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43rd PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 073

CONTENTS

Monday, March 22, 2021




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 150
No. 073
2nd SESSION
43rd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, March 22, 2021

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer



Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

  (1105)  

[English]

    The Chair would like to take a moment to provide some information to the House regarding the management of Private Members' Business.
    As members know, after the order of precedence is replenished, the Chair reviews the new items so as to alert the House to bills which, at first glance, appear to infringe the financial prerogative of the Crown. This allows members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

[Translation]

     Accordingly, following the February 22, 2021, replenishment of the order of precedence with 15 new items, I wish to inform the House that there is one bill that gives the Chair some concern as to the spending provisions it contemplates. It is:

[English]

    I would encourage honourable members who would like to make arguments regarding the need for a royal recommendation to accompany this bill or any other bills now on the order of precedence to do so at an early opportunity.

[Translation]

    I thank hon. members for their attention.

[English]

Diversity and Inclusion

    The House resumed from December 8, 2020, consideration of the motion.
    Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is to be able to address this very important issue for all Canadians. Often members move different motions or bills in recognition of important dates. This is one of those motions that is really necessary for the House to recognize and support. The motion calls for August 1 to be recognized in Canada as emancipation day.
    As I wanted to provide some thoughts on this issue, I thought I would do a quick Google search to provide something very concise. I was really quite impressed with the BC Black History Awareness Society and wanted to cite something that is right on its website. The most interesting thing I saw really said a lot. We often hear that a picture is worth a thousand words, and there is an image of a poster indicating that here in Canada, in Halifax, there was to be a public auction on November 3, 1760: “To be sold, a boy and girl, about 11 years old”.
    I want to read the first couple of paragraphs to share with members. On the site it states that:
    August 1 is important in Canadian history because the Slavery Abolition Act affected the lives of those enslaved and the lives of their descendants.
    The first colony in the British Empire to have anti-slavery legislation was Upper Canada, now Ontario. John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (1791–1796), passed an Act Against Slavery in 1793, which ended the importation of slaves in Upper Canada and manumitted the future children of female slaves at age twenty-five. Unfortunately, it did not free a single slave. It was superseded by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.
    Ontario was not the first of the British and former British possessions to enact legislation against slavery. Vermont abolished slavery outright in 1777, a full 16 years before Upper Canada’s partial abolition. And Vermont was followed quickly by Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and several other northern states, well ahead of Upper Canada’s 1793 law. In 1787, the United States Congress outlawed slavery in the territories that would become the Midwest states.
    The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 abolished slavery throughout the British Empire….
    That comes directly from the BC Black History Awareness Society website.
    I watched a movie a few years back that was called Amazing Grace. It was about William Wilberforce. I loved the way in which the movie was put together to assist people in reflecting on the many horrific events during slavery when it was, I suggest, at one of its peaks when slaves were being captured and brought into the United States and other areas of the world.
     I believe that there are so many stories that could be told, but I see that I have run out of time. Suffice to say that I really appreciated reading the information on the BC Black History Awareness Society website and would encourage others to do so.

  (1110)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak to this important issue this morning.
    It is hard for us to imagine now what it might have felt like to experience slavery in the past. It was a tragedy of untold proportions. Sophocles said, “of all human ills the greatest is slavery”.
    Today I am talking about Motion No. 36, which recognizes the past and present contributions of people of African descent and proposes designating August 1 of every year as emancipation day. Naturally, I support this motion.
    Designating a commemorative day sends two important messages. First, we recognize the harm caused by the practice of slavery in North America and clearly state that slavery was wrong. Second, we signal to the world that slavery is never acceptable, regardless of time, place or circumstance.
    Despite what people might think, slavery has not been abolished. Contemporary forms of slavery still exist. For example, we have talked a lot about the Uighurs recently. They are being subjected to forced labour in camps in China.
    Older forms of slavery are even re-emerging. According to a CNN news story from four years ago, African migrants in Libya were being auctioned off like cargo. This has also been observed in recent years in Syria and Iraq, where thousands of Yazidi girls and women have been held captive by Daesh and subjected to slavery. I think everyone agrees that slavery, whether in older or modern forms, must be abolished.
    As the motion points out, the British Parliament abolished slavery in its empire as of August 1, 1834. This is an important event that needs to be commemorated, which is why the government should designate August 1 of every year emancipation day.
    On August 1, 1834, the British Empire capitulated and ordered the emancipation of slaves, following many years of debate on the issue. In fact, the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada was the first British legislature in North America to propose the abolition of slavery.
    People will not remember that. From the very first sitting of the first Parliament of Lower Canada in December 1792, MP Pierre-Louis Panet introduced legislation to abolish slavery, nothing less. The bill was introduced on March 8, 1793, and in principle was to be passed on April 19. Unfortunately, it died on the Order Paper. Still, this bill illustrates how concerned Quebeckers were about this issue once they had a Parliament to express their opinions.
    Another example of Quebeckers' concern for the equality and liberty of all is the emancipation of Jews in 1832. That year, the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, presided by the great Louis-Joseph Papineau, passed legislation that was unprecedented in the British Empire to recognize the full civil, political and religious rights of Jews, finally allowing them to sit in Parliament, which previously had not been the case.
    A few years later, in 1838, after the violent suppression of the Lower Canada Rebellion, the patriots enshrined in Quebec's declaration of independence that all individuals, including indigenous peoples, enjoyed the same rights. The patriots demonstrated their commitment to human rights and equality for all communities on their land. They went even further than abolishing slavery.
    Obviously, August 1, 1834, is a significant date. It is important to understand that the abolition of slavery did not come out of nowhere, nor did it happen because of a sudden humanist awakening on the part of politicians of the day. Not much about this aspect is taught in history classes, but it should be noted that slavery was abolished as a result of decades of struggle by humanists and, more importantly, by slaves themselves.
    Let us talk about that struggle. Today, we talk about the social struggle for human rights. This brings to mind things like petitions, protests and appeals to politicians and authorities. How can slaves fight for their cause when the very institution that wants to get rid of them deprives them of all their freedoms? Given that slavery deprives slaves of the possibility of open assembly or petition, how can they resist? It is not complicated. They disobey, flee, break their chains, sometimes literally. They suffocate the oppressor who denied their humanity, and they rebel violently.

  (1115)  

     Nelson Mandela said that “it is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle, and the oppressed is often left no recourse but to use methods that mirror those of the oppressor.”
    There were dozens of revolts by slaves in America. The most well known is definitely the revolt that led to the independence of Haiti and the end of slavery in that country. Haitians suffered the horrors of war to free themselves from domination and gain their freedom. Other slave uprisings did not meet with the same success, but that does not mean they were in vain, including those revolts that led to bloodshed. I am thinking, for example, of the Stono rebellion, which took place in what was then the British colony of South Carolina.
    In 1739, slaves gathered, took up arms and organized a great march. The word “Liberty” was written on a banner. This uprising was crushed, but it inspired another uprising in the neighbouring colony of Georgia the following year, and yet another in South Carolina the year after that. The colonial authorities ended up imposing a 10-year moratorium on slave importation in the region. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
    Open rebellion was not the slaves' only form of resistance. When an unjust system forces a person to work for an owner, without compensation and without rights, the act of fleeing constitutes a heroic act of resistance. Many American labourers fled north after slavery was abolished in the British Empire, but before that, slaves would flee under both English and French rule.
    Today I would like to talk about a Black slave from Montreal named Marie-Joseph Angélique. In 1733, she asked her owner to free her. When her request was denied, she fled with a companion towards the ports of New England, hoping to make it back to Portugal, where she was born. She was captured in Chambly two weeks later and returned to her owner. Not long after, in April 1734, Marie-Joseph Angélique was blamed for a fire that destroyed Montreal's merchants' quarter. She was accused of setting the fire to create a diversion so that she could escape once again. She was convicted, tortured and hanged. It is still not known whether she was responsible for the fire, but we can be sure that Marie-Joseph Angélique was right to want her freedom, to reject slavery and to flee.
    Open revolt and flight were acts of resistance that hurt the system that was in place and contributed to its abolition. By resisting, slaves made it more costly to maintain repressive systems. Keeping the system in place was less profitable for merchants and slavers since they had to deal with escapes and the risk of violent uprisings. Slaves were the victims of this major historic crime, but, in a way, their resistance also made them agents of change. Obviously, they had to resist in order to overcome this injustice.
    Militant abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass clearly illustrated the need to fight. He said, and I quote:
     If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
    This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
    The bottom line is that, in the end, resistance and struggle pay off, even if the process sometimes takes time. Quebeckers are all too familiar with that fact: 200 years of oppression, struggle, fighting and two lost referendums. Our thirst for freedom is still present, still intact. In the end, every little contribution that is made to the cause of freedom bears fruit. It may not happen right away, but every contribution bears fruit in time.
    I have a lot more to say about freedom, but I would like to close by saying that Motion No. 36 is an important one. I support the motion, as do all members of the Bloc Québécois.

  (1120)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to add my voice in support of the motion put forward by the member for Richmond Hill, which calls upon the government to designate August 1 of each year as emancipation day.
    As the member of Parliament representing the riding of Niagara Falls, it is indeed my pleasure to speak on this motion and share the incredible local history and important stories of our Black communities, which need to be heard. In my colleague's motion, as part of his rational on having this date designated as emancipation day in Canada, he references the British Parliament's decision to abolish slavery as of August 1, 1834.
    I would like to build on this reference and actually take us a bit further in our country's history to the time of the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. In many places across Ontario, the August civic holiday has become known as Simcoe Day. However, this holiday has also been referred to by many within our Black communities as emancipation day as well.
    Prior to running to become a member of Parliament, I had the pleasure of serving as the senior manager of communications and stakeholder relations for the Niagara Parks Commission. The commission is an Ontario government agency responsible for the environmental and cultural preservation of the lands located along the Niagara River corridor, which stretches from Lake Erie all the way to Lake Ontario.
    One of the commission's holdings is the Mackenzie Printery, which contains a piece of important history in its collection: the Louis Roy printing press. According to the Niagara Parks, this 1760s press was operated by the king's first printer, Louis Roy, who was responsible for printing all official government documents in Upper Canada.
    One of these documents included the printing of an act to prevent the further introduction of slaves and to limit the term of contracts for servitude, which is also known as the act to limit slavery in Upper Canada, printed in 1793. On March 14, 1793, Chloe Cooley, a Black slave in Queenston, Ontario, was forcibly returned by her owner to the United States.
    Army veteran Peter Martin, a former soldier of Butler's Rangers and a free Black, bravely and rightly reported the incident and Cooley's protests to the lieutenant governor, John Graves Simcoe. This led Simcoe to introduce the 1793 act, which attempted to make slavery less common by allowing children born to female slaves to be freed at age 25 and prohibiting additional individuals to be brought into Upper Canada in servitude.
    While the act did not abolish slavery out right, it was an early challenge against the legal status of slavery. It was also a critically important step in the fight to abolish slavery in Canada and the British Empire, which happened in 1834. For some, this is the reason Simcoe Day and emancipation day are celebrated together in many parts of Ontario.
    Ms. Cooley's story and the resulting introduction of an act against slavery in Upper Canada was recognized by the Ontario Heritage Trust on August 23, 2007. Fittingly, it was former Ontario lieutenant governor Lincoln Alexander, Canada's first Black federal parliamentarian and first Black federal cabinet minister, who attended and unveiled this plaque in his capacity as chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust.
    This plaque dedicated to Ms. Cooley is one of many specific markers and monuments within Niagara parks that commemorate the significant contributions and impacts that Black Canadians have had on the development of rich history in Ontario and our country. On the site of Queenston Heights, there is a plaque dedicated to those Black Canadians who fought in defence of Canada from American invasion and for their own personal freedom during the Battle of Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812.
    In the southern part of my riding there is another plaque that recognizes the starting point of Niagara's Freedom Trail. Slaves escaping the northern states would be ferried across the Niagara River from Buffalo to Fort Erie, where they would land on shore. They would then temporarily reside in a series of safe houses until permanent accommodations and jobs could be found. These communities and safe homes were major conduits of the Underground Railroad, and the landing site in Fort Erie was the point where many hundreds of escaped African-American slaves experienced freedom for the first time in their lives.
    This leads me to part (c) of this motion, which recognizes that abolitionists and others who struggled against slavery, including those who arrived in Upper and Lower Canada by the Underground Railroad, have historically celebrated August 1 as emancipation day.
    Again, the region of Niagara is rich in history and stories of significance to many in the Black community. Recently, the Niagara Parks Commission unveiled two interpretive plaques honouring Harriet Tubman and her efforts to end slavery and advance the rights and freedoms of all people. From 1851 to 1861, Harriet Tubman was a guide for freedom seekers making their way to Canada.

  (1125)  

    In November of 1856 she crossed the Niagara River with some of her charges in a train travelling over the new and very first railway bridge, the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, an international bridge at the site of what is now the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge in Niagara Falls. Her courage and unwavering commitment to helping people escape slavery leaves one in awe. She truly was a remarkable woman and a role model for us all. It is in tribute to these actions and her role as the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad that the Canadian federal government bestowed the honour of designating Harriet Tubman as a person of national historic significance in 2005.
    In part (e) of my colleague's motion, he speaks to, “the heritage of Canada’s people of African descent and the contributions they have made and continue to make to Canada”.
    As part of this, I want to quickly highlight the efforts and contributions of the Niagara Military Museum in my riding for creating an absolutely marvellous travelling exhibit, funded in part by Veterans Affairs Canada, that highlights the major role and contributions of Black Canadians in our country's military history. With a focus on those who serve from Niagara and local surrounding communities, the exhibit features the personal stories of service and commitment from Black Canadians from the various military conflicts Canadians have participated in throughout our history. The sharing of these important stories would not have been possible without the involvement of the families, local historians and contributors who came forward to see that the stories and legacies of these families' ancestors would never be forgotten.
    As we speak to this motion and its reference to Canadians of African descent who have and continue to make Canada a great place to live, I would be remiss if I did not mention the late Wilma Morrison, the nurse, community volunteer and historian we all came to rely upon for her expert knowledge. Wilma worked tirelessly in our community promoting and preserving the culturally rich and important history of Black Canadians residing in Niagara.
     In April of last year, Wilma passed away at the age of 91 after a courageous battle against COVID-19.
    Wilma was a member of the Nathaniel Dett British Methodist Episcopal Church, which is now a designated national historic site. When the church was threatened with being sold and destroyed in the 1990s, Wilma helped save the chapel and the significant volumes of heritage, the genealogical books and records that document the many contributions of Black residents in our community. The church is now a focal point of the Niagara Freedom Trail tour, which Wilma played a large role in helping to develop.
    I last saw Wilma in February of 2020 at the launch of the newly created Black military history exhibit at the Niagara Military Museum. In meeting her, one could not help but feel better because of the time spent together. One would also come away from discussions with Wilma realizing that there is so much more for us to accomplish as a community and country.
    Wilma Morrison is greatly missed, but her legacy and contributions will live on forever in Niagara Falls and across our Niagara region. I believe Wilma would have been quite supportive of this motion, as it would have been an opportunity for us to share in our collective and rich history, which we all need to learn and celebrate.
    For those reasons, I am pleased to support this motion. I thank my colleague for bringing the motion forward for our consideration.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be participating in this important debate with my colleagues this morning on a motion to designate an emancipation day. I would like to congratulate the member for Richmond Hill and thank him for moving this important motion, which gives us all an opportunity to discuss and debate not only recognition of Black history in Canada and Quebec, but also the history of slavery.
    Typically, and with good reason, discussions about the enslavement of people of African descent focus on the United States, where the widespread use of Black slaves on cotton plantations and in other economic sectors left its mark on our collective psyche. It involved the cruel and violent exploitation of tens of thousands of people, who were ripped from Africa and the Caribbean and crammed onto ships under appalling conditions to go work in the United States. That is why there is such a strong association between slavery and the United States.
    We tend to forget that we have our own history of slavery, a history that has left its mark on Quebec and Canada too. I think that the motion moved by my colleague from Richmond Hill gives us an opportunity today to remember certain facts and take a closer look at that history. Over the years, we have, in a way, erased that part of our history, as though it never existed or did not really have anything to do with Canadians, only with our neighbours to the south. Slavery in Canada may not have been practised as pervasively or with the same intensity, but it existed. It was allowed, it was legal, it was public, it was open. Human beings could be owned, sold, traded or treated as spoils of war. I think we need to be aware of that so we can do the right thing now.
    Before getting into the history of Quebec and Canada more specifically, I would like to remind my colleagues of a basic phenomenon that can lead a person to commit enslavement or even genocide. It is a mental and intellectual process called dehumanization. It is when a group of human beings are stripped of their humanity and described as being other, inferior, more animal than human, or even vermin. We saw that with the anti-Semitism of 1930s Europe, when such comparisons were made about Jews. We have seen that in Quebec as well.
    When a segment of the population is described by the colour of their skin, their religion, their gender or their sexual orientation and called by names that essentially deny their personhood, this dehumanization opens the door to viewing them as property, meaning slaves, or as people to get rid of. This in turn opens the door to genocide, such as the Shoah, the Armenian genocide and the events that occurred in Rwanda and Ukraine. It is also what we are currently seeing with the Rohingya in Myanmar. We must be aware of dehumanization and look out for cases where a segment of the population is being described and generalized as less than human, leaving them open to attack. It is a practice that is still used a lot by the extreme right. Let us all be aware of that. We must fight against dehumanization, the process that opens the door to abuse and anti-humanist or disrespectful acts.
    In New France, slavery was introduced with colonization. It was not imposed or instituted afterwards. Although no slave ships stopped at Quebec City, Montreal or Halifax, there were slaves in New France from the outset, and the use of slaves continued under British rule.

