and Bloc Québécois finance critic spoke several times with the minister and her team to get the government to finally correct this measure, but ultimately received a cryptic, cold and insensitive response that seniors who had withdrawn the minimum amount from their RRIFs prior to last spring's announcement would not have faced the market volatility associated with the health crisis and that their withdrawal would have been proportional to their assets at the time.
    What can be understood from such a response? It is the exact opposite of the empathy we would expect from the government towards those to whom we owe the prosperity that the government has been able to lavish on just about everyone but them.
    Perhaps it is not too late for the government to finally listen to reason and correct what needs to be corrected.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Montarville, who is always very eloquent and a pleasure to hear.
    I know that I often come back to the issue of health transfers. My colleague mentioned that a bit in his speech. I would like to hear him elaborate on this topic and tell us more about federal interference in provincial health care systems, which obviously fall under provincial jurisdiction.
    I would like to hear him more specifically on this topic. What does he think should be done about seniors care?

  (1120)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    I know that he is very interested in what is happening in Sainte-Julie, which I mentioned in my speech. I also understand his concern about health transfers, which the government has not increased, despite the fact that we are right in the middle of a health crisis that requires major investments in health care.
    The federal government has been very generous to just about everyone and every sector, but it has not made the health care investments that it should have for a long time. We are now seeing the results of that, as this health crisis has tested the limits of our health care system. These limits were reached because of the federal government's drastic cuts in recent years.
    We would have expected that, at least in its own areas of jurisdiction, such as border control and vaccine supply, the federal government would be at least somewhat effective, but this is not the case. Instead, it is once again looking at the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces with a view to imposing so-called national standards for long-term care. Rather than trying to impose so-called national standards, it should reinvest massively in health care.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague made reference to health care. He is not accurate when he indicates that the federal government has not provided ongoing and continual support for health care in all regions of the country. There has been additional spending on issues such as mental health and more support for long-term care, which is a huge issue across the country.
    Could the hon. member reflect on the hundreds of millions of additional dollars that have been invested in the provincial restart programs for health care? I am wondering if he just forget about that money. Could he provide some additional comments on the allocations that have been provided to provinces?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I never said that the federal government was not investing money in health. What I am saying, simply put, is that it is too little, too late. As I said earlier, we have seen the limits of our health system, limits that exist in large part because, over the past few years, the federal government has gradually but steadily cut back its health care contribution. That is why our provinces were poorly equipped to deal with an unexpected crisis. They were already struggling to make ends meet and provide basic services, so when this global health crisis struck, they were overwhelmed.
    Extra federal cash injections were too small and came way too late. Now that the federal government is burning through cash, there is still time for it to get its act together and boost transfers significantly so that the provinces can both deal with the crisis and do a better job of delivering on their health care responsibilities.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Montarville for his outstanding speech. I was very touched by his testimony and the letter he read. When the government does not get the message, it is important to do something and find other ways to get the message across, and this was a good one.
    I am going to focus on one particular aspect of the economic update, namely transportation, my critic portfolio. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has really had a negative impact on the transportation industry, specifically air transportation, which is experiencing a serious crisis.
    We had high expectations for the economic update, and we were really hoping for something major, since we had been promised for months that there would be help for air transportation. On reading the economic update, however, specifically the section on the air sector on page 32, we learned that the government was simply going to continue negotiating with the airlines to establish a financial assistance process. I was floored.
    Air sector workers have been struggling since March. They are out of work, with no income. The government has been saying for months that it will find a way to help them by talking to the companies and by taking action, but it turns out those were nothing but empty promises. This economic update is from November 30. It was bad enough in November, but today is January 26. It is almost March and nothing has happened. All these workers will have been out of work for a year, yet there is still no assistance for air transportation.
    It gets worse. Many people had purchased plane tickets but never received refunds. The government did absolutely nothing to defend them or protect them. However, page 32 of that economic statement says that “the government will ensure Canadians are refunded for cancelled flights.” That is good news, but it had already been announced way back on November 8.
    On that date, the then transport minister released a statement in which he promised that, before the government spent even one penny of taxpayer money on airlines, it would ensure that Canadians got their refunds. Nevertheless, today, January 26, 2021, travellers have still not been refunded. As a result, yesterday, a court delivered an initial ruling and ordered an airline to refund a couple from Rimouski, Quebec.
    It is unfortunate that the current government is not doing anything about this critical situation and that people are suffering because of it. It is particularly disappointing because the government is supposed to govern and make decisions when the situation warrants it. We, on this side of the House, are putting pressure on the government, pushing it to take action. We tabled a petition signed by 33,000 people calling on the government to comply and require refunds for travellers. We introduced Bill C-249 to reiterate that travellers have the right to be refunded.
    A new Minister of Transport was recently appointed, perhaps to cover up for his predecessor's incompetence, and he immediately said that he would continue to seek a solution so that travellers get refunded. We are pleased with his initial reaction, but a solution already exists. All the government has to do is pass Bill C-249 and order airlines to refund travellers. The government has never really told the airlines that. Instead, it prefers to repeat that it is looking for a solution and working on the issue. This is not complicated. When a service is not provided, the consumer needs to be refunded. That is the law, and it just makes sense. If I order a pizza and it never gets delivered, that is too bad, but I will get a refund. That is how it should be.
    I am flabbergasted at the government's complete lack of action on urgent issues affecting people's daily lives. I spoke about tickets and about unemployed workers who are struggling, but there is also the fact that the government's actions with regard to air transportation have been rather inconsistent.
    The government is telling people not to travel and has been repeating that for the past few days and weeks, but it is not actually doing anything to stop people from travelling.

  (1125)  

    On January 2, the day after New Year's Day, people who had spent Christmas without their families and without gathering with loved ones, as they would have liked to do, found out that people who had decided to take non-essential trips south or elsewhere around the globe qualified for $1,000 in compensation from the government. This is unbelievable, and it is frustrating, too.
    It took a while for the government to wake up and realize that maybe it needed to do something. It finally decided to take action, but it said its measures would only start in January, so they would not apply to people who had travelled before January. It is wrong to reward people who did not follow public health guidelines.
    The same applies to border control. There is still no ban on non-essential travel, even though this has been a problem for several months now. It is nearly February, and this is still a problem. There is still no monitoring of people in quarantine. The only measure is automated calls where people press a number to indicate they are complying with the quarantine. It is frankly absurd. Even people who chose to travel have criticized the situation, saying it is ridiculous. That is the kind of job the federal government is doing.
    In the meantime, customs officers are not very busy at the border, so they could help with monitoring people in quarantine.
    The Government of Quebec is asking for help in getting the authorization and additional powers to do what the federal government is not doing, namely monitoring quarantine enforcement at the border.
    A month after Christmas, the government still has not made a decision on a sector in crisis. That is unacceptable to me.
    The economic update also addresses the issue of regional air transportation. It is nice that the government realizes that there is a problem. Again, the problem has been going on for months. In March, Air Canada announced, brutally and without warning, that it was cutting 30 regional routes. The regions' first reaction was to say good riddance. They were fed up with seeing the airline disrepect the competition, cancel flights without notice and slash prices only to jack them back up. The regions decided to find another solution. In Quebec, they decided to establish a group to look at the problem with the Union des municipalités du Québec, the Fédération québécoise des municipalités, tourism associations and the Government of Quebec and come up with solutions.
    Do you know what happened? They asked the Minister of Transport to come and meet with them, to talk to them and listen to what they had to say. However, the Minister of Transport did not even bother to meet with them. In the middle of the crisis, 30 regional routes have been cut and certain regions of Quebec are now without service, but the Minister of Transport is so familiar with the problem that he does not need to listen to them. He does not need to hear from mayors, businesses, or the tourism industry. He does not even need to hear from the Quebec government.
    In fact, that is what the Minister of Revenue and member for Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine said when we toured her riding over the summer. I heard her on the radio saying that we see the trees, but the minister saw the forest. He is so familiar with it that he does not even need to talk to people. That is serious.
    This frustration of not being able to talk to the minister is something that I heard from the airline industry. The airports were not able to talk to the minister, the airlines were not able to talk to the minister, and the pilots were not able to talk to the minister. No one was able to talk to the minister, and the minister did nothing. At some point, people got fed up. It is frustrating. I think that this is part of the reason for the change of minister.
    We hope that the new minister will make some changes and that the government will get a move on, because this is a bad situation. A government that does absolutely nothing and makes no decisions is a very bad thing.
    Worse still, here is one of the first things that happened in the regional air transportation sector after the crisis. Nav Canada was having trouble making ends meet, so it decided to jack up its fees by 30%. When Nav Canada asked the minister for help, the minister told it to figure things out and charge airlines that were already struggling 30% more for its services. In turn, airlines raised ticket prices, so fewer people travelled by plane. It is all nonsensical. To top it off, there is no more regional transportation.
    The same thing happened with airports. The government made a big deal about rent relief for airports, but that was only for large airports. What people do not know is that rent relief is based on fees. If there is no money coming in, there is no rent to pay. The same goes for the airport assistance program. Much was made of investment assistance, but that does not help pay the bills. If they do not have any money, how are they supposed to invest?
    That is what I wanted to say about the government's treatment of the air sector in its economic update. It is very disappointing indeed.

  (1130)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I really appreciate my colleague's comments regarding the people who are being impacted by the pandemic. One example is flight attendants. We know many are out of work. Through no fault of their own, people are losing their jobs right now, and their livelihoods and lives are currently at risk.
    Does my hon. colleague support putting in place a guaranteed livable basic income for impacted workers and other people who have been left behind during the pandemic? These are seniors, students, disabled persons, and temporary foreign and migrant workers, who we know, in some cases, have had very extreme human rights violations perpetrated against them by their employers. Would my hon. colleague support implementing a guaranteed livable basic income to ensure that nobody is left behind?

  (1135)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I have to say, I do not really see the link between what she is asking and the speech I just gave, but her question is interesting nonetheless.
     I think it is important to support people to give them a decent income, to get poverty under control and to ensure that everyone has a chance in life. However, what sometimes worries me about these kinds of measures is that we already have social programs in Quebec. I think federal interference in the programs under Quebec jurisdiction is a bad idea. That is the problem I have with the NDP wanting the federal government to tell Quebec what to do. We do not want that.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, in his speech, my colleague mentioned the airline industry, and I think it is very important he mentioned that the airline industry has not yet paid back the people. We have been pressuring the government to make this happen, but it has been slow on its feet, and this should be given immediate attention.
    Many of the airlines cancelled flights on people who had paid thousands of dollars for a trip with their families. They then found out that not only was the trip cancelled, but they had lost their jobs in the meantime. Some put this on a credit card and are now paying interest on that debt, but they do not have the service back. The airlines are taking that money and keeping it, giving the customer a voucher. The customer is actually paying the interest charges, so the airline industry is getting a free loan.
    Does the member think it is imperative for this to be stopped immediately and that the airlines have to pay back the money people have paid, with interest?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for that really important question.
    Unfortunately, I do not think the federal government has even looked at cases like this yet, cases where people are struggling with debts to pay, with credit card balances to pay off. People often plan to pay for their trips after they return from their travels and go back to work, but what do they do when they have no job to go back to?
    It is absolutely clear that companies that hang on to money paid for services not rendered must refund that money. What is even clearer is that we have a government in Ottawa that is dragging its feet and not fixing this issue, even though that is the government's job.
    Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his presentation.
    He has painted a good picture of the current state of air transportation, and I would like him to comment on the cozy relationship between the government and certain airlines, which he condemned several times. I know that my question must be brief, but the answer requires some context. I will trust my colleague's ability to be succinct.
    Madam Speaker, it will be difficult to give a brief answer to this question.
    This is an example of the willingness to not take action on issues that are affecting people, such as airlines that do not reimburse their clients. Furthermore, the government is giving the wage subsidy to these companies but saying that they will not see federal money until they have reimbursed their clients. However, airlines are receiving money from the government as demonstrated by the $800 million in loans that Air Canada received through Export Development Canada. It is really frustrating to see a government that is not doing what it said it would do.

  (1140)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, happy new year to you and to colleagues. I sincerely hope that 2021 is a big improvement over 2020.
    I will be sharing my time with the member for Acadie—Bathurst.
    When this government was first elected in 2015 and subsequently in 2019, it rightly identified growing income inequality as a serious threat to a free and democratic society. Several initiatives were taken, including the raising of the upper tax bracket and the lowering of a middle bracket, a worthy initiative. However, clearly the most significant initiative was the creation of the Canada child benefit, a direct cash benefit to low-income families with young children. Pre-pandemic, this meant more than $100 million had been allocated to Scarborough—Guildwood. This in turn led to the largest reduction of child poverty of any riding in Canada.
    During the pandemic, the additional CCB funds had been allocated to the benefit of Scarborough—Guildwood and all other ridings. Bill C-14 is proposing a $1,200 benefit for each child under the age of six for eligible families. It is estimated to be an increase of 20% over the maximum Canada child benefit. For Scarborough—Guildwood, that will likely mean an additional $20 million directly into the hands of low-income families. The CCB has had, and continues to have, the desired effect of lifting kids and families out of poverty, supplementing family incomes and reducing wealth inequality.
    I do wish there was a definitive study showing the economic return of the $100 million distributed locally, now estimated to be $120 million spent locally. I would imagine there is a significant economic multiplier. Regrettably, however, a benefit is not a job. Life and economics are never that simple, but I dare say that given the choice, most parents would prefer to have a decent, if modest, job that feeds their family rather than a government benefit.
    Then along comes the pandemic and knocks the most vulnerable for a loop. It is hard for people to provide for their families when they do not have jobs. Quite properly, the Government of Canada stepped in with an array of benefits, the most significant of which is the Canada emergency response benefit, known colloquially as CERB. I do not know the gross amount of CERB funds given to Scarborough—Guildwood, but it is certainly in the tens of millions of dollars, if not hundreds of millions. However, again, a benefit is not a job.
    What has been revealed over time is really a tale of two pandemic economies. Those earning salaries calculated to be in the order of $40 per hour or more have not only survived, but thrived. They have in many instances prospered with both increased income and increased capital assets, such as homes, businesses, properties, etc. However, those in the $15 to $20 range have been devastated, slipping closer and closer to absolute poverty, with attendant worries about food and housing insecurity. Regrettably, the biggest pop-up business in Scarborough—Guildwood has been the proliferation of food banks. Unfortunately, they are doing roaring business.
    This has been a huge setback for income inequality and for the catchphrase “those in the middle class and those wanting to join it”. If this economic disruption continues for much longer, Canada risks a permanent structural inequality that will be devastating for all of us, rich and poor alike. Permanently impoverished citizens are unstable and make the lives of others insecure, hence the rise of security devices and gated communities.
    The pandemic has exposed our vulnerability in supply chains as well. There are no jobs in the $15 to $20 range because of globalization's desire to get the cheapest product the fastest.

  (1145)  

    We do not make PPE, for instance. We cannot create our own vaccines. We line up at box stores to purchase products made everywhere else but here. It is good for others, but not so good for us. These are vulnerabilities that could be papered over in prosperous times, but not so much now.
    I am not so Pollyannaish as to think that Canadians are going to rush out and start buying more expensive Canadian-made products just because they are Canadian. Canadians are pretty tight with their money. I would, however, argue that they might well buy Canadian products made in their community by their neighbours if they thought or knew that the competing product was made by slaves in a foreign country. I would like to believe that Canadian consumers, if they knew, would find the purchase of slave-made products repugnant. However, here we are in 2021 with massive amounts of products being sold in Canada through a supply chain infected with slave labour.
    According to a conservative estimate from the walk free initiative, 40 million people are engaged in modern slavery. World Vision estimates that 1,200 Canadian companies are importing goods made with slave labour.
    Recently, CBC's Marketplace ran a piece on slave labour in the making of the PPE products that we use on a daily basis. The Globe and Mail ran two articles on how Canadian companies use slave labour to build products in China. The Toronto Star wrote a devastating piece on goods coming from foreign sources that the U.S. will not allow to be sold there, but we allow their transshipment into Canada.
    Polls are starting to show that Canadians are becoming increasingly alarmed. Some frame this argument against supply chain slavery in terms of moral repugnance. I share that view. Some frame this argument in terms of universal basic human rights. I also share that view. Few, however, frame it in terms of societal and economic suicide.
    If we as consumers knowingly or unknowingly purchase a product infested by supply chain slavery, we are destroying a job opportunity for a friend or a neighbour or a family member. Remember the tale of the two pandemic economies. Those in the $15 to $20 range are most devastated by the absence of jobs. Any goal of redistributing income equality is out the window. The risk of permanent structural damage to the economy is increased.
    What to do? I appreciate the government seems to becoming more alive to the moral and human rights argument and stepping up the authorities it does have. Time will tell how effective that increased surveillance will be. I, however, would suggest four specific initiatives.
    The first is the intentional use of the government procurement process to shorten the supply chain from global to Canadian. As one person put it in our pre-budget consultation, the supply change should be run up and down the 401.
    Second, let us give the Canadian ombudsperson for responsible enterprise the power to compel companies to respond to inquires on human rights abuses.
    Third, let us make it abundantly clear that the failure to cleanse supply chain slavery from a company's business will immediately result in the denial of consular and/or government financial support.
    Fourth, let us adopt and/or take over Bill S-216, formerly my private member's Bill, bill C-423. It would compel all companies of a certain size to certify to their shareholders and to the Minister of Public Safety that they have examined their supply chains and are satisfied that there is no slave labour present.
    Not only is slavery morally repugnant and a gross abuse of human rights, but it is also in our economic interest to ensure that the products Canadians buy are free of slave labour. Canadian workers are among the best in the world, but they cannot compete with slaves.
    The government's laudable goal of reducing income inequality will never be achieved if infected supply chains are allowed to exist. The Speech from the Throne has many laudable and supportable initiatives, but to not deal forcefully and effectively with supply chain slavery is, in fact, self-defeating.
    I thank the House for the time and attention. I look forward to questions from colleagues.

  (1150)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the speech that my colleague and good friend just gave. I just have one issue, a red flag. He mentioned the importance of changing our supply routes to go up and down the 401. I would like to give him the opportunity to also include supply chains from the east to the west and the north to the south across this great nation.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my friend for pointing that out. I knew, as soon as I wrote that into the speech, that someone would jump on it. It was actually a quote from the Scarborough caucus's pre-budget consultation.
    The member is absolutely right. It is, of course, a supply chain within the nation's borders, not just up and down the 401. However, the point the commentator made was that we need to recognize that we created vulnerabilities for ourselves. There is a lot of conversation in this chamber about vaccines. One of the reasons we have so much vaccine conversation is that we have created a dependency in our own country on other countries supplying such a vital product. If the pandemic teaches us anything, it is that we need to look at those supply chains, particularly for vital products.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to wish you and all my colleagues a happy 2021.
    I want to talk about two seemingly unrelated events that happened last week that are actually more related than people think. At at time when the government is spending billions of dollars to meet people's needs during the pandemic, an indigenous homeless man was found frozen to death in a chemical toilet at 3 a.m. in Montreal. That same week, we learned that the Governor General had been terrorizing her employees for three years while earning $300,000 a year. She will now receive a lifetime pension of $150,000 a year.
    The government has not signed a housing agreement with Quebec for three years. Such an agreement would have made it possible to build social housing for indigenous people in Montreal and could have saved the life of the man who died last week. Meanwhile, the government is going to give a woman who is completely useless and who held a costly position $150,000 a year for life.
    Does my colleague not think that it is high time Canada abolished the monarchy?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the short answer is no.
    Madam Speaker, as we know, small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors, have been hit extremely hard by the pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 on these sectors has been devastating. Many are now facing closure, and the Canadian economy could see hundreds of thousands of jobs lost by the end of February.
    In November, the Liberals announced help through their HASCAP. However, here we are at the end of January and no help has been delivered. The Liberals do not seem to understand how urgently this help is needed. Small businesses cannot wait another few weeks or months; they need help now.
    Will the Liberals tell the House when the hardest-hit businesses will get the help that was promised? How many small businesses are the Liberals willing to let close permanently before they make this help available? It is urgent.
    Madam Speaker, I do not think there is a person, whether on the government side or the other side, who does not recognize the devastation this pandemic has wrought on small businesses in particular and the ability of a lot of them to survive. The government is, in my judgment, alive to the issue.
     The question is how to get the funds to the individuals and businesses. I would say the rent subsidy is one of the ways it is being done, and the wage subsidy is another way it is being done. I think the passage of Bill C-14, therefore, is quite vital for updating the speed that relief comes to small businesses.

  (1155)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood for sharing his time with me today.
    I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-14. I would like to begin by thanking all the essential workers across Canada, particularly those in my riding of Acadie—Bathurst, who have been working in grocery stores, hospitals, long-term care homes and other areas since the very beginning of this pandemic. They are real heroes.

[English]

    I would like to thank all essential workers from the riding of Acadie—Bathurst who have worked tirelessly since this pandemic hit us and spread throughout Canada and throughout the world. They are the real heroes, whether they work in our grocery stores, hospitals or nursing homes. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for being there for us every single day since the pandemic hit us.

[Translation]

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been there for Canadian families. We have provided different types of assistance, including help for workers who have lost their jobs, for example through the CERB. We have been there for businesses in my region and across Canada that have had to close their doors because of this pandemic. The wage subsidy has been a huge help that has enabled them to retain their employees, which is why we will build on those efforts and continue helping Canadian families and workers. We are going to make sure that they have the programs they need to get through these difficult times.
    I was talking about the CERB, but in my region, we have built and grown our economy around certain industries for centuries. I am thinking of fisheries, for example. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a great deal of uncertainty surrounding our fisheries. That is why we put in place, with the Minister of Fisheries and our government, $470 million in funding to assist fishers through this difficult period of instability in the export markets for our seafood. This is an incredible investment in this area, and we must continue to ensure that our fisheries sector thrives for years to come.
    On the subject of families, and without repeating everything my colleagues have said before me, I believe the Canada child benefit is one of the greatest legacies we can leave this country. Thousands and even millions of families have been able to access this program.