  (1130)  

    It is important to know that the first slaves in New France were indigenous people from the Pawnee Nation, later known as the Panis, who were captured and sold. Throughout history, there were thousands of Black slaves, but the first slaves were indigenous, and the majority of slaves in New France were always indigenous. I believe it is important to remember that.
    At the peak of slavery in New France or under British rule, a total of approximately 4,200 slaves were being used on our land, including about 2,700 indigenous slaves. It was a very cheap source of labour because they were not paid, but whereas slaves in the United States were used in labour-intensive economic sectors, such as cotton plantations in the southern states, slaves in Canada were generally used as household servants. They tended to work in homes rather than in the fields.
    We are told that the first non-indigenous slave was a child from either Madagascar or Guinea, who was brought here in 1629 and went by the name Olivier Le Jeune. He was the first slave to be recorded in New France. Later, in 1689, Louis XIV authorized the importation of slaves into New France, and the purchase and possession of slaves became legal in 1709.
    In 1760, the conquest of New France and its transformation into a British colony changed very little about how slaves were owned and used. Article 47 of the Articles of Capitulation clearly states that the same rules continue to apply in relation to the possession, trade and sale of slaves. Later, the Imperial Statute of 1790 explicitly authorized United Empire loyalists fleeing the newly independent American territories for Canada to bring their Black slaves, furniture, utensils and clothing, all duty free. Between 2,000 and 3,000 Black slaves came to Canada with those Loyalists.
    Canada has a long history of slavery, with the last notice of a slave sale in New Brunswick dating back to 1816, and the last sale of a slave in Quebec taking place on September 14, 1799, at the end of the 18th century. It involved the sale of a nine-year-old boy. I want to remind the House that slavery is deeply embedded in our history. Unfortunately, we do not talk about it very much, but it has always been with us. There are many people among us today who are descended from indigenous or Black slaves. This emancipation day is extremely important, and I am so proud to say, on behalf of myself, the people of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and the NDP, that I support this motion, which is essential to our future. If we do not remember our past, we run the risk of repeating the same mistakes. I therefore congratulate my colleague from Richmond Hill.

  (1135)  

    Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Motion No. 36, which seeks to designate August 1 of each year as emancipation day in Canada. Motion No. 36 reminds us of August 1, 1834, the symbolic day when slavery was abolished in the British Empire.
    However, that critical date in Canadian history also reminds us that slavery did in fact exist in Canada for over 200 years. We know that Black and indigenous people were enslaved, but unfortunately, we do not know their names or their stories. The first African slave was named Olivier Le Jeune. He was only six years old when he arrived in Quebec. Were there other children? What were their lives like? The celebration of emancipation day requires a knowledge of the past, and this aspect of the past in particular. Acquiring such knowledge is a collective task and a societal duty.
    That is why the motion moved by the hon. member for Richmond Hill points out that it is important for our country to commemorate the past, remember sometimes painful events, such as slavery, and educate people by telling this story. Celebrating emancipation day in Canada is a step toward recognizing the positive contributions that people of African descent have made to Canadian history.
    Historians report that on August 1, 1834, at the Port of Montreal, a group of staunch abolitionist Black Montrealers celebrated the implementation of the Slavery Abolition Act. One beautiful ritual that has emerged is that Black Canadians across the country have continued this celebration and have created their own traditions to commemorate this historic event. Our Black communities have adopted different customs for honouring the great passion of their ancestors who were forced into slavery.
    Our history is a rich one, with its ups and downs, and I had the huge honour of learning about one important part of that history during a symbolic march on emancipation day last summer, organized as part of the campaign to reclaim and rebuild the Negro Community Centre in Montreal. This event started with a gathering at Place D'Youville, in honour of the Black Montrealers who met there to celebrate the abolition of slavery in 1834. Hundreds of us then marched through the streets of Montreal towards Parc Oscar-Peterson, a park dedicated to the famous pianist, that was the historic site of the old Negro Community Centre.
    During the march, we had the honour of listening to members of the community, such as Quebec's first Black judge, the Hon. Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, and the Hon. Marlene Jennings, the first Black MP elected to the House of Commons. The march represented the importance of our collective effort to remember and how meaningful and crucial it is to keep celebrating our communities and our contributions.
    The 1834 law was a victory, but it did not mean the battle was won. For far too long, people of African descent did not enjoy the same rights as other British citizens of the colonies. Even in this day and age, the pandemic has exposed the magnitude of that gap, because Black communities across the country have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

  (1140)  

[English]

    If I may, I will borrow the words of Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, who introduced Bill S-255, An Act proclaiming Emancipation Day, before the Senate in 2018. During the second reading of the bill in the Senate, she explained:
    I propose for Emancipation Day to be federally recognized, as this acknowledgment is a necessary step toward healing the historical trauma endured by African Canadians. Our history has been repeatedly erased. Enslaved Africans were stripped of their names in an attempt to strip them of their identities.
    Senator Bernard's point on healing greatly resonates with me. It acts as an important reminder that our communities have endured trauma spanning multiple generations, that the wounds from this historical harm require a proactive and collective healing approach and that while Emancipation Day marks a significant milestone in our history, we must remember that Black communities in Canada continue to face numerous challenges. Systemic racism experienced by Black communities continues to cause suffering; widens divisions and inequities; and contributes to a climate of fear, intolerance and stigma in Canada. Our commitment to respecting our differences, overcoming our prejudices and finding new and better ways to build a more united Canada are the foundations on which Canada must rest.
    If there is something the past year has taught us, it is the urgency of “now”. We have seen unprecedented mobilization as part of the movement for Black lives from coast to coast to coast. Significantly, radical change is in order, because our constituents are expecting their demands to be implemented. The weight of change cannot be shouldered only by Black people. This work is deeply traumatic and, frankly, exhausting, and we need our non-Black allies to show up to do the work, especially when it is uncomfortable.
    As chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, I have witness the extraordinary power that collective support brings when addressing anti-Black racism. We have made a lot of strides in the past six years, but there is still a lot more work that needs to be done, and I believe that it is with continued nonpartisan support in our fight against racism that we will be able to live up to the expectations set out by abolitionists in 1834.

  (1145)  

[Translation]

    Canada's Black communities have made important political, cultural and economic contributions to our country for over 400 years, which is more than 200 years before Canada even became a country. If diversity is our strength and defines us as Canadians as we celebrate emancipation day, let us pledge to commemorate our rich history and continue fighting for a better, more just future.
    I thank all of my parliamentary colleagues for supporting Motion No. 36 to designate emancipation day.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, this morning we are debating the entirely uncontroversial proposition that the House should recognize and celebrate the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire. That abolition happened by act of Parliament on August 1, 1834.
    Throughout most of human history, and in most parts of the world, slavery in various forms was simply normal. It was a given that people would be owned, bought and sold. Today, perhaps we are inclined to view abolition as the inevitable discovery of some obvious truth, but in historical terms we can see that the abolition of slavery was neither obvious nor inevitable.
    In the 19th century, the idea that slavery should be abolished was controversial. Today, it is not. For some of us, this is an occasion to double down on Hegelian ideas about the inevitability of progress and to congratulate ourselves on our superiority over our ancestors.
    However, the abolition of slavery, especially in the British Empire, was not part of some inevitable or irresistible trend of history. It was rather the result of a particular intellectual political and theological movement that successfully persuaded both decision-makers and the public. If that movement had failed in its efforts to convince Parliament and the British people, then slavery would have continued, just as other forms of violence and oppression have continued.
    The ideas that led to the abolition of slavery were also contingent on a prevailing morality. This prevailing morality has been anything but universal in human history and has been rejected at times by both primitive societies and extremely sophisticated societies.
    Today, we celebrate emancipation, but often without properly acknowledging the precariousness of the moral substructure that led to emancipation, or how the moral arguments that were used in this case should have implications in other cases.
    With this mind, it might be worth asking ourselves where we would be if emancipation had not happened. What if slavery were still a live question in our politics today, either in terms of a continuing domestic slave market or an international slave market, with Canadians who invest in foreign stocks being able to profit from them? What might the arguments in this place look like if that were in fact the case?
    Some, I assume, would argue for the abolition of slavery on the grounds that it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but sadly slavery has often co-existed with constitutional doctrines of human rights. After finding that all men were created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, the United States persisted in permitting slavery for almost 100 years. So, demonstrably, the existence of human rights doctrines does not guarantee the actual protection of human rights; it simply increases the chances that public debates will be denominated in terms of human rights.
    In a hypothetical era of modern slavery co-existing with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, some would certainly use the charter to argue for the rights of enslaved persons, but others would argue that enslaved persons should not be considered persons under the Constitution or that rights doctrines should be interpreted in a way that does not interfere with the cultural rights of slave-holding jurisdictions, or that certain rights could be abridged for the sake of the national interest in accordance with section one, and politicians would appoint judges who shared their interpretation of the idea of human rights in this context and then defer to those same judges when decisions were made that they agreed with.
    As de Tocqueville observed in Democracy in America, the manners of a people are substantially more important than their laws. Any critics of slavery would hear a certain amount of “what aboutism”. “How can you focus on this issue”, they would be asked, “when there are many other problems as well?” They would be criticized as hypocritical for opposing slavery, if they did not also advocate for the kinds of social programs and supports that would ensure a happy and comfortable life for people after they were free.
    If slavery existed as a modern institution, its critics would likely face some forms of rhetorical cancellation. Their ideas would be called dangerous, and their descriptions of injustice called misinformation. Debates would be cancelled on the grounds that the issue had already been settled. Pseudoscientific arguments would be advanced to suggest that racism was grounded in empirical evidence. This has certainly happened in the past.
    There would be economic arguments. Abolitionists would craftily make the case that abolishing slavery would be good for our economy, and perhaps build alliances with domestic labour groups who would see unpaid labour as a threat to the interests of their members. However, others would argue that the increase in production facilitated by slavery would create more cheap products for consumers. They would also say that some products would inevitably be produced by slave labour in an integrated global trading system. “Why abolish slavery here”, they would say, “when it would simply lead to an increase in slavery and slave production in other jurisdictions, hurting our economy and not actually doing anything to reduce the global aggregate amount of slavery?”
    Some would argue that any restrictions on the importation of slave-made products would simply be an excuse for protectionism, which would violate the letter or at least the spirit of our WTO commitments, and that Canadian investors must be able to invest their money anywhere so as to maximize their return on investment, because any politicization of investment decisions would start us down a slippery slope and prevent the necessary diversification of investments that helps ensure the security of Canadians' retirement savings.

  (1150)  

    If we were speaking of slavery in an international context, would Canadian companies be willing to produce the implements and tools of human oppression for export, or would we intervene to prevent such export, even if doing so would cost us jobs, or might government decide to simply leave the question to individual conscience? Certainly if slavery were prevalent around the world today, we would hear the arguments of so-called foreign policy realists and international moral relativists. They would say that even if slavery runs contrary to Canadian values, we would have to engage with countries around the world to practice it and not seek to impose our ways on them.
    Efforts to promote the abolition of slavery in other countries might be portrayed as a new form of colonialism. The pursuit of engagement would be used to justify turning a blind eye. Perhaps we would find it strategically necessary to align with slave-trading powers at moments where we were annoyed by the antics of other free nations. Who could doubt that if the Confederate States of America had successfully separated from the United States of America, we might find occasion to partner with the Confederate States of America in order to resist the thoughtless and boorish interventions by some administration or other of the United States that we did not like.
    Parliamentary committees might hear from the Confederate States business council about how we should raise human rights issues in private, but not do anything that would damage its southern pride. Imagine if the Confederate States were hosting the Olympics, the 2024 Montgomery games. Would we use the occasion for taking a resolute moral stance or would we close our eyes and think of the athletes?
    Grave injustices always look clear in the rear view mirror, especially when past victims or their descendants have the power to be heard, even in Parliament itself. Today Parliament will come together to celebrate the emancipation that took place in 1834. I doubt cabinet will abstain from this vote, but injustices that are before us instead of behind us never seem to be quite as simple or as clear, and too often the response of this place in those cases is simply the sound of silence.
    There is slavery in our world today. Imagine half a million people forced to pick cotton under the hot sun. I am not talking about the antebellum south. I am talking about modern China, the world's most populous nation and second-largest economy, which is expanding its colonial footprint throughout the world with the help of Canadian investments, including our tax dollars in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and investments by the CPP Investment Board a couple of years ago in Chinese state-affiliated companies developing the technology for the administration of Uighur mass enslavement and genocide. Canada lags behind in its response to supply-chain slavery and we have a serious domestic problem of human trafficking, which has been widely ignored and the prevention of which has been badly underfunded in recent years.
    I congratulate the member for Richmond Hill for bringing forward this motion, but I would challenge him to step up and do more to call for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law for the people of Iran, rather than mischaracterizing their current repressive regime as democratic. Our world today is seething with injustice, present injustice and certainly complicated injustice. The solutions that we should pursue are not always obvious, but the stakes are no less high than they were 200 years ago.
    In our present reality, I often find it frustrating to see that people are more willing to condemn injustice perpetuated by the weak than to condemn injustice perpetuated by the strong. It is much easier to condemn weak racists as part of a social pileup, a Girardian scapegoating ritual, rather than to be the first to stand up and condemn an injustice being committed by someone who is as yet still powerful.
    Many of us will have grown up with the classic Disneyfication of good and evil. In old Disney films, good and evil characters are easy to identify right at the outset, but in real life, those committing or who are complicit in evil often think of themselves as doing good. This is something that Disney itself probably understands after producing Mulan. In real life, it is not so much that people start out good or evil and act in accordance with their nature; it is more that of people with the same natures and aspirations rendering themselves good or evil by their actions, which serve to degrade or elevate them.
    I was reflecting on this point recently after reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. In one section, he discusses being purchased by a woman, whom he describes as a generally kind and gracious person. He is the first slave she has owned. He also describes her becoming meaner and crueler as she is degraded by the institution of slavery. Slavery's contemporary critics never failed to notice the powerful degrading impact that the institution had on slave owners, people who begin life just as we all do, but who degraded themselves through their participation in it and evil actions, which were justified and normalized by the societies in which they lived.
    William Wilberforce and others, including many of the oppressed who were themselves protagonists to the drum of their own emancipation, fought for the abolition of slavery in defiance of the spirit of the times. They were told to put aside their faith, their moralizing and their impoliteness and to get with the social program, but they refused. It is because they stood in Parliament and did what was hard, instead of what was easy, that we now find it so easy to celebrate Emancipation Day.

  (1155)  

    Madam Speaker, I am delighted to stand in the House for the second hour of debate on Motion No. 36.
    I first introduced the motion about a year ago. Since then, we have experienced a global pandemic and a global protest for racial justice. We all watched as millions across the world marched peacefully to protest anti-Black racism and raise awareness of systemic discrimination and inequalities embedded in our institutions.
    Witnessing these events and participating in the movement, I realize how imperative this motion is and how important it is for our government to take the necessary steps to address the systemic racism in our institutions and society.
     The motion to have the House formally recognize August 1 as emancipation day would be a stepping stone in our effort toward building a more just and equitable society. Naturally, the next question we must ask ourselves is how we can move forward from here.
    Through the three principles of acknowledgement, empowerment and engagement, we can progress forward and make a significant impact in the lives of Black Canadians. The acknowledgement principle is what we can accomplish with the motion. Recognizing the history of emancipation day includes recognizing the remnant of slavery and the multi-generational impact of slave trade.
    Acknowledgement also includes formalizing Black history in our curriculum and through public awareness. With this motion, we could empower our schools and educators to develop lesson plans that highlight Black history in Canada.
     From coast to coast to coast, Black Canadians have made and continue to make an immense contribution and it is vital we acknowledge them. This is an essential milestone for improving education awareness into issues of race and injustice.
    The next step and principle on our path to justice is empowerment. By providing opportunities advocating for community and educating our society, we can empower equity-deserving communities. Empowerment includes eliminating obstacles that deter Black Canadians from stepping into their own power, seeing their own potential and contributing meaningfully to all aspects of society.
    The third and last principle is engagement. This includes removing socio-economic barriers Black Canadians face, investing in education, funding innovation, creating affordable housing and providing safe child care spaces. We must also re-evaluate our criminal justice system. We must question the reasoning behind the high percentage of Black Canadians in our institutional system and why high recidivism rates exist. Only then can we create policies that address these issues.
    As we strive to create an inclusive multicultural society, we cannot ignore this part of our past and its generational impact on our fellow Canadians. As Canadians, it is our collective responsibility to create a multicultural inclusive society informed by and sensitive to the experiences of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.
    As a first generation immigrant, I immediately connected with the underlying tone of racism and injustice experienced by the Black community. Though I can never understand the struggle that a Black person faces in our world, I can empathize and I can be a fierce ally. As an elected official, I have a platform where I can help amplify the voices of Black Canadians.
    After the events of the past summer, it is evident how important a systematic approach is, an approach that addresses all aspects of our society. As an advocate for mental health, I also see an opportunity to advocate for those who feel an intense burden dealing with systemic racism on a daily basis. Emancipation day is a celebration of survival, human rights, equality, culture and resilience. Recognizing it would not only acknowledge the harms caused by slavery but also pave a path toward justice.
    Motion No. 36 is only the first step. By empowering the principles of acknowledgement, empowerment and engagement, we can move toward progress and through equity.
    I want to thank Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard for bringing this initiative forward in the Senate as well as all community groups and advocates who have advised me, educated me and helped me promote this motion. This is a testament to their work, activism and persistence. I hope to join them all in an emancipation day celebration this summer.

  (1200)  

    The question is on the motion. If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the chair.
    Madam Speaker, I request a recorded division.
    Pursuant to an order made on Monday, January 25, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, March 24, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

  (1205)  

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Long-Term Care 

    That, given that,
(i) during the first wave, 82% of COVID deaths in Canada happened in long-term care, the highest proportion in the OECD,
(ii) there have been over 12,000 long-term care resident and worker deaths in Canada since the beginning of the pandemic,
(iii) residents and workers in for-profit long-term care homes have a higher risk of infection and death than those in non-profit homes,
the House call upon the government to ensure that national standards for long-term care which are currently being developed fully remove profit from the sector, including by:
(a) immediately bringing Revera, a for-profit long-term care operator owned by a federal agency, under public ownership;
(b) transitioning all for-profit care to not-for-profit hands by 2030;
(c) working with provinces and territories to stop licensing any new for-profit care facilities, and making sure that measures are in place to keep all existing beds open during the transition; and
(d) investing an additional $5 billion over the next four years in long-term care, with funding tied to respect for the principles of the Canada Health Act, to boost the number of non-profit homes.
     He said: Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Vancouver East.
    As members know, this pandemic has gripped the entire world and everyone in the world has felt the impact of it. However, what I have referred to as a “national shame” is the fact that in our country it was our loved ones in long-term care, particularly seniors, who bore the brunt of this pandemic with their lives. This should never have happened.
    Today, we are calling on the House to recognize this national shame and to do something about it.
    What we have learned with incontrovertible evidence, an overwhelming amount of evidence, is that for-profit long-term care homes have had worse conditions of care, more rates of infection and more deadlier infection, which has meant that more people have lost their lives. I will be very clear: For-profit care means that more of our loved ones were killed. They did not get the care they deserved, because for those for-profit long-term care homes, profit was more important than people.
    We know that 82% of COVID deaths in Canada happened in long-term care, which is a scathing statistic. This is the highest proportion in the entire OECD. We also know that this is not a new problem. The underfunding of long-term care homes has been chronic. The lack of care for our loved ones in long-term care has been chronic and long-lasting. COVID-19 simply exposed what was there for a long time.