[English]

    For the Canada child benefit, the numbers in my riding of Acadie—Bathurst are unbelievable. The last time I checked, $3.5 million is coming to this riding each month, and it is tax free. The numbers are astonishing: The number of children who received the Canada child benefit is 10,520.

[Translation]

    Since we put it in place in 2016, this program has been a tremendous help to families, but when the pandemic hit, we provided additional funding to help these families get through the crisis and have a little more money in their pockets.
    The business loan program is administered by our various regional agencies. I would like to give a shout-out to the CBDCs, here in my riding, in Bathurst or in Tracadie-Sheila, which have been tremendous at helping businesses get through these difficult times. Our financial institutions have made it possible to deliver these business loan programs.
    Bill C-14 is in fact designed to enhance those programs and provide a little more support to those families and businesses in my riding and across Canada. Take students for example. As we have said, we want the interest on student loans to be forgiven. That will give students a break. I am sure that my colleagues know what that is like, having been students, just as I was. It is stressful for students to have to worry about making student loan payments, wondering if they will find a job while in school, especially since that is very difficult right now in New Brunswick, with all the restrictions and closures. No longer having to pay interest will help students get through these difficult times.

  (1200)  

    The enhanced Canada child benefit is another measure that will truly help families in our region. Families with a net income of $120,000 or less will be eligible for up to $1,200 more. Families with a net income over $120,000 will also receive additional money. I hope that my colleagues in the opposition will support this measure to help families across Canada in their respective ridings. As members know, this program helps many Canadian families.
    Once again, we want to give some respite to people struggling with mental health issues and maybe even substance abuse. This pandemic has affected a lot of people, and some have had to isolate for several weeks. This has certainly had a negative impact on mental health. Home is often considered to be a safe space, but that is not always the case. There are many incidents of domestic violence, and we need to put an end to that. This bill will provide much more support for these vulnerable people during the pandemic.
     Earlier I mentioned that the regional relief and recovery fund, or RRRF, has been invaluable to businesses back home. We are going to improve this measure so that more businesses can access the fund, which will be distributed through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, in co-operation with regional agencies such as Community Business Development Corporations, or CBDCs.

[English]

    Eight dollars out of 10 from all the help programs Canadians and people in my riding receive come from the federal government. When I see a province like New Brunswick, which received astonishing amounts of transfer payments under different programs and streams, not helping the people of New Brunswick, it is unacceptable.
    I saw a report today which showed that a lot of the money we transfer to provinces is being left on the table, especially in my home province of New Brunswick. I found it a bit disturbing to see that families who need help in New Brunswick do not receive the funds the federal government transfers to the province. When I look at the numbers, $7,452 in help is coming from the federal government and only $75 in help is coming from the Higgs government right now in the province of New Brunswick.
    We all have to play a role in helping Canadians during this difficult time, during this pandemic. I wish and hope the Government of New Brunswick will use these funds to help businesses and New Brunswickers across my province.

[Translation]

    We will not stop there. We said that every Canadian would be taken care of, and that is what we have endeavoured to do from day one. Through the various programs we have brought in we will be able to get through this difficult period and relaunch our economy.
    I see that I am running out of time, but I forgot to address some things, including about the airports. Budget cuts at different airlines have resulted in my region losing its airport. I am pleased to see that our government will not give any financial assistance to these airlines until our regional connections are restored and Canadian passengers have their tickets refunded.

  (1205)  

    I hope that my colleagues will support Bill C-14 to help Canadian families and our businesses.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are hearing that small businesses and consumers are being crippled by credit card fees. When it comes to interchange fees, we are paying some of the highest interchange fees in the world. In fact, the Liberals have committed to moving credit card companies to a voluntary rate of 1.4%, whereas Europe legislated a cap of 0.3% and Australia, 0.5%.
     In the 42nd Parliament, Bill C-236 was tabled by a former Liberal member of Parliament, Linda Lapointe. She moved that bill 16 times before she dropped it off of the Order Paper. Now the Liberals say they are not in bed with the big banks and the credit card companies, but she abandoned her promise to the Quebec convenience store association and the retail association of Canada by not taking action.
    These credit card companies are making record profits in the middle of COVID. They are not doing their part. We are not all in this together. When is the government going to legislate a cap on interchange fees similar to what Europe and Australia have done instead of putting that on the backs of small businesses and consumers right now in this crisis? It is time for these companies to pay their fair share and it is time for the Liberals to step up to the plate.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
    I think that Canadians have seen that our government has been doing everything it can from day one to help people and businesses get through the tough times we know they are currently facing. That is why we brought in a host of programs to help Canadians weather this crisis.
    Bill C-14 does exactly that. It helps families and businesses and gives them greater flexibility to make the payments they are struggling to make because the economy is sluggish.
    I completely agree with my colleague that we must do everything we can to reduce the financial burden on Canadians as much as possible. I agree that we must look at this matter closely and determine how to improve things in the case of certain companies that, as we know, may be taking advantage of Canadian consumers.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not quite agree that the government is doing everything it can to help businesses. Some sectors, maybe even in the member's part of the country, are still waiting for support programs. I think supporting these sectors, especially the most vulnerable ones, is still urgent.
    Why amend the Canada child benefit in the Income Tax Act only for children under 6? Why not amend it for children age 6 and up too?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    I am a parent too. I have two young daughters who are now in school. As everyone knows, most kids age 6 and under go to day care. Child care is extremely expensive in New Brunswick because we are not as lucky as Quebeckers, who have a provincial child care system.
    I am glad that the government's fall economic statement included an announcement about setting up a national child care program. That kind of program could be a boon to all Canadian families by keeping child care affordable. That is why we want to increase the Canada child benefit by $1,200 per child for low- and middle-income families and by $600 for higher-income families. I think that would really help those families.
    From the start, some provinces, including my own, New Brunswick, have not lifted a finger to help their citizens. I hope they will take their cue from the federal government and enhance the programs we set up for them.

  (1210)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Dufferin—Caledon.
    No one can minimize the very serious effects of COVID-19 and the impact it has had on our individual lives, our communities and our entire country. The times we live in are certainly not normal and the measures that have been implemented to mitigate the harm of the virus have been significant.
    In the very early days of the pandemic, Conservatives were eager to work with the governing party to find solutions for Canadians. We knew it was imperative to act quickly and effectively, so those feeling the negative economic impact of the mandated shutdowns were offered the support they needed. We called on the government to close the borders, a recommendation it ignored for months and, sadly, caused considerable damage. To prevent job loss, we urged the Liberals to increase the wage subsidy program from 10% to 75%. When our constituents told us about the problems they were having accessing the rent relief program and other emergency benefits, we immediately proposed changes and fought for them. It often took weeks or even months for the government to respond. For some we are still waiting, but eventually some solutions have been put in place.
    All of this was done with the understanding that measurable support must be given to help Canadians until the tide turns and a greater economic certainty is present, but here we are. We are nearly one year in and we are at a precipice. Even though the country is facing an astronomical deficit and debt load, there is no plan for recovery and there is no end in sight with regard to government spending. In the last year our country has adopted many policies which in normal times would have put us on a track to mirroring other economies like Cuba or Venezuela, where masses of people are out of work and individuals are reliant on the government for their very survival. It is entirely unsustainable for any long period of time, but oddly, to our detriment, the current federal government is proposing that many of the measures that have been implemented during the pandemic become permanently entrenched. This is scary.
    The deficit for this year is projected to come in just shy of $4 billion, thus bringing the net national debt to a record $1.1 trillion. That is a massive number, one that is incomprehensible for many of us. The proposed changes to the Borrowing Authority Act in this legislation would increase the gross borrowing limit to $1.8 trillion, an increase of a whopping $700 billion. I realize those are big numbers, but to boil it down, we are living in a credit card economy. We are consuming more than we produce. We are buying more than we sell. We are borrowing from the world in order to buy from the world. We are sending jobs and money out the door in exchange for foreign goods. In essence, or in short, we are in trouble. Others get the jobs, the investments and the savings, but Canadians are left with the debt.
    With the government's plan to increase spending, but no plan for economic recovery, Canadians should be concerned. It is the government's responsibility to facilitate an environment of economic prosperity. This is made possible by implementing policy that will draw investment into our country rather than repel it; by putting policy in place that would encourage job creators instead of punishing them; and by implementing policy that celebrates those who work hard in the private sector instead of forcing them into a place where they are reliant on the government for bread.
    To sign off on the government's current intent to spend hundreds of billions of dollars without so much as a plan for economic recovery or accountability measures in place would be totally irresponsible of me and others in the House of Commons. The current government is providing poor leadership, and Canadians certainly deserve better. For Canada to get back on track, we must free the wealth creators, the innovators and the risk takers. We must believe in the people of this great country.
    In response to a question about government spending, the Prime Minister said, “We took on debt so Canadians wouldn't have to.” I hate to break it to him but that is not exactly how it works. Governments do not have money. There is no special government bank account that money gets deposited into without a source, and of course, that source is us, Canadian taxpayers. The less revenue there is to tax, the less money there is to spend on social programs, health care, infrastructure and education. For this reason, it is confounding that the Liberals do not fight for industries such as the energy sector, manufacturing or agriculture, industries that have traditionally helped stabilize our economy for decades. They are well positioned to continue to do so; they just need a government that believes in them.

  (1215)  

    When the Prime Minister was embroiled in scandal over the SNC-Lavalin affair, which members will remember he pressured the former attorney general to let a criminally charged company off the hook. He did it under the guise of saying, “I am fighting for jobs.” What about the jobs here in western Canada? What about the jobs that were just lost when Keystone XL went out the door?
     Why could the Prime Minister not do so much as pick up a phone, make a call and advocate for those workers and those jobs? Does he only care about jobs if they happen to be in his riding? Canada deserves a Prime Minister who will fight for unity, not against it. It needs a Prime Minister who believes that Canada is one nation from sea to sea and that the nation in its entirety is worth fighting for.
    The debt-to-GDP ratio will rise to 56% this year. That is just a short distance away from our 1996 high of 66%, when the Wall Street Journal deemed Canada to be “an honorary member of the third world”.
    While the private sector is shrinking rapidly, the government is engorging itself. This is entirely unsustainable, but it is incredibly beneficial to a political party that is most successful when Canadians are dependent on government. Doling out money is actually a political leader's dream. It turns the people's affection toward him. It positions him as their hero, caretaker and saviour, so to speak.
    Responsible leaders restrain themselves from utilizing this enticing tool. Instead of making it a long-term solution, they limit and put restrictions in place. It is not so with our current leader. Sadly, for quite some time the current government has fostered animosity toward job creators and wealth generators. The Liberals are engineering a society that will leave everyone less prosperous and more dependent on government.
    While the Liberals love to talk about giving and receiving, I wish to talk about the value of earning. I am talking about the privilege, the honour and the dignity of work. It is an incredible thing for one to earn what one receives. Studies show that individuals who receive money without earning it are more likely to be depressed and less likely to be happy or feel fulfilled. Whenever we discuss permanently increasing government handouts, we must look at the potentially negative ramifications, not just for the economy but for society and the people. People matter. Canadians must be free to use their gifts, talents and abilities to further themselves, to benefit their local communities and to rebuild.
    Ronald Reagan famously said, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”
     I am convinced government programs are not the answer to getting Canada back on track. Canadians are the answer. It is Canadians who have the ingenuity, work ethic and ability to come up with the solutions to the problems our country faces.
    Ronald Reagan also said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Frankly, I am tired of hearing the government patronize Canadians by essentially telling them to sit on the sidelines and cheer. What coach benches his best players?
     Instead of putting the government in the position of being the ultimate problem-solver, and exploiting the pandemic to increase government control in the lives of Canadians, I believe we have a real opportunity to do just the opposite. We can shift the spotlight onto Canadians: those who are dreamers, risk-takers, wealth generators and job creators. It is time to put them in the game. They have the ability to put forward exceptional ideas, solve problems and build toward a vibrant future. We must unleash the power of the workforce so Canadians can start receiving paycheques instead of government handouts.
    The Liberals can try to reset, restart and reimagine this country, but the fact is the power belongs to the people. Canadians always have been, and always will be, the solution to the problems we face. It is time to let Canadians skate.

  (1220)  

    Mr. Speaker, we continue to hear about the level of debt that has been taken on throughout this pandemic. I heard it a number of times yesterday, and the member has mentioned it. However, at every step of the way through supporting Canadians and putting the resources in place to help them, the House has, pretty much on every occasion, unanimously adopted the bills and the mechanisms to be able to do that.
    All the member or any other member of the House had to do in those instances when that unanimous consent came forward was to say no. One person would have triggered a whole process that would have been so much more detailed in determining how we go about that spending, by going through various stages in the House through committee. The member did not say no. No member said no. I knew that the time would come that Conservatives would eventually start to critique the government for the level of debt that it took on, but in reality, they were active players in that. They participated in taking on that debt.
    How can the member justify being overly critical of the debt taken on when she voted for it at every step of the way?
    Mr. Speaker, there is a place for taking on a small level of debt for a short term. That debt load, however, should have been incurred primarily in the name of generating jobs and investing in projects and industries that were going to serve this country in the long run.
    That said, there is a time when due to something such as a pandemic, it is appropriate for the government to provide assistance to those who need it most. Through no fault of their own, many Canadians lost their jobs. Government policy created a lockdown. That lockdown resulted in the loss of livelihoods for many. That was a government decision; therefore, the government is responsible to step in and help. I voted for that and I am proud of that vote. What I am not proud of is where the government is going for the long-term future, which is into incurred debt over debt on the backs of Canadians. That is wrong.
    Mr. Speaker, happy new year. I know my hon. colleague spoke a lot about work. I, too, support the ability for Canadians to get jobs; however, we know that a lot of people are unable to work. I will give an example: 70% of adults with severe intellectual disabilities who are unable to work live in poverty. Seniors are unable to work and live in poverty. Many students who were unable to work as a result of the pandemic are living in poverty and unable to go back to school, as another example. Indigenous people in many communities, where rates of unemployment are 95% as a result of ongoing impacts of the Indian Act and colonization, again are unable to work.
    Knowing this, as it is certainly well researched, would my hon. colleague support a guaranteed livable basic income? Does my colleague support providing greater support for students who, through no fault of their own, were impacted by the pandemic? Would my colleague also support a guaranteed livable income for persons with disabilities who we know have been completely left out during the pandemic?
    Mr. Speaker, that question morphed from a celebration of work, which I was super excited about, to a squelching of work and its benefits. That is very sad.
     We are talking about Canadians who have incredible potential, ability, gifts, talents and contributions to make to this great country. By putting mechanisms in place that would bench them, we would actually be making our country worse off. Why do we not have a more grand vision for people than that? Why do we not believe in letting them thrive? Why do we not believe in letting them use those gifts and those talents and those abilities to be the problem solvers, to be the solution makers and to be the people that they were designed to be?
    I understand there are some who live with a disability and they absolutely deserve all the support they can get. That is an appropriate place for government to step in and provide support to those who are unable to do so for themselves. However, for the rest of us, let us skate. Let us use our gifts, our talents and our abilities to make this country a great place. Let us work.

  (1225)  

    Mr. Speaker, 58,000 businesses closed their doors in 2020. There are 58,000 families who will not have the income they would have had from the family business. The CFIB is now estimating that there will be up to 200,000 small businesses closing in 2021. Think of the devastating impact that will have on the families who depend on them for their livelihood, and on the communities where jobs will be lost. The economic spin-offs of those business closures will be devastating.
    New businesses have been particularly ignored by this Liberal government throughout the pandemic. In December, I had the opportunity to ask the government a question with respect to new businesses. I talked about a gentleman named Paul in my riding. Paul was going to launch his new small business in March 2020. Of course, that did not happen because of the first lockdown, and his business launch was pushed into May. Since then, he has desperately tried to make his business viable. He is not eligible for the wage subsidy. He is not eligible for the rent subsidy. Why is this? It is because he decided to start a business, and the government has deliberately chosen not to support people who made the decision to start a small business. Why it has made that choice, I do not know. I have asked questions about this many times. I do not get answers.
    People like Paul invest their life savings, the money they have worked their entire life for, into a business at great risk. They put hundreds of hours into that business, 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90 hours a week. That is what entrepreneurs do to try to make their businesses successful.
    To keep his business going, Paul has had to access a line of credit against his home and put more money into the business in a desperate attempt to have his life's work remain viable. I pleaded his case to the minister in December. I outlined exactly the circumstances that I am outlining now. I asked the minister to please give something to Paul.
    The response was that Paul should look at the regional relief programs. That was where there would be something. Of course, I had looked at the regional relief programs in a desperate attempt to help Paul and businesses like his, not only in my riding but all across the country. As I learned in law school, the devil is in the details. In order for Paul to be eligible for a regional relief program, he had to have been operational before March 15, 2020. Basically, the minister's response was, “Sorry, there is nothing there for Paul.”
    Since I asked the question in December, I have had dozens of new businesses in my riding get in touch with me, desperately asking how they can access some form of financial support so that their businesses can continue, so that they will not go bankrupt and lose their life's savings, so that they can continue to employ people in their businesses who can then support their families. They are desperate to stop the domino effect of the closure of businesses and the devastating impact that has on the business owners, the employees and the community. Unfortunately, I have no good answer for these people, because the government knows this issue exists.

  (1230)  

    I have asked about it in question period, and my Conservative colleagues have asked this question many times in question period and there is never an answer. Here we are debating a bill that would implement new economic programs. Conservatives have asked the government what it is doing to support new businesses and why these businesses are undeserving of any support. Therefore, Liberals know of the issue. It is clear. They have heard it. They have heard it from CFIB and from opposition members, who have asked if there is anything in this legislation to help new businesses. The answer to that is absolutely nothing.
    We are left asking ourselves this question. This is a government that has opened the floodgates of spending. It is spending money on everyone and everything. We are racking up debt at a horrific rate. Why have the Liberals deliberately chosen not to support new businesses? I want to go back to that.
    When people decide to become entrepreneurs and to set up a business, they do it at great risk. They have to invest their own money and often have to provide personal guarantees, including maybe a collateral mortgage against their home. People do that at great risk. They put in 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 hours a week in the hope that their business will be successful. The lockdown occurred, we understand that, but why has the government deliberately chosen to ignore people like Paul and like Michella, whom I spoke to yesterday about her business? It is something I cannot comprehend.
    When I think about the answer the government gives on this, which is effectively to maybe look at a regional relief program, it is so tone deaf and offensive to business owners who have worked so hard to try to make their businesses successful. It reminds me of someone else who was incredibly tone deaf in the midst of a crisis. There is the infamous quote by Marie Antoinette. When she was told the people had run out of bread, she said, “Let them eat cake.” Guess what, the government is effectively saying to entrepreneurs and new business owners who have risked so much, “Let them eat cake.” I find that offensive.
    I am here advocating on behalf of small businesses and new businesses not only in my riding, but also on behalf of businesses all across the country. They deserve better than what the government is giving them. If the government is going to give them nothing, if it has made that deliberate decision, which is the only thing I am left to conclude, that it has deliberately decided to let those businesses fail, then it should stand up and say it. Do not say they should look at some program that offers absolutely no support. The government should just say it is sorry, because it has decided that those businesses are going to fail and good luck.
    Right now, there is only one business in my riding that is expanding rapidly and doing extraordinarily well. We see their signs everywhere, in strip plazas and downtown cores. Do members what to know what that business is? It is “For Rent” or “For Lease”. It is exploding all across my riding and all across this country. Why is that? It is because of the decisions the government has deliberately made, and I do not have an answer as to why. I would like to know why new businesses are being told that the Liberals do not care and that they can go out of business. They have an opportunity to correct it. We are debating this bill now. Why will they not make some simple changes so new businesses do not go bankrupt?

  (1235)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the intervention by my colleague today. When he got toward the end of his speech, he talked about the thing that seemed to be booming in his riding, which was signs “For Rent”. In my riding, the same thing is going on. There are a lot of for-rent signs going up. I would argue that seeing for-rent signs going up is not necessarily the product of lack of support for new businesses, but of businesses that have been around for quite a while and choosing not to continue. My approach to this is that I believe the government has been trying, in many regards, through the support of the opposition parties and their consent to the spending, to help businesses writ large. He brings up some very valid points about new businesses and I hope he has the opportunity to discuss those points when the bill gets to committee stage so that how we can support newer businesses can be discussed further.
    Would the member not acknowledge that supporting existing businesses has been so critically important? Had we not done anything, there would be even more for-rent signs going up.
    Mr. Speaker, I like to give credit where credit is due. There have been supports for the business community in general, including the emergency bank account and the wage subsidy after a few of its hiccups initially when the first incarnation was not great and most businesses were not able to access it. I will, of course, give kudos to the government for making the decision to support businesses. It had to be done and it did it.
    I have a particular issue. I would ask the member opposite to go back to his caucus meeting on Wednesday and raise the issue of new businesses. They are just as deserving of support as other businesses. They took the same risks. They invested the same amount of blood, sweat and tears, as we say, and the same capital. They have the same exposure and personal financial loss if their business goes under. Go back to the Prime Minister and go to the finance minister and ask them to please make the changes so that these new businesses have the opportunity to succeed.
    Mr. Speaker, I really want to thank my colleague for raising this very important issue about start-ups being ineligible for the government's emergency relief programs. I raised this very issue with the Minister of Small Business on Friday.
    We have many businesses in our riding that have not been eligible and whose owners have invested a tremendous amount of their life savings to open a business or to restart a business from the past. They cannot collect the wage subsidy or the commercial rent program. They cannot access the CEBA loan program. There are ways for the government to create measures that would allow these businesses to qualify, and to avoid concerns about fraudulent businesses.
    These are businesses with expenses that they can prove. Many of them have met payroll or paid rent for months. The government needs to allow them to access these programs. Many of them are in their second or third lockdown without any support. This includes a veteran-led business in my colleague from Cowichan—Malahat—Langford's riding where some of the profits go to helping those with PTSD. These are the kinds of social enterprises and businesses we have to save, or we are going to lose a generation of businesses.
    I want to thank my colleague. If he wants to bring forward some ideas on how government can use measures to support those start ups, that would be great.

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for adding his voice to this. As he points out, there are lots of metrics the government could look at for a new business to see if they should be eligible for some of these programs. I am more than happy to work with the government on determining what those metrics should be.
    I know I have very little time left, but I want to really try to impress something upon the government. Maybe the Prime Minister and finance minister should take a phone call from someone who started a business and is now going to lose that business. I get many phone calls like that every single week. People are desperate and they are heartbroken. They think they are going to lose their homes when their businesses go under. Anyone listening to dozens of phone calls like that is going to be affected. I find it incredibly difficult to answer those calls, speaking to those individuals and saying that I am sorry and that there is nothing I can do to help them. The government has chosen to abandon them.
    Maybe if members from the government would take the time to take a few phone calls like that, they would make changes to this bill to support small business. Behind every one of those small businesses is an owner and a family. They are in desperate times and desperately need help from the government.

[Translation]

    Before resuming debate, I must inform the House and the members participating virtually that there have been more than five hours of debate on this motion during this first round. Consequently, all subsequent interventions shall be limited to 10 minutes for speeches and five minutes for questions and comments.
    The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to lend my voice in support of the fall economic statement, more commonly referred to as the FES.
    As we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, our foremost commitment remains supporting the resilience of our people and businesses. To uphold this commitment, our government has provided an unprecedented $407 billion in overall support to keep Canadians and Canadian business afloat.
    In doing so, the federal government has provided more than $8 out of every $10 spent in Canada to fight COVID-19 and to support Canadians through these challenging times. The significant investments we have made, in public health, in the provision of medical supplies and personal protective equipment, in income support and paid sick leave, have very much helped slow the spread of the virus. Our commitment of an additional $1 billion to a new safe long-term care fund will help ensure that seniors live in safe and dignified conditions and have exceptional infection prevention and control.
    As a result of these efforts, apart from the island nation of Japan, Canada has the lowest peak new-infection rate among G7 nations in wave one and the lowest rate of new infections in wave two.
    Canada has also experienced a rebound that is both vaster and stronger than initially forecast in the July economic and fiscal portrait, and which compares very well with its international counterparts. Whereas only about half of the American jobs lost through the pandemic have returned, in Canada 80% of these jobs have been recovered. British Columbia has very much been a leader in this regard, with 98.7% of the job losses recouped. These numbers are truly astounding when we consider the makeup of the B.C. economy and the economic sectors that have been hardest hit.
    While it is always paramount that federal spending addresses the needs and desires of all Canadians, it is especially gratifying to discuss a fall economic statement that speaks to the most pressing and distinct concerns of British Columbia. I know, from speaking with business owners and non-profit representatives in my riding, that the federal supports that have been extended and expanded in the fall economic statement are, in so many cases, the only reasons why businesses have been able to keep their doors open and workers employed.
    The Canada emergency wage subsidy, which has protected 3.9 million jobs across the country, is being extended until June and increased to a maximum subsidy rate of 75% so that employers can keep their workers through these challenging months. For small businesses, the Canada emergency business account has provided critical liquidity; and the Canada emergency rent subsidy has helped businesses with fixed costs, direct from the federal government to tenants, with additional support in the case of government-ordered closures.
    While these subsidies have helped bolster our economy and protect our businesses, we also recognize that crucial sectors, such as tourism and hospitality and the arts, have been disproportionately impacted by the necessary travel restrictions and limitations on gatherings. This is certainly true in B.C., where tourism is one of our largest economic sectors, and it is especially relevant in my riding, where the resort municipality of Whistler alone, which has 12,000 permanent residents, is responsible for a quarter of the annual tourism export revenue for the whole province of British Columbia. Of course, our borders are now closed to non-essential travel. For this reason, the fall economic statement would create the highly affected sectors credit availability program to offer 100% government-guaranteed, low-interest loans of up to $1 million over extended terms for heavily impacted businesses. This program will be available very shortly from financial institutions.
    We are also proposing a $500 million top-up for our regional development agencies for a total of $2 billion, so they can continue to support small business owners who otherwise would be unable to access the federal pandemic support programs, through the regional relief and recovery fund. Importantly, 25% of these funds is earmarked to support our local tourism businesses.
    Given the unique and diverse economy in B.C., it has been a very long-standing priority to establish a separate regional development agency for our province. Previously, a single office in Vancouver was designated to serve over five million British Columbians. This is in very stark contrast to the 28 offices for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, which serve a population that is less than half of B.C.'s. That is why it is so important that the fall economic statement committed to splitting Western Economic Diversification into two distinct agencies: one for British Columbia and one for our prairie neighbours. This would allow for better service for both regions to help with the important sector transformations taking place and allow these regions to take advantage of the distinct economic opportunities that present themselves.

  (1245)  

    My riding of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country is the most unaffordable region in the country that is not solely situated in an urban core. While the programs our government introduced have lifted over a million Canadians out of poverty since 2015, our work on addressing that affordability crisis is far from complete. However, the fall economic statement makes continued progress in this important direction.
    All Canadians have the right to safety and shelter, as well as the ability to live comfortably as part of their community, but the pandemic has exacerbated the number of our most vulnerable community members who are facing housing insecurity. That is why our government has created the $1-billion rapid housing initiative to further the construction of modular housing, as well as the acquisition of land and conversions of existing buildings into supportive housing units. This program follows along some amazing leadership we have seen from cities such as Vancouver and Victoria.
    For many in my generation, the idea of home ownership in our community is just a dream. To address the long-standing challenge of the lack of affordable housing, we are proposing to expand the rental construction financing initiative by $12 billion to continue to provide low-interest loans and mortgage insurance to support the construction of purpose-built affordable rental housing.
    Since its inception in 2017, 30% of the initiative's investments nationwide have gone to British Columbia, including the recent construction of a 24-unit affordable rental housing building in Whistler, which will be managed by the Whistler Housing Authority to ensure affordable rental levels are maintained for the next 50 years.
    Alongside housing concerns, many in my riding are under strain from a lack of affordable and accessible child care. In Squamish and Pemberton, for instance, there is a three-year minimum wait-list to receive licensed child care. In the meantime, parents are having to balance exhausting hours of dual work days against expensive and unlicensed private care.
    To provide immediate relief for families with young children, the government is introducing a temporary and immediate support for low and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada child benefit, raising the maximum benefit of $6,765 per child under the age of six by an additional $1,200 in 2021.
    To address our long-term child care needs, the government is proposing to provide $420 million in the 2021-22 year for provinces and territories to support the attraction and retention of early childhood educators and workers by supplying grants and bursaries for students studying early childhood education.
    Capilano University recently launched early childhood education programs in both Sechelt and Squamish in order to address this high demand for educators. This funding will support efforts like these, which, along with eliminating wage and infrastructure barriers, are crucial for us to meet the growing demand for educators right across B.C. and Canada.
    The FES also commits to setting up a federal secretariat for early learning and child care to support the development of a Canada-wide system. We know this is not just sound policy to improve the lives of families, reduce gender inequalities and give children the best chance at success. It has also been widely identified by experts, including our former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz, as one of the top two initiatives that could grow our GDP more than anything else.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing and more deadly health crisis in B.C. The pandemic-imposed restrictions have had a cascading effect that have led to a more toxic and lethal supply of drugs, leading to 1,500 deaths in B.C. as part of the opioid epidemic last year.
    To support Canadians struggling with substance abuse, we will provide an additional $66 million over two years to support community-based organizations responding to the opioid crisis. Funding like this will be vital for the creation and continuation of safe consumption and overdose prevention sites, such as the safe consumption site that opened in Squamish this past year and the one that opened in Sechelt as well.
    While the pandemic has drastically curtailed the use of public transit across the country, it remains a critical link for essential workers and others. For this reason, we provided over a half-billion in support for public transit in B.C. under the safe restart agreement. We know once the pandemic is over ridership will rebound quickly in places such as metro Vancouver, which had the fastest-growing ridership of any public system in Canada and the U.S. prior to the pandemic.
     To meet this growing demand, numerous projects are being planned or are under construction to expand this service. All orders of government on the north shore are working together as part of next step to alleviate congestion and improve public transit both to and from the north shore. I am pleased the federal government is stepping up to provide permanent public transit funding to support a lot of these efforts going forward.

  (1250)  

    The measures I have outlined in this speech are just some of the many way that the FES will help bridge British Columbians and Canadians through the pandemic by providing support for the Canadians and Canadian businesses that need it most. The FES also has a number of down payments on larger programs that set the stage to build back better to a greener, more inclusive and more resilient country on the other side of the pandemic.
    These measures, among others, will be part of the $70 billion to $100 billion in stimulus over three years to ensure our economy comes back stronger and more resilient than before. The FES is good for British Columbians. It is good for Canadians and I urge my—
    We will have to stop there. We have reached the end of the time allowed for the hon. member's speech.
    We will continue with questions and comments. The hon. member for Drummond.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    I will take advantage of the fact that there is a Liberal colleague from British Columbia to raise the issue of tourism. I am guessing that tourism is a very important sector of the economy in his region. It is one of the sectors that was hit extremely hard by the pandemic, along with restaurants, events, festivals, arts and culture.
    The government is creating one-size-fits-all programs and not considering the reality of these sectors. We need targeted programs for tourism, restaurants, festivals, events, arts and culture, and these are long overdue. The government did announce a credit for the hardest-hit sectors. However, we heard about this program two months ago, and no details have been announced yet.
    I would like to know if my colleague believes that real targeted assistance will finally be given to the tourism, entertainment, events, festival and restaurant sectors.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, certainly the tourism sector is very important in British Columbia and especially in my riding. It is our biggest economic sector, so I am very much attuned to the comments and suggestions that my colleague made. The FES has targeted supports, particularly for tourism and some of the other hard hit sectors he mentioned. The $1-million HASCAP program, for instance, will be available in the coming weeks to support some of these businesses with low-cost, very low-interest loans.
    Also, under the regional relief and recovery fund, the 25% set aside for businesses in the tourism sector are very much needed to ensure those businesses will have access to the credit they need so that we can bridge to the other side of the pandemic, once some of the health restrictions, and other restrictions that have heavily impacted those sectors, subside.

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, there were many things my colleague said in his speech that I was interested in, but one thing that he did not talk about is the wild salmon emergency in British Columbia. We just had the lowest return of wild Pacific sockeye salmon in the largest salmon-bearing river in the world. This is after last year, which was then the lowest return. We did not hear anything in the fall economic statement, outside of Big Bar, to help remedy that situation, and the many other watersheds that are facing the same thing.
    We are in a wild salmon emergency, and we cannot even get the minister to declare a wild salmon emergency. We did not see any new investments. We are hearing that the $148-million B.C. salmon restoration fund is a drop in the bucket. Advocates are saying that that is over five years and, in fact, we need that every year for the next five years if we are going to make any impact on saving wild Pacific salmon, which is critical to our food security, our culture, our economy and our way of life, especially for indigenous people.
    Is my colleague going to be advocating for his government to invest heavily in emergency funding for wild Pacific salmon in the upcoming budget?
    Mr. Speaker, I very much share my hon. colleague's concern about the plight of wild Pacific salmon. One of the measures he mentioned in his comments, the permanent funding for the passage of fish in Big Bar, is a very, very important step, but it is one of many, many important steps that we need to take to restore our salmon stocks across the province. This is going to take wide-ranging efforts to rehabilitate habitats to restore this species, which is iconic to all British Columbians.
    I can assure the member opposite that this is very much a priority for me, for our caucus in British Columbia and for this government. I look forward to working with my colleagues on advancing some important measures that will make progress in addressing this really, really important area.
    Mr. Speaker, I am here today to speak about Bill C-14, the economic statement that the federal government presented to the House on November 30 of last year.
    COVID has been hard on our communities in many ways. This time has been filled with constant change, significant modification in our habits and real health concerns. When I speak with constituents across the riding, I am shocked by how many things they have noticed have changed in their lives. I appreciate the innovation that I have seen in our riding. People are coming together to support one another, and businesses are stepping up to find new ways to practice what they do.
     Just last week, I participated in a grand opening event at a vineyard in my riding. It was a small event with strict distancing rules and careful protocols, but 40 Knots wanted to take an opportunity to showcase their newly closed-in outdoor space, which will allow for events to happen all year round. The windows are able to open in warm weather and close in the colder weather while continuing to allow for a beautiful view of their vines. I deeply respect 40 Knots for their sustainable model of making wine and the creativity they have shown, along with that of the many local businesses in my riding during this time.
    This innovation is inspiring, yet many folks have struggled during this time because of the way our local economies are built. Across Canada, we need to see an increase in supports for regional economic development strategies. I am carefully hopeful about the announcement that there will be a new regional economic branch in British Columbia. I do want the government to understand that I believe it is the rural and remote communities that have the most need for supports during these economic changes. I hope to see an office, in fact, located in my region of North Island—Powell River.
    This is especially important for me because there are some significant challenges happening in my riding right now. On December 17, the fisheries minister made an announcement about the Discovery Islands fish farms. The announcement was based on recommendation 19 of the Cohen Commission from 2012. I respect that part of the process included several first nation communities in our riding. Those nations have a constitutional right to speak on behalf of the area they protect and represent, and have represented since time immemorial.
    I understand that all seven nations have notified their members that they are in support of the announcement. Indigenous communities have a right to stand for what they believe is best for their traditional territory, and as key partners in our region, it is important during this time that we work together to create solutions to move forward. Although, I do want to point out an important gap in this decision.
     Prior to this announcement, my colleague, our shadow minister for fisheries, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, was very clear. The fisheries minister needed a plan to go hand in hand with this announcement. I want to be clear. It did not need to be a step-by-step plan, but I wanted some sort of commitment that would allow for certainty during this time. I do understand that the Cohen Commission recommendation was made eight years ago, and that this was a timeline that many were watching, but that does not mean the minister should not provide something. The lack of a plan has left a void in my region, especially in the more northern parts of Vancouver Island.
    During this time, we do not need more unknowns to face. COVID has certainly provided enough. What we do require is some certainty.
    I want to acknowledge how hard this announcement has been on communities, workers and businesses. It is overwhelming, and I know many people are worried about the future of our region. When the fisheries minister made her announcement, there was no plan at all. I was hoping to see a commitment to significant resources and a regional approach.
    I want to put on the record what I am hearing from constituents in my riding. First of all, there needs to be a firm and strong commitment to wild Pacific salmon. Habitat restoration is an important part of this, but there are so many other factors. People are asking for there to be a plan. The need to see an improvement to the well-being of wild Pacific salmon in our riding has only increased, as people have shown me rivers that are no longer seeing salmon return.
    Across our riding, the lack of on-the-ground fisheries staff has also been a growing concern. I ask members not to get me wrong. There are some amazing DFO staff in our region; however, there are significant concerns that for a huge part of the coast that we represent, we simply do not have enough people on the ground to manage the need.

  (1300)  

    Happily, the indigenous guardian program has been growing across the riding. There is a sense of trust from our communities, both indigenous and non-indigenous, that these folks fulfill the role as protectors of the natural resources in the region. Communities are looking for ways for this program to be able to grow and develop to do important work.
     Currently, there is a parallel process happening in our region to go alongside the decision made about the Discovery Islands. This process is the commitment that the federal government has made for a more sustainable aquaculture system. In my region, people are asking for clarity on what that will look like sooner rather than later. Businesses that are highly reliant on the fish farm industry are clear: the next steps need to be clearer for them so that they can make sure their business plans are modified appropriately. With the closure of the Discovery Islands open-net fish farms, businesses are looking for opportunities to invest to modify their businesses, and they are looking for the government to be part of that plan. There needs to be a clear path that is accessible, and with the change that is happening so quickly, they need to see the resources there to meet it.
    Investment in economic development in indigenous communities has also been identified as a high priority. There is some amazing and innovative work happening in more than 20 first nations I represent. There is a desire to have discussions about these projects and see how they can be built to provide economic opportunities in our area.
    There are also several hatcheries in my riding, and many are working on a volunteer basis. They have not seen an increase in funding to support them in well over 30 years but have found many creative solutions to fill that gap. Many of them have reached out to my office and are wondering how their role will change due to this announcement. I have also heard from commercial fisheries and public fishers who are hoping to see action taken in the sustainable management of fisheries and they want a voice to be a part of that.
    I have asked the minister to prioritize our region to look at how to support us moving forward with a coordinated approach that recognizes the specific needs of our region. Again, a localized regional economic development plan simply makes the most sense. This requires a collaborative approach, and the federal government needs to be a significant player in this process.
    I also want to point out that the municipalities in this part of the region will be impacted as well. There is a need to have resources for them to create strategies that make sense for their communities.
    More attractive economic development means that we need to see better Internet and cell reception in our region. The Connected Coast project in our area is one we are very proud of; however, we need to see the resources now, not later. Our region demands it. The lack of cell reception is a deterrent to inviting business opportunities and for safety as well. There have been multiple petitions from the region sharing this reality.
    All of this really fits into the reason I put forward my Motion No. 53, principles for a sustainable and equitable future, in the fall. This motion requires the government to equitably distribute funds and programming among federal ridings and take into account UNDRIP, climate change and the prioritization of projects by small businesses that create diversity in local, long-term, well-paying jobs, because that is how we keep profits and benefits within the community.
    I also want to point out that the steel workers who work in the processing plant at Port Hardy have reached out to my office. They want to make sure their voices are heard during this process as well.
    We need to look at these principles to make sure we follow a localized regional economic plan. I urge the minister to review my motion and adopt these principles as soon as possible.
    For our region to work together in a positive way, we need to see some clear commitment from this government. With the lack of clarity, it is hard for people to know what steps to take next. It is not good for our region, and I am concerned it will focus us on our differences rather than on our joint commitment to this place we all live.
    As I come to the end of my speech, I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge that women working in the fish farm industry have noticed an increase in sexual harassment during this time. This is on social media. I want to state clearly that this is simply not okay and that we must all strive for a better country, where women are treated with respect and not objectified by sexism.

  (1305)  

    As I end my speech, I want to remind the government that it is local, rural, resource-based communities like the ones I represent that have built this country. I also want to point out that economic marginalization of indigenous communities in this region and across Canada has been a huge barrier to communities and legislation has often been the barrier, so I hope to see the government do better.
    I will have to interrupt the hon. member. We are out of time.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her advocacy for defence and security.
    The member outlined some very important points around regional economic development and the lack of certainty that comes from not having a clear financial plan from the government. I am wondering if she could give us some insight on whether we need a federal budget to outline the priorities for where the money will be spent and perhaps other areas where not as much money would be spent so that we can have greater certainty and clarity to plan for the future.