[Translation]

    The pandemic has shown us the effects of years of neglect and inaction on the part of past Liberal and Conservative governments. Our seniors in long-term care homes have been hit hardest by the pandemic. It is a national disgrace that our most vulnerable seniors, those in long-term care homes, are being hit the hardest. This is not only unacceptable, it is inexcusable. Our parents and grandparents built this country, and they deserve to retire with respect and dignity. There is clear evidence that conditions were worse in for-profit long-term care homes and more seniors died in those facilities.

  (1210)  

[English]

    What do we need to do? We need to immediately, with national and federal leadership, declare clearly that profit has no place in the care of our loved ones, that profit has no place in health care at all, but certainly not in the care of vulnerable loved ones in long-term care.
    I will provide some of the clear and compelling reasons why we need to do this. For every dollar we spend on long-term care, if we spend that dollar on for-profit long-term care, not every dollar will make it to the care of our loved ones. Some of that dollar ends up in the pockets of shareholders, for profit. It ends up in the pay for executives. Not all of it will make it to caring for our loved ones.
    We have some clear examples in two for-profit operators in Ontario, Extendicare and Sienna Senior Living. During this pandemic, during the worst outbreaks that our country has seen when it comes to long-term care homes, when our seniors were being ravaged by COVID-19, when workers did not have access to the necessary PPE and seniors were worried for their lives, instead of investing in caring for our loved ones, these two for-profit long-term care home operators paid out $74 million in dividends. Imagine that. In the worst outbreak in the history of our country when it comes to long-term care, gripped with a global pandemic these two for-profit operators, who had horrible conditions in their homes, paid out $74 million in dividends instead of investing in workers and in care. At the same time, they paid out $98.3 million to shareholders and received the Canada wage subsidy. They took public money with one hand and with the other hand paid, they out dividends.

[Translation]

    No one should make a profit from neglecting our seniors.
    We have also seen some terrible numbers out of Quebec. Nearly 5,000 seniors have died in almost 300 residential and long-term care facilities in Quebec. A recent media report revealed that the death rate is higher in the non-unionized private sector than in public and private institutions with collective agreements in place. This must never happen again. We need to immediately do away with the profiteering in long-term care homes, full stop.

[English]

    We need to take profit out of long-term care homes immediately. We also immediately need to fix the long-standing problems that the Liberals and Conservatives have contributed to. We need to invest more in our health care and we need to act specifically to fix this problem.
    There are a couple of key steps. First, Revera is owned by a federal agency. We need to immediately make it public. We must work with provinces and territories to ensure that Revera is delivering care in a public model and make it public immediately. We also need to transition all of our for-profit long-term care homes to not-for-profit and public homes by 2030. That is our plan.
    We need to work with provinces and territories to stop licensing any new for-profit care facilities, and make sure that measures are in place to keep all the existing beds and spaces. We need to invest an additional $5 billion over the next four years in long-term care, with funding tied to respecting the same principles that are already agreed upon by all provinces and territories and are enshrined in the Canada Health Act. Those same principles helped us achieve what Canadians now are most proud of: universal health care. We can use those same principles to lift up our vulnerable seniors in long-term care homes.
    We cannot go back to a health care system where making money and profit was more important than the care of our vulnerable seniors. We cannot go back to a time when, if a pandemic or an outbreak happened, our loved ones in long-term care would bear the brunt of it. We cannot go back to that.
    Now is the time. This is when we can tell the people in this country that we are committed to moving forward in a way that honours the lives lost, by committing to never having it happen again. It is not enough to hear people in the House of Commons pay tribute to the lives lost. It is not enough for people to have moments of silence. It is not enough to talk about being sorry or to wring our hands. Here is the moment to do something about it. The evidence is overwhelming: We need to get profit out of long-term care homes. We need to protect our seniors and our loved ones, and we need to do it now.
    I implore everyone in the House to support this motion, so that we can take a clear and bold step forward to protect our loved ones in long-term care homes. I do not want to hear excuses. We can work with the jurisdictions. We can work with the provinces and territories. People are not looking to hear excuses. They are looking for solutions. Here is a solution. The time for leadership is now. Let us see what leadership is.

  (1215)  

     Madam Speaker, my question to the leader is in regard to the importance of recognizing that the provinces provide the administration and support for care home facilities.
    Has the leader or his health critic had any discussions with any province about this motion? If so, can he give an indication of which provinces are supportive of this motion, given that the provinces would, in part, be footing the bill for many measures that might be indirectly or directly implied through this particular motion.
    Has he got the support of any provinces?
    Madam Speaker, if we took the approach suggested by the hon. member, we would never have had universal health care. It is a fact that many provinces were opposed to universal health care. That did not stop Tommy Douglas and the leadership of the New Democrats from saying that they knew people wanted this, people needed this and people were crying out for this. Just because a province does not agree does not mean that we stop and give up. It means we have to continue to push forward. What we saw when we established our universal health care system was that provinces started signing on voluntarily and eventually all of the provinces joined in. They did not all join in right away. They did not all agree right away.
    What we are saying now is that we have the same opportunity to provide leadership and convince the provinces that this is the right way forward to lift up our seniors and our loved ones in long-term care homes.
    Madam Speaker, I agree that long-term care homes have been the centre of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I missed a few things from his speech. I know that a workforce crisis, insufficient resources, limited access to care and aging infrastructure have all been identified as contributing factors to the outbreaks and fatalities in some long-term care facilities.
    Does the leader of the New Democrats agree that the systemic problems in long-term care require a collaborative approach and a comprehensive solution?
    Madam Speaker, it is going to take collaboration and it is going to take a comprehensive approach. One of the clear findings, in addition to the fact that for-profit homes were the worst, was that the conditions of work and the conditions of workers were directly tied to the conditions of care. We need to make sure workers are paid good salaries, make sure they have enough hours, and make sure there are enough staff members to provide the care necessary.
    Let us be very clear: With for-profit care, all of those essential care elements are cut. Hours and pay are cut just to make a profit. We need to work together. The solution has to be comprehensive, but let us not ignore that profit is at the heart of many of the problems. We need to lift up the conditions of workers, which will directly lift up the conditions of the long-term care residents.

  (1220)  

[Translation]

    There is time for a brief question.
    The hon. member for Thérèse-De Blainville.
    Madam Speaker, I have a simple question for my colleague.
    Why introduce a motion that sets standards to be imposed on the provinces when, for several months now, the provinces and territories have made a common request, which we support, to increase health transfers to 35%? As hon. members know, we are talking about passing legislation on health, but transfers to the provinces have gone down from day one. They currently sit at just 22%. The provinces have been clear: They do not want national standards. In every—
    I am sorry to interrupt the member, but I did ask her for a brief question. There are just 15 seconds remaining out of one minute and 20 seconds of speaking time.
    The hon. member for Burnaby South.
    Madam Speaker, we agree that health transfers to the provinces need to be increased.
    I have talked to people in Quebec and in Canada. They are angry because they have seen the impact that COVID-19 has had on seniors in our long-term care facilities. We must improve conditions in long-term care facilities specifically by removing profit from the sector. It is clear that is what we need to do. There is a report on Quebec only. La Presse showed that it is essential that we do this.
    We are here to stand up for the interests of everyday Canadians.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am honoured to second this motion and rise to speak in support of it.
    As we heard from the leader of the NDP, the motion basically calls for the federal government to act now to take profit out of long-term care, put people before profit and say that we, as a society, value the lives of seniors more than money.
    Seniors in long-term care facilities have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. In the first wave of the pandemic, more than 80% of all COVID-19 deaths in the country were reported in long-term care facilities and retirement homes. That means one in five of the total COVID cases in Canada was among long-term care residents.
    Of course, COVID-19 also affected the workers in those facilities. In Canada, more than 9,600 staff in long-term care facilities were infected with COVID-19, representing more than 10% of the total cases.
    The pandemic has exposed severe cracks in our system, and some of the elderly and most vulnerable people paid the ultimate price for that. Across the country, more than a quarter of Canada's long-term care homes are for-profit. We have learned that for-profit care homes were more likely to see extensive COVID-19 outbreaks, and more deaths, than non-profit facilities.
     Things got so bad in Ontario that the military and the Red Cross had to be called in to help care for seniors. How did things get so bad? In the for-profit care homes, care aides and personal support workers are underpaid and are often part-time or casual workers, which means they often have to work at multiple job sites to make ends meet. This can be deadly in the face of a pandemic, when social distancing is an essential health measure. To be clear, the reason they are underpaid is so the company can have a larger profit margin. They are part-time or casual workers, which also means they are not paid benefits or sick leave. In addition, long-term care homes often subcontract out services such as laundry, cleaning and cooking, and it is also very likely that subcontracted staff do not have paid sick leave. Without paid sick leave, workers may be compelled to go to work even if they are feeling ill.
     All of these conditions contributed to an increased risk of transmission. The outcome was devastating for far too many seniors and their families, as well as the workers. The horror stories we hear in the media of the conditions the seniors were in take one's breath away. It is not supposed to be that way. The seniors in our communities helped build this country. Their retirement years are supposed to be their golden years. They deserve to live in comfort, with dignity and safety, as do people with disabilities. However, because of decades of cuts, underfunding and privatization, our continuing care system is broken.
     The bottom line is that Canada has failed to protect long-term care residents and workers throughout this pandemic. We have to ask ourselves how it is possible that seniors in some care homes were abandoned in their beds for weeks on end. Some cried for help for hours before assistance was provided. Some had to be bathed as they had not been bathed for weeks. Can members imagine if those were their mothers or grandmothers? Such horrific stories are not just stories. They are the real experiences of loved ones.
    Report after report revealed what we should know instinctively: that profit should never be the bottom line when it comes to continuing care. The evidence is overwhelming. It is undeniable that for-profit homes have seen worse results than other homes, with deadlier COVID outbreaks. However, at the same time, for-profit operators were getting public subsidies and paying out millions in dividends to shareholders while workers were underpaid, with some making minimum wage. Things were so desperate for some of them they had to resort to living in shelters. In fact, there was an outbreak in an Ottawa homeless shelter under exactly such a circumstance. It helps no one if essential front-line health care workers are pushed into homelessness. The colossal failure of the system is Canada's national shame.

  (1225)  

    Even outside of the pandemic situation, research has shown that homes run on a for-profit basis tend to have lower staffing levels, more verified complaints and more transfers to hospitals, as well as residents with higher rates of both ulcers and morbidity. We as parliamentarians have the power to do something about this. We must act now to prevent a repeat of this in the future. We must transition the for-profit model in long-term care to a non-profit model.
    The NDP members want to see an end to for-profit long-term care by 2030. That is why we are calling for a national task force to devise a plan to get the job done. We must also set national standards. Let us work collaboratively with provincial, territorial leaders, experts and workers alike to set national standards for long-term care and continuing care that would include accountability mechanisms. Without national standards, the federal government is leaving the door wide open for the for-profit companies to cut corners and put profit first at the expense our loved ones. That cannot be allowed to continue.
    Those standards should be tied to $5 billion in federal funding and the principles in Canada's Health Care Act. We can put in place a seniors care guarantee. Seniors deserve to know that they will have safe, dignified care both at home and in care homes available to them as they age. Families deserve to know that their loved ones will have the care they deserve, with inspections and appropriate levels of care and staffing ratios.
    Workers deserve to know that their wages will reflect the value of their work and allow them to live in dignity without having to work multiple jobs or end up in a shelter because they cannot afford housing. They deserve to know that the government has their back and that they will have access to protective equipment and safe working conditions.
    The federal government can show leadership by transforming Revera from a for-profit long-term care chain owned by a crown pension fund into a publicly managed entity. Public ownership of long-term care facilities would allow workers to work full-time at one home at competitive union rates, which would address understaffing and prevent the transmission of illness. The benchmark for quality long-term care is 4.1 hours of hands-on care per resident per day. However, no province or territory currently meets this standard of care.
    Long-term care homes are chronically understaffed across Canada. Nurses and personal support workers at these facilities are often paid low wages, saddled with overwhelming workloads and are subjected to high levels of stress, burnout and even violence. Precarious and part-time employment often forces these health care workers to move between facilities to earn a living.
     Waitlists for long-term care can have lengthy backlogs because the care facilities are not keeping pace with Canada’s aging population. This shortage leads to overcrowding at long-term care facilities and overuse of the hospital system by those without access to appropriate care.
    There is a lack of accountability for long-term care facility operators due to lax enforcement of standards and regulations. For example, a recent CBC investigation revealed that 85% of long-term care homes in Ontario have routinely violated health care standards for decades with near total impunity.
    We have the power within us to end this for this generation and beyond. Seniors deserve better. Families deserve better. Workers deserve better. Let us never forget these words from Canada's Chief Public Health Officer:
     I think the tragedy and the massive lesson learned for everyone in Canada is that we were at every level, not able to protect our seniors, particularly those in long-term care homes. Even worse is that in that second wave, as we warned of the resurgence, there was a repeat of the huge impact on that population.

  (1230)  

    For those who want to say that we cannot do it because of jurisdictional issues, I will quote Marcy Cohen, research associate for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, who said that “The setting of clear standards in health care as a condition of federal funding is not an attack on provincial jurisdiction—it is the only path”—
    Unfortunately, the member's time is up. I have been trying to give a signal, but I am sure she will have lots of time during the five-minute questions and comments to add to her remarks.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
    Madam Speaker, I just want to ask the seconder of the motion the same question that the parliamentary secretary did of the mover, and that is with respect to any possible consultation that has gone on with the provinces. The mover, the leader of the NDP, responded to that question by basically just saying that it is not as though we cannot do this without the provinces and that they could come on board later, but that is not the question that he was asked. He was asked whether any consultation had occurred, not how provinces feel about it.
    We are just trying to figure out if any consultation occurred on this. Can the seconder confirm whether any of the provinces have been consulted on the motion?
    Madam Speaker, I know the government often says that we cannot move forward on anything unless the provinces and territories are also in agreement. Of course, if we actually lived with that kind of suggestion, we would never have had universal medicare.
     I will just finish the quote by March Cohen, because it goes to the heart of the issue:
    The setting of clear standards in health care as a condition of federal funding is not an attack on provincial jurisdiction—it is the only path forward to a universal public system of long-term and continuing care, the same path Canada took to universal hospital and physician care. Seniors and people with disabilities deserve nothing less.
    This motion calls on us to do exactly that work to engage with provincial and territorial leaders, experts in the system, and health care workers to come up with those standards to put in place protection for seniors, so that what we saw happen in the pandemic, with the loss of lives, will never happen again.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I do not know if the member has had the privilege, as I have, of working in a long-term care home. I was a social worker and case manager in CHSLDs, the long-term care facilities in Quebec. I can tell her that national standards are not going to improve care. That is not what we need. I do not know who she consulted in Quebec, but I can tell her that that is not going to change things in CHSLDs in my lifetime.
    Does the member realize that this motion is an affront to the Premier of Quebec and the Quebec National Assembly, which is unanimously opposed to national standards and any interference in its jurisdictions, in this case health? Is she aware that this is an affront to Quebec?

  (1235)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, what I see as an affront is what happened to seniors. What I see as a national shame is the very fact that we do not have national standards, and so many seniors lost their lives in the face of the pandemic. We know that for-profit long-term care facilities have contributed to the loss of lives. Report after report and expert after expert, who have looked into the situation, have said so.
    Is it not time for us to set aside jurisdictional issues? Is it not time for us to say that we must do better and that seniors deserve no less? Is it not time that we ensured that the Canada Health Act is followed? Is it not time that we take profit out of care? Is it not time that we put people before all else and say very clearly that lives matter, that we value seniors and will do everything we can to protect them and never let this happen again?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank all of my colleagues in the House today who are speaking to this very important issue. I am pleased to rise to address the motion by the hon. member for Burnaby South. I share his concerns and, I can safely say, all members' concerns for Canadians living in long-term care facilities during this unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis. The Government of Canada recognizes the impact of the virus on many vulnerable populations, including those living in long-term care facilities.
     As members know, the administration of long-term care falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. However, as committed to in the Speech from the Throne, the federal government is taking action and will continue to take any action we can to support seniors while working alongside the provinces and territories. From the outset, these facilities were hit hard in many parts of the country. During the first wave, approximately 81% of the fatalities from COVID-19 were residents of long-term care facilities and, to date, more than 66% of deaths due to COVID-19 have occurred in long-term care.
    An analysis by the Canadian Institute for Health Information in June 2020 compared Canada's experience in long-term care facilities with that of other countries in the OECD. As the member has noted, this report found that the proportion of COVID-19 deaths among long-term care residents in Canada was higher than in other OECD countries. Of course, there was substantial variation in the experiences of people and long-term care facilities across Canada's provinces and territories. Some regions have fared better than others. Generally, jurisdictions with lower COVID-19 infection rates in the community reported fewer long-term care cases and deaths, but right across the country the pandemic has highlighted long-standing and systemic challenges in Canada's long-term care system, and has had a significant impact on residents and staff in these facilities, exposing gaps in infection prevention and control, staffing, infrastructure and testing.
    In response the federal government is taking important steps to respond to the significant challenges faced by long-term care facilities across the country, and the Government of Canada recognizes the need to work with the provinces and territories to develop long-term care standards. The government has committed to establishing national standards for long-term care as a means to address critical gaps in long-term care facilities, including the working conditions of lower-wage essential workers in senior care, particularly personal support workers, who have persevered in the face of adversity.
    In the early stages of the pandemic, all levels of government began working in close collaboration to ensure that the public health measures being taken were in alignment. Public health authorities continue to closely monitor COVID-19 in Canada and carefully consider approaches to easing public health restrictions when and where possible. The epidemiology of COVID-19 is different in each jurisdiction, and this means that approaches across Canada will not all be the same and will need to be tailored to the unique challenges and context of the disease in each province and territory. Each jurisdiction in Canada is looking at different kinds of community settings, such as long-term care facilities, and developing risk-based approaches and assessments based on what is taking place within their own jurisdiction.
    I would like to outline two key measures from the fall economic statement: the safe long-term care fund and the expansion of the long-term care plus initiative. Both measures would be implemented with funding provided through BillC-14. Unfortunately, in the House we have seen partisan games preventing this important legislation from passing.
    Under the safe long-term care fund, up to $1 billion would be transferred to provinces and territories to help protect people in long-term care facilities, by their implementing additional measures for infection prevention and control. Specifically, provinces and territories would have the flexibility to use these funds to help facilities retain and hire new staff, including through topping up wages. It would also help them upgrade infrastructure, such as increased ventilation to reduce transmission, as well as undertake needed assessments to determine what other infection-prevention and control measures might be required to prevent and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. To help Canadians better understand the significant efforts under way, provinces and territories would develop detailed action plans and would report on progress and results.

  (1240)  

    Officials are working out the details now with a view to getting these investments to provinces and territories as quickly as possible to further protect Canadians who reside and work in long-term care settings. This legislation is critical, and it needs to be passed.
    In July 2020, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement published a report on lessons learned from the response to COVID-19 in long-term care and retirement homes. It was called “Reimagining Care for Older Adults”. The report is based on interviews with family partners, health care leaders and policy makers. It focuses on promising practices that have the potential to reduce the risk of future COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care and retirement homes.
    From these findings, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, now amalgamated and known as Healthcare Excellence Canada, launched a new program called the long-term care plus initiative. This program helps prevent and control infection in long-term care homes and seniors residences, allowing them to prepare for possible future outbreaks and mitigate the pandemic's effect.
    Direct support is available through coaching and seed funding to help participating facilities address gaps identified through the program.
    The fall economic statement committed an additional $6.4 million over two years to further expand this initiative. As of March 10, 2021, a total of 1,086 facilities have submitted applications and are participating in the long-term care plus initiative. Of course, the safe long-term care fund and the long-term care plus initiative are only the most recent of many programs launched over the past year. I will provide a few examples of other initiatives that are already making a difference in long-term care facilities.
    Last April, Health Canada, with support from the Public Service Commission of Canada, launched the COVID-19 voluntary recruitment campaign. The Government of Canada supported provinces and territories by facilitating this inventory of skilled Canadians to provide surge capacity in the following key areas: case tracking and contact tracing, health system surge capacity, case data collection and reporting. Provincial and territorial governments continue to draw upon the volunteer inventories as needed to support local public health responses.
    At the beginning of the pandemic, the Canadian Armed Forces provided support in Ontario and Quebec for outbreaks in long-term care facilities. Now the Canadian Red Cross continues to be available for deployment to homes that are experiencing significant outbreaks and has already supported more than 130 long-term care facilities in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. The Canadian Red Cross is also overseeing the recruitment and training of workers to support infection prevention and control, basic care and facility management.
    Last summer, the Government of Canada negotiated the safe restart agreement with the provinces and territories. The agreement provided $740 million in funding to support vulnerable Canadians, including those in long-term care, home care and palliative care, who, as we know, are more at risk of severe cases of COVID-19.
    The government is also providing comprehensive and evidence-based preliminary guidance on key populations for COVID-19 immunization, including residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors.
    Finally, a temporary COVID-19 resiliency stream was created to provide provinces and territories with added flexibility to use existing resources to fund quick-start, short-term infrastructure projects, including health infrastructure, such as long-term care homes.
    Besides these activities, the Government of Canada is providing support to provinces and territories through the procurement and distribution of millions of authorized vaccines and rapid tests, which help protect long-term care residents and staff.
     As well, the COVID-19 testing and screening expert advisory panel released a report this winter to help inform the development of robust testing and screening strategies in long-term care homes.
    I would like to speak for a moment about the role of personal support workers. Now more than ever, Canadians understand that personal support workers are an integral and important part of the health care system, providing close direct support to residents. Every person entering a long-term care home, including essential visitors and volunteers, has a responsibility to prevent infections among residents of those facilities, who are at a high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
    It is because of this high risk that access to personal protective equipment and training is critical for the workers' own safety and the safety of residents. The Government of Canada is taking action to ensure that health care workers have the personal protective equipment and medical supplies they need. We have done this through collaborative bulk procurement with the provinces and territories, building domestic production capacity and identifying potential alternatives to extend product life.

  (1245)  

    We also need to recognize the contributions of workers in long-term care facilities and better compensate them for taking care of our most vulnerable citizens. Their work is essential in reducing the spread of the virus, and the government understands that. That is why up to $3 billion of federal funding was provided in support to provinces and territories to increase the wages of low-income essential workers, which could include front-line workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities. Provinces and territories will also be able to use the funding under the safe long-term care fund to top up wages of staff members in long-term care facilities.
    Finally, the Government of Canada recognizes that we need to increase the number of personal support workers in the country, and we committed funding of $38.5 million over two years for Employment and Social Development Canada to support training of up to 4,000 personal support worker interns through an accelerated six-week online training program. This will be combined with a four-month work placement to help address acute labour shortages in long-term care and home care.
    As we have learned more about this virus and the populations at risk, we are doing everything we can to help protect citizens in long-term care facilities. The Public Health Agency of Canada has provided infection prevention and control guidance to help prevent COVID-19 infections among residents and workers in long-term care and assisted living facilities, as well as in home care, including the appropriate use of PPE.
    Many facilities have already implemented their own measures, such as restricting visitation or other non-essential on-site services. Now, as we learn more about the impact of these restrictions on residents, more and more facilities are developing nuanced and compassionate approaches to visitation. The long-term care plus program has recently released a checklist for the safe re-entry of essential care partners in long-term care facilities.
    Long-term care facilities should also follow the best practices developed by the relevant provincial or territorial health authority. Examples include daily screening of anyone entering facilities, rapidly testing people who are ill, widespread testing if there is an outbreak, and supporting people in isolation and quarantine.
    We know these measures have to followed diligently. We also know, now, that one of the best practices is to ensure support for the workers. Many personal support workers from racialized communities are not paid well and do not have sick leave benefits. Some of the federal supports, such as the Canada recovery sickness benefit, help with that, so that people can stay home if they are ill.
    Our government is taking action to support residents of long-term care homes, but we do know there is more to do. The pandemic has highlighted challenges that the long-term care sector has faced for many years. The Government of Canada is working with provinces and territories to address these challenges and protect residents of long-term care facilities from exposure to the COVID-19 virus by helping the provinces and territories deliver on their health care responsibilities. Together, we are making progress.
    After more than a year of living with the threat of COVID-19, provinces and long-term care homes across the country are ramping up vaccinations for their residents. Infections and death rates in long-term care homes are reduced. However, we still have to be able to quickly detect and respond to outbreaks if they occur. We need to be prepared for possible increases in the number of infections caused by new variants. This continues to require a coordinated effort.
    As people can imagine, a lot of work is happening behind the scenes with our many partners across all levels of government, and indeed with non-governmental organizations that have stepped up. All of this work will deepen our understanding of the disease and provide the data we need to inform our response and decision-making.
    If we have learned anything over the past year, it is that we have to continue with strong public health efforts to reduce transmission of the virus and minimize its impact on the vulnerable residents of long-term care facilities, and we have to work together. We must also plan and be ready for the future, as there is a lot that we still do not know about COVID-19. We have to address the needs of residents in long-term care as the situation evolves.
    I can assure this House that the Government of Canada will continue to do everything within our power and jurisdiction to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the health, safety and well-being of all Canadians during these difficult and uncertain times.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, we heard, in the hon. minister's comments, that the government is willing to do absolutely everything it can to protect Canadians.
    Pat Armstrong, a sociologist at York University who has studied Canada's long-term care homes for 30 years, firmly believes that Canada's dismal record stems from a historic decision to exclude long-term care facilities from Canada's networks of provincial and territorial public health systems.
    She states that this exclusion has resulted in undertraining, poor treatment of workers, substandard and aging facilities, overcrowding, and poor infection control capabilities.
    Given what the minister stated in her interventions, knowing that the vast majority of deaths from COVID-19 have been connected to long-term care—and not just our seniors, but also our workers—would the hon. minister support, within her government's power, the application of the Westray law to ensure that these corporations are held responsible for the unnecessary deaths of their workers?
    Madam Speaker, our government has always supported the use of the Westray law when appropriate and certainly would not stand in the way of charges that were applied. We believe that workers' rights are fundamental, and they are fundamental in not just the protection of those individual workers in this case but certainly of their families. We know that onward transmission in households has been another huge driver of case growth in this country.
    I think our government has been very clear that workers' protections are paramount to us, and we would obviously support the application of any potential criminal charges, respective of the law.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask a question regarding the 4,000 personal support workers, or PSWs, who are being trained.
     The trainees are being accelerated in an online program, and then they go into the field and receive the bulk of their practical training with already understaffed, overworked personal support workers who just do not have the time.
    I am wondering if the minister thinks that this is an acceptable and compassionate way to approach the staffing crisis in our long-term care facilities.
    Madam Speaker, in the response that the government has taken to try to support provinces and territories in what I would call a significant staffing shortage, we have developed everything with provinces and territories, and that is the real difference between what the NDP members are proposing here today and what the government believes.
    We know that the provinces and territories have not only the right to deliver health care but the responsibility to do so as well. Whenever we work with them in an area of their jurisdiction, it is with a full partnership model, and this is no different.

  (1255)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my question is for the minister.
    It is true that the pandemic has laid bare all the deficiencies in long-term care facilities and that many lives have been lost. People throughout Quebec and elsewhere have been affected.
    However, Quebec is fully capable of looking after its long-term care facilities. The burning question is this: Will the government proceed with health transfers to the provinces, yes or no?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question, but I will say that the underlying premise is not necessarily correct, given that the Canadian Armed Forces were required for quite some time in Quebec to support the work of the province.
    I think the Prime Minister has been very clear. We will be there for provinces and territories with money, as I have demonstrated through my remarks today; with practical support in terms of evidence, research and best practices; and with equipment and vaccines. That is exactly what we have done.
    I want to congratulate the Province of Quebec for working so hard to immunize so many people in long-term care and the staff who work in those facilities. Certainly, I think it is on the right path in terms of protecting the most vulnerable among us. However, anything we do in terms of future—
    Sorry, but we have to allow for other questions.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Madam Speaker, the humanitarian crisis in long-term care homes has been a concern for all Canadians, and no one more than Green Party leader Annamie Paul, whose father died in a long-term care home in Toronto at the beginning of the pandemic.
    We have been providing a lot of very specific recommendations, some of which are in the NDP motion today, but my question to the hon. minister is really around what more we can do in the approach the government is taking. I personally support the notion that we need an emergency summit of federal-provincial leadership to think about whether we can do better and overcome the jurisdictional barriers.
    I listen to people like Sharleen Stewart, president of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, on what those workers were going through and continue to go through. They are not going to be able to absorb new people who are on a learning curve when we are still in a pandemic.
    I ask the hon. minister what more can be done and whether she is open to some of the solutions that are before us today.
    Madam Speaker, I wish to give my condolences to Ms. Paul. It is a tragedy to lose a loved one. I cannot imagine the pain she has gone through, like so many other Canadians.
    First, let me speak to the treatment and pay for long-term care workers. My first job for the federal government was as minister of status of women. The House may remember the many debates we had about pay equity, the gender wage gap and the historic underpayment of people who provided care.
    This is a really powerful reminder that we have a lot of work to do in how we value what we consider care work, whether it is care of seniors or care of children. Care work is undervalued, and there is a significant gender bias there. There is—
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Guelph.
     Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for helping me with my issues in Guelph. I have been working with long-term care facilities of different types. One issue that has come up is with the class C facilities, where people would normally share rooms and bathrooms. Now, with COVID, these facilities have had to drastically reduce the number of people under care, which also affects their funding models. Another issue is with testing and having more than just nose swabs, where Health Canada has approved saliva testing.
    How can we work with the provinces to help support class C facilities as well as expanded testing?
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his work and advocacy in his community of Guelph.
    The Government of Canada has adapted the investing in Canada infrastructure program specifically with the mind of trying to support provinces and territories to renew some of this aging infrastructure and address some of the most pressing issues, which might be things like shared washroom facilities but also inadequate ventilation, such as older windows that do not open.
    People think of ventilation as something that is extremely complex, and it is, but there are also low-tech solutions. Sometimes it is about airing out rooms and having the ability to do that. Some of these older buildings do not have that capacity, so the flexibility of the COVID-19 resiliency stream allows provinces and territories the ability to do these quick-start short-term projects that can have great health benefits.
    I thank the member again for his advocacy. There is a lot of work to do in improving the quality of care in Guelph and across the country.

  (1300)  

    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Nose Hill.
    We know that Canadians have the right to live and age with dignity and every senior, regardless of where they reside, is owed it. Long-term care homes have been at the centre of the COVID-19 pandemic and this past year has been extremely difficult for our seniors in care, their families and the front-line workers in the long-term care community. We know that COVID-19 has led to too many families having to say goodbye much too early and that some families were not even afforded this opportunity.
    We all know that the health crisis has left too many seniors neglected, with their care needs not being met, and too many families have missed out on precious time together. Too many seniors have been lonely and isolated for far too long and our long-term care workers have sacrificed so much, worked tirelessly on the front lines and many are, understandably, burnt-out.
    Whether we have read the Canadian Armed Forces exit report, watched the news stories or heard first-hand accounts, we should all be gripped by the heartbreaking stories that have emerged during this pandemic. The inadequate living and working conditions that have been exposed in some of the long-term care facilities is unacceptable. With the most outbreaks, fatalities and the toughest restrictions, seniors living in long-term care homes have been hit very hard by this pandemic. The difficult truth in these outcomes is that the serious shortcomings in long-term care contributed to these outbreaks and fatalities.
    Scarcity of PPE, delays in testing, staffing shortages and inadequate infrastructure all contributed to the tragedy in long-term care. These vulnerabilities had a direct impact on the health and safety of our seniors and those who cared for them. Delays in getting PPE, rapid testing and an efficient vaccine rollout all have a real human cost and, shamefully, Canada’s outbreak and fatality rate in care homes stands out on the world stage.
     First-wave reporting showed that Canada had the highest proportion of deaths occurring in long-term care among OECD countries. Canadian seniors living in long-term care were more vulnerable than seniors in care elsewhere. That is unacceptable. Where we go from here matters.
    We cannot ignore the aggravating factors that have contributed to the losses in these homes. While the pandemic has heightened and worsened the challenges in long-term care, the reality is that these problems are not new. The need for better ventilation systems, private rooms and updated spaces that allow for infection prevention control measures are not new, but the pandemic has put a spotlight on the human cost of not investing in long-term care infrastructure.
    Just as the need for qualified and adequate levels of staffing in care homes is not new, it is not possible for a long-term care home to bring in surge staffing if the home is already understaffed. These gaps in the long-term care sector left our seniors and front-line health care and essential workers vulnerable. With an aging population and increasingly complex needs, the problems in long-term care will only grow without intervention. We need immediate and medium-term action to stabilize and address the vulnerabilities in this sector.
    The pandemic has underscored the urgency of action. Ensuring the health and safety of seniors living in long-term care must be a priority for every level government. No one has the jurisdictional or moral right to neglect the serious shortcomings in this sector. The federal government owes it to our seniors and all Canadians to collaborate with provinces, territories, senior advocates and caregiving organizations to address it. It is important that all these voices are in partnership to ensure we find meaningful and appropriate solutions.

  (1305)  

    We are now more than a year into the pandemic. The Liberal government has announced its intention to deliver national standards for long-term care, but we have not seen progress made on that announcement. There needs to be a collaborative approach to move the needle.
     The Conservatives understand that to deliver meaningful change in long-term care, we cannot have a top-down Ottawa approach. Not only do provincial and territorial governments need to be at the table, we need to include seniors' advocates and caregiving organizations. Their experience and expertise are critical to developing appropriate solutions for our seniors, solutions that are more than just patchwork responses. We owe that to our seniors who have helped build our great country. We owe it to them to care for them in their later years.
    Financial gain cannot be the priority in delivering care to our seniors. We need a thorough response to address the many serious shortcomings in long-term care. There cannot be a siloed approach to addressing it. We must act to address the vulnerabilities in all models of care homes. Together, all levels of government, seniors' advocates and caregiving organizations must act to address the wide range of vulnerabilities in care.
     A comprehensive response to the crisis in long-term care must consider best practices for quality and appropriate care. Seniors in care should never have their care needs neglected and should have access to quality and appropriate care, regardless of where they reside.
    A comprehensive response has to tackle the growing staffing crisis in care, bring stability in the short term, but also find solutions over the medium term to increase the pool of skilled workers in this sector. It has to ensure there is adequate access to PPE, rapid tests and infection control measures. We need to ensure that care homes have the resources they need to protect the health and safety of our seniors and front-line health care workers in this pandemic and moving forward.
    A comprehensive response has to include a plan to update our outdated infrastructure, so the brick and mortar is in place to allow for the implementation of infection control measures. There needs to be investment and support for more long-term care facilities. We cannot ignore the continuum of housing needs for seniors. We need to ensure our front-line health care workers have the supports they need.
    The Conservatives know that the needs in long-term care are comprehensive. Therefore, we need a comprehensive plan to address the crisis in long-term care. With an aging population, that will only put more pressure on an already exhausted system. The need to act is immediate. Everybody needs to be at the table to address it and ready to act in areas of their responsibility. We need to move beyond announcements and toward meaningful action.
    Our seniors, regardless of where they reside, deserve to live and age with dignity. The federal government should be in partnership with all levels of government, working together to provide not only better but appropriate supports for Canada’s seniors who live in all models of care homes. That is why the Conservatives urge this government to work collaboratively with provinces, territories, seniors' advocates and caregiving organizations to take action on this important issue.
    The Conservatives are ready to work collaboratively to provide better supports and appropriate care for Canada’s seniors. We urge the government to take a leadership role in promoting best practices in long-term care, while recognizing the diversity of needs and challenges across the country. We need to work together in partnership with all levels of government, caregiving organizations and seniors' advocates. We need to develop immediate and medium-term solutions to address the critical vulnerabilities in the long-term care sector. We need to stabilize the long-term care sector as we continue to navigate the pandemic, but we cannot afford to narrowly focus on the pandemic.
    We need to work toward a comprehensive plan that will deliver substantial solutions for our seniors in care and those soon to be in care. It is not just that our seniors in care need more care; we must ensure there is a quality of care that addresses the complexity of their care needs. Whether it is the quality of care, workforce shortages or adequate infrastructure, only a collaborative and comprehensive approach will address the systemic issues in our long-term care sector. There is no time to delay. We have seen throughout the pandemic the real human costs of neglecting this sector.