  (1310)  

    Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my time greatly when I worked with the member at the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association and our joint dedication to defence and the men and women who serve us so well across Canada.
    I agree that we need a budget. We need to see where the commitments are. When we look at what is happening across Canada, we know it is important that we have regional approaches that make sense for communities. All too often smaller communities are left out of the plans. Ottawa should not advise smaller remote communities of what needs to happen. They are the experts. I am hoping to see those dollars go into the communities to allow them to make that plan.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to address something a little different on this issue, which is to recognize the impact that many of our social enterprises have on communities throughout the country and how important it is to continue to show not only financial support, but also promotion.
    I look at an organization like Habitat for Humanity, which in Winnipeg North has assisted in the construction of newer homes in areas that would likely be very challenged. I wonder if the member would provide further comment on the important role that social enterprises have played during the pandemic. Many of them clearly have demonstrated that it goes beyond just making a profit, but it also includes getting people engaged in a very real and tangible way and providing services.
    Mr. Speaker, I will say that in my region, Habitat for Humanity has been profound. It has had amazing partnerships with many stakeholders in my region, but it does not address the core issue of my speech, which is how we address huge economic changes in our ridings with a regional economic approach that brings everybody together. I hope the government will stand up for that. It made a decision and I respect that decision, but we need support.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned, and I am sure the member is too, about the ongoing financial peril in which a number of regional ground transportation companies find themselves.
    The member is probably aware that the current president of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, Judith Sayers, has called for protection for Wilson's bus lines. It provides service to a number of remote first nations communities on Vancouver Island. It is being threatened with bankruptcy by the large commercial banks. No government program is helping it. This morning's announcement from the Prime Minister about more details for the highly affected sectors program will not assist either because it caps new loans at $1 million.
    I wonder if the hon. member for North Island—Powell River has any comments on what we could do about these very profitable banks that have lost some profit but remain profitable and their willingness to push out of business other businesses that are essential for recovery.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member. It is good to say hello from the northern part of Vancouver Island.
    I could not agree more. There are a lot of rural, remote and indigenous communities in my riding that need accessible transportation. This has been an ongoing challenge. As we look at a recovery, making sure people can get to their appointments and get out of their communities for opportunities, health and many other concerns is pivotal, so I hope to see some support for this.
    I appreciate the work that big banks do, but they certainly have enough profit. Let us make sure to focus on these really important supports for local communities.
    Mr. Speaker, from the onset of COVID-19, the government has done everything in its power to combat the virus and mitigate its harm, using every tool available to safeguard the health and livelihood of Canadians, particularly for Canada’s most vulnerable. It definitely appeals to me that protecting health is the best economic strategy in a global health crisis like this pandemic. In fact, more than $8 of every $10 spent in Canada to fight the virus has been spent by the federal government.
    Let me be clear. By no means has this been a solo effort. In the summer, we announced support for the provinces and territories as part of our $19.9-billion safe restart package. An additional $2 billion is being made available to provinces and territories through the safe return to class fund to protect the health of students and staff. We are also working with cities and indigenous communities to ensure Canadians have the support they need and to help stop the spread of the virus in vulnerable communities. This has truly been, and we have said this many times, a team Canada effort.
    Over the last year, I have held 30 community consultations and town halls in my riding of Whitby. Those have been mostly virtual but a few were in person before the pandemic hit. People in Whitby are engaged and I know the measures contained in the fall economic statement would help people across my community.
    The recently tabled fall economic statement outlines the Government of Canada’s actions to date and proposed new measures to support Canadians through this crisis and lays the groundwork for rebuilding Canada’s economy through a robust, inclusive and sustainable recovery.
    For example, we moved quickly in the spring to introduce robust economic programs like the Canada emergency response benefit, the Canada emergency wage subsidy and the Canada emergency business account to help people, businesses and organizations of all sizes survive this pandemic. These important programs helped thousands of people and businesses across Whitby and the Durham region. As has been said, we will do whatever it takes to protect Canadians and their livelihoods as we move forward. Through targeted and flexible support measures, we will continue to provide economic certainty to Canadians and businesses through this turbulent and uncertain time.
    We have also assembled a comprehensive, world-leading portfolio of vaccines, investing more than $1 billion in vaccine agreements to secure a domestic supply of up to 429 million doses.
    Once the virus is under control and our economy is ready for new growth, our government will deploy an ambitious three-year stimulus package to jump-start our recovery through an investment of between $70 billion and $100 billion. This is comparable to other nations, investing approximately 3% to 4% of GDP.
    The fall economic statement puts a down payment on this growth plan and sets the path for an inclusive recovery that is equitable, sustainable and would create good jobs for all Canadians.
    This pandemic has laid bare and in many cases deepened significantly the inequalities Canadians face, especially in the workforce. Simply put, inequality makes our economy less resilient, less sustainable and less fair, which is why a robust and complete recovery must leave no one behind.
    For example, the government is committed to ensuring that this growth plan addresses the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on women. We have announced the creation of a task force of diverse experts to help our government develop an action plan for women in the economy, a plan that would help more women get back into the workforce and ensure a feminist, intersectional response to this pandemic and our recovery. This is evidenced by applying a gender-based analysis to every measure in the fall economic statement, which I am very proud to see. This action plan would help advance gender equality and address inequities faced by vulnerable women, including indigenous, Black and racialized women. It would strengthen our economy as a whole and benefit all Canadians.
    The government will also begin work on transformative initiatives, such as a Canada-wide early learning and child care system, in partnership with provinces, territories and indigenous peoples. Investing in accessible, high-quality, affordable and inclusive child care would not only be good for families, but also makes good economic sense. It would give children a good start in life and would give parents, especially mothers, the support they need to support their participation in our country’s workforce and provide for their families.

  (1315)  

    It is also important to recognize that young people continue to suffer disproportionate economic impacts from COVID-19, and we must therefore ensure that the pandemic does not derail their future. That is why we are proposing to build on the employment, job skills development and educational supports provided to youth and students over the summer by introducing additional measures that would ease the financial burden on students and provide more opportunities for young people to gain work experience. This would include new proposed investments of $447.5 million in the Canada summer jobs program next year to support up to 120,000 job placements in 2021-2022, and $575.3 million over the next two years toward the youth employment and skills strategy to provide approximately 45,300 job placements for young people.
    In Whitby alone, which is my riding, over 300 positions were funded through the Canada summer jobs program, providing valuable skills to young people in our community and helping to strengthen our local economy. This work is critical, and I think it is definitely going to make a difference in our recovery and in increasing economic participation by young people.
    The legislation before us also proposes to eliminate interest repayment of the federal portion of the Canada student loans and the Canada apprentice loans for 2021-2022. This would help ease the financial burden of student debt for up to 1.4 million Canadians.
    The fall economic statement also reiterates our government’s commitment to fight systemic racism and discrimination in all its forms, a painful lived reality for Black Canadians, racialized Canadians and indigenous people. We will do this through clear and meaningful proposed investments in a number of key areas. For example, we will launch a pilot program for open bidding opportunities that will expand economic opportunity for Black-owned and operated businesses, building off the successful procurement strategy for aboriginal business.
    Committing to diversifying government procurement, as outlined in the procurement minister’s new mandate letter, is a critical step toward ensuring all Canadians can participate in government procurement and a clear step toward empowering marginalized communities. Additionally, the government will help ensure representation at the highest levels of and throughout the public service by creating a centre on diversity in the federal public service to help accelerate progress on diversity and inclusion and by modernizing equity legislation to be truly inclusive.
    We will aim to empower communities by supporting community-led initiatives to combat racism and promote multiculturalism by expanding the government’s community support, multiculturalism, and anti-racism initiatives program and its anti-racism action program, and through proposed investments to protect communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes. As well, we remain committed to rooting out and addressing systemic racism in our justice system by supporting the use of impact of race and culture assessments by judges and by helping to decrease the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples and Black Canadians in the criminal justice system through community justice centre pilot projects in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario.
    The fall economic statement also charts a path forward on building a net-zero future. To quote the fall economic statement:
    We need to invest in meaningful climate action. Failure to do so will only increase the costs and the risks of climate change to all Canadians. COVID-19 has reminded us all of the importance of early, sustained action to address systemic risks that threaten our daily lives.
    With critical investments, the government is doing just that. This includes $2.6 billion for home energy retrofits, $226.4 million for new electric vehicle infrastructure, $3.16 billion in nature preservation and a plan to plant 2 billion trees, and $98.4 million to help the agricultural sector fight climate change as well.
    In conclusion, through these and other important initiatives and investments, as outlined in the fall economic statement, our government will continue to tackle the challenges and barriers that constrain Canadians.

  (1320)  

    Building a sustainable, resilient and fair economy is critical to our success in coming out of this crisis, and Bill C-14 helps to chart a path forward on this important work.

  (1325)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I found the part of my colleague’s speech on the fight against racism very interesting. It bothered me because two weeks ago, in Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, two Black communities submitted a project under the supporting Black Canadian communities initiative and were told by the government that they had not proven they were Black. I can assure you that they are Black. It caused quite a commotion. People felt insulted and rejected by the government, which is promoting anti-racism while at the same time insulting communities by claiming that they are not actually Black. It makes no sense.
    Could my colleague explain to me how Black communities could have gotten such a response from the government?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I recognize that many of the programs and funding envelopes that we have made available and, in fact, increased, are oversubscribed. This often means that not every project is successful in being awarded funds, but certainly there is an independent process that is verifiable. It can screen applications and is really looking for the best outcomes. Therefore, although I cannot speak to the specific initiative in question that my colleague brings forward, I am sure there is a good rationale for why that group was not successful.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Whitby has made a lot of statements about the great intentions of what the government has been trying to do in putting in programs to help people under COVID-19, such as programs for workplaces, workers and children. However, some of those intentions have also failed a lot of people because of the practices that the government put in place.
    What the member has failed to mention, and it was something the government did run on in its platform, was helping seniors and people with disabilities. There was a very small one-time payment to help out as the Liberals realized that costs were increasing during the first wave of COVID. In the second wave, the Liberals have completely ignored them. These people need help, and they need help now, not in the future. There is talk about giving them increases; we have heard nothing, except that it is going to come later. “Later” could be in another couple of years. What are we going to do now to help these people, our seniors who are just getting by and our people with disabilities?
    Mr. Speaker, in response to the member's question, I would say that bold action and leadership actually start with good intentions, so the expression of those good intentions is just the start. We have demonstrated action, and I share the member's concerns for individuals who are living with disabilities, individuals for whom I have often advocated in my riding.
    We are moving forward on multiple fronts. The national autism strategy was a commitment that was made, and my understanding is that the consultation process is moving forward. There is also mention in the Speech from the Throne of a new disability inclusion plan that would increase disability benefits, which would be redesigned to also offer employment support and somewhat modify the eligibility criteria so that more individuals would have access to those supports.
    Therefore, we are not silent on these—
    I am going to try to get one more short question in here.
    The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, I was pleased that the hon. member moved from Bill C-14 to talk about the climate crisis as well. I am disappointed that the current level of spending of federal money on the Trans Mountain pipeline will total $17 billion, which exceeds the amount of money for the good programs the member mentioned. I wonder if he does not believe we should stop subsidizing fossil fuels while we move forward to transition our economy.
    Mr. Speaker, I have the utmost respect for the member opposite and I really appreciate the question. I believe the government in its new climate action plan has made a strong commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies by the year 2025, phasing those out over time. I believe that the new climate action plan is looking at hydrogen and other renewable energy sources to transition industries to that direction in the future.
    We know that the economy can be grown and developed and that we can protect our environment. There is incredible opportunity for Canada to be a global leader in sustainable business. We are not there yet, but rest assured that we will get there.

  (1330)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish you and every member the very best as we return to the House in this new year. Just as it affords us the chance to leave behind old habits that do us harm, a new year allows us to re-evaluate and correct our course. If there is one message my constituents would relay to the government as we enter 2021, it is that it should resolve to get back to normal.
    Economic indicators across the country are not encouraging, and as the outlook worsens, the impacts of the government’s pattern of neglect and regional division will only be amplified in western Canada. The consensus I received from my constituents over the past many months is clear. They do not want a global pandemic to be the pretext for a great reset of our economy, nor do they want the government’s continued failure to effectively fight COVID-19 to justify inaction on our economic recovery.
    My constituents demand a common-sense approach to recovery. They want to get back to work. They want a government that creates the conditions for every sector of our economy to thrive, but otherwise stays out of their lives. They recognize that stable work and reliable paycheques will be the key to emerging from this pandemic as quickly as possible.
    The Conservatives were proud to stand up for Canadians when the pandemic hit. We worked to improve and accelerate many of the government’s relief programs. They were needed and have done a lot of good. Indeed, the Conservatives pushed for Parliament to reconvene as often as possible for the sake of navigating our country through this storm. Unfortunately, our calls were largely ignored.
    However, it is not March or April anymore. In January 2021, we have a much better understanding of this virus and how to mitigate its effects. It is time to begin our road to normalcy and recovery. Why? It is clear that the current approach to spending cannot continue indefinitely. Let us reiterate the seriousness of some vital economic indicators that the government has helped to exacerbate.
    Looking at debt, Canadians are being asked to shoulder the burden of $8.6 trillion of household, corporate and government debt. This equates to 387% of our GDP. Over the last six years, there has been a 40% increase in our debt, outpacing our growth in GDP by three times. Government debt in particular has grown larger than Canada’s GDP, and that was the government's measuring stick.
     Our situation is worse than that faced by Greece during the sovereign debt crisis, or the United States during the 2008 financial crisis. Never before has our country faced such a burden of debt, with no plan to address it. Our deficit is higher than at any point in our history, now at 17% of our GDP. Not even the deficits amassed during World War I, at the height of the Great Depression or during the 2007-09 recession come close to our current deficit as a percentage of GDP. What is more is that the government continues to lack a plan to return to some level of balance.
    What do we have to show for this spending? We have very little. Our unemployment remains the highest in the G7, despite the fact that we spend the most among OECD countries.
    We could have been facing an entirely different situation had the government buckled down when times were good. From day one, it was clear that the Liberals had no interest in honouring their spending promises. Over the course of their first mandate, they spent the cupboard bare, adding $100 billion of debt before COVID even reached our shores. These patterns of reckless spending and antienterprise overreach have real consequences. Before the pandemic even began, $160 billion in investment left Canada because of the government’s poor decisions, leaving us in a weakened position.
    What could make the situation worse? For one, the bill proposes to make COVID-era spending permanent. It asks for a $700-billion increase in the borrowing limit, reaching $1.8 trillion by 2024. It is almost as though the Liberals have no long-term plan to engage the hard work and ingenuity of the Canadian worker.
     Let us let Canadians do their part to carry us through the storm. Rather than picking favourites, the Liberals should tap into the talents of every worker to produce the goods and services the world will buy. The government must level the competitiveness playing field with the rest of the world.
    Just as Canadians must be empowered to lead us into a robust economic recovery, the government’s responsibility lies with its public health response to the pandemic. In my view, it has clearly failed.

  (1335)  

    Last night I had the pleasure of listening to my colleague from Cloverdale—Langley City speak to the detailed systems that have been in place for years in the greenhouse industry to prevent and shut down viruses before they can severely damage the health of its plants and the productivity of its businesses. She then compared this with the fallacies of the Liberal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
    Canadians simply want a truthful answer from the government. First of all, why did the Liberals make such obvious errors in responding to this pandemic from the very beginning?
    They allowed 60,000 people into Canada from China in the first three months and never closed our borders. They ignored the first-hand warnings that came from the Department of National Defence that a crisis was coming.
    They gave away precious stocks of PPE to China and took too long to secure what our first responders needed, as well as the general public. They said wearing a mask is immaterial and then insisted it was mandatory, even when social distancing indoors and outdoors. They shut down small businesses but not huge international box stores. They did not ensure balanced reporting, as their media outlets continue to focus 24/7 on only the dangers of COVID, instilling fear of the disease and fear of repercussions on children, parents, employees, employers, small business owners, seniors and students.
    The Liberals are saying that staying safe is only possible through isolation; anything else is taking a big risk. They failed to provide rapid tests that would enable people to return to work faster and keep businesses open. They focused only on a vaccine agreement with China to begin with, which did not materialize and is not surprising, effectively putting us in the precarious position we are now facing, as those who wish to be vaccinated are left waiting.
    All of these missteps are having huge repercussions on Canada’s economy, and they are not the only factors stonewalling our ability to do what we are capable of doing as a nation: To be the first country in the world to restore our economy and restore the ability of Canadians to get back to work, school, sports and special occasions and back to being with family and friends.
    The very people we are sent here to represent have more questions that leave them anxious and confused by their government’s actions and by their doublespeak.
    Why are the Liberals continuing to raise the carbon tax during the pandemic? Why are they pushing the clean fuel standard and introducing a bill that requires Canada to reach zero emissions 50 years from now when they cannot meet the commitments they have already set? Why would the Prime Minister want to cause such increased devastation to the livelihoods of the middle class and the working poor, who are struggling more than ever now to join it?
    Why do the Liberals ignore the amazing contribution of rural Canadians, indigenous Canadians, western Canadians and east coast Canadians who have generated the wealth of this nation? To date, they have received no credit, no recognition and no appreciation for the internationally recognized environmental achievements of our agriculture, resource and manufacturing industries across Canada, without which the source of wealth for those who live in our beautiful major cities would not exist.
    Why do the the Liberals want to stagnate and kill Canada’s oil and gas industry, and for that matter, the cutting-edge carbon sequestering clean coal industry, when the best resources and highest standards for environmental protections in the world exist right here and should be championed and shared all over the world?
    Jerry Dias, while participating in a Corporate Knights round table, spoke to the need for Canada to move forward with building and purchasing electric cars and installing charging stations across the country, which is a good thing. My brother out on the west coast loves his electric car.
    Truly, if the Liberal government cared about Canadians and this nation, it would hear what Jerry said. Forty more years of oil will be needed around the world. It should be using every opportunity to grow our economy and be a truthful, transparent and servant-oriented government. It could be honest about why its response to the coronavirus has been so ineffective.
    Bill C-14 would give the government unprecedented access to billions more of Canadian tax dollars with no accountability to its citizens, at a time when those tax dollars literally do not exist and will not exist for years to come because of poor financial management. The government is printing money so that it is in control of our democracy instead of the Canadian people, and it is controlling the economy rather than enabling free enterprise.

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, quite apart from the Prime Minister's stated intention to phase out the oil sands and how he stands to benefit electorally should the west leave Canada, the immediate crisis, as my colleague mentioned, is the absence of vaccines available for inoculation in Canada.
    Today there are none. Nine days ago, Canada was 10th in line for vaccines. The EU is putting a Europe-first approach into place for the vaccines, and Canada is falling further and further behind.
    What are the member's constituents who have been designated as non-essential telling her about the state we now find ourselves in? They are going by the wayside with absolute no income.
    Mr. Speaker, my constituents are very frustrated. They are very frustrated with the approach the government has taken during the entire pandemic. We are a very resourceful and creative group of people who want to see our economy thrive, even in the midst of the pandemic. There is definite concern about every step the government has taken in regard to dealing with the virus, and I outlined a lot of them in my speech. I am speaking on behalf of my constituents.
    When it comes to the vaccines themselves, there is definitely a need for them to be available in Canada in a far more significant way than they are now. Clearly the government dropped the ball on that provision.
    However, I am pleased to say that in the riding I represent, vaccines are needed and wanted, but under the condition that getting them is voluntary and—
    Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, when I listened to the member, I heard a bit of what one would classify as hypocrisy. On the one hand, the Conservatives try to give the impression that the government is borrowing too much money, yet on the other hand, they tend to support the initiatives we are taking to support Canadians and small businesses, such as the billions of dollars going toward the Canada emergency wage subsidy program, the Canada emergency rent subsidy program, the Canada emergency business account and regional relief and recovery funds.
    We hear Conservative MPs saying that in some sense we are not doing enough yet and we should still be spending more on small businesses. Then they want to criticize the borrowing of money.
    Could the member clearly indicate to Canadians where she wants to see cuts to some of the programs we have brought forward, or does she support the entirety—
    The hon. member for Yorkton—Melville.
    Mr. Speaker, the hypocrisy is on the other side of the floor. On this side, we want what is called good governance.
    Yes, we needed that support for Canadians; there is no question. My constituents agree with that. However, they are also saying, in the midst of this, that the government prefers to put our existing economy to sleep. There are people in my riding who are getting the wonderful Canada child benefit and appreciate it. We brought it in. However, what they are saying to me is it was supposed to be in addition to their income. Now that they are depending on it, it is not enough, and they need to get back to work.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, I sat on the veterans affairs committee with the member, and I genuinely miss working with her on that committee.
    We are nine years out to meet our Paris climate commitment, and the government has done very little to support farmers and encourage them to reduce emissions, move toward alternative energy and improve nitrogen management. I wrote a letter in support of Farmers for Climate Solutions, which has been calling for supports for farmers.
    The government came up with $90 million, when farmers need $300 million. Largely, they have not been engaged and encouraged to get involved to do their part, which they are already doing, to really modernize their practices and get the support they need.
    Could my colleague speak about how important it is for the government to support Farmers for Climate Solutions and all farmers to ensure they are able to participate even more than they do now in lowering emissions and—
    We are out of time.
    The hon. member for Yorkton—Melville.
    Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate, because my farmers tend to get the “minimal time” a lot.
    There are significant things that our farmers do in my riding in Saskatchewan that have been making a difference to the environment to an unbelievable extent. It is to the point where, at the APAS summit in 2017, researchers at our University of Saskatchewan said that if we continued what we are doing to improve the way we farm, we will offset all of the emissions from the oil sands within the next decade.
    I am very proud of what our farmers are doing, but when our farmers needed real help, they did not get it from this government.
    Mr. Speaker, the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health and economic emergency the likes of which we have not seen in a century, certainly not in my lifetime, and if I get my way, we never will again.
    Through the first wave, we saw a virus the world had never seen or heard of before. It absolutely punished communities across Canada and around the world. Although we have been spared the worst of the pandemic in my home province of Nova Scotia due to a combination of smart policy and, more importantly, community buy-in, I see my neighbours across Canada in different provinces who suffer greatly at the hands of the second wave. We have Canadians who are suffering severe lockdowns. We have Canadians who have lost loved ones. We have people who have been impacted severely in terms of their economic or personal health and well-being. The circumstances cannot be overstated and they require our attention.
    Despite these challenges, Canadians have responded admirably since the very beginning of this pandemic. We saw Canadians follow public health advice, which seemed strange in those early days when people were uncomfortable wearing a mask. We learned to wash our hands in a new and appropriate way, which may have been different from what we had learned over the course of our lifetime. We saw people willing to sacrifice some of their own comforts to protect the health and well-being of their neighbours. If there is a sentiment that is more Canadian than that, I would love to hear what it is. In Canada, we stand up for our neighbours and are willing to fight as hard for them as we are for ourselves.
    I am also proud of the way that our government and, frankly, this Parliament have responded to the pandemic. I remember in the early days being part of the team that was tasked with developing some of the economic measures in response to COVID-19 and taking calls not only from MPs within the government caucus but also from MPs from all parties from every region. I think of members of Parliament who represent agricultural sectors in Ontario calling about the impact on grape growers in their region; western Canadian MPs who were calling me about support for workers in the energy sector who were going to be impacted, or about the exodus in downtown office towers when more Canadians were working from home; and, of course, here on the east coast, the MPs defending not only the public health measures but the economic supports for families who were having a hard time keeping food on the table. That said, I found it extraordinary to see the commonalities between the issues that were coming from western, northern, central and eastern Canada. Regardless of who we are or where we are from, when we lose our jobs or our health is put at risk, we need the support of our neighbours. I would like to think that we came through with the help of MPs from every party to deliver the exact kind of support that was most needed during a time of unprecedented challenge.
    I think of the measures we adopted, like the Canada emergency response benefit, CERB. At the time, nobody had heard of it. In a matter of weeks, we threw together a program that has now reached almost nine million Canadians to help keep a roof over their heads. To support businesses, there is the emergency business account, the wage subsidy and other measures to help them keep their doors open and workers on their payroll. These are the kinds of programs that were designed to meet very specific needs that, frankly, arose by virtue of the pandemic. These are not just things we wanted people to have because they might have been nice. We realized that the pandemic had very serious and acute impacts on our neighbours, friends and co-workers, and we wanted to step up as a government and as a Parliament to make sure that those needs were met. We knew that the cost of failing to meet the needs of Canadians in a time of emergency were far greater than the cost of extending the kinds of supports that would see them through difficult times.
    The legislation on the floor of the House today largely follows the trend of our emergency response and continues the pattern of meeting the needs of Canadians that have arisen as a result of this pandemic. Over the course of my remarks, I will touch briefly on the benefits of Bill C-14 that will be extended to Canadian families and businesses and, most importantly, that will continue to protect the health and well-being of Canadians as we struggle to fight the second wave of COVID-19 from coast to coast.
    With respect to the support for families, I want to draw members' attention to the enhanced Canada child benefit for parents of young children who are dealing with shutdowns of child care, who perhaps do not feel safe sending their kids to child care, or who may have given up their space early in the pandemic because they did not know if they would need it during a period of an extended shutdown. However, there is an increased cost to taking care of kids at home.