  (1310)  

    

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Battlefords—Lloydminster for her speech on this issue that affects seniors.
     She spoke about the important role the health care system plays in caring for seniors, and not national standards dictated by the federal government, since this is not a federal jurisdiction. Today's situation is the result of years of underfunding in health care, from both Liberal and Conservative governments. She said she was prepared to grant health transfers, but is she prepared to increase them to 35%, as Quebec and the provinces are demanding? Quebec and the provinces want health transfers to be significantly increased, so that they can truly address the issue.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, as I touched on in my remarks, first we need to have a collaborative approach. That has to be not only with all levels of government, including provincial, territorial and even municipal, but also with caregiving organizations and senior advocates, as they have so much to offer. Having met with so many of them from across the nation, I think they have first-hand experience that sometimes elected people in political positions do not have. It is so imperative that we hear what those needs are.
    Madam Speaker, depending on what Conservative is addressing the issue of personal care homes, we often get differing opinions on whether there should be national standards and to what degree.
    Can the member give any sort of a clear indication from her perspective on the Conservative Party? Does the Conservative Party support Ottawa having stronger national standards in home care services? Obviously we have to work with the stakeholders, particularly our provinces, in order to be able to achieve that, but to what degree does she believe that Ottawa needs to play a leadership role?
    Madam Speaker, I think a great thing about the Conservative caucus is that we definitely have different opinions. We are allowed to debate those opinions and we bring them to the table. That being said, as I stated in my remarks we absolutely need to hear from the people on the front lines, senior advocates and those caring for our seniors.
     With best practices, I absolutely think there is an opportunity for all of these people to come together. Whether it is organizations, stakeholders or different levels of government, they can talk about best practices. Iron sharpens iron, and we can always learn something for better care for our seniors.
    Madam Speaker, how important is it to look at more of a bottom-up strategy, rather than an Ottawa top-down strategy, in making sure that we have the support of these organizations, particularly the provinces, as we go forward?
    Madam Speaker, I never think that a top-down “Ottawa knows best” approach works for anything. This country is very vast and regionally has many differences, especially when we look at our seniors living in rural Canada. They have different needs and access to necessities than urban seniors do.
    We absolutely have to have the stakeholders and front-line workers having this conversation and giving their input. I do not see any problem with all levels of government coming to the table and having that conversation.

  (1315)  

    Madam Speaker, I know my colleague from Battlefords—Lloydminster is on the call, as she just debated, and I would like to thank her for her work on the issue of seniors. She has been tireless. I have been working with her, and she has met with dozens of affected groups from across the country. I know she brings a good perspective to this issue.
    I would like to start my speech today by talking about what this issue is. In the last year, we have seen senior citizens under the government's duty of care die alone covered in their own feces. We have seen the military called in to deal with these situations. Nobody in Parliament, or any other level of government, gets to say that it is not our job to deal with this situation.
    What happened in our long-term care facilities across this country during this last year of COVID should light the entire country on fire. If we truly believe that every Canadian deserves to live with dignity, then we need to be talking about this issue. We need to be proposing solutions, and we need to be moving forward. Anything less than that, I would say, is un-Canadian.
    This is not an issue that just affects seniors. This cuts across every generation. This is for the seniors who are living in long-term care. This is for Canadians who might be approaching the age when they have to consider long-term care. It is also for people from my generation who are starting to have hard conversations with their parents about what they want to have happen, how they are going to age, and whether they will age in place.
    It also affects the workers in these facilities. I am tired of seeing articles, which are absolutely true, on the PTSD workers in long-term care facilities have experienced dealing with the COVID pandemic. We all need to wake up and understand that we have to push forward with proposing solutions.
    I am very pleased that the NDP has decided to use one of its precious supply days bringing this issue forward to the House of Commons for debate. We have spent a lot of time in this Parliament, and in the last Parliament, talking about dying with dignity, which is an important topic. However, we also need to be talking about living with dignity. We also need to be talking about the conditions seniors in Canada who require long-term care are currently living in, right now.
    I want to start by looking at the motion itself. The first part of this motion requires Parliament to recognize three deadly facts for which there can be no debate. The first is that “during the first wave of the pandemic, 82% of COVID deaths in Canada happened in long-term care, which is the highest proportion in the OECD”.
    The second fact is that “there have been over 12,000 long-term care resident and worker deaths in Canada since the beginning of the pandemic”, and the third is that “residents and workers in for-profit long-term care homes have a higher risk of infection and death than those in non-profit homes”. These are facts. We cannot deny them. The evidence is there. Parliament has to recognize that.
    The first part to finding a solution is recognizing there is a problem. There were 12,000 deaths in long-term care homes during the first wave of the COVID pandemic. Let us quantify and think about that. That is greater than the population of some Canadian towns. I ask members to think about how many families were affected by that.
    We also need to think about the workers who are affected by this. Many workers in these facilities are underpaid and undersupported, and many of them are new Canadians. Some are temporary foreign workers, and this is something a lot of people are willing to turn a blind eye to. I am glad the NDP put these figures in this motion. Parliament should be recognizing them and waking up to them.
    The second part of the motion suggests that something must be done, so the NDP has proposed a solution. The fix this motion proposes is to move all privately owned long-term care facilities into public ownership. That is a spicy solution. At least there is a solution being proposed here.

  (1320)  

    My party strongly supports a well-funded, robust and publicly funded health care system in Canada, and it cannot be denied that there are significant issues with privately owned long-term care facilities. I want to talk about one example that the government has never rectified.
    That is the approval of the sale of many long-term care facilities to Anbang. The purchase of long-term care homes by Anbang was approved by the Liberal government by the former industry minister, who scrutinized the investment review decision because it exceeded the $600-million threshold.
    In an article published earlier last year, the union head of B.C. said, “It's pretty clear that this company is in crisis and unable to provide adequate care at a growing number of its sites.... It's a big problem, because the company's also the largest contracted provider of long-term-care beds in B.C.” There have been other articles during the pandemic about the high proportion of deaths in Anbang facilities.
    We would think that the failure to uphold Canadian standards by the state-owned enterprise would have resulted in some sort of action by the federal government, and nothing has happened to date. It is highly problematic.
    Therefore, will moving all long-term care facilities into public care fix all of these problems? There is a strong argument to be made that the process used to approve the Anbang sale was certainly deadly for many Canadian seniors. Moving to a fully public model would need a strong framework to evaluate what would change. For example, how would provincial governments absorb this responsibility and over what period of time? What would this mean for seniors and workers? What is the framework of that care guarantee?
    As well, I think that for-profit care providers now need to show that clear evidence that making profit off of long-term care can be combined with a high certainty of standards of care. That needs to be presented, as more clarity is needed. I am glad we are having a discussion about how to move forward, and no proposed solution at this point should be outright dismissed. We should not be saying that this is not our job to look at.
    On the issue of jurisdiction, which everyone is dancing around today, the reality is that the federal government has paid billions of dollars for health care and the federal government provides guidelines and best practices for all sorts of areas of care. The question becomes why the federal government has not moved in this regard. I am not saying that we need to take, as everbody is saying, an “Ottawa knows best” approach, but after overseeing the sale of Anbang and not doing anything about that, it is very convenient to just abdicate responsibility.
    At least we are talking about a solution here today. Again, there is more work to be done before moving to one conclusion or another on what the fix is, but I am glad that we are having this discussion today.
    With that, and because I am always for finding solutions, I move, seconded by the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, that the motion be amended by replacing all of the words after “the House call upon the government to” with the following: “collaborate and partner with the provinces, territories, seniors' advocates and care-giving organizations to: (a) improve long-term care standards including taking a leadership role and promoting best practices while recognizing the diversity of needs and challenges across the country; (b) ensure that long-term care homes have adequate access to PPE, rapid tests and an effective vaccine rollout; (c) direct existing federal infrastructure and housing funding toward new construction and the renovation of long-term care facilities; (d) develop immediate and medium-term solutions to address the critical staffing needs in long-term care facilities; (e) increase mental health supports for front-line health care workers, residents and their families.”
    Let us get to a solution today.

  (1325)  

    It is my duty to inform hon. members that an amendment to an opposition motion may be moved only with the consent of the sponsor of the motion. Therefore, I ask the hon. member for Burnaby South if he consents to this amendment being moved?
    The hon. member for Burnaby South.
    Madam Speaker, respectfully, I say no. It is fundamental that we remove profit from long-term care given all the evidence. I appreciate the gesture, but I respectfully say no.
    There is no consent. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 85 the amendment cannot be moved at this time.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Vancouver East.
    Madam Speaker, fundamental to this motion and the issue we have seen with the pandemic is that for-profit long-term care facilities have resulted in a much higher rate of COVID infections and deaths of seniors.
    Does the member support taking profit out of care for seniors?
    Madam Speaker, one of the things that makes Canada great is our strong and robust publicly funded health care system, which I strongly support.
     For profit or not, if it is government owned we need to have guidelines and best practices to ensure quality of care. I do not think a governance model, in and of itself, without those standards can guarantee anything. That said, I do think, given everything that I outlined in the speech, particularly the sale of many long-term care facilities to Anbang and the disastrous results of that, we need to have a strong discussion in this country about how we are treating our country's seniors in these facilities.
    Madam Speaker, I am disappointed that the NDP did not allow the amendment because the proposed amendment spoke to precisely the areas that our government had invested in from the first wave to the second wave, including in PPE and infrastructure to improve long-term care facilities, funding for staffing, and support for provinces and territories. With that said, I do agree with the member opposite's comments that every senior needs to live in dignity. It is precisely why the Prime Minister made long-term care national standards a priority in the Speech from the Throne as well as in the fall economic statement.
    If the member is looking for solutions and her party supports solutions, why, on February 9 did her leader comment publicly that he does not support national standards and took that off the table for her and her party to work with us to establish long-term care national standards? Why does her leader not support those standards?
    Madam Speaker, I have three points. Point number one, if somebody, over and over again, talks about how much money they spent and do not get results, we should not trust them to spend our money. That is the hallmark of the Liberal government, which should be ashamed for trying to say that. It has spent its way into a worse situation for seniors.
    Number two, on the issue of moving forward and standards, the Liberal government has done nothing. It has said that it wants to deliver on guidelines. It has not done anything. The Minister of Health has not put anything forward on this. It is not a priority of the government, and she should be ashamed for raising this as a talking point. She should update her book.
    Number three, with regard to my leader, the leader said that he, as much as everybody else has said in this debate today, that Ottawa has to respect jurisdiction, but at the same time there is room for guidelines and best practices for how to move forward.
    I would encourage the member, in her new role, to encourage her ministers to deliver some action so that she does not have to keep having this debate with me, over and over again, in the House in the future.

  (1330)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the member surely knows that the three or four long-term care homes in Quebec that experienced serious problems have now been placed in trusteeship. Analyses have been conducted and investigations are under way, by the coroner, among others.
    Does the member not think that the Government of Quebec is in the best position to find solutions and fix the serious mistakes that were made in long-term care homes in Quebec? Is it not up to the Quebec National Assembly to make these decisions and not the federal government, which is interfering in provincial jurisdictions?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we need change. Canadian seniors in any part of this country cannot be expected to live under the circumstances they have been put over the last year.
    Provinces have an important role to play and their autonomy needs to be underscored, but the federal government has a duty to work collaboratively with provinces on coming up with a solution. That is where our discussion should be squarely focused.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Montcalm.
    As I rise to speak to this motion, which calls for national standards and the nationalization of long-term care homes, or CHSLDs, as we know them, I feel a sense of exasperation. As everyone might expect, we vehemently oppose the motion because it proposes outright interference in an area under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces, which want nothing to do with federal standards.
    It is up to Quebeckers to choose the care model they want, be that public or private. The COVID-19 pandemic did expose the weaknesses in our long-term care homes, but Quebec is perfectly capable of improving its own system without handing over the reins.
    A public investigation by the coroner's office and an investigation by the ombudsperson are under way. Quebec does not need federal standards to improve the situation, nor does it need Ottawa to tell it how to solve its problems.
    I will focus on three points. I will explain our position as it aligns with that of Quebec and a number of seniors' organizations in Quebec.
    At the beginning of the pandemic, it is true that Quebec made the decision to transfer patients to long-term care facilities, or CHSLDs, to free up hospital beds, believing that the entire hospital system would be overwhelmed by the pandemic. We also recognize that COVID-19 mainly affects seniors. This, combined with ongoing deficiencies in our CHSLD system, including a lack of staff, poor administration, and the movement of staff between care centres, has led to the devastation that we are seeing today, with just under half of the 10,087 COVID-19-related deaths in Quebec having occurred in long-term care homes.
    Let us not forget that, last May, negotiations between Premier Legault and the Liberal government were particularly tense because the federal government refused to extend the military assistance in Quebec. The federal government then used Quebec's need for military assistance to announce its intention to impose Canadian standards in CHSLDs in the throne speech. This was a way for the federal government to impose its requirements when faced with the provinces joining forces and calling for a 35% increase in health care transfers.
    Since then, the federal government has brought up this idea again in last fall's economic update and at the 20th first ministers' conference with the support of the NDP, of course. In all likelihood, the federal standards will be based on the guidelines for long-term care facilities, which were issued by Health Canada in April 2020 and updated on February 26, 2021. This document sets out the procedures to be followed in long-term care facilities to combat COVID-19.
    I want to point out that Quebec is already debating the nationalisation of its long-term care facilities, with the debate being led by Premier Legault and his minister responsible for seniors and caregivers, Marguerite Blais. Let us allow them to discuss and debate that.
    The Bloc Québécois wants to reiterate that health falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867, set out how jurisdictions are shared between the federal government and Quebec and the provinces. It is clear.
    Health is the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec, except when it comes to the health of indigenous peoples, military hospitals, Health Canada drug certification and quarantine. The federal government has failed when it comes to indigenous health, vaccine nationalism and quarantines.
    The Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP are always trying to interfere in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces, especially in the area of health care, because it is close to the people and therefore seems like the right thing to do. However, federalism, which they champion, requires each level of government to respect its exclusive jurisdictions. Both parties are giving in to the temptation to get out of this crisis any way they can, including centralization and austerity through cuts, and this is obviously a direct affront to Quebec and the provinces. I will have a bit more to say on that later, when I talk about health transfers.
    Federalists sometimes argue that health transfers must have conditions attached, otherwise provinces take advantage of them to lower taxes rather than provide better services to their people.
    Our response to that argument is that it is not the federal government's job to lecture the provincial and Quebec governments. This paternalism must stop. In a democracy, it is up to voters to sanction their government. A unanimous motion adopted by the Quebec National Assembly condemned the pan-Canadian standards for long-term care and demanded an increase in transfers.
    On December 2, Marguerite Blais, the minister responsible for seniors and informal caregivers, moved a motion to condemn the Liberals' desire to impose these Canadian standards :
     That the National Assembly reject the Government of Canada's desire to impose Canadian standards in Québec CHSLDs and long-term care facilities for the elderly, as this falls under exclusive Québec jurisdiction;
    That it express its disappointment that the federal government did not include an increase in health transfer payments in its last economic update, while the provinces must cover significant health spending costs in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic;
    That it call on the federal government to commit to not imposing Canadian standards in Québec CHSLDs and long-term care facilities for the elderly and to increasing health transfer payments to the tune of 35% of healthcare network costs.