  (1350)  

    I have a four-year-old at home and it is a challenge to try to work from home and deal with parental responsibilities. We want to make that easier, particularly for families that may not be in the highest income brackets. That is why we are enhancing the Canada child benefit to provide up to $1,200 this year for parents who have children under six years old. For families that are financially better off, the benefit might not be quite as generous, but it will still make a difference. If households earn over $120,000 a year, they will still see an increase of $600 to deal with the fallout of taking care of kids at home during this pandemic.
    Continuing with the theme of supporting families, we are extending certain features of CERB that will allow Canadians who were eligible but who maybe did not receive all of their payments to continue to receive those payments now that we have entered a new calendar year. That would not have been possible without this legislation.
    I had my start in politics as the president of the StFX Students' Union in the town where i was born, Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I wear the X-Ring every day. Back then we were advocating to have the interest on federal and provincial student loans eliminated. I am so pleased to see that this legislation is going to implement that step, and also remove the interest on Canada apprentice loans to make sure that this does not just benefit those who hold loans from universities, but also those who have taken skills training courses at community colleges who are working in the skilled trades today.
    To support businesses this legislation does a couple of things. It makes a technical change to the rent subsidy program to ensure that businesses continue to receive the rent subsidy support they need to keep their doors open before their rent is due, rather than having a reimbursement on the back end. We have made changes to the regional relief and recovery fund, which has done wonders for small businesses that did not qualify for other supports in Atlantic Canada, by making it more like its equivalent, the Canada emergency business account for businesses that had an easier time qualifying.
    In particular, I want draw attention to the health and safety measures included in the bill. There is $1 billion committed in the fall economic statement to improve long-term care and, in this piece of legislation, $505 million to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our long-term care facilities. In Nova Scotia, the bulk of the cases that we have seen come from one facility, and if we can limit the outbreaks within these facilities where people are kept close to each another and are at higher risk of the spread of COVID-19, we can protect the health and well-being of all of our neighbours and ensure that we do not put our economy at risk at the same time.
    We are making significant investments, including the $133 million in the bill toward continuing support for virtual care during the time of the pandemic. We have learned some lessons, which I hope stick around on the back end of this pandemic, that will reduce the burden on our health care system and allow Canadians and communities that may have difficulty accessing a family doctor to receive the care they need virtually.
    Along a similar vein, this investment is going to help continue to allow the Wellness Together Canada portal to help Canadians who are struggling with mental health or addictions in this pandemic get the support they need and, importantly, provide support for those Canadians who are living with addictions and need support to help deal with substance abuse difficulties they may be living with, in particular, those who are struggling and living with an addiction to opioids. Opioids are taking lives from every community in our country and we need to pay attention to this crisis.
    The bill includes over $260 million to continue pursuing vaccine development, to implement travel measures and to invest in testing and research that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. We know that the best economic policy we can adopt in this pandemic is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and defeat it as swiftly as possible.
    Before I conclude, I want to raise that I have seen notice of a Conservative motion on the Order Paper that would seek to divide portions of the bill and accelerate the Canada child benefit piece and delay other portions of the bill. Though I do not doubt that the intentions are good, I would implore all members not to fall into the trap of thinking that we can accelerate one piece without delaying the other important measures, specifically those targeted to protect the health and well-being of Canadians by preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
    To conclude, this pandemic and the government's response has been the single most important project I have worked on in my career to date. In some ways I hope it remains that way for the rest of my life, because it is interesting and engaging, but for all the wrong reasons. Our fellow countrymen are hurting, are sick and are struggling financially. By continuing to advance emergency supports that will help families take care of their kids, get our communities back to normal, put food on the table, put a roof over the heads of families and help businesses keep their doors open and workers on the payroll, I know that we will remain on the right track.

  (1355)  

     l look forward to seeing the support of members of all parties in the House when it comes time to vote on this important bill.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. Earlier, we were talking about the request from our constituents, who are asking us when the provinces and Quebec will get their fair share so they can provide health care that is up to par with what it should be.
    In a few seconds, I would like to remind those listening that “[t]he provinces exercise very broad health powers under several provisions of the Constitution Act, 1867, including subsection 92(7), which gives the provinces exclusive jurisdiction over establishing, maintaining and managing hospitals”.
    It is an exclusive responsibility, with direct delivery.
    Can my colleague tell me when the provinces will have the money to provide the care that falls under their jurisdiction?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member would like to discuss increased investments to ensure that provincial health care systems can provide family doctors' improved mental health and improve the quality of long-term care, that is a very valuable discussion to have, but we cannot abdicate the responsibility to deal with this pandemic.
    Frankly, the jurisdictional division of powers outlined in the Constitution, which I am intimately familiar with, broke down the moment I saw the military go into long-term facilities. When I saw the federal government being asked to fund field hospitals to deal with the consequences of provincial governments being overwhelmed despite their best of intentions, I knew that we could not sit back and send a blank cheque with no accountability.
    We do need to treat the pandemic from a holistic point of view and understand that the money we put toward the emergency response will actually be delivered to improve the quality of health and protect the well-being of Canadians who are trying to fight this COVID-19 pandemic. This is the single most important thing and we cannot take our eye off the ball.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish a happy new year to my colleague. He talked about blank cheques with no accountability, but his government and federal government institutions have provided $750 billion in liquidity supports to Canada's big banks with no conditions. Billions of dollars in support have gone to Canada's biggest corporations, who often have used that money for share buybacks and executive bonuses. Again, there is no accountability.
    When we talk about Bill C-14, I share, of course, my colleague's objectives, but the amount of resources invested fall far short of what is needed. We talk about the $2 billion that is needed to put in place a foundation for national child care. This bill provides only a fraction of that. Canada's nurses, as the member well knows, testified that we need at least $3 billion a year to have national standards for long-term care that would make sure every single Canadian senior lives with an adequate level of care, and, yet again, there is only a fraction of that contained within the bill—

  (1400)  

    We have to try to get more questions in here.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish the hon. member well and a happy new year. I look forward to seeing him at the finance committee as well.
    There are two buckets of issues that he has raised in his question.
    One is the nature of supports extended to business and through the banks. I think the key words that he used were “liquidity supports” when it comes to the banks. We have to think about what would have happened if we did not advance those supports. If we had not allowed for increased liquidity support, the banks would not have been able to offer forbearance on foreclosures to home owners. There would have been more people out of their homes. If we actually look to the supports for big corporations, when we move fast, sometimes we will break things. There are examples to be found. I am not going to sit here and say that the response has been perfect, but it was pretty good. I have to say that I am proud of the work we have done, because we were able to keep millions of Canadians on the payroll with these supports.
    With respect to the issues around child care and support for long-term care standards, I agree with the member on this. I think we need to be aggressive in the pursuit of improving these policies. This bill before Parliament does not seek to boil the ocean, but it is going to make a difference with the water in the pot.
    The issues that we have tackled in the legislation are going to be advanced in a way that makes a meaningful difference and protects the economic and financial health and well-being of Canadians who live in my community as well as his.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Terry Fox

    Mr. Speaker, eight worthy candidates are being considered by the government for the new five-dollar bill, but one stands out from the rest: Terry Fox. I am proud to sponsor an e-petition initiated by Burlington resident and CFL Hall of Famer Tony Gabriel to have Terry Fox chosen to be on the five-dollar bill.
    In 1980, Terry embarked on the Marathon of Hope to raise funds for cancer research. When he came through Ottawa, he participated in a ceremonial kickoff at an Ottawa Rough Riders game. Tony told him there was not one person on the team that could possibly physically do what Terry was doing. This gave Terry an emotional lift. The Marathon of Hope made Terry Fox a household name and a Canadian hero. Over $800 million has been raised for cancer research in Terry's name.
    As Tony would say, let us get Terry in the end zone. It is time to put him on the five.

Terry Fox Fundraiser

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate and recognize an incredible constituent. For over 30 years, Jim Terrion has raised over $800,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation and he is on track to reach his goal of $1 million for 2024.
    Jim's extraordinary efforts began when his hero, Terry Fox, could no longer pursue his Marathon of Hope. Jim took up the cause and in 1990, he walked across Canada to honour his hero. Along the way, he raised money for the Terry Fox Foundation and he raised awareness for deaf and hearing-impaired Canadians. Jim was born without the ability to hear, but he has never let this challenge stop him from accomplishing great things for our community and for our country. Since then, Jim has continued Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope. Each year, Jim pays a personal visit to every business and resident in Prince George in northern B.C. to collect pledges for the Terry Fox run. Just last year, Jim was awarded the B.C. achievement award to recognize his efforts.
    Jim's work has undoubtedly made a difference in the lives of Canadians all across our country. On behalf of our community, I thank Jim for his 30 years of hard work and dedication to cancer research. We thank Jim for keeping Terry Fox's dream alive. Jim is a champion.

Peace Policy Platform

    Mr. Speaker, alongside nine parliamentarians from nine other nations and Open Diplomacy, I took part in the creation of the 2020 Peace Policy Platform.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

    This was presented at the World Peace Forum in Caen, France, on September 30. I attended virtually to represent Canada. Our work over two months highlighted the need for greater collaboration and co-operation among democracies.

[English]

    The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for a strong international institution. Despite coming from different backgrounds, we were united in our commitment to universal access to education, to fighting climate change and to mitigating the impacts of poverty.
    I was proud to bring the Canadian perspective. As elected officials, we must work with our legislative body to do everything we can to better our community. Only by working together may we ensure and protect the well-being each and everyone deserves.

[Translation]

Saint-Eugène School in Mont-Laurier

    Mr. Speaker, on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Saint-Eugène school in Mont-Laurier, I want to recognize the outstanding work of all the partners who made it possible to produce a publication on the history of this important institution, which was founded in 1950.
    I spent some very happy years as a student at the school and I have fond memories of my time there, particularly since my father, Gaston Gaudreau, was the school principal during my last year of elementary school. In addition to my wonderful experience, I want to acknowledge this school's part in the history of education and the legacy left by all those who, over the years, worked to make this school a welcoming place focused on helping students to thrive.
    I hope that this place of learning will continue to provide a good education to future generations. I wish continued success for the Saint-Eugène school in Mont-Laurier, a precious piece of our region's heritage.

Violence Against Women

    Mr. Speaker, people have to stay home because of the pandemic, but home is not a safe place for everyone. The pandemic is only making things worse for thousands of victims of conjugal and family violence.
    Last week, I had the opportunity to welcome my colleague, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality, to my riding of Brome—Missisquoi to talk about this new reality. We met with many local stakeholders so we could hear from them, talk about everyday challenges and discuss how the government can do even more to support them.
    I also want to acknowledge the presence of Cathie Sombret from the Horizon pour Elle shelter and her contribution to the discussion. Her organization makes an invaluable contribution to our region. The work that is being done by our shelters and halfway houses is now more essential than ever.
    I want to thank all of the women's organizations in Brome—Missisquoi for their hard work.

[English]

India Republic Day

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is home to over 1.3 million Indo-Canadians. Indo-Canadians have contributed enormously to the fabric of Canadian society. From local business owners, from farmers to academics, they enrich our communities with their hard work, their devotion and their sense of community. In my own riding of Dufferin—Caledon, we have a growing and thriving Indo-Canadian community. Canada and India share strong and growing ties, in part because of our Indo-Canadian community.
    Today, the largest democracy in the world celebrates its 72nd Republic Day, a day that marks the birth of the Indian republic. It is my great honour to stand here today in the House and wish them a very happy India Republic Day on behalf of all of my Conservative colleagues. Mr. Speaker, please join me in wishing everyone of Indian ancestry a very happy India Republic Day.

Business Improvement Areas

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to acknowledge the important work done in Don Valley West, and many places, by business improvement areas, or BIAs as they are commonly known. I especially want to commend four BIAs that are promoting local businesses and ensuring vibrant main streets in my community: Uptown Yonge, Mount Pleasant Village, Bayview-Leaside, and Yonge Lawrence Village BIAs.
    These self-funded associations attract shoppers and clients, boosting the local economy. They ensure safe and attractive streetscapes, add colour and beauty to our neighbourhoods, and engage entertainers and artists at special seasonal events like the apple festival, the village art walk, the annual harvest fair and the holiday tree-lighting ceremony.
    During this difficult time, BIAs in Don Valley West have helped direct their members to federal COVID-19 assistance programs, boosted the profile of businesses and strengthened ties within our local community. BIAs have stepped up for the businesses of Don Valley West. I commend them and thank them for their work and wish them the very best.

  (1410)  

Agriculture

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's assault on hard-working families in the agriculture sector is reaching new heights. Last month, the Prime Minister announced an unprecedented increase in the carbon tax, resulting in farmers and ranchers losing tens of thousands of dollars in annual net income.
    Red Deer is one of Alberta's most important agricultural regions. With more than 9,000 farms in central Alberta, it is no exaggeration to say that agriculture forms the backbone of our economy. The Liberal government's carbon tax is having a devastating impact.
    What the Liberal government refuses to acknowledge is that the carbon tax has placed farmers and ranchers in a carbon tax trap. Farmers and ranchers do not have the ability to add the carbon tax to the prices of their products. However, they are subject to paying this tax as it is levied by their input suppliers. This is all before the Liberal government's newest tax, the clean fuel standard, kicks in. Farmers and ranchers simply cannot afford to keep paying the excessive costs of Liberal ineptitude.

[Translation]

Mental Health

    Happy new year, Mr. Speaker.
    I rise to acknowledge Bell Let's Talk Day, which is Thursday, January 28. This day is about raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with mental health challenges.
    We all know someone suffering from mental health issues, whether it is a friend, a family member, a neighbour or ourselves. It is really hard for people to ask for help.

[English]

    In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to take care of our mental health and to check in on those around us. Feelings of anxiety and worry can be normal. People who are struggling should reach out for help. There are many resources available. Let us share, connect virtually and keep moving forward.
    On Bell Mental Health Day, today, this week and every day spread the word and make a positive change. I know the residents of the Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury are up for the challenge.
     May everyone stay safe and take care of each other.

[Translation]

François Dupéré

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour the life of Corporal François Dupéré, a veteran of the Royal 22nd Regiment who is a model of courage. After miraculously surviving a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, Corporal Dupéré showed exemplary resilience by continuing to live his life with the same vim and vigour.
    He paid a heavy price for his decision to step up and face our enemies in Afghanistan. He lost one eye, one lung and the use of one hand. He showed great resilience after returning home to Canada, and continued to enjoy life despite the many scars he carried with him.
    Our brothers in arms described him as a man larger than life. He was involved in providing support to other military families. He was a man of honour and courage, and an exemplary father, according to his friends. That is why I can say that Corporal Dupéré is a brother to us all.
    I rise virtually in the House of Commons to salute Corporal Dupéré. May he rest in peace.

COVID-19 Vaccines

    Mr. Speaker, no matter where we are—Quebec, out west, Ontario, the Maritimes or the territories—the number remains the same: zero. Canada received zero doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week. How many essential workers will be vaccinated? Zero. How many seniors will be vaccinated? Zero. How many seniors' home residents will be vaccinated this week? Zero.
    Why is that? It is because the Prime Minister prefers grandstanding to safeguarding Canadians' health. It is because the Prime Minister refuses to be straight with Canadians and disclose the deals with the drug companies. It is because the Liberal government is governing one day at a time, with no plan and no skills. It is because the kind of empty rhetoric we have been hearing for weeks about how we have more vaccines per capita than any other country in the world is useless when we are the last to get them.
    Zero vaccines this week is zero. How many people will contract COVID-19 this week? How many people will die of COVID-19 because the government failed to provide vaccines to the provinces? Seniors, who are the most vulnerable, deserve better.
    The Conservatives are ready to work together to protect health care in Canada.

[English]

Hardest Hit Businesses

    Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on small businesses and workers across Canada, especially on those workers in the tourism, hospitality and events industries. For these industries, a return to normal is still years away. If a small business closes in a rural riding like mine, not only does a family lose its sole source of income, but the effect is felt across the whole community. Based on data from the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses, almost 40% of businesses in the travel and tourism sector will close for good by the end of February.
    Today's announcement of the HASCAP program is welcome. It needs work, but still hopefully will come in time for those who are hardest hit and need it the most. These businesses need the liquidity support that the program offers, but will also rely on an extended wage subsidy, back-dated rent relief and the efforts of community members to continue to shop at local retail businesses, other businesses and stores in their communities.
    The government still has much work to do to help entrepreneurs and start-ups, protect jobs in the hospitality sector and guarantee the rights of workers who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. It has never been more clear that the government must act immediately to save the hardest hit—

  (1415)  

    The hon. member for Drummond.

[Translation]

Drummond Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, on January 22, the Association des parents d'enfants handicapés de Drummond celebrated its 40th anniversary.
    The association was established in 1981 by parents seeking services for their children with disabilities. Since then, it has grown with the support of very involved parents and volunteers. It has spearheaded various initiatives over the years. It was especially instrumental in improving the integration of special needs children at school and in all kinds of other settings where including them would have been virtually unthinkable not so long ago. Day after day, the association continues to improve the living conditions of these children and their families.
    We must acknowledge the association's work with the parents of children with disabilities, who are often discouraged and lack resources. The association is always there to support them, listen to them and guide them. I would like to congratulate the Association des parents d'enfants handicapés de Drummond and its volunteers, and I would especially like to recognize Danny Lauzière, who has served as its director for the past 18 years.
    Congratulations on 40 years of breaking down barriers and doing good.

[English]

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday’s announcement by the Biden administration for a buy America plan will mean Canadian companies will be largely excluded from U.S. government contracts and projects.
     This will be devastating for hard-working Canadians in manufacturing, production, aluminum and steel. I was talking with a manufacturing company in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country this morning that is worried about being shut out through their U.S. distributor, which sells to the U.S. government.
     The U.S. is our largest market. It is worth half a trillion dollars in yearly exports. When former President Obama put in buy America policies, the Conservative government quickly negotiated an agreement to allow Canadian companies to continue participating.
    This will put our mutual economic recovery at risk. While the Liberals may be just fine with saying that they are concerned or disappointed with U.S. trade issues, Canada’s Conservatives are focused on securing jobs, securing the economy and securing our future.
     The Prime Minister needs to get to work—
    The hon. member for London West.

London Agriculture and Agri-food

    Mr. Speaker, London may be known as the forest city, but with more than 7,000 people employed in agriculture and agri-food industries, we could call it the food city. The importance of this sector to my community cannot be overstated.

[Translation]

    The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role this sector plays in supporting the health and well-being of Canadians.

[English]

    Last week, I was so proud to announce FedDev Ontario's $7.2 million investment in the Western Fair Association, which will help expand the work of the local agri-food business accelerator known as The Grove. Through this investment, 550 new jobs will be created and over 100 additional jobs will be maintained.
    I am proud to represent London West.

  (1420)  

Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer

    Mr. Speaker, as we begin 2021, I would like to thank all those who work in public health across Nova Scotia and Canada for their heroic work over the past months.
    I would especially like to thank Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health, whom I am lucky enough to have as a constituent. Thanks to Dr. Strang's incredible work, our province has not witnessed some of the acute rises in COVID cases that others have, and we are well prepared for the second wave.
    Day in and day out, Dr. Strang has gone beyond the call of duty. Recently, Dr. Strang visited a tree lighting in Fall River, hosted by the local business association, to spread some Christmas cheer and share tips on how to have a COVID-friendly holiday season.
     On behalf of the people of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook and fellow Nova Scotians, I would like to thank Dr. Strang for the countless sacrifices he has made and the tireless work he has done to get us through this pandemic.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' failure to deliver vaccines is costing lives.
    Recently, 127 residents at the Roberta Place long-term care home in Barrie tested positive for COVID, and by Sunday afternoon, 40 of them had died. Every day without a vaccine leads to the potential for more outbreaks.
    The Liberals' delivery of zero vaccines this week is completely unacceptable.
    What is the Prime Minister's answer to the people, especially health care workers and our beloved seniors, who will not get a vaccine this week because of his failure to secure them?
    Mr. Speaker, there is an intense competition for vaccines in the world today.
    In anticipation of this global race, Canada took precautions. We secured the world's most extensive vaccine portfolio from seven companies, with 10 doses for every Canadian. That is why Canada has already vaccinated more people per capita than our G7 peers of Germany, Japan and France, and more than our Five Eyes partners of Australia and New Zealand.
    There is no more urgent issue for this government than getting Canadian vaccinated, and together we will get it done.
    Mr. Speaker, we have also just learned that over 335,000 surgeries have been cancelled across the country over the last four months because of COVID. These were life-saving surgeries for things like cancer and heart disease or procedures to get people out of immense pain and suffering. The overall health costs to Canadians because of these cancellations could be catastrophic.
    A vaccine is needed now, not “maybe”, “kind of”, “sort of” or “in nine months”. Again, why are Canadians getting zero vaccines this week?
    Mr. Speaker, there is no more urgent issue for our government and for Canadians than getting vaccines. That is why over the past few days the Prime Minister has spoken with the CEOs of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.
    Let me remind Canadians that 1.1 million vaccine doses are already here, six million doses will arrive in the first quarter, and every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated by September.
    Mr. Speaker, if there is one thing we know, it is that Liberals are going to keep misleading Canadians on vaccines. They are refusing to give clear answers on how they are going to fix the vaccine shortage.
    The vaccine will save lives and bring hope, but we have none arriving in Canada, while vaccines go to other countries. People are dying, surgeries are being cancelled, and last night a Liberal MP said the Liberals are banking on vaccines that have not been approved yet. This is not a game; lives are at stake.
    When can Canadians expect to be vaccinated?
    Mr. Speaker, every Canadian who wants a vaccine will get one by September, and we are offering very clear, precise details to Canadians in saying that 1.1 million vaccines have already arrived in our country and six million doses will arrive by the end of the first quarter.
    There is a global race on to get vaccines, and Canada is urgently engaged in getting them for Canadians.

  (1425)  

[Translation]

COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Liberals unsuccessfully sought the unanimous consent of the House to pass a bill that would fix the mistakes in their rushed legislation that gave $1,000 to non-essential travellers for their quarantine. The House obviously decided it was best to study and debate the bill properly.
    I would like to know why the government has not yet introduced the bill.
    Mr. Speaker, this program was never designed to encourage Canadians to violate clear public health advisories against international travel.
    We are taking immediate action to address this issue so that international travellers cannot access this benefit upon their return. It is a shame that the opposition members blocked our attempt to close that loophole.
    Mr. Speaker, this is typical of this government. It asks us to push bills through quickly without letting us do our jobs. We often have to re-examine bills, when we could have just studied them properly to begin with.
    It is a new year. Will the government resolve to do things properly and allow debate on this bill so that vacationers do not get $1,000?
    Mr. Speaker, our government's position is crystal clear. No one should be travelling abroad right now. Our government's position on this loophole is just as clear. We want to close the loophole and we want to do that now.
    It is a shame that the opposition members do not agree.
    Mr. Speaker, I once knew a Deputy Prime Minister who would never have misrepresented what the official opposition or the Bloc Québécois said about why this bill had to be debated.
    Why does it have to be debated? Because it will be retroactive. It does not matter when it passes. What matters is the date as of which it applies retroactively. Quarantine and monitoring, flight bans and reimbursing people who cancel their trips are the government's responsibility.
    Will the government step up?
    Mr. Speaker, this program was never designed to encourage Canadians to violate clear public health advisories against international travel. I want to be very clear today: Nobody should be vacationing abroad right now.
    We think everyone needs to step up together to close this loophole. We want to do it now, and we can do it now.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the program was not created to stop people from travelling, but the amendment to the program was introduced so that those who travel are not compensated. That seems clear to me. That is what the Deputy Prime Minister has to do with her boss.
    I have another question.
    In a clearly failed telephone call between the Prime Minister and the U.S. President, why did the Canadian Prime Minister not seek assurances that he could get Pfizer vaccines from Michigan?
    We could practically bike there.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for the Bloc leader. We have worked well together on such things as the aluminum file, for example.
    That is why I am deeply disappointed that the Bloc leader has twice made incorrect comments about my colleague, the Minister of Transport. I would like to give him the opportunity to publicly apologize in the House.
    Mr. Speaker, the COVID-19 crisis continues in our long-term care facilities. Our seniors need the vaccine. Without access to the vaccine, more of our seniors will die.
    My question is simple: When will our seniors be vaccinated?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is an intense global competition for vaccines, as we have always known. That is why Canada secured the largest vaccine portfolio in the world, with vaccines from seven different suppliers and 10 doses for every Canadian. Canada has already vaccinated more people per capita than our G20 peers, including Germany, Japan and France, and our Five Eyes partners, including Australia and New Zealand. Vaccines are our government's priority.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, over 200 doctors are calling for urgent action in Ontario to address the crisis in long-term care exposed by COVID-19. They are calling for massive reforms, but in particular they are also calling for removing profit from long-term care.
    Revera is one of the largest for-profit providers of long-term care. It is owned by a federal agency. Will the Prime Minister take the first step in removing profit from long-term care by removing profit from Revera by making it public, and saving lives?
    Mr. Speaker, let me start by saying that I share the member opposite's concern and his anguish over people in long-term care facilities, and I think this is a concern shared by all Canadians. This is something we need to urgently address, and our government is doing just that, working in close collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners.
    Let me also say that I think it is entirely appropriate for us as a country to examine very carefully the standards in long-term care, to set national standards and to examine what kind of care protects our seniors best.
    Mr. Speaker, a majority of the vaccines the Liberals are banking on will be produced in Europe, but yesterday it was reported that the European Union is considering export bans to prioritize vaccines for its citizens. In spite of what the Prime Minister said this morning, it is not up to the companies to determine this. It is up to EU officials, and they are talking about a ban.
    If the EU bans exports of vaccines, where will Canada get its supply from?
    Mr. Speaker, our government and I have been in contact with the European Union on this very important issue. There is not a restriction on the export of vaccines to Canada.
    We are going to continue to work with the EU, just as we have throughout this pandemic, to make sure that our critical health and medical supply chains remain open and resilient. We share this urgency with Canadians to ensure life-saving vaccines get to Canada, and we are fully engaged to secure the continued deliveries of vaccines to Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, there might not be a ban at this moment, but what is being reported is that the EU is considering a ban in the future. That is a big deal because Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca produce the vaccines that are on order for Canada in Europe.
    Enough with “there might not be one now”. If the Europeans ban exports of vaccines, what is plan B for Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for that important question. We absolutely share the urgency with Canadians about getting vaccines to Canada, which is why our government and I have been speaking to my EU counterpart. We are going to keep working with the EU, just as we have throughout this pandemic, to ensure that our supply chains remain open so these important vaccines, and the continued delivery of them, make their way to Canada.

  (1435)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this morning, we learned in the media that the European Union has threatened to block exports of coronavirus vaccines to countries outside the EU, including Canada, after AstraZeneca announced a significant reduction in the doses promised to member countries.
    Can the Prime Minister confirm that he picked up the phone this morning to call the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to make sure that planned vaccine deliveries to Canada will not be delayed?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, our government and I have been in contact with the EU. We are continuing to work with the EU. There is no export restriction on vaccines to Canada.
    This is an important issue. We will continue to work with the European Union, just as we have throughout the pandemic, to ensure that in critical supply chains, vaccines continue to make their way to Canada.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, from the beginning, we have not been able to believe what this government is telling us. The information we get is always different.
    My question is for the Prime Minister. Has he, himself, picked up the phone to call the President of the European Commission to get answers, yes or no?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government has been in contact with the EU, and we are working with the EU just as we have throughout this pandemic. It is important that supply chains continue to be resilient and continue to be open. We understand and share the urgency of the hon. member about getting these life-saving vaccines to Canada as quickly as possible. We are fully engaged to ensure that we secure the continued delivery of vaccines to Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, it is unacceptable that Canada is getting zero doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, when other countries are not having their supplies slashed to zero. It is Canadians who will pay for the delays caused by poor planning and bad negotiations, and it is our seniors, those who care for them and their families who will pay the highest price.
    Lives and livelihoods depend on the timely access of vaccines. What is the government going to do to fix the vaccine shortage?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear about our schedule of vaccine deliveries, and that schedule is the same. We will be receiving six million doses before the end of Q1, and we will be continuing to ramp up deliveries such that Canadians who want a vaccine will be able to access one by the end of September. This is information we have supplied consistently with Canadians and this is information we will continue to supply.
    Mr. Speaker, we are getting zero vaccines this week and the Liberals' plan is so clear that their own members cannot make sense of it. The Prime Minister needs to come clean about why Canada's supply is being slashed more than that of other countries and how that is being addressed. If we are not hitting our targets now, that offers Canadians little assurance going forward. We know that every delay has a cost, for families who will lose loved ones, for seniors facing isolation and for the front-line workers who are just plain exhausted.
    Will the Prime Minister finally release the full details of the negotiated contracts?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that 1.1 million doses of the vaccine have already entered Canada. That number is among the best in the G20, and that number will continue to ramp up to six million in the first quarter and continue right throughout the year so that all Canadians who wish to receive a vaccine by the end of September will be able to receive a vaccine. This is information we have shared on numerous occasions.
    I say to the opposition and all Canadians that we will continue to do so. There is no greater priority for this government than ensuring the successful conclusion of a vaccine program for all Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, everyone is waiting for Ottawa to ban unnecessary travel, monitor quarantines, close the borders and reimburse people who cancel their trips. The Prime Minister has the nerve to call a press conference to announce diddly-squat. I am not making this up. He called a press conference and proceeded to announce nothing at all. It looks like the Prime Minister will never step up. Quebec is now asking for the authority to penalize those who violate quarantine.
    Will the government at least let Quebec take action?

  (1440)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, since March 2020, we have asked Canadians to reconsider and cancel their discretionary travel. We have also banned foreign travellers to Canada, and now we are requiring travellers coming into Canada to be tested and to have a negative COVID test before arriving. As the Prime Minister has said, we are also exploring further options to make sure we are containing the spread of the virus and doing everything we can to protect the health of Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the federal government cannot ban non-essential flights. It cannot force airlines to reimburse people who cancel their flights. It cannot monitor quarantine. There is so much the feds cannot do that the Government of Quebec wants to step in and punish people who violate quarantine, but the feds cannot even accept Quebec's help. If the federal government cannot help, at least it should not cause harm.
    Will the government at least get out of the way and let Quebec do its job?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, every step of the way in our response at the border, and indeed in fighting this pandemic, has been led by science and evidence.
    In the spring we immediately took measures to screen at the border, and further strengthened these with the need for mandatory isolation and quarantine when people arrived from international travel. We have strengthened the quarantine. We have also monitored people in quarantine, and we encourage all law enforcement officers to use their tools to help enforce quarantine. It is an important part of reducing importation.
    Finally, we remind Canadians that now is not the time to travel.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, first the U.S. administration cancelled Keystone XL. Now it has announced buy America policies for its government procurement. This will be devastating to our exports of Canadian aluminum and steel, and for the many manufacturing and wholesale sectors that rely on integrated supply chains with the United States.
    What is the Prime Minister doing to ensure Canada is exempted from these policies, or will he again just express his disappointment, as he did with Keystone?
    Mr. Speaker, I want Canadian businesses and workers to know that we are actively engaging with our American partners at all levels, and we will always stand up for the best interests of Canadians. The Prime Minister spoke to President Biden and affirmed we will be working together and consulting closely.
     Canada and the U.S. share a unique relationship. We will continue working with our Canadian businesses, our exporters. We are going to take a team Canada approach. We have been doing that for the last five years, and we will keep doing that to ensure we are working with our neighbour to create good jobs in North America.
    Mr. Speaker, when the U.S. put through buy America policies in 2009, the Conservative government secured an exemption agreement so Canadian businesses and workers were protected. We need similar leadership now.
    Canadian manufacturers and exporters have said that these buy America policies may force them to move across the border, taking tens of thousands of jobs with them. Is the government pursuing an exemption agreement with the United States to protect Canadian workers?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the president have agreed to consult closely and work together. We understand that both countries benefit from the integrated, secure and resilient supply chains between our two countries.
    Canada is the number one customer of more than 32 states. We look forward to working with the American administration in the interests of Canadian workers and Canadian businesses here in Canada, and indeed, on both sides of the border.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister talks a big game, but he is collecting failures at every turn. He is failing on indigenous reconciliation, the environment and job creation when he fails to support Keystone XL with the new U.S. administration. Everyone knows pipelines are safer and cleaner than rail to transport oil and gas.
    Designed to achieve net-zero emissions, Keystone XL ticked all the boxes, yet the Prime Minister could not find it in his schedule to make it a priority. Why did he not fight for the Canadian workers who depend on these jobs?
    Mr. Speaker, we are not happy about this decision. We made a strong argument for this project at every level and in every way we could, from Ambassador Hillman to the Prime Minister. I spoke weekly with Minister Savage and the former member for Edmonton—Leduc, Alberta's special representative in Washington, James Rajotte.
    We worked together all through the fall. The Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta stood shoulder to shoulder to make the case together. We made the case for Canada, and the president has made a decision to honour his campaign commitment.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, we know when the Prime Minister wants a file to go his way by the effort he puts into it, such as with SNC-Lavalin, when he bent every rule to save jobs at one company. Surely Keystone XL workers deserve more than a quick chat.
    Canada is facing another energy crisis. This one could hit Ontario and Quebec hard. Michigan wants to kill Enbridge Line 5. This pipeline supplies Ontario's and Quebec's industries, which thousands of workers and their families depend upon. Will the government stop sitting on its hands, or are we going to add another trophy to the Prime Minister's failure collection?
    Mr. Speaker, President Biden's decision to rescind the permit for KXL has no impact on Enbridge's Line 5 or Line 3 replacement projects. These pipelines continue to operate.
    These are projects to modernize existing energy infrastructure, and they are driven by safety and good labour jobs. Both of these projects have been repeatedly validated by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, this is the fifth anniversary of the historic Human Rights Tribunal ruling that ordered the Liberal government to end its systemic discrimination against first nations children, yet the Prime Minister's obstruction has resulted in eight non-compliance orders and over $8 million in legal fees. The cost has been paid in children's lives, children such as Chantel Fox, Jolynn Winter and Jenna Roundskye.
    When will the Prime Minister just call off his lawyers, do the right thing for first nations children and end his systemic discrimination against their rights?
    Mr. Speaker, while today is the fifth anniversary of the CHRT order on the inequalities and overrepresentation of indigenous children in care that spanned decades, we have been clear that our goal is a comprehensive, fair and equitable compensation for those impacted by the historic inequities in first nations child welfare.
    Let me be equally clear in saying that currently Canada is facing three competing lawsuits that purport largely to represent the same group of plaintiffs, and we welcome the appointment of a mediator to navigate this process. I would also take the a moment to highlight the termination this week of birth alerts in Saskatchewan.
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Indigenous Services recently stated that his government does not recognize the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on expanding Jordan's principle. He wants consultation instead. Is the minister for real? We are talking about children who have no access to health care supports for the basic and urgent care they need. This is about care for children.
    I am asking the minister to not take first nations children to court again. I am asking for reconciliation and action, not words. I ask the minister to please drop the legal action now.
    Mr. Speaker, I would highlight for the member opposite that Indigenous Services Canada has provided 800,000 supports since 2016 in implementing these orders. The appeal of the particular order that the member is referencing will in no way prejudice indigenous children.
     We will implement every single aspect of that order, regardless of the outcome. It is part of the competing three lawsuits that this government is facing, purporting to affect the same group of plaintiffs. We welcome the appointment of the mediator to navigate through this process.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, more than two years have passed since Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arbitrarily detained in China. The former minister of foreign affairs was right when he said, on the second anniversary of their detention, that these are two years that have been stolen from them. Canadians, including all members of this House, remain united in calling for their immediate release so they can come home and reunite with their families.
    Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs please provide an update on the government's efforts to make that possible?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is a very, very important question. Ending the arbitrary detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig is an absolute priority of mine and of the government. We will work on this every single day in order to obtain their release.
    As people well know, the Prime Minister raised the matter with President Biden, who was informed on the subject, and I intend to raise it with my counterpart, Secretary Blinken, as early as this week as a top priority for the Canadian government. We want to get the two Michaels released.
    Mr. Speaker, I have another question on China.
    A number of entities, including a subcommittee of this House, two consecutive U.S. administrations and Canada's official opposition, have concluded that the Government of China is committing a genocide against the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims. Yesterday, the minister said the government believes an independent investigation is needed to arrive at that conclusion. Ambassador Rae said something similar before Christmas.
    What specific action has the Government of Canada taken to initiate an independent investigation?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, we are gravely concerned with the very strong allegations that have been made against China with respect to its treatment of the Muslim minority Uighur people and other minorities.
    We are calling upon China to allow unfettered access to the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the United Nations, and also to allow an independent and impartial committee of experts to enter China to examine the situations that exist there to confirm or not the situation that has been reported.
    Mr. Speaker, the all-party subcommittee already conducted hearings and recognized these crimes as genocide months ago. Now the government is talking about an investigation, but clearly, in the absence of any action to make that happen in the meantime, this is simply obfuscation and delay.
    The minister knows full well that the same government that lied to the WHO about the spread of COVID-19 is not going to allow unfettered access to members of the International Court of Justice, or to any other independent investigators.
    When will the government put aside the delays and doublespeak, and recognize and respond to this genocide?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, we are very concerned with the very compelling reports that have come out pointing to the treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority with respect to forced labour camps and other excesses, which do not respect human rights. That is why we want to look at this in detail.
    We are urging the Chinese government to allow a full, impartial and independent examination by experts of the situation in Xinjiang province.

[Translation]

Government Appointments

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians who voluntarily leave their employment are not entitled to employment insurance benefits, but we just learned that the former governor general will be entitled to a generous lifetime pension after resigning. Canadians are outraged.
    The primary responsibility for this fiasco lies with the Prime Minister, who hand-picked the Governor General himself without consulting anyone. Did the Prime Minister promise her a lifetime pension of $150,000 a year in exchange for her resignation in order to put a lid on this issue? When will the Prime Minister announce that the former governor general will not receive another penny of taxpayer money?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows very well that the Governor General's retirement benefits are prescribed by law. Before making things up and assuming that this was a promise made by the government, he should read the act. He knows that this is prescribed by law.
    That is the exact amount that the former governor general will be entitled to. With regard to additional spending, the Treasury Board obviously regularly monitors such spending and will ensure the appropriateness of all expenditures since we are talking about taxpayer money.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the list of this Prime Minister's bad decisions is starting to become quite costly to Canadians. We just found out that he once again has lost face on the world stage: Bill Morneau has withdrawn from the race for the secretary general post at the OECD, saying he did not have enough member support to win.
    We already know that 19 officials were working on Mr. Morneau's campaign. In addition to the travel expenses and all the other fees, can the Prime Minister tell us how much money Canadians have spent on this new dismal failure?
    Mr. Speaker, we were disappointed that Bill Morneau did not get enough support to become the next secretary general of the OECD. We think that Bill Morneau was the ideal candidate to lead the OECD during these difficult times. We want to thank Mr. Morneau for his dedication and his campaign, but also for everything he has done to improve the quality of life of Canadians. Although this was not the result we were hoping for, we will work with the next secretary general of the OECD that members will select.

  (1455)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the Pfizer plant in Europe is unable to deliver even a single dose of the vaccine to Canada. This should not be a problem, because we could turn to the Pfizer plant in the United States. However, we cannot do that, because the Trump administration issued an executive order stating that Pfizer had to vaccinate Americans first before it could export doses.
    There is a new president in Washington, and the Prime Minister spoke to him on Friday. Did the Prime Minister ask Joe Biden to make an exception for Canada, at least while Pfizer's European operations are paralyzed?
    Mr. Speaker, as we have repeated so many times, we have the most diversified portfolio of vaccines and vaccine candidates in the world. Yes, we signed agreements with Pfizer. Yes, we are expecting four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first quarter. That number will increase throughout 2021, and all Canadians who want a vaccine will get one by the end of September. That is still the case, and I want to reassure the member and all Canadians about this.
    Mr. Speaker, the United States is our best trading partner. Logically, it should also be our best health partner. Vaccination will help boost not only our economy but theirs as well, because the two are integrated.
    The Prime Minister spoke with Joe Biden. After agreeing to concessions on Keystone XL and the Buy American Act, he should absolutely have asked for something in return. That is called negotiating.
    Did he seize the opportunity to ask the President to intervene in order to give Canada access to the vaccine?
    Mr. Speaker, I share the hon. member’s sense of urgency when it comes to vaccinating all Canadians. It is a sense of urgency that we all share as a government, including the Prime Minister—who is speaking with leaders around the world and with the CEOs of the big pharmaceutical companies—the minister I am representing today and myself. We are working on this every day. We are doing our jobs, and every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated will be able to do so by the end of September, if they wish.

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, it has been one year since the senseless, preventable death of 22-year-old Marylène Levesque in Quebec City by a convicted murderer who had brutally killed his wife, yet was out on day parole so he could satisfy his “sexual needs”.
    We now know from a report released last week by correctional and parole officials that there were warning signs that were missed in this case.
    Does the Prime Minister accept responsibility for the failures of the correctional services in the tragic death of Marylène Levesque?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, our colleague is experiencing technical difficulties at the moment, and he would like to answer the question. He will have to answer it later.
    I think that he was ready, but you started speaking at the same time.
    I do not know whether the hon. Minister of Justice would like to answer the question.
    No? Okay.
    Hon. Pablo Rodriguez: Mr. Speaker, our colleague from Public Safety would like to answer the question.
    The Speaker: Okay. Once the problem is resolved, we will come back to it.
    The hon. member for Niagara Falls.

  (1500)  

[English]

COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government likes to make hurried announcements and then take its slow time in implementing critical support programs such as the highly affected sectors credit availability program, HASCAP. Hardest hit businesses, especially those in Canada's travel and tourism industry, are relying on HASCAP, which was announced nearly two months ago. Just moments ago, we found out that applications for HASCAP will finally open on February 1.
    Will the Prime Minister and this government apologize to those who have been hardest hit for taking their time to implement this much-needed program?
    Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns that the hon. member has for our businesses across Canada, particularly those that have been so hard hit because of the pandemic. I thank them for their contribution to help all of us stay safe and to flatten the curve.
    This much-needed program is another lifeline to help our businesses get loans, 100% guaranteed, for $25,000 to $1 million, and for up to $6.25 million for those that have multiple locations.
    I look forward to continuing to work with our businesses so that they get the help they need through this very difficult time to the other side of COVID-19.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, taxpayers should not be paying billions to subsidize cruise ship repairs.