  (1335)  

    The Bloc Québécois obviously supports the unanimous opinion of the Quebec National Assembly and denounces the centralizing vision espoused by the NDP and the Liberals.
    Quebec already has standards. Long-term care homes are regulated by Quebec's Act Respecting Health Services and Social Services. Furthermore, I remind members that the majority of long-term care homes in Quebec, 86% of them, are publicly run, while the Canadian average is 46%.
    Let me be clear: The provinces and Quebec have the expertise and experience to manage long-term care homes. The federal government does not. The provinces and Quebec are also the ones paying for the vast majority of these services. In 2014, the Canadian Institute for Health Information estimated that 73% of long-term care home costs in Canada were covered by provincial, territorial and municipal plans and agencies, whereas 23% of costs were covered by residents or through their private insurance.
    All long-term care homes must meet certain safety and quality of care standards to receive a permit to operate. They need to renew that permit every four or five years, depending on what category they belong to, by once again demonstrating that they meet the minimum standards. The government even conducts occasional site visits to verify the quality of the services provided. Every long-term care home also needs to set up a users' committee that is responsible for informing residents of their rights, defending their interests and trying to improve the quality of services. I saw this myself when I was managing a project to increase awareness of elder abuse.
    Given the situation, the Government of Quebec has already announced that it wants to standardize the regulations governing long-term care homes and staff working conditions. This is clearly not a federal responsibility, since the federal government has neither the experience nor the expertise required to set standards for long-term care facilities in the place of the provinces and Quebec. Instead, the federal government should focus on doing what is expected of it properly and live up to its responsibilities. My colleague from Salaberry—Suroît, who was a manager in the health care system, could also talk about that. The Premier of Quebec even said that it was a mistake for the Liberal government to propose centralizing measures in an area of provincial jurisdiction like health.
    Last spring's report from the Canadian Armed Forces on their experience in Quebec long-term care homes was clear: There are already plenty of standards and rules governing PPE usage and infection control and prevention. Those rules were not enough to stop the virus, though, because long-term care homes had a hard time complying with the standards and rules. The reason for that was clearly a staff shortage. According to the report, long-term care homes are in dire need of medically trained staff.
    If the federal government really wants to help the provinces and Quebec get through the pandemic and provide better care to our seniors, it should stop being so paternalistic. It should forget about imposing national standards that are not a good fit for a range of social and institutional contexts. Instead, it should increase health transfers, which would enable Quebec and the provinces to attract and retain more health care workers.
    For my third point, let us look at where other seniors' organizations in Quebec stand on this. Representatives from the FADOQ network, the Quebec seniors' federation, reiterated to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women what they have long been saying in their pre-budget briefs to the finance committee: Quebec does not need standards, it needs financial resources to be able to take care of people.
    It all boils down to health care funding. Health transfers have been slashed by successive Liberal and Conservative governments since the 1990s. Countless other organizations in Quebec agree, including the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale, which advocates for women's rights and recognizes that underfunding has a direct impact on health care. Even Daniel Béland, the director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, felt that the idea of imposing national standards was just a way to make the Prime Minister look good. Some people might see it as a good idea.
    However, the provinces and Quebec should really be in charge of this, and they need more money. The solution is simple: increase federal health transfers. The government's refusal to provide ongoing funding for health care is not unrelated to the difficulties that the provinces and Quebec are having in providing proper care for their residents.
    It is inconceivable that health care professionals have had to prop up our health care system over the past year as we have combatted this pandemic. In the meantime, the federal government has stubbornly continued to tell us that it will wait until after the crisis to increase funding, even though increasing funding is the most obvious way to permanently overcome this crisis and to predict, plan for and respond to the next one.
    The Canadian government needs to realize that Quebec and the provinces are not making a frivolous request. This funding is required immediately so that Canadians and Quebeckers can receive the care they deserve and so that seniors can be treated with the respect they are owed for their contributions to our society.
    Madam—

  (1340)  

    I apologize for interrupting, but your time is up.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.
    Madam Speaker, I want to sincerely congratulate my colleague from Shefford for the professionalism she showed in her speech. She is a wonderful critic for seniors, and it is clear that she is well equipped to represent and reflect the needs of Quebec's seniors.
    Can she reiterate for the members opposite and for the NDP how important it is that the government respect Quebec and its decisions in the National Assembly with respect to managing all health care services for seniors?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît for her excellent question.
    I did not have time to do so during my speech, but I had planned to give some examples of times when the federal government tried to interfere in matters in Quebec by asking the province to take action in the area of health. Every time, the action the federal government asked Quebec to take was not in line with its reality or that of the other provinces. For example, when it comes to drugs, injection drugs and marijuana were issues that caused conflict.
    Quebec is clearly in the best position to understand the interests of seniors and the hard-working staff in its health care system.
    I worked in the community sector. I worked with organizations and the health care system. What people repeatedly told me was that they needed funding.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, time and again we have heard the Bloc members passionately arguing on behalf of their province, yet I would like to think that all members in the House would want to ensure that all people across the country would have a standard through which we could protect our seniors.
    Does the previous speaker not acknowledge the failures of long-term care within her province, given the death rates in Quebec? Would this member ever consider the possibility that Quebec might actually have lower standards than the national comparators across the country, or is its national assembly so perfect that it will always far exceed the rest of Canada?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comment.
    I would once again invite him to reconsider the attack that the Liberals and the NDP are making on the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces.
    As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, Quebec is already looking into solutions. It is looking at what happened during the crisis in order to come up with real solutions.
    Long-term care homes were already a point of debate during Quebec's most recent elections. Since then, the minister responsible for seniors, the health minister and the premier have been looking into the issue. We need to recognize their expertise, not tell them that we are going to impose standards on them. That is paternalism and a slap in the face. That is telling them that they are unable to manage their health care system, and I think that is unacceptable.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I was wondering if the member could offer some comments on why the Liberal government chose to take no action in Quebec in particular.
    Was there a particular instance when the Liberal government could have acted better in Quebec?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, as I said, there are some things that the federal government could have acted on much more quickly by looking after its own affairs.
    I am thinking of the issue of border security. FADOQ told me that many seniors wondered why the federal government did not act sooner.
    It also could have been transparent about vaccines. Seniors were first on the vaccination list, but there was a lack of transparency, which led to delays. People finally started getting vaccinated, but there were delays. Seniors wondered and are still wondering about this lack of transparency.
    There was also not enough PPE. The government could have provided more.
    Coming back to vaccines, we must develop a system to produce vaccines. The issue of vaccine nationalism was abandoned by the Liberals and the Conservatives.

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, what more can I say, after my colleague's magnificent speech? She really is an excellent critic for seniors.
    She went over all the aspects of the NDP motion that are problematic. This motion presupposes that national standards are needed. I see that assumption as a contemptuous premise, not contemptuous of seniors but of those who provide care for them.
    By moving this motion, which imposes national standards without having to debate them, the NDP is claiming that it would have done better. On what basis can they say they would have done better in these circumstances?
    Obviously, what happened in long-term care facilities was catastrophic. At the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec made the decision to transfer patients to long-term care facilities to free up hospital beds, because many believed the pandemic would overwhelm the hospital system. Many believed that hospitals would become hot spots or red zones. Since some people were waiting for spots in long-term care facilities, Quebec thought it was a good idea to free up hospital beds so that the system would be able to respond to and withstand the first wave of the pandemic.
    The decision was made in good faith. No one wanted what happened in the long-term care facilities. Investigations by the coroner and the ombudsperson might provide more information on what was done well and what could have been done better.
    It is a disaster, and it is unprecedented. Where was the personal protective equipment? Why was the national stockpile depleted? Why did we send PPE to mainland China when our stockpile was depleted? Why did we not protect those who infected the residents at the long-term care facilities? Why has the government failed to increase health transfers for the past 30 years, something that would have prevented PSWs from needing to work at two or three facilities just to make ends meet?
    This pandemic has shed light on the weaknesses in the network. Every expert that testified at the Standing Committee on Health told us that the pandemic has laid bare the weak links in the system and that this is the result of chronic underfunding in health.
    The government turning around and telling the provinces and Quebec what they must do, claiming they could have done better, is nothing short of contempt. I am a bit surprised because Quebec does not need national standards to take care of its people and re-evaluate itself. Investigations are under way and there will likely be others. The debate on nationalization has already started, but it is worth noting that in politics, universal standards are never very good.
    In Quebec, 86% of long-term care homes are public. In Canada, the average is 46%.

  (1350)  

     The Canadian Institute for Health Information estimated in a report that 73% of long-term care home costs in Canada were covered by provincial, territorial and municipal systems and agencies, whereas 23% of costs were covered by residents or through their private insurance.
     I want to get back to the notion of jurisdictions. Lucien Bouchard, who was the leader of the official opposition in the House and served as premier of Quebec, said that successive governments in Quebec have always set out to reaffirm Quebec's jurisdictions, to ensure that the people of Quebec retain control over their economic, social and cultural development. In response to my New Democrat colleague's claim earlier that our only concern was the Quebec nation, I want to point out that this objective is not in any way connected to a government's position on the status of Quebec.
    Incidentally, it is shocking and rather odd to see the NDP, which rightly and aggressively advocates for indigenous peoples to gain control over their social, economic and cultural development, trying to diminish the Quebec nation's control over health care.
    When I spoke about my colleague's bill to establish a Canadian pharmacare program, I said that he had ignored Quebec. Today, that seems very obvious to me in this motion. However, what is needed is an increase in health transfers. If there is anything we can learn from this pandemic, it is that Quebec and the provinces must be able to plan for the future and rebuild their health networks.
    Is the federal government's priority to give care providers the means to take care of our people? After 30 years of neglect, will it finally contribute its fair share once and for all in order to rebuild our health care systems and properly take care of our citizens? Have we ever seen a federal government lose an election on the issue of health? I have been interested in politics for quite some time and have never seen that. However, I have seen it at the provincial level and with a Quebec government. Why would a provincial government lose an election on the issue of health? Because that is a provincial jurisdiction.
    All the federal government has to do is provide its share. Those with the expertise will provide the care. Claiming that they would have done better and that standards are going to solve the problems is just wishful thinking. Yes, there must be discussions, but Quebec is capable of having them and taking corrective action. Standards for Quebec's long-term care facilities, the CHSLDs, already exist, namely in the the act respecting health services and social services. This legislation can be improved and it will definitely be improved as a result of the investigations under way.
    The Bloc Québécois is here to apprise the House of Commons of the unanimous motions and the consensus of the National Assembly. The National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion condemning the idea of national standards for CHSLDs and demanding an increase in health transfers.
    Madam Speaker, how much time do I have left?

  (1355)  

    You have 20 seconds left.
    I will continue by answering questions, then.
    In closing, this motion says that health transfers must be increased to 35%. Quebec and the provinces are united. Thinking that this debate can wait until after the pandemic is a fundamental mistake that must be avoided.
    Madam Speaker, I was really saddened by my colleague's speech, even though he is a great orator, because he failed to acknowledge the crisis in long-term care facilities. This network was particularly hard hit in Quebec, where thousands died.
    Today's proposal from the NDP is about incorporating long-term care facilities into the Canada Health Act and increasing funding for long-term care. Over 75% of Quebeckers support this initiative, so what the NDP is proposing today is certainly supported by public opinion in Quebec.
    I do not understand why the Bloc Québécois—
    Order. Other members also want to ask questions. The hon. member for Montcalm.
    Madam Speaker, I am surprised that the member for New Westminster—Burnaby is saying the motion passed unanimously by Quebec's National Assembly is in conflict with what Quebeckers as a whole think. That is out of line. Not only is the member dismissing Quebec's jurisdiction and its ability to manage its own affairs, but he is also accusing the Government of Quebec of being out of touch with Quebeckers. That is really something.
    I am just saying that there was a catastrophe in long-term care facilities, but we are capable of managing it with the federal government's collaboration. Quebec and the provinces are currently demanding $28 billion in health care funding so they can take care of their own.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, Liberal members of Parliament in all areas of Canada recognize that what happened in long-term care homes through the pandemic is a good example of building back better, something the Prime Minister talks about. We need national standards that obligate us to continue to work with provinces and territories to deliver what Canadians want us to deliver.
    Will the member not recognize that the federal government is at times called upon by citizens in all of our provinces to take specific action to protect the interests of seniors?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, as we all know, the Liberal federal government and the NDP have a centralist agenda, and they often try to leverage the crisis in long-term care homes to further impose their will on Quebec and the provinces. It is deplorable.
    I cannot figure out why they do not understand that health transfers have to go up now to give the people in charge of care some room to manoeuver so they can rebuild their networks and take care of seniors.
    Madam Speaker, one aspect I was not able to touch on in my speech was union leaders' support for the National Assembly of Quebec's demand for increased health transfers, which would help resolve the crisis. What are my colleague's thoughts on that?

  (1400)  

    Madam Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. As recently as March 1, 2021, the FTQ, the CSN, the CSQ an the CSD all stressed the importance of increasing health transfers to deal with the public service crisis brought on by the pandemic. Long-term care homes have certainly been affected by the crisis.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

World Water Day

    Madam Speaker, today is World Water Day. All living things need water to survive, but for many this basic need is not being met. Hundreds of millions of people around the world lack access to clean drinking water, including 41 first nations communities here in Canada.
    Access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right, but increasingly water is being treated as a commodity and profit centre. Corporations are buying up water rights around the planet. They control fresh water supplies, aquifers, rivers, streams and sometimes even the rain falling from the sky. They bottle water, privatize public water utilities and extract maximum profit from a basic human necessity.
    We cannot stand by and accept this as normal. We must push back against the commodification of basic human needs. We must defend the human right to water.

First Nova Scotian NBA Player

    Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate Nova Scotia's Nate Darling on achieving a professional basketball first for our province.
    Mr. Darling is originally from Bedford in the riding of Halifax West. On March 13, 2021, he became the first Nova Scotian ever to play in a regular season NBA game. A shooting guard for the Charlotte Hornets, Nate's debut rebounds with hope and excitement for his future as a professional basketball player. His entry into pro basketball is inspiring for many young Nova Scotian athletes with dreams of their own. In a recent statement, Basketball Nova Scotia referred to him as a role model for young basketball players in the province and said, “Nate is paving the pathway for basketball in Nova Scotia”.
    Best wishes to Nate Darling. We are hoping his career is a slam dunk.

Colonel Robert Douglas

    Madam Speaker, late last month we lost a man who served his country and community with honour and distinction.
    Colonel Robert Douglas grew up in Toronto. The son of a father who served in both world wars, he took up a military calling of his own, enlisting with the Royal Regiment of Canada and serving with the SAS of the British army in Malaysia in the 1950s. After returning to Canada, he made his way to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and became commanding officer of the Royal Regiment.
    His career outside of the military took him from Toronto to Montreal with NCR and Merrill Lynch. It was a career generous in community service, from the World Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to St. John Ambulance, and as honorary colonel with several Canadian army regiments including the Grey and Simcoe Foresters and the Toronto Scottish Regiment.
    Two years ago, he lost Anne, the love of his life of 61 years. To their children, Cameron, Katherine and Robert Gray, I send our deepest sympathies and our most profound thanks for the life of Colonel Robert Douglas.

[Translation]

Laval—Les Îles

    Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the efforts that our government makes every day to improve the lives of Canadians and ensure their well-being.

[English]

    Despite this unprecedented difficult time, our government continues to tirelessly serve Canadians and protect their lives.

[Translation]

    I would like to thank the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities for announcing a $6.6-million investment to help build the Sainte-Dorothée pumping station in Laval—Les Îles.

[English]

    This station will provide optimal waste water management and a better response to significant increases in flow during rain or snow melt episodes. Thanks to this investment, floods will be avoided and Laval—Les Îles residents will be more secure.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

Kaytranada

    Madam Speaker, I want to recognize the musical success of Louis Kevin Celestin, who is more commonly known by his stage name of Kaytranada. This young man who grew up in Saint-Hubert recently won two prestigious Grammy awards alongside artists such as Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.
     His song 10%, for which he won best dance recording, has over 40 million plays on Spotify. His album Bubba, which was voted best dance/electronic album of the year, is his second studio album. He has only two albums and he has already won a Grammy for best album in its category. That is absolutely phenomenal.
    As an actor myself, I am always pleased to celebrate the cultural achievements of Quebeckers, particularly when they are from my riding. Kaytranada has already taken his place among the Quebec artists who have made their mark on the international stage, such as Xavier Dolan, Céline Dion, Denis Villeneuve, Robert Lepage and Arcade Fire. They are all amazing examples of the reach of Quebec culture throughout the world.
    Kaytranada, Louis, Quebec congratulates you.

Stansje Plantenga

    Madam Speaker, yesterday was International Day of Forests. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of Stansje Plantenga, a citizen of Potton Township who has spent decades fighting to protect our natural environment.
    It is a deep love of nature that pushed her and her husband to create a land trust in 1987. It was one of the first organizations of its kind in Quebec and it is modelled after the American Land Trust.
    Today, more than 80 similar organizations protect our Quebec forests. Stansje's forest is a wonder to behold. Those who visit it describe it as heaven on earth.
    This woman's story is a prime example of the power of the people when it comes to protecting the land. The entire Brome—Missisquoi region is benefiting from her hard work of the past 35 years. We are all extremely grateful to her.

[English]

Volunteerism

    Madam Speaker, today I am proud to recognize the great work of volunteers in my riding of Yellowhead.
     I want to give special recognition to the brand-new food pantry at the Edson United Church, which has already been supplying free nutritious hot meals to the community. I recently had the opportunity to visit the church and it was fantastic to see the shelves stocked and volunteers in action. It is working in co-operation with the Edson food bank so it is not duplicating services and the community gets the best of both organizations.
    Another fantastic initiative I would like to recognize is Edson's new shelter pods for the town's homeless population. Once completed, this project will help some of Edson's homeless find a safe and warm place to stay. These shelter pods are a commendable initiative that should be considered in all corners of the country.
     I am proud to represent a riding with such great organizations that have a strong sense of community and support people who are in need. Keep up the great work.

Reid's Distillery

    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask members if they have a favourite cocktail. If their answer is gin and tonic, then I would like to tell them about a gin distillery in my community that not only makes great-tasting gin, but deserves a shout-out for the amazing work it does for our community.
    At the beginning of the pandemic, Reid's Distillery converted its operations to make hand sanitizer, which it distributed to community members for free. The sweet smell of juniper berries was flowing throughout our community. It is a wonderful example of how local businesses are a cornerstone for our community.
    As I give a shout-out to Reid's Distillery, I also need to point out how it has stepped up to provide opportunities for Black and indigenous people who are interested in the distilling industry. Recognizing that Black and indigenous talent is under-represented in the industry, it has created a targeted scholarship.
    I thank Reid's Distillery so much for the work it does. I am greatly happy to be able to say something about it today in the House.

  (1410)  

Nowruz

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to wish an exceptionally healthy and happy new year to the many Canadians celebrating Nowruz.
     Over the weekend, many in our country joined 300 million people around the world with cultural roots in western and central Asia to welcome in a new year.
     A 3,000 year old tradition, Nowruz is a festive holiday celebrated, among others, by Persians, Afghans, Turks, Kurds, Zoroastrians, Baha'is and Ismailis. Over the weekend, I had the pleasure to virtually join many around their haft-seen tables to mark the spring equinox and to embrace the promise of new beginnings.
     Celebrated for several millennia, Nowruz is meant to bring together people of different cultures and languages to celebrate renewal, optimism and light, all essential qualities that can guide us as we emerge with all the necessary vim and vigour to put the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic behind us.
    [Member spoke in Farsi]

B.C. Public Fishery

    Mr. Speaker, looking ahead to the upcoming fishing season, our B.C. public fishery is facing an uncertain future.
     I have met with countless members of the B.C. fishing community who are gravely concerned that if the Minister of Fisheries continues to ignore sound science, their futures are at risk. The science tell us there are over 110 million hatchery chinook annually entering our Pacific waters, along with many rivers, showing strong and even record returns.
    Closing the fishery simply is not required. There are other solutions, including increasing opportunities for a mark selective fishery.
    I was honoured to be one of 25 B.C. members of Parliament to sign the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap's letter, calling on the minister to support this promising initiative. Mark selective fishing can help conservation efforts, while also supporting economic and social activities.
     It is time for the minister to start listening to the science and the voices of British Columbians and to support our B.C. public fishery.

[Translation]

International Day of La Francophonie

    Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, March 20, francophones and francophiles around the world celebrated International Day of La Francophonie.
    More than 300 million people speak French around the world. French is the fifth most spoken language in the world. In Canada, nearly eight million people speak French at home.
    This year we did not get to meet in person, but I want to thank all our artists who entertained us on Saturday.
    Pandemic or not, our artists continue to enrich our francophone culture. Our artists show us that it is possible to create digital cultural content in French. Back home, whether it is Véronic DiCaire, Katherine Levac, Mélissa Ouimet or Les Rats de Swompe, to name a few, these artists have all chosen to create in French. That choice inspires the next generation to create in French.
    I wish all francophones and francophiles in Canada who celebrated on Saturday a happy International Day of La Francophonie.

[English]

COVID-19 Pandemic

    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian case of the novel coronavirus was reported by Health Canada on January 25, 2020. That was 422 days ago, 422 days of temporary measures with no long-term plan; 422 days of business shutdowns and sector collapses; and 422 days of widespread unemployment and mass job loss. We are all united in the worst way possible.
    Millions of Canadians from every sector, every province and every background have been left behind. The light at the end of the tunnel that we have been hearing about burned out long ago. People do not want to rely on government support. They would rather just get back to work.
     The path to the Prime Minister's reimagined economy veers off into the unknown, leaving nothing but shutdowns, uncertain futures and untested changes that will leave millions of Canadians behind.
    Canada's Conservatives are offering another path: a plan, one of security and certainty. The Conservatives will secure jobs and secure Canada's future, delivering us a Canada where those who have been struggling the most to get through this pandemic can get back to work. We got Canada through the last recession and with Canada's recovery plan, we will ensure Canadians get through this one too.

[Translation]

Economic Recovery

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's future is at stake.
    The Liberal Prime Minister was slow to roll out the vaccines and will be even slower to restart the economy. Now is not the time to reimagine the economy. The Prime Minister wants to be the centre of attention and wants to lead us into the unknown with economic experiments that will leave millions of Canadians behind. Every Canadian worker deserves to get their job back. Every Canadian worker in every sector of the economy deserves to be part of the economic recovery.
    The Prime Minister has decided to choose which Canadians will have a future. That is not the right solution for the millions of workers who built Canada.
    What the Conservative leader is proposing is a more secure future, a Canada with fewer slogans and more money in workers' and families' pockets. After months of hardship, Canadians want to rediscover hope for a better life. Abandoning thousands of workers in traditional sectors is not going to help us succeed.
    As the leader of the official opposition stated in his excellent speech on Friday, we must rebuild Main Street. After COVID-19, only the Conservatives' economic recovery plan will provide Canadians with a stable economic future.

  (1415)  

[English]

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and I believe the government has failed to address the spread of misinformation and hate through social media and the growing divide in wealth and prosperity. I believe that the more disparity we see and the more people suffer and fight just to survive the greater all divides among us will grow.
    In my community of London, Ontario, people from so many diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds have fought back against this divide. They come together when events happen here at home or abroad. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused even greater disparity.
    I want to highlight a few organizations that have worked to counter it. I want to thank the Caring Canadians Society, Al Hyatt Mosque's soup kitchen, Canadian Cedars of Hope, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at group and the United Sikhs. There are so many more to which I want to give my gratitude. They all make us stronger. They are fighting for the change in progress we must achieve.

[Translation]

Amir Attaran

    Mr. Speaker, there is one minority about whom hate speech always goes unpunished. I am, of course, talking about Quebeckers.
    The most recent example comes from a University of Ottawa professor who thinks that Quebec is racist. He called the Premier of Quebec a white supremacist, no less, and called Quebec “the Alabama of the North”. Why not? He flat out called “pure laine” Quebeckers white supremacists.
    This man is named Amir Attaran. He will not face any consequences, because Quebec-bashing is A-okay in Canada and can even be quite lucrative. I want to at least say his name because, on behalf of the people of Quebec, I at least want it on the historical record of the Parliament of Canada that Amir Attaran is an ignorant francophobe.

[English]

Anti-Asian Racism

    Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 has unleashed a surge of anti-Asian racism across North America. From Atlanta to Vancouver and even Markham, the Asian community, especially the Chinese community, have been victimized.
    It began as hurtful comments at the beginning of the pandemic and grew into physical violence. The numbers are staggering. Major cities have seen the number of hate crimes grow as much as 700% and most of the targets are women. I encourage everyone to confront racism when he or she sees it. Racists are only encouraged by silence.
    Unfortunately, the federal government has not done much. A Liberal member of Parliament has admitted that the federal government has, to some extent, overlooked Asian communities in its recent anti-racism strategies. ThePrime Minister needs to acknowledge the growing anti-Asian racism and do more to tackle it.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, pretending a problem does not exist is not a solution and risks disaster, be it in relation to the pandemic or climate change. We are better in a competition of ideas, but we need to start from a reality that is based on science. Climate change is real, and all Canadians need to act.
    That is why our government has put a price on pollution, the rebate from which puts more money in people's pockets; why we have made investments in things like public transit; and why we are growing the zero-emissions vehicle sector.
    Canadians know that pollution has a cost and that when it is free to pollute, there will be more pollution. All of us would lose if the Conservative Party were allowed to move Canada in reverse as it continues to deny the very existence of climate change. I ask the Conservatives who know that climate change is real and that action is required to join us and the millions of Canadians who know it too, and are taking real action together.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

  (1420)  

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, we are a year into COVID. Lockdowns were set initially across the world to give governments time to get the tools in place that they needed to protect their people. Those tools are now available to us, like rapid testing, vaccines and treatments, but our federal government has not delivered them as quickly as other countries. While the U.S., the U.K. and others are planning a final end to the restrictions and freedom once again, here in Canada there is no hope and no end in sight, only the threat of more lockdowns.
    Where is the data-driven, detailed federal plan to end the lockdowns? Is there a plan?
    Mr. Speaker, before we respond to this important issue, I must underscore a matter of deep concern in this House.
    This past weekend, the deputy leader opposite's party once again rejected science and reaffirmed its disbelief in the reality of climate change. I know it is discouraging to many Canadians that a major political party in this country will not acknowledge this basic scientific fact and the threat it poses to future generations, but let me assure Canadians that our government knows that climate change is real, and we will continue to implement our plan to address it.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians also know that what is real is that the government has no plan to end the lockdowns for them. That is what they know is real.
    On another very serious matter that I hope we can get an answer to, for over two years the two Michaels have been held in prison in China. Now, while these Canadians are having their so-called day in court, Canada's ambassador in China is missing in action. Twenty-three other countries are there to show their support, but our ambassador did not show up. Why is that?
    Maybe it is because he is hand-delivering that $40-million cheque from Canada to China for the Asian infrastructure bank.
    Mr. Speaker, of course I reject the premise of that unusual question. I want all Canadians to know that the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig is our number one priority. Our thoughts go out to both of them and their families at this very difficult time.
    We, of course, have said for the longest time that arbitrary detention is totally unacceptable, and we are very preoccupied by the lack of transparency in their court proceedings.
     We thank other countries for joining us in front of the courthouse for today's trial.
    Mr. Speaker, actions speak louder than words. The Liberals have used the imprisonment of these Canadians as an implied reason not to deal with Huawei or to deal with genocide and the multitude of China's other abuses. Now, while the two are appearing in this kangaroo court, we have learned the Prime Minister has just sent $40 million to China for the Asian infrastructure bank.
    How can we have any confidence that the Prime Minister is actually acting in the best interests of the two Michaels when he is sending $40 million to the Communist regime that took them captive?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been focused on the release of the two Michaels from the very beginning. We have said very, very clearly that arbitrary detention of innocent Canadian civilians on trumped-up charges is totally unacceptable. Now we are joined by many other countries that are also very concerned about arbitrary detention.
    My message to China is that if it is doing business with other countries, it is not acceptable to detain their citizens when it is has a difference of opinion with that country. That is not how the international rules of law are applied.

[Translation]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, when someone is accused of misconduct, there is usually an investigation. At the very least, caution is advised in dealing with that person during the investigation. I am obviously talking about General Vance.
    When the Prime Minister's Office learned that there was an investigation, what did cabinet and the Prime Minister do? They gave him a $50,000 raise.
    How does this self-proclaimed feminist Prime Minister explain that?

  (1425)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, first, I need to be very clear that our government and I have no tolerance for any type of misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.
    Let me be clear. I do not determine pay increases. That is done independently and is based on the advice and recommendation of the public service.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, here are the facts.
    First, the Prime Minister recently said that he was not aware of the allegations of misconduct. His story changed, since he admitted a few days later that his office had been aware, but that does not make a difference.
    The Prime Minister's Office was aware of allegations of sexual misconduct against General Vance, and the Prime Minister, with the support of cabinet, gave him a $50,000 raise.
    Why?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I stated, let me be clear that I do not determine pay increases. This is done independently and is based on the advice and recommendations of the public service.
    I also want to point out that today the defence committee heard from Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, who stated, “...the Prime Minister's Office is not an investigative body. Senior officials in the Privy Council Office are the ones responsible for interacting with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces with respect to this matter.”
     Political staff and ministers currently aren't investigative entities in our system of government

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Quebec will be tabling its budget on Thursday.
    Unfortunately, despite the full-blown public health crisis, it will not be able to significantly boost health spending because the federal government is refusing to do its part. That makes no sense at all.
    Having seen what our health care staff have gone through, and with a third, variant-driven wave a distinct possibility, the federal government cannot tell our nurses that it will wait until after the pandemic.
    Will the government at least announce plans to increase health transfers?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, every step of the way, we have been there for provinces and territories. Whether it is billions of dollars in safe restart agreements, $740 million of which was designated to long-term care, whether it was purchasing protective equipment, whether it was purchasing vaccines, whether it was supporting the payment of essential workers through $3 billion in top-up wages, we have been there for provinces and territories and we will continue to be there for the Province of Quebec.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, what we need is higher health transfers. We have to help our nurses and PSWs provide better care to patients and seniors. That is what needs to happen.
    Our health care workers do not need to be told what to do. They do not need the Liberals to impose Canadian standards. They do not need politicians to meet 100 days after the election, as the Conservatives are proposing. Those parties are out of touch with reality. We need higher health transfers now, during the pandemic. That is easy to understand.
    Why does Ottawa not understand that?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when Quebec needed the Government of Canada, we were there for Quebec. We sent in the Canadian military to support the care for seniors in long-term care facilities across Quebec. We were there with the Red Cross, making sure that long-term care homes experiencing outbreaks had trained support staff to help the province in a very difficult time for all Quebeckers. We will continue to be there now and into the future.

[Translation]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister learned that his former chief of the defence staff was the subject of a sexual misconduct complaint.
    Rather than taking action or investigating, the Prime Minister gave him a raise. That sends a clear message to women in the Canadian Armed Forces that they are not taken seriously and that they are not safe.
    Will the Prime Minister apologize and make sure that this kind of situation never happens again?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I stated, our government has no tolerance for any type of misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, and let me be clear once again that when it comes to a pay increase, that is done independently and is based on the advice and recommendation of the public service.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Mr. Speaker, systemic racism hurts racialized people and, in particular, indigenous people. The RCMP civilian watchdog reached two very serious findings: one, the Boushie family was discriminated against by the RCMP, and two, the RCMP destroyed evidence in the case.
    A year ago, the Prime Minister took a knee at a Black Lives Matter protest but has yet to take any action. People are fed up with the Prime Minister's symbolic gestures. When will the Prime Minister take concrete action to end systemic racism in the RCMP?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me begin by acknowledging my deepest sympathy for the family, friends and community of Colten Boushie. We thank the CRCC for its excellent work in providing answers to the questions the family has had.
    Let me also acknowledge that in the report, the CRCC addressed deficiencies in several areas of the RCMP response, including the manner in which the next of kin notification took place. I have spoken to the commissioner of the RCMP. She has accepted all of the recommendations and we will work very closely with her to ensure a full implementation of them to address the deficiencies in the police response identified by the complaints review.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, when it originally came to light that the Prime Minister had given a half-billion dollar taxpayer funded grant to a group that had paid his family a half-million dollars, he blamed it all on a bureaucrat over in the employment department, saying that his office had nothing to do with it. Well, that was until last week, when it came to light that Craig Kielburger wrote a message to the Prime Minister's senior adviser: “Hello Ben, Thank you for your kindness in helping [to] shape our latest program with the government.”
    Will the Prime Minister agree to let his top adviser come to the ethics committee and explain what role he played in shaping this program that gave money back to a group that had paid off the Trudeau family?
    Mr. Speaker, we believe that committees do very important work in this Parliament and we have always worked very closely with all committees. Our ministers have appeared at committees and answered all of the questions. We provided the documents that have been requested: thousands and thousands of pages.
    My colleague also knows that committees are masters of their own work and make their own decisions, and we will always respect that.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are so anxious to see committees do their work that the Prime Minister actually shut down committees and, indeed, all of Parliament for almost two months to stop them from answering those questions. The Liberals then began another two-month filibuster to block questions. Today, when we came forward with a motion asking for Mr. Chin to come to testify, Liberal members showed up and began filibustering all over again. If the government has nothing to hide, why does it not let us open up the investigation and find the truth?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is fishing. We are used to it because he does it on a regular basis. The government will always co-operate whenever it is asked to do so.
    My colleague also knows that committees are masters of their own work. They make their own decisions. My colleague is well aware of that because he was on the other side of the House, the government side, at the time. I am sure that, at that time, he respected the autonomy and independence of committees, as we do today.
    I hope that he will continue to respect the excellent work done by these committees, which play an important role in Canada's democracy.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on National Defence is looking at serious allegations of sexual misconduct within our Canadian Armed Forces.
    These testimonies are important, both for the committee and for the public. However, Zita Astravas, the former chief of staff of the Minister of National Defence refuses to appear.
    Can the Minister of Public Safety confirm that his current chief of staff, Zita Astravas, will appear before the Standing Committee on National Defence?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the government believes in the extremely important work that all the committees are doing and supports that work.
    We are working very closely with the committees. Our ministers appear before the committees and answer all the questions. We provide the documents that are requested—thousands and thousands of pages. We do that out of professionalism and with pleasure.
    My colleague must know that the committees are the masters of their own fates. They make their own decisions. I hope she will respect that.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, understanding who knew what, and when, with regard to sexual misconduct allegations against the former chief of the defence staff is critical to achieving a Canadian Armed Forces where women can serve equally and without fear. As a public servant, Zita Astravas is in service to Canadians. As the former chief of staff to the defence minister, her testimony is required for the defence committee to do its work.
    Will the public safety minister confirm when his chief of staff, Zita Astravas, will testify at committee?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I said before, we believe that committees do very important work in this Parliament and we always work closely with the committees and keep working closely with them. Our ministers are going there all the time. They are appearing and answering the questions. Very important questions have to be asked, and we answer those questions. When documents and minutes are requested, we provide thousands of pages of them. We do what has to be done. However, my colleague knows very well that committees are masters of their own work. She has to respect that, and I hope she will.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister says that as the Liberals are filibustering at the defence committee on calling Zita Astravas.
    We know that the defence minister's chief of staff briefed the Prime Minister's Office regarding serious allegations of sexual misconduct by General Vance back in 2018. The Prime Minister admitted he learned of these allegations before he signed off on a pay increase for the accused general. The women and men who serve us in uniform deserve respect, but all they get from the defence minister are cover-ups. Will the defence minister tell Canadians why he failed to flag sexual misconduct allegations to cabinet before it approved General Vance's pay raise?
    Mr. Speaker, as I stated, I do not determine the pay increases. That is done independently based on the advice and recommendations of the public service.
    When it comes to testimony, the chief of staff of former Prime Minister Harper stated that political staff ministers clearly are investigative entities in our system of government. He also raised the question regarding the Leader of the Opposition and what he knew about the rumours at that time about the former chief of the defence staff.
    Mr. Speaker, we know from the testimony today that, unlike the defence minister who pushed away and refused to take evidence and do anything with it, and participated in a cover-up, our government took that evidence and fully investigated it.
    The defence minister and the Prime Minister knew about allegations of sexual misconduct against Canada's top generals back in 2018 and refused to investigate. Now we learn that General Vance was given a significant pay raise right after the evidence was brought to the minister. The Liberal government's feminist credentials are a joke. Will the defence minister explain to the brave women and men in the Canadian Armed Forces why he failed to step in and stop that pay increase?
    Mr. Speaker, as I stated before, when allegations were brought forward, they were immediately taken to the Privy Council Office for action to be taken.
    We also have questions ourselves right now about what was known in 2015 by the member himself, because he was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of National Defence and also to the opposition leader. Based on the testimony that the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Harper has raised, what did they know?
    At the end of the day, what we are going to be focused on is making sure that we prevent these types of misconduct, but more importantly, hold people to account as well.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, contrary to what members of the Conservative Party think, climate change exists.
    What is nearly as disappointing as the Conservatives' denial is the Liberal bill intended to address climate change. The government has set no greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 and no interim targets for 2025. There is no independent reporting. Basically, the federal government can continue to do nothing for at least 10 years.
    Will the Liberals strengthen this bill, or do they also question the climate emergency?
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to say that I agree with my Bloc Québécois colleague for once. Climate change does exist, and what the Conservatives did this weekend is extremely worrisome.
    When a major party like that refuses to acknowledge the existence of climate change, it is deeply troubling because, before we can try to find a solution, we have to acknowledge the existence of the problem, and the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge the existence of climate change.
    This time I agree with my Bloc Québécois colleague in condemning what the Conservatives have done.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is indeed troubling that the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge climate change.
    What is also worrisome is investing $12 billion in the Trans Mountain pipeline, approving 100 wells during the pandemic and offering billions of dollars to the oil industry.
    On my right, we have the Conservatives, who clearly do not believe in climate change. In front of us, we have a party that says it believes in climate change, but does nothing.
    Is there a champion who can tell me the difference between the two?
    Mr. Speaker, climate change is a threat to our health, our way of life and our planet, and that is why our government is implementing climate measures right now.
    We are keeping the promise we made to Canadians to present an improved climate plan that will meet our objective of creating thousands of jobs across the country and ensuring that we exceed the Paris target for 2030 and also lay the foundation for net-zero emissions by 2050.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, for once I agree with the member for Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
    Even a Liberal government minister is admitting that it is her own government's fault if the fishing season in the Magdalen Islands is jeopardized. Ottawa is endangering the region's entire economy by eliminating 37% of the port's capacity. The federal government is responsible for the port's condition, and therefore it is responsible for maintaining it.
    Ottawa must accept its responsibilities. Will the Liberal government promise to immediately compensate fishers and businesses for the losses incurred due to the Liberal government's negligence?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we will continue to work with our stakeholders and with our fishers to make sure we are doing everything possible to mitigate any challenges we are seeing with the port.
    We will continue to work with all parties engaged. We will follow up with the member on this issue.