[Translation]

    The Liberals are saddling the country with debt, and now they want to spend $3 billion supporting a private shipyard. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Canada's entire shipbuilding industry have rightly expressed outrage over this unfair competition.
    Are the Liberals borrowing money in an attempt to buy votes? Why are they sabotaging the national shipbuilding strategy?
    Mr. Speaker, as my dear colleague knows very well, we are considering adding a third shipyard to the national shipbuilding strategy for all Canadians.
    Unlike the government he represented, we are putting ships in the water. We are expanding work across Canada, as we did for the Davie shipyard with the icebreakers.
    I thank the hon. member for his interest, and I assure him that we will continue to carry out Canada's national shipbuilding strategy.

[English]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, a survey by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation found that racialized Canadians are three times more likely to be exposed or targeted by violence on social media. This can lead to hate crimes, which are up by 7% this year.
    Four years ago, six people were murdered at a mosque in Quebec City. It was a crime motivated by Islamophobia and xenophobia, with a perpetrator radicalized through a social media environment that amplified hateful messages in a way never seen before.
     As the Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for creating new regulations for social media platforms, could he please update us on his work to protect Canadians online?
    Mr. Speaker, the conclusions of this survey are clear. Hate speech has no place in our society. It is time to step up against online hate. The numbers are disturbing, but they come as no surprise. Almost half of Canadians report either experiencing or seeing violent or hateful content online.
    Canadians want us to act, and that is exactly why we intent to introduce legislation. Our approach will require online platforms to eliminate illegal content, such as hate speech, terrorist and violent extremism, child pornography and the non-consensual sharing of intimate images online.

  (1505)  

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the cancellation of Keystone XL is another blow to Alberta’s energy workers and Canada’s economy, but is also a huge step backward in our fight to protect the environment.
    Keystone XL checked all the boxes: renewable energy to power the pipeline, check; emissions neutral, check; agreements with first nations equity partners, check. TC Energy did everything it was asked to do, and it still was not good enough for the Prime Minister.
    If the Prime Minister will not stand up and fight for Keystone XL, why should energy workers ever believe the Prime Minister will stand up for another pipeline or their livelihoods?
    Mr. Speaker, we fought every step of the way, along with the Government of Alberta, in Washington, D.C. We made our case and did so every step of the way, knowing that if we did that together, our chances of success would increase. We were both proud of this project. We believe it checked off all the boxes. The President, in this case, has decided to keep his campaign commitment.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, far too many seniors in B.C.’s long-term care homes are without emotional, mobility or decision-making support. There are only 8,000 people with essential senior visitor status in B.C., supporting only 24% of the estimated 34,000 residents in licensed long-term care. There are 26,000 seniors who live without essential support.
    Health Canada has already approved a solution. When will the government allow rapid testing at long-term care facilities so we can move to provide seniors with safe access to healthy family members?
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, we have not only approved rapid tests but also shipped over 15.4 million rapid tests to provinces and territories to date, including almost 1.5 million to B.C. alone. Provinces and territories have also received guidance, and most recently, a document from a testing and screening expert panel on how best to use these rapid tests to screen in long-term care.
    I agree with the member opposite: It is important that provinces and territories have the tools they need to protect people living in long-term care from the introduction of COVID-19.
    Mr. Speaker, our country is battling a mental health crisis. It has been over one month since the House unanimously passed my motion calling on the government to consolidate all provincial suicide prevention hotlines into an easy-to-remember national suicide prevention hotline using a simple three-digit number. With the passage of my motion, it is now up to the government to work with the provinces and industry to develop a plan to bring 988 to Canada.
    Minister, where is the plan?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his constant advocacy for mental health supports. I remind all Canadians we do have wellnesstogether.ca. It is an online portal that is available in both official languages, and translation into 60 others, so people can get immediate mental health and substance abuse supports no matter where they live in this country.
    In terms of working toward an easy three-digit number, the member knows that my department is tasked and seized with this issue, and I am looking forward to continuing our hard work together to make it a reality.
    Mr. Speaker, last summer, the government said we would be receiving vaccines last fall; in the fall, the Liberals told us to expect vaccines in the winter; now in the winter, they are telling us to wait until next spring.
     The government received no new shipments of COVID vaccines this week, and now we are hearing that the EU is looking to stop vaccines from leaving Europe, something that would devastate our ability to get through this pandemic, so forgive us if we are unwilling to take their word for it.
     I will have to ask again: With the possibility of even more cancelled deliveries, what is plan B for getting vaccines into Canadians, because it is clear that the Liberals' plan A has failed?
    Mr. Speaker, plan A through Z has been to have the most diversified vaccine portfolio in the world. That is what we have done. We have announced deliveries of six million vaccines in the first quarter, and that will be ramping up right through the end of Q3, by which time we have told all Canadians who wish to receive one, that they will have access to a vaccine. That is the story we have told Canadians.
    Unfortunately, different versions of the story come from the other side of the House, but our story on this side of the House is very consistent: Every Canadian who wishes to receive a vaccine will have one by the end of September.

  (1510)  

COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Mr. Speaker, three months ago, I asked a question about the use of the Emergencies Act. Today, COVID cases continue to rise, with new strains emerging. Provincial responses are inconsistent, the rules are confusing and not all federal funds available are being used. Border control and travel restrictions are an issue.
    Vaccine deployment must be coordinated and swift. The next six months are critical. I understand that the Minister of Foreign Affairs says that he has not ruled out the use of the Emergencies Act to limit travel. We need leadership. Will the Prime Minister now consider invoking the Emergencies Act to do whatever it takes to help protect the health and safety of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague very well knows, there are a number of different requirements that go along with the Emergencies Act. We are looking at all options, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said publicly, in response to this crisis.
    From the beginning of this crisis, we have focused on listening to our health experts, working hand in hand with them and the provinces, as well as municipalities and indigenous leadership, to make sure that we fully attack every element of this crisis. The Emergencies Act is one option that has possibilities, but we are looking at all possibilities in order to serve Canadians.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, it has been a year since the senseless, preventable murder of 22-year-old Marylène Levesque in Quebec City by a convicted murderer who had brutally killed his wife yet was out on day parole so he could satisfy his “sexual needs”. We now know from a report released last week by corrections and parole officers that warning signs were missed in this case.
    Does the Prime Minister accept responsibility for the failures of correctional services to prevent the tragic death of Marylène Levesque?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to answer this very important question.
    In the immediate aftermath of this terrible tragedy, a board of investigation, with two external co-chairs, was stood up to determine the facts and provide recommendations in this case. Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board have announced very concrete actions under way following the release of that report, which was made public. All recommendations have been accepted as part of our commitment to do everything possible to ensure that this terrible tragedy never happens again.

[Translation]

     We will now give the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin an opportunity to ask his question again.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, intolerance and hate have no place in a free and democratic society. That is why everyone, including former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe, was shocked by the dangerous comments made a few weeks ago by the member for Beloeil—Chambly, the current Bloc leader.
    Does the minister agree that we, as parliamentarians, have a duty to lead by example and engage in respectful dialogue?

  (1515)  

    Mr. Speaker, I absolutely agree with my hon. colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin. Any insinuations that propagate intolerance or hatred against anyone are completely unacceptable in Quebec and across Canada. We cannot let partisan games create a hostile environment. Today, instead of apologizing, the Bloc leader doubled down on his unfortunate and shameful comments. This kind of behaviour is far from honourable. It is abhorrent and unworthy of a leader.

[English]

Points of Order

Statements by Members 

[Points of Order]
     Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    As you know, I had technical problems during my statement, so I request, and hope to receive from my colleagues, unanimous consent to redo my statement.
    This being a hybrid sitting of the House, I will only ask those who are opposed to the request to express their disagreement.
    Accordingly, all those opposed to the hon. member's request will please say nay. It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the hon. member getting another chance, please say nay. It is agreed.
    The hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni.
    Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on small businesses and workers across Canada, especially on workers in the tourism, hospitality and events industries. If a small business closes in a rural riding like mine, not only does the family lose their sole source of income, but the effect is felt across the whole community. Based on data from the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses, almost 40% of businesses in the travel and tourism sector will close for good by the end of February.
    Although it needs some work, today's announcement of the HASCAP is welcome and hopefully comes in time for those who need it. The hardest-hit businesses need the liquidity support the program offers, but they will also rely on an extended wage subsidy, backdated rent relief and the efforts of community members to shop at local businesses. The government still has much to do to help entrepreneurs and start-ups, protect jobs in the hospitality sector and guarantee the rights of workers who lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise virtually today to join the debate on Bill C-14, an act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement.
    The bill has seven parts, mostly containing items to which I do not object and aims that I support under the circumstances that Canada currently finds itself. Having said that, I have three main criticisms of the bill. First, it does not contain a plan or indeed any reason for hope for the millions of Canadians who own, work for or otherwise depend on small businesses, especially new businesses that have been ignored in aid measures that have been either adopted or proposed by the government. Second, the bill contains nothing to address the significant problems that were facing the Canadian economy before COVID. Third, the government should not be granted the unnecessary increase to the borrowing authority contained in the bill.
    To my first two issues, some would say that it is not fair to criticize a bill for something it does not say. Ordinarily I would agree, but this is not an ordinary bill, nor is this an ordinary time.
    The government is closing in on two years without a budget. The fall economic statement is as close as the government has come to tabling a budget, and that statement followed a period of chaos and crisis management. Here I am not referring to the COVID crisis, but to the tumultuous months during which we saw a government that should have been procuring vaccines, approving and distributing rapid at-home test kits and figuring out ways to allow the economy to function, if and when the second wave would hit. Instead, it was consumed by the scandal that saw the resignation of the former finance minister, prorogation of this Parliament and the appointment of a new finance minister. The bill is the government's missed opportunity to help small businesses that have fallen through the cracks in its aid measures and to fix its series of failures that left Canada on the brink of a recession before COVID.
    As the shadow minister for small business and the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, I have spoken to many small business owners who had been left behind by the government. These small business owners are the pillars of our communities.
    There are millions of owners, workers and customers who depend on small businesses and who are paying the price for the government's failures, like the owners of the Bitter Sisters Brewing Company in Calgary, whose owners live in my riding. They do not qualify for the wage subsidy or the rent subsidy, because they reopened their business in March 2020 after spending most of 2019 refurbishing it. The owners of this business exhausted their capital. They went through a lengthy period when reinventing their business, and they opened literally within days of the declaration of a global pandemic. They do not have access to government aid measures. I spoke to another constituent last week who had expanded his successful tattoo studio in early 2020. As a result, he does not qualify for either the rent subsidy or the wage subsidy. His rent is $30,000 a month and his revenue is zero.
    I know that every member of the House has heard similar stories from their constituents and from other members during debate on the bill. The fall economic statement and the bill do not help these constituents.
    It is easy to forget the extent to which the government's fiscal and economic mismanagement was coming to a head before COVID. This is a government that was elected in 2015 on a promise, which it immediately broke, to run modest deficits to fund infrastructure for three years, returning to surplus in the fourth. Its maximum deficit of $10 billion was to be its fiscal anchor.
    That anchor was cut immediately after the Liberals took office, and the 2015 election promise was seemingly obliterated into an Orwellian memory hole never again to be acknowledged by the government. It was replaced by a new anchor: that Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio was low and would always shrink.
    The finance minister clung to that anchor until it was clear, before COVID, that the deficit was going to rise as a percentage of GDP, and replaced that anchor with the last one, which was maintaining Canada's AAA credit rating. That anchor was cut loose as well, and there have been no fiscal anchors articulated by the government since then.

  (1520)  

    We saw all of this backsliding into a serious structural deficit before COVID. The Liberal government piled on nearly $100 billion in new debt at a time when it should have been running surpluses, like the one it inherited, in order to prepare for a financial disaster like COVID, but it did not. Furthermore, the government piled on job-killing laws, like Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 that devastated the western economy and will harm Canada's ability to recover from COVID.
    This bill does not contain elements that would undo the damage the government did to our economy that prevent and reduce our ability to recover from COVID. It brought in a carbon tax in the last Parliament and has announced that it will almost immediately break its promise not to raise it in this Parliament.
     There is nothing in this bill that will address the hostility of the government to the energy industry, which is an essential part of the federal government's tax base. It is historically Canada's largest and most valuable export. It is the creator of great high-paying jobs in every province across Canada, not just in Alberta.
    The fall economic statement that this bill is to implement does not address the past economic mistakes the government made and that had Canada teetering on the brink of recession before COVID. It does not repeal the red tape that killed projects, like Teck Frontier, and scared off the private sector investors that would have built Trans Mountain without taxpayer support.
    There is nothing in this bill for the thousands of Canadian workers who will lose their jobs due to the devastating Keystone decision or those already without jobs, whose hopes for returning to work are now reduced in the wake of the Keystone decision.
    There is nothing in this bill to rein in the culture of wasteful corporate welfare that the government has and the ease with which it ran up significant debt, again, before COVID.
    This brings me to my third criticism of this bill and that is the unprecedented increase to Canada's borrowing limit. Make no mistake, and I will say this again, that at a time when governments force businesses to close and lay off workers, governments need to support them. Governments do need to support Canadians who are being compelled not to work and to support businesses that are being compelled to close their doors.
    This crisis has created a temporary necessity for extraordinary spending measures to support Canadians, but the government's proposal in this bill to increase its borrowing limit to $1.8 trillion is simply not justified. It is not justified by the government's present needs, not by its short-term needs, not by its medium- or long-term needs, and certainly not by its past enthusiasm for non-crisis deficit financing.
    Parliament at its most basic function exists to authorize taxation, expenditure and borrowing by the government on behalf of the governed. As legislators, we have a responsibility to vote whether or not to grant the government these powers, and there is simply no reason to grant such an extraordinary sum for the government to borrow when its own fall statement and the estimates that have already been voted on do not require the authority for the level of borrowing that is contained in this bill.
    If the Liberal government, or indeed a future government, needs to increase the national debt to $1.8 trillion, then that should be left for a future debate in this Parliament or a future Parliament. In the meantime, I urge the government to focus on establishing a coherent COVID policy, one that would result in a vaccinated population, a reopened economy and a full employment workforce fuelled by private investment into Canada's economy, unshackled by job-killing regulations.
    We must return to an employment-based economy as soon as possible. While there are items in this bill that would help some Canadians cope with the difficult circumstances of the present, I urge the government to get serious about giving Canadians more hope for the future, especially for those small businesses that have consistently fallen through the cracks of the government's aid measures.
    With that, I look forward to questions from the floor.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, let me take this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2021, and here is hoping that it will be better than last year.
    My question for my colleague is very simple. What does he think of the government's performance when it comes to supporting businesses? Are we doing enough for our SMEs and entrepreneurs? What does he think of the government's loan- and debt-based strategy for businesses?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the answer is there are many measures the government has undertaken that were necessary and indeed are supporting small businesses, but there are also many small businesses that are falling through the cracks, that have not been able to access the aid measures they need for a variety of reasons. The most recent ones that I referred to in my speech are those for new businesses that opened their doors, that maybe spent all of 2019 gearing up for a reopening at the end of last March. Those businesses are just devastated. They are not qualifying and the government knows it, but it has not taken action to support those businesses in particular.
    The debt load that businesses are taking on is extremely concerning. These businesses are just desperate. They are desperate to see the end of COVID and to reopen. The government needs to get serious about answering questions on its vaccination rollout so we can get a vaccinated population and an employment-based economy back on track.

  (1530)  

    Madam Speaker, I agree with the member when we talk about small businesses and how important it is for government to come to the table. That is something that I believe we have done. We can talk about the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the Canada emergency rent subsidy, the emergency business account, making sure there is better business credit availability and regional relief in recovery funds. There are a number of things out there that the government has done to ensure that small and medium-sized businesses and others, the backbone of the Canadian economy, are able to better manage as a direct result of the negativity from the pandemic.
    Would the member not agree that as an opposition member, or any member of Parliament, one of the most creative things to do is to come up with specific suggestions and ideas for a plan, something that we can do as government? Being very specific would be helpful at this time.
    Madam Speaker, the opposition spent much of the last year doing exactly that. We proposed all the fixes the Liberals needed to make on their rent subsidy program, which was a disaster for months. The opposition was instrumental in fixing that program. The opposition was instrumental in fixing all of the shortcomings of the CEBA program that he also mentioned. The opposition has been very active in constructively offering fixes to the government.
    Right now, in the few seconds I have left, I would suggest that the government get busy very quickly on some kind of modification to the rent subsidy and wage subsidy programs that would provide some relief to businesses that literally drained their bank accounts just to open their doors at the dawn of the pandemic.
    Madam Speaker, it is quite right to note that government policy has affected profits of businesses, including small business.
    Would my colleague not agree that there should be some regulatory reform with regard to credit card interest rates, especially small businesses that have unjust pricing and service fees during this time?
    Madam Speaker, the member points out a problem well known to especially the small business community. Merchants in Canada pay the highest fees probably in the world. It is an ongoing issue that has been exacerbated by COVID. I am concerned by the lack of competition in that area. It is a very important concern that I have heard from many small business owners.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, since it is 2021, I would like to first take the opportunity to thank the residents of Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury for putting their trust in me. I always do my best to represent them properly. I would also like to thank my family for their support. Finally, I would like to say a special thank you to my staff, who continue to work hard to support all residents of Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury.
    I would also like to assure the people of Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury that our government and I have one priority: their health and well-being. Our responsibility is to ensure their physical and mental well-being, as well as the economic health of our businesses and communities. By so doing, we can ensure the ongoing economic recovery of our ridings.

[English]

    COVID-19 is a non-partisan issue across the country. We have a duty as a country to work together across all party lines and across all levels of government to come to the collective goal of getting through this pandemic together. From the beginning of the pandemic our government has mobilized with the opposition and passed concrete measures that offer direct assistance to those in need.
    Many families, students, seniors, businesses and indigenous communities felt the challenges. Mental health remains a challenge. We must prioritize our health in all its forms, check in with those who need it the most and recognize and reach out to those who need better support. That is why we stepped in. CERB provided $2,000 a month to eligible individuals, and we listened to residents to make changes to ensure people were not slipping through the cracks. Now it is the CRB.
    We have also provided $300 million to first nations communities. Many in my riding also received funding. We provided over $157 million for Canadians who are experiencing homelessness and to address these unique challenges during the pandemic. There is over $50 million for women's shelters, because of the unique challenges women have faced during this pandemic, like job losses, violence, disproportionate income loss and child care needs.
    Also, there are payments to seniors, up to $500, and for those with disabilities, up to $600. In Nickel Belt we have 17,360 people receiving OAS and GIS benefits for seniors. Also important is the one-time payment we also provided for the CCB payment. This is an important measure to help families and to help children, especially single moms in our communities. In Nickel Belt we have 9,700 families receiving the CCB, and it is important that we continue to support our children and our families.
    Student loans are also important. We have offered grants for students and also deferred the loan payments.
    Rental assistance for businesses throughout this pandemic has been important. We have modified the regional relief fund through agencies like FedNor. We have heard clearly from businesses the need to adjust some of these relief programs. Some $1.2 million was given to economic partners in West Nipissing to help local businesses meet their needs during this pandemic.
    There is also the $2 billion for the safe restart agreement with Ontario. We have supported things like enhancing testing, contact tracing, supporting those in long-term care homes and ensuring there is safe and sufficient child care spaces for returning to work. More needs to be done.
    It is important that we offer stability and support to local priorities outlined by local area municipalities. We also ensure emergency programs for private sector businesses, legions, food banks, arts and culture and not-for profit organizations all across Canada, Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury.
    For example, there is $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through the charity and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services, like the United Way North East Ontario. It is helping those in need and helping municipalities like French River, St.-Charles and Markstay-Warren. It is helping Valleyview Community Church, the Greater Sudbury municipality in partnership with Onaping Falls Lions, and the Metro grocery store in Valley East. This is all to support our most vulnerable.
    We have also provided $100 million in emergency funding for food security. Of that, $100,000 went to five organizations in Nickel Belt: Onaping Lions Club, Destiny International Church in Val Caron, Helping Hands Family Mission in Hanmer, and Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation community.

  (1535)  

    It is also important that we support Canadian heritage and arts and culture. In Nickel Belt there is the museum in Sturgeon Falls, the Capreol Historical Heritage Museum, the Greater Sudbury archives and the Conseil des Arts de Nipissing Ouest.

[Translation]

    It is important to continue to support non-profit organizations.

[English]

    I want to thank all the volunteers who are supporting our organizations with their time, and for submitting proposals and working hard at the grassroots level with solid partnerships to make a difference in people's lives, in their communities and in our neighbourhoods.
    The support that flows through this community shows how resilient our economy is and shows the dedication of our government and people tasked with making changes at the local level. These include infrastructure in the municipality of Markstay-Warren, bypass roads in Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and investments for providing a light industrial park for economic development.
    Also, regarding broadband, there was $270,000 for the Wahnapitae First Nation. It is very important to get high-speed Internet to homes and businesses in the community.
    We made important strides. The fall economic statement was a true testament to this, and I am proud that our government is investing in RDAs all across Canada and FedNor in northern Ontario. I am proud of the staff at FedNor and the work that they do in the community. As a government, continuing to enhance regional development agencies is important.
    We committed to investing in research and development and procurement of vaccines for all Canadians who want them. Just yesterday, public health in the district of Sudbury announced that vulnerable seniors and long-term care residents in northern Ontario are closer than ever to getting the vaccine. Progress is happening. The federal and provincial governments will continue working together to offer solutions and to ensure we all persevere through this.
    That is why we need to support our long-term care residents and staff. This is a non-partisan issue. All levels of government need to get together and find solutions. We need to make sure that we look after our most vulnerable, and long-term care is an important area at all levels of government. We need to do what we can. If it means using the Red Cross or the Canadian Army, we need to make sure that residents and staff are safe in long-term care residences.
    When we look at the most vulnerable, we look at seniors living in apartments who are isolated, and seniors who are living in their homes and are isolated. We need to make sure we support them also.
    COVID-19 has highlighted just how challenging something as dangerous and disruptive as COVID can be. Through the pandemic, Canadians have shown that it really takes a lot to keep our communities safe. As we are showing, we will do whatever it takes to support our communities.