[Translation]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, Friday was a sad anniversary for Canadians because it marked exactly two years, or 24 months, since Canadians have had a federal budget. For two years now, the Liberals have failed to be transparent and accountable.
    While all of the G7 countries have presented at least one budget since the start of the pandemic, the Prime Minister would rather hide his incompetence than present a recovery plan to Canadians.
    When will the Minister of Finance present a budget to Canadians?

[English]

    However, I will remind the member that during the course of this extraordinary, once-in-a-century pandemic, we have gone to great lengths to make sure that Canadians have access to information about where their money is being spent. I can point to a 237-page fall economic statement, the regular practice of putting forward estimates and biweekly updates when the COVID-19 committee was meeting. Now reports are going to the government operations committee, in addition to most of the information being put on the Government of Canada's website. I would invite the hon. member to check it out.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, what is going behind closed doors with the Liberals is worrisome.
    The government cannot control its spending and requested a $663-billion increase to its line of credit. Yes, I said billion, not million. The government wants to charge $663 billion more to Canadian families' credit cards, and the Minister of Finance refuses to explain why she wants to borrow so much money.
    I am worried about the bill this government is going to leave behind because it has no respect for our grandchildren's future.
    When will we get a budget with a real economic recovery plan?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if my friend opposite thinks that the cost of action has been too great, I would ask him to consider the cost of inaction. It would have been paid for with bankruptcies of local businesses and individual Canadian households not being able to afford to put food on the table.
    With respect to his assertion, I would point out that the recent report of the International Monetary Fund has explained that while the fiscal deficit and public debt have increased, sizable fiscal support was necessary to help avert larger economic and social consequences. Canadians can rest assured we will continue to be there for them through this pandemic, no matter what it takes and for as long as it takes.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, these are excuses. The government has gone over two years without tabling a budget, which is a dubious record. What is worse, it wants to increase its line of credit by a staggering three-quarters of a trillion dollars, and the minister will not even tell us how she plans to use that money.
    All we know is she has no plan to reopen our economy and no plan to secure our future. The only guarantee is that future generations of Canadians will be left holding the bag. Where is the budget, and where is the plan to reopen the economy?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. member for divorcing himself from the conversation on the reality of climate change at the convention over the weekend to bring the focus onto economic issues. Only the Conservatives would suggest our emergency benefits have been too generous and that Canada could not afford them.
    The reality is that when the coronavirus stopped the Canadian economy in its tracks, it caused serious costs to our communities. The government decided we would be there to support households so families could keep food on the table and businesses could keep their doors open and workers on the payroll.
    As we move forward, yes, there will be a need for continued investment, but as the chief economist at the IMF said, that can be fiscally responsible and economically sound.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, due to decades of underfunding and privatization, COVID-19 has cost the lives of thousands of Canadians in long-term care homes. Residents and staff are living and working in unsafe conditions so bad the army had to be called in to care for seniors and help overwhelmed workers.
    Federal governments allowed this to happen by failing to regulate national standards of care and allowing companies to profit off vulnerable patients and those who care for them. Will the Liberals put the health of our seniors first and take profit out of long-term care?
    Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite knows that it is not only the right of provinces and territories to deliver health care, but it is also their responsibility. Having said that, the member opposite knows the federal government has been there for provinces and territories and protecting seniors in long-term care homes throughout this pandemic. We have committed to the development and upholding of long-term care standards across this country.
    In fact, we have been there to support workers who have been struggling with low wages and poor training with $3 billion to the provinces and territories to increase the wages of low-income essential workers.

Post-Secondary Education

    Mr. Speaker, 60% of student loan borrowers are women. They hold the vast majority of student debt, accrue more interest and have more trouble paying it off. The pandemic has only made the gender gap worse.
     On Saturday, the NDP proposed a plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt per person, stop loan payments until the pandemic is over and permanently cancel interest. Will the self-proclaimed feminist Prime Minister stop profiting off the backs of women and students who are just trying to get an education and follow our lead by freezing loan payments, forgiving student debt and ending interest for good?
    Mr. Speaker, we recognize that student debt can be challenging for graduates. That is why, in response to COVID-19, we increased the Canada student grants by 50% to help Canadians from low- and middle-income families. We have improved the repayment assistant program so applicants would not have to repay their student loan until they are earning at least $25,000 per year. We have expanded eligibility for Canada student grants and loans for part-time students and students with dependent children.
    We will continue to be there to support students and remain committed to making post-secondary education more affordable.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, anti-Asian racism is on the rise. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in hate crimes against the Asian population, from verbal abuse to harassment, culminating in the violence we witnessed in the U.S. last week. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the lives of Canadians, and racism is further increasing challenges faced by the Asian-Canadian community.
    Can the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness inform Canadians how our government is fighting back against hate, discrimination and racist violence?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Scarborough—Agincourt for her tireless advocacy.
    Recent events have reminded us of this tragedy and the need to end the unacceptable threats faced by the people of Asian descent, which have increased since the start of the pandemic. We strongly condemn these acts and we stand in solidarity with all Asian communities in denouncing racist violence.
    Last Friday I convened a round table with members of Markham—Thornhill in Waterloo, along with leaders of law enforcement from right across Canada, to discuss ways to raise public awareness and to hold perpetrators to account. We will take action to keep Asian-Canadians safe, and that action will be informed by race-based data collection.

  (1450)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, every single Canadian has felt the impact of pandemic restrictions on their mental health. Families are saying goodbye to loved ones on FaceTime. Business owners and gig-economy workers are unsure how they will make ends meet, and we are still seeing rises in the level of domestic violence. We need hope and clear advice from the government on the circumstances under which normal life can permanently resume.
    For example, can a Canadian senior who is suffering the negative mental health impacts of isolation and who has received their vaccine give their grandchild a hug?
    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the member opposite realizes this, but many of the situations she referenced are the purview of the provincial and territorial governments. In fact, it is the provinces and territories that, with support from the federal government, develop guidance to be used in all of our jurisdictions. As well, it is, in fact, the provinces, territories and local leaders who decide which measures need to be in place to protect citizens.
    I will tell the House this: Our government believes in following science and evidence, including public health leaders, and we will continue to do that.
    Mr. Speaker, we are facing a mental health crisis that is worsening by the day. Lives and livelihoods have been lost, suicides rates have spiked, and depression and anxiety are at unprecedented levels. This crisis is real, and Canadians need real mental health resources now. They do not need another government website. They do not need to be placed on hold because of the government's failure to implement a three-digit national suicide prevention hotline.
    Conservatives have a real plan to secure Canada's mental health and well-being. I have a simple question. Where is the government's plan?
    Mr. Speaker, every step of the way this government has invested in mental health supports, both pre-pandemic, and, indeed, throughout the pandemic, as the member opposite might realize. In fact, I want to speak today about wellnesstogether.ca. Unlike what the member opposite says, this is not just a website. This is actually direct connections for Canadians across the country to get paid, professional help, completely for free and in both official languages, translated into 60 others.
    I encourage all Canadians to check out wellnesstogether.ca today. In fact, over a million individuals across Canada have used the program in over 2.9 million distinct sessions.

[Translation]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister raised the issue of Line 5 with President Biden.
    Will he ask President Biden again to intervene to keep Line 5 open and save 50,000 jobs on both sides of the border?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Line 5 is non-negotiable. People will not be left out in the cold. Hundreds of thousands of homes on both sides of the border depend on it for heating. Tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the border depend on it. We take threats to Canada's energy security very seriously. We are standing up for our proud energy workers. They are the ones who are leading our economic recovery. They are leading the way. As I say, Line 5 is non-negotiable.
    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vern Yu, the president of liquids pipelines for Enbridge, told our Canada-U.S. special committee that the company would appreciate the support of our federal and provincial governments by filing amicus curiae briefs in the lawsuit, declaring they support Enbridge’s position that this is a federal matter of jurisdiction in the U.S.
    Will our natural resources minister commit to filing such a brief in support of keeping Line 5 open?
    Mr. Speaker, Line 5 is a battle that we are fighting on every front, including legal and diplomatic. We are taking every tack that we need to in order to make sure that we protect Line 5.
    Line 5 is the most efficient way to deliver the products that Michigan needs to heat its homes, fly its jets and power its economy. Shutting it down would mean 800 extra railcars and 15,000 additional trucks per day transporting crude and propane. We do not need more trucks on the road jamming up the 401 and our already congested border crossings. Line 5 is safe. It has been for 65 years and it will continue to be.

  (1455)  

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, on January 27, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a Bloc Québécois motion to call on the Minister of Immigration to grant citizenship to Raif Badawi.
    However, almost two months later, Mr. Badawi is still in prison in Saudi Arabia, and he is still not a citizen.
    My question is simple. What has the minister been doing for the past two months?
    Why is Raif Badawi still not a citizen, despite the request from all members of all parties of the House?
     Mr. Speaker, Canada will always defend human rights around the world, and we are closely monitoring Raif Badawi's case.
    Canadian officials continue to raise his case at the highest level, and we have asked many times for clemency [Technical difficulty—Editor].
    We have a bit of a problem.
    The camera is working again. To make sure that everything is understood properly, we will have the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean repeat his question, and then we will hear the minister's response with both cameras working.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be pleased to repeat the question, and this time, I hope the member understands it.
    On January 27, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a Bloc Québécois motion to call on the Minister of Immigration to grant citizenship to Raif Badawi.
    That was nearly two months ago. Mr. Badawi is still in prison in Saudi Arabia, and he is still not a citizen.
    My question is simple. What has the minister been doing for the past two months?
    Why is it that Raif Badawi is still not a citizen, despite the appeal from all members of all parties of the House?
    Mr. Speaker, we are grateful to the members of the House of Commons and the Senate for the recent passage of the motion.
    We will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world. Our immigration system is based on compassion and the rule of law, and we can be proud of that. We will continue to work with all members to reunite Mr. Badawi with his family.
    Mr. Speaker, that was not the question. I find that answer is disrespectful to Mr. Badawi, his wife, his family and his children and even to this House.
    Every member is calling on the minister to grant citizenship to Mr. Badawi. This week, even the Senate wants to join the movement by adopting exactly the same motion as the House. The minister has the discretionary power to grant citizenship to a person in distress. Everyone knows that is the case for Mr. Badawi, whose life is in danger after nearly nine years in prison.
    When will the minister grant him citizenship?
    Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with the member.
    We are concerned about Mr. Badawi's safety. We are working with our colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. We will continue to defend human rights around the world and in Canada. We will continue to engage with Mr. Badawi's family. That is very important. We will continue to work together.

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals ignored allegations in the Canadian Armed Forces. They turned a blind eye to abusive behaviour on the part of former governor general Julie Payette. They did not want to hear about employees at Radio-Canada Québec who recently experienced a toxic work environment. They let a report on an investigation into a harassment complaint at the Canadian Museum of History drag on for more than two months. There are victims at the centre of each of these stories.
    At what point will the minister take action?
    Mr. Speaker, we are currently reviewing the independent investigation report and the recommendations of the board of trustees of the Canadian Museum of History, and we are discussing the matter directly with the board chair.
    The Government of Canada expects national museums to manifest the highest standards of respect, healthy working relationships and inclusion. That means always prioritizing the physical and mental well-being of staff members. The Government of Canada has a zero tolerance policy for workplace harassment.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, a Mexican immigrant has made it through the entire selection process. His employer, which is in my riding, is naturally eager to see him get here.
    All he is missing is his biometrics appointment, but the subcontractor in Mexico, VFS Global, is closed until further notice. If we wait until the pandemic is over, we could be waiting a long time.
    How does the government plan to fix this? I do not want excuses. When can this employer expect this immigrant worker to arrive?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government has a strong record of meeting our immigration objectives.
    Our 2021 plan is based on the economic recovery and on ensuring that we are recruiting the workers we need to meet to provide the health care, food and services Canadians need. We will continue to work with employers to meet all of our immigration planning goals.

[English]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, offshore oil workers are hard at work keeping our economy running, yet the Liberals are sitting back and delaying regulations to keep these workers safe on the job. The Liberals waited until the last minute to introduce a bill in the Senate to keep offshore workers safe in their jobs. The Senate has finally done its job, but now the government is dragging its feet again on moving this bill through the House. Enough with the delays. Conservatives and thousands of offshore workers have been waiting for six years.
    When will the government stop sleeping on the job and actually get to work to keep oil workers safe?
    Mr. Speaker, workers in the offshore are currently protected. The legal framework continues to be in place: it has been since 2014. Workers are protected under the best health and safety framework in the world, and we continue to improve it, which is why it is the best.
    We are working on permanent regulations with our partners. When it comes to the lives and safety of the noble men and women who work in our offshore, I can tell the member that getting it right is paramount.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, they let the cat out of the bag last weekend.
    Like many Canadians, I was shocked to see a supposedly modern national political party reject the simple fact that climate change is real. The reality is that we are experiencing extreme weather events such as floods and forest fires.
    How can the Conservative Party and its leader claim to be ready to govern if they cannot accept such simple facts?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Bourassa for his question.
    Climate change is real. We are experiencing extreme weather events such as historic flooding and forest fires in Quebec. However, the Conservatives have decided to put their heads in the sand and ignore the reality we are all living.
    It is clear that the Conservative Party is taking a step in the wrong direction and, unfortunately, our future generations will suffer the consequences.

[English]

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, thousands of students across Canada are struggling to find summer employment in the middle of a pandemic. Families in my community are trying to make ends meet, and students need jobs to pay for their education. Last year, the Liberal government's brilliant solution to this problem was to try and pay their friends at WE Charity half a billion dollars.
    Instead of paying their friends again this year, will the Liberals commit to supporting students by increasing funding for the Canada summer jobs program as Conservatives have called for?
    Mr. Speaker, there is good news. Canada's prosperity in post-COVID economic recovery depends, we know, on young Canadians getting the education and experience they need to succeed, which is why the Canada summer jobs program is an important part of our government's youth employment skills strategy.
    Last year, we funded 80,000 CSJ job placements, and this year we are aiming to create 120,000 job placements for young Canadians. We understand the importance of this program, and we will be there to support jobs for young people this year and in all the years to follow.

  (1505)  

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, the government can only work effectively if it has the trust of Canadians. That trust, however, is eroding.
     To access benefits, Canadians have to provide their personal information online. However, according to cybersecurity experts, the government is not doing an adequate job protecting that information. The CRA has now closed own 800,000 accounts because hackers are gaining access.
    My question is simple. What is the government doing to beef up security measures to make sure bad actors are not accessing Canadians' personal information and using it against them?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, cleary my colleague reads only the headlines and not the articles.
    The protection of taxpayers' information is a priority for our government. For that reason, the Canada Revenue Agency has revoked user names and passwords in order to prevent identity theft. The agency acted before the data was compromised.
    I would like to thank CRA employees for their excellent preventative work and invite my colleague to become better informed and read newspaper articles in their entirety before spreading information that is wrong. Her constituents deserve better.

[English]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, since the minister had no clue about the numbers when asked today at committee, I will fill him in. Enbridge's Line 5 safely moves 540,000 barrels of oil to Sarnia each day to service Ontario and Quebec. If cancelled, replacing it will require nine extra 110-car unit trains or five barges, moving 118,000 barrels of oil each through the Mackinac straits and the Great Lakes every day.
    Aside from spouting platitudes and scripted talking points, what concrete results has the minister received to ensure the continuation of Line 5?
    Mr. Speaker, everything that the hon. member brought up occurs in a place called reality. Reality is a place where Line 5 exists and where workers are on the line. Reality is where climate change is real.
    It is time for action, not more studies. It is time to deal with reality as it is in a world where climate change is real and where Line 5 is something that is non-negotiable for this government. We know full well what is at stake: 5,000 direct jobs in Sarnia, 23,000 indirect jobs in the region. That is reality and that is where we live, and the job we will do.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, I, like many Canadians, was deeply concerned when I saw this weekend that the Conservative Party, at its national convention, rejected adding “climate change is real” to its policy book.
    Canadians know that a plan for the environment is a plan for the economy. Could the Minister of Environment and Climate Change please update Canadians on how this Liberal government is building a cleaner, stronger and more resilient economy?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Guelph for his tireless work on this subject.
    On this side of the aisle, the debate truly is settled. Climate change is real. We stand with science and the scientific community on this important matter. I, too, was deeply disappointed when I heard the news this weekend that the Conservative Party was continuing to reject the reality of climate change.
     Canadians expect their governments to protect the environment and grow the economy. That is why we brought forward a strengthened climate plan in December. It is a simple fact that in the modern world we cannot grow the economy without having a plan for the environment. Sadly, it is a fact the party opposite has once again rejected.

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the world for cellphone and Internet service. For decades, the Liberals and Conservatives have sided with the telecom giants, which has reduced competition and led to skyrocketing prices that many Canadians simply cannot afford.
     Rogers cannibalizing Shaw will eliminate the little competition we have now, raise these outrageous prices, intensify gouging on consumers and continue to damage our economy. That is why there is a universal public outcry to stop this takeover.
     Broken Liberal promises will not pay the bills. Will the minister stop this insane merger?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear that greater affordability, competition and innovation all across the telecommunications sector in Canada are so important to us as a government just as they are important to Canadians who are concerned about their cellphone bills and their connectivity. These goals are going to be front and centre as we do the analysis necessary to figure out the implications of this proposed deal. The transaction will be reviewed by the CRTC, by the Competition Bureau, by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and by our own department. The work will be done.
     Canadians can be assured that, as consumers, they will be protected as will the public interest be considered all along in these analyses.

  (1510)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, last week, we passed the one-year anniversary of lockdowns only to hear of another breach of liberties gaining traction: vaccination passports. A forced “vaxxport” raises serious medical and ethical concerns.
     Health Canada tells us it is unknown whether the vaccines prevent the spread of the virus or even how long the vaccine's effectiveness may last. Many are concerned about the leaking of personal medical information, religious freedom and personal consent. Canada cannot become a two-tiered country.
     Will the minister oppose vaccination passports on behalf of all freedom-loving Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, unlike the member opposite, we