  (1540)  

[Translation]

    Overall, the government's quick and comprehensive assistance made it possible to provide unprecedented, comprehensive support of $407 billion, nearly 19% of the GDP, to help Canadians and Canadian businesses keep their heads above water during the pandemic. That includes $270 billion in direct support measures, or 12% of the GDP. It is really important to continue to ensure that we are supporting individuals and businesses.

[English]

    The fall economic statement also reminds us that there are other changes that we must continue to address. Digitization continues to be important and carries the potential for tremendous benefit if it is managed fairly and effectively as we grow our economy. With the measures in the fall economic statement, we would leverage this potential to better benefit Canadians.
    I want to thank residents of Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury, and say meegwetch to all of the front-line workers, first responders, police officers, truck drivers and retail workers. I thank them for the work that they are doing in making a difference in our community. I ask people to stay safe and keep following public health measures.
    Madam Speaker, we are here today to discuss the economic update, make decisions and vote on whether or not we are going to approve spending. Typically, we do that with a financial budget. We have not had a financial budget for two years. I wonder if my hon. colleague could give us an idea of why we are voting on an economic update in the absence of a broader and more comprehensive budget.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for that important question.
    We have not tabled a budget in two years. The measures that our government took during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the support of the opposition parties, had an impact on everyone, on all Canadians. It was therefore important for us to present the fall economic statement.
    This spring, we will table a budget based on greater certainty. It is very difficult to come up with a budget in these uncertain times related to COVID-19, but we will do so by continuing to focus on support for Canadians and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.
    He listed all the measures that have been taken, which we welcome. They needed to happen. I would just like to remind him that all of this work is also based on ideas proposed by the opposition parties, and that it is all a collaboration between the government and the representatives of the people.
    However, after almost a year of COVID-19, the federal government is still sending the message that arts and culture are not important and that the sector will be getting no support. Many of the municipalities in my riding rely on arts and culture, which is a well established industry there.
    What form of assistance is available for this sector, which is at the very heart of our Quebec identity?

  (1545)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.
    I mentioned in my speech that the government and the opposition parties collaborated on the measures to assist businesses and individuals. Some measures were taken very quickly at the beginning of the pandemic, but changes were also made during the summer and fall. This proves that Parliament and our elected officials are here to help Canadians.
    Arts and culture are indeed very important, and our government must do better for the entire not-for-profit sector. We must find better ways of supporting not only arts and culture, but also all not-for-profit organizations in order to build on our language and culture. As a francophone, I think that this is really important, not only in Quebec, but throughout Ontario, and particularly in Northern Ontario.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the speech by the member for Nickel Belt. I want to share the sentiment he expressed at the end in thanking the front-line workers who continue to provide essential services for all of us with respect to groceries, policing, fire and all of those kinds of things.
    I want to ask the member a question about something that is not really addressed in the economic statement, which is the sick leave benefit. I am not talking about the fact that wealthy people who broke the rules have been able to get compensated for being in quarantine. I am talking about the fact that working families are having severe trouble accessing the sick leave benefit because of the way it is being administered.
    Will the hon. member join with the New Democrats in pressing his government for a sick leave program that is more flexible, and will meet the needs of those front-line workers?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her important question.
    One of the first things the Conservative Government of Ontario did when it was elected was to eliminate sick days. It is really important that Parliament review the issue of sick days.
    We have already adopted certain measures with the collaboration of the opposition parties. I agree with my colleague. When we look at the most vulnerable populations, we realize that they are mainly women who work in the health care sector, and we must take them into consideration to ensure that we are implementing the right measures for them. The comments put forth by my colleague in the opposition will help me when we discuss how to help workers, as well as what financial support can be provided to give them a better sick leave plan.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, as the member of Parliament for the expansive riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I take this opportunity to thank the good people of my constituency who have repeatedly placed their trust in me to represent their interests in the Parliament of Canada. Being a member of Parliament is a unique privilege, and I thank them for that privilege.
    I rise to speak to Bill C-14, an act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020. Specifically, I intend to focus on those provisions in the legislation that deal with the COVID-19 vaccine shortage in Canada.
    I send a clear message on behalf of all Canadians to the government and to the Prime Minister: Canada, as well as beating the COVID-19 virus, must prepare for the next pandemic. Unfortunately, the federal government’s response to the pandemic has been a tragic comedy of errors. Mixed messages on masks, with federal cabinet ministers early on advising against their use because the government had thrown away or given the masks we had to China, to now insisting that masks be worn, has confused people. That confusion of mixed messages led to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with tragic consequences for our seniors, particularly those in long-term care.
    What should have been stated by the Prime Minister during one of his cuckoo clock appearances was, “We do not have enough masks,” and “Stay home.”
    In March 2020, there was an awareness the virus was coming. The border should have been closed to all travellers to keep the virus out of Canada. Following up on the Liberal meme “man-made,” as in man-made global warming, what we have in Canada is a man-made vaccine shortage crisis.
    The Part 5 amendments to the Food and Drugs Act contained in Bill C-14 come up far short of what is required to fix broken Liberal policy.
    It is important to note the pharmaceutical industry has been trying to reach out to the government for years. After the short-sighted changes made by the government in 2017, it is as if the government was setting itself up for failure.
    A letter written to the Financial Post by Paul Lucas, the former CEO of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, states:
    The question is: Why is Canada not able to acquire more vaccine early?
    Is it because the Liberal government has virtually no relationship other than as a buyer and regulator with the only organizations that could possibly produce a vaccine quickly and in sufficient quantities, the global innovative pharmaceutical industry?
    Successive Liberal governments, including this one, have created an unfavourable environment for investment and commercial success for innovative pharmaceutical companies in Canada. They have made it very difficult for Canadian CEOs to attract investment to Canada despite many attempts by the industry to work with governments to do so. They have made no effort to work with the innovative industry to encourage a partnership that could deliver tremendous value to the health-care system and the economy and give Canadians early access to new medicines and vaccines.
    Not surprisingly, the industry has gone elsewhere to invest—to places like the U.K., the U.S. and the EU where that positive environment does exist. They are all performing better than Canada on early vaccine acquisition.
    It is important for Canadians to hear the truth about why we are at the back of the line when it comes to life-saving medicines to protect our population.
    I am pleased to reference previous comments I have made in Parliament to inform Canadians of what the government does not want them to know. From the very onset of the pandemic, the Prime Minister has been disrespectful of Canadians, starting with parliamentarians. What has been particularly predictable has been the tactic by the Prime Minister and his party to try to pass off blame for his government's failings. His attempts to smear former prime minister Stephen Harper over the current government's lack of action are pathetic and dishonest.

  (1550)  

     Canadians should not be surprised to learn that the reason Canada does not have any capacity to manufacture its own vaccine is a direct consequence of the policy of the Prime Minister's father, Pierre, when he eliminated patent protection for drug manufacturers. This policy produced short-term gain for the long-term pain Canadians find themselves in today. The short-term gain was the drop in drug prices when the patent protection was reduced. The pain was felt more slowly.
    When the Liberal Party changed the patent protection of new drugs in 1969, it led to a brain drain. There was an exodus of major drug companies that used to do their research in Canada. The University of Toronto was world-renowned as the place Banting and Best did their Nobel Prize-calibre research that led to the discovery of insulin. Montreal had a vibrant research community. That proud legacy has been lost.
    What Canada received in its place were knock-offs: cheap generic drugs that rely on the work of others. It was not until the election of a Conservative government in 1984 that a real attempt was made to reverse the damage. During legislative committee hearings, the deans of the leading medical schools pleaded with Conservative parliamentarians to fix Pierre's mistake. If a gifted Canadian medical researcher wanted to continue in his or her field, they were forced to leave Canada. This fact was noticed in our medical schools.
     For every successful discovery of a miracle drug, there are a hundred failures. The money for failures comes from the successes. The pharmaceutical companies could not afford to have their research stolen by generic companies. It made sense to do their drug research where they manufactured the drugs. The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board that was formed could not bring back the companies that had fled Canada. Whenever government interferes in the marketplace, a price must be paid. The price today is Canada has no domestic capability to manufacture its own vaccine. This leaves Canadians and its enterprises where we are today.
    I now correct the record from comments made by the Prime Minister and the federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who wrongly stated on national media that Canada does not have any domestic vaccine production because GlaxoSmithKline Canada closed its facility during the Harper years. In fact, the former CEO of that facility confirmed it is still operational and manufactures much of Canada’s annual flu vaccine. The retired CEO of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline went on to state:
    The Mulroney and Harper governments supported the innovative industry by improving the patent landscape but Canada only partially recovered and to this day does not have globally competitive patent protection. The negative trend continues even now with the imminent implementation of a punitive pricing regime through new federal...[set of] regulations. One now has to ask: where are the generic companies when we badly need innovation? Liberal government pharmaceutical policy has failed Canadians at our time of greatest need.
    The punitive legislation being referred to is legislation that the federal government rammed through Parliament before the last election and which Bill C-14 should be fixing. The government needs to be open, honest and transparent with Canadians about the true cost of the pharmacare promise made to the fourth party in the House of Commons.
    This is what the president of Pfizer Canada has to say about that bad legislation made by the federal government before the last election:
    The reality is, had the government applied its new pricing guidelines to COVID-19 vaccine candidates, our ability to move at the speed of science would have been restricted. This should be a key learning. As future innovative breakthrough treatments in areas such as oncology, rare disease and acute care are discovered, Canada needs to have a regulatory and pricing framework that encourages and fosters early access for patients.
    In this regard, our industry association Innovative Medicines Canada has proposed an alternative approach to the federal government that would allow it to achieve its public policy objectives of reducing the price of drugs without undermining patient access to potentially life-saving medicines or vaccines, clinical trials, or investments in the country’s life sciences sector.

  (1555)  

    The shortage that Canadians are facing today is a direct result of bad decisions made by a succession of Liberal governments.
    I will conclude with those remarks.
    Madam Speaker, in previous comments by the member for Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury, he stressed the importance of working across party lines and orders of government. I did not get that same sense from the recent intervention by the foregoing member.
     Could the member comment on the importance of all parties working together to fight the pandemic, versus fighting each other?
    Madam Speaker, I will conclude my remarks with a quote from the Financial Post article previously referenced, and perhaps this will lend some information to the member who just questioned me:
    When it comes to vaccine supply Canada should be in the same position as these other leading countries. Instead, we are three to four months behind. How many more people will die in this pandemic who wouldn’t have if the federal government had done a better job acquiring more early doses? How many more businesses will fail? How long will the lockdowns go on? Months matter in this struggle. Days matter. Unfortunately, Canadians are paying a steep price.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech.
    On the news this morning they were saying how well Israel is doing with its vaccination plan. That reminded me that the entire population of Canada is the victim of the Liberal government’s poor planning in vaccination procurement, as my colleague mentioned in her speech. To what does she attribute this, and why is Canada behind in vaccination procurement?

  (1600)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, from the outset, the government led by the Prime Minister clearly did not take this outbreak seriously. A year before, they had dismantled our early warning system, and then they backfilled any PPE that we had, or sent the expired ones to China. When it was discovered that the virus had originated in Wuhan, he never stopped flights from coming in. He did not stop anyone from spreading it. He did not start contact tracing until the virus had manifested itself right across Canada.
     Liberals did not have the pharmaceuticals in place because they scared off all the pharmaceutical companies. Now we are left behind. While the rest of the world is recovering, we are still going to be looking for vaccines.
    Madam Speaker, I always listen with interest to speeches by the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke and, of course, I enjoy working with her on the defence committee. As usual, we seem to live in different worlds. We have one point in common here, which is that we should have capacity in Canada to produce our vaccines.
    I want to ask about the commitment that the government made, with the support of New Democrats, to have sick leave in place for workers so that those who need to stay home in quarantine or who need to stay home because they have symptoms, will not have to go to work if they have paid sick leave. The Conservatives have often talked about disincentives to work, so I wonder in this case whether they would join the other parties in supporting an effective program for sick leave, both to help workers maintain their paycheques and to prevent the spread of the virus.
    Madam Speaker, one thing Conservatives do is respect jurisdictions, and requirements for sick pay fall within provincial jurisdiction and law. When we form government, we will of course be pleased to work with the provinces in any way to prepare for the future.
    Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to contribute to the debate on this important bill. Bill C-14 would implement several important measures from the fall economic statement which highlighted the additional steps our government is taking to support Canadians and Canadian businesses during the second wave of the pandemic.
    This bill, in seven parts, would provide much needed economic support for Canadians. The measures include increasing our supports for families with young children, helping students, investing in mental health resources and improving the long-term care system. It also makes important adjustments to the Borrowing Authority Act, the regional relief and recovery fund and the Canada emergency rent subsidy.
    In addition to those measures, it proposes to deploy a three-year stimulus package to jump-start our recovery and provide the fiscal support that the Canadian economy needs to operate at a full capacity. Today, I would like to address these important measures and how they will truly support Canadians and Canadian businesses.
    We know that many families with young children have been struggling trying to find affordable child care during the pandemic. For these families, we are introducing a temporary support of up to $1,200 for each child under the age of six. This support will be provided to low- and middle-income families who are entitled to the Canada child benefit. This would benefit more than 10,000 families in my riding of Richmond Hill.
    We will also help the students in our country. During this time, we have heard from many students who are burdened by student debt and are struggling to find work. We are committed to ensuring that this pandemic does not derail their futures. The bill would eliminate interest on the repayment of the federal portion of the Canada student loan and the Canada apprentice loan for 2021-22. This measure will bring $329.4 million in relief to up to 1.4 million Canadians. This, on average, will amount to $235 of interest potentially saved for each student. This money can be used to buy textbooks, computers and other necessary resources for our nation's students.
    As mentioned earlier, our government has a plan to help our nation's most vulnerable. The COVID-19 outbreak in long-term care homes has been tragic and completely unacceptable. The pandemic has further highlighted the need for significant improvements in the standard and care of our most vulnerable. Bill C-14 will invest in a safe long-term care fund to help provinces and territories protect people in long-term care and support infection prevention and control. We are committing up to $1 billion in support to ensure that every resident in our long-term care system is supported.
    The COVID-19 Emergency Response Act passed on March 25, 2020. It permitted the government to borrow to fund its response to the extraordinary circumstances from April 1 until September 30, 2020. These borrowings are exempt from the overall borrowing limit set out in the act. A separate external borrowing report was tabled in Parliament on October 22, 2020. It provides details of the amounts borrowed.
    The proposed measures in Bill C-14 would increase the maximum borrowing amount from $1.168 trillion to $1.831 trillion to cover projected borrowing until March 2024 and will include external borrowing made as a result of COVID-19. The new limit will allow the government to continue to support Canadians and businesses in my riding of Richmond Hill through the pandemic. As well, it will allow for a necessary investment once the pandemic is over to power a robust, sustained recovery in job growth to March 2024.
    The action the government has taken and plans to take will help Canada come roaring back from the COVID-19 recession and prevent the long-term economic scarring that would weaken our post-pandemic recovery. The bill before us would also authorize payments to be made to Canada's six regional development agencies for the regional relief and recovery fund.

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    The government announced the $962-million regional relief and recovery fund on April 17 to help support those businesses unable to access other pandemic support programs. It provides this significant funding through Canada's regional development agencies. The government expanded the fund on October 2, bringing the total support to more than $1.5 billion.
    In the COVID-19 context, the regional development agencies are playing a vital role in helping to bridge small and medium-sized businesses to better times. To date, the regional relief and recovery fund has protected over 102,000 jobs and supported over 14,700 businesses, including 8,500 clients in rural areas and 5,100 women-owned businesses.
    As a next step, the fall economic statement proposed a top-up of $500 million on a cash basis to regional development agencies and the Community Futures Network of Canada, bringing the total funding to over $2 billion in this fund.
    Finally, the bill proposes to amend the Income Tax Act to allow for the Canada emergency rent subsidy to recognize a rent payment as a qualifying rent expense when it comes due rather than only when it is paid, provided certain conditions are met. We are still in a situation in which not all small businesses have the cash flow to pay their rent on the first of the month, with a reimbursement to come later. The new rent subsidy provides simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. It is provided directly to the tenants while also providing support to property owners.
    In addition, under the lockdown support program, organizations that must shut their doors or significantly restrict their activities under a public health order are eligible for a 25% top-up in addition to the base rent subsidy of up to 65% until December 19, 2020. This means hard-hit businesses in my riding of Richmond Hill that have had to shut their doors because of provincial lockdowns are eligible to receive up to 90% support for rent and mortgage interest.
    To provide greater certainty to businesses and other organizations, the fall economic statement proposes to extend the current subsidy rent for an additional three periods. This means that a maximum base subsidy rate of up to 65% and an additional 25% for lockdown support would be available until March 13, 2021. The government will put in place regulations to effect this extension.
    These are important changes to the program and are pieces of legislation that will allow the government to continue to provide direct support to Canadians so that they can pay their rent and mortgage and feed their families. It also provides scalable support to businesses to help bridge them through the crisis and keep Canadians healthy, safe and solvent.
    In closing, better days are coming. The government has a plan to get through the pandemic and the recession and to recover strongly. We will do whatever it takes to support Canadians and get the economy firmly back on track.

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    Madam Speaker, the member talked about the array of government programs that are available, but at the same time the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has identified that 200,000 Canadian small businesses may fail this year because of COVID-19. The future success that we need to move forward in getting people back to work is a vaccine. It means getting vaccines here and getting people inoculated. As the government's own COVID-19 tracker said today, only 113,000 Canadians have received two doses of the vaccine.
    Will the member say that the ultimate success of getting the economy back to work is getting people vaccinated?
    Madam Speaker, I agree that we need to make sure there are vaccines available, as Canadians need them. We have made sure there will be 1.1 million vaccines available in the spring, and by the end of September there are going to be vaccines available to all Canadians who want to be vaccinated. With a total of six million vaccines being available by the end of spring, we feel that we are well on our path to recovery.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.
    I would like to go back to the part of the bill that addresses the extension of the Canada emergency response benefit, an emergency measure I approve of because it has helped many people. However, it is rapidly becoming a source of concern for others, with the tax season around the corner. Canadians are starting to receive their T4s.
    Some of them are learning that they owe income tax for the CERB, for which they never applied. Then they quickly realize that they are victims of fraud. Whether through this bill or otherwise, has the government considered measures to better support victims of fraud? When people call the Canada Revenue Agency they are referred to Service Canada, but both agencies keep passing the buck. There is confusion, and that is causing anxiety for many people. How is the government going to help them?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we were made aware of the concerns that Canadians had. The government took the necessary steps to inform Canadians early in December, especially the ones who received the CERB, and provided needed alternatives to processes to make sure that their taxes would be filed properly and that no undue hardship would be put on them.
    I recommend that Canadians reach out to the CRA and their members of Parliament to work with them to make sure they truly understand those measures.

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    Madam Speaker, time and time again we have heard Liberals saying that they have done everything they can for seniors in LTCs, yet that is simply not true.
    It is true that the government has provided investments for long-term care, such as wage subsidies, but it is also true that these private LTCs are sitting on mountains of profit while collecting federal subsidies and paying out dividends. They are doing this at the exact same time that they are cutting wages and not providing critical PPE to their workers and residents.
    Will the member work within his caucus to ensure that every dollar invested in LTCs results in the care of its patients and seniors?
    Madam Speaker, our government has always committed to full accountability and transparency. We will continue working with the provinces and territories to make sure of the funding being granted. As Canadians know, $8 out of every $10 provided as part of the emergency funds is coming from the federal government.
     We have provided billions of dollars in support of long-term care and we will work with the provinces and territories to make sure that these funds are put to effective use.
     Madam Speaker, happy new year.
    I speak on Bill C-14 this afternoon, which is legislation that, among other things, increases the federal spending authority from a staggering $1.1 trillion to an astronomical $1.8 trillion.
    For a government that spends tens of billions of dollars here, hundreds of billions of dollars there, racks up a debt of more than $1 trillion, it is tough to keep track of exactly what $1.8 trillion means in context. My friend, colleague and former fellow finance committee member, the hon. member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, put it into some important context yesterday when he spoke to Bill C-14. In that regard, my colleague noted that in the more than 150 years since Canada's founding in 1867, total accumulated federal debt equalled $700 billion in the beginning of 2020. In the span of a single year, that debt level rose an astounding 50% to $1.1 trillion. Now we have before us legislation that is contemplating and indeed authorizing the debt ceiling to rise to $1.8 trillion—in other words, more than double the total accumulated debt since 1867, all within the span of a little more than a year.
    If that is not unsustainable, I frankly do not know what is, yet one would not know that if one were to listen to the speeches from Liberal MPs across the way. They seem to believe there is no issue and go on at great lengths to pat themselves on the back for the supposedly wonderful job they have been doing since COVID and, more broadly, for the government's economic track record.
    If the metric by which to judge the government was on the basis of how much it spent, it absolutely could pat itself on the back or get an A, but when it comes to delivering results for Canadians, someone who is objective would be hard pressed to give the current government anything close to an A, for its track record has been wanting, to say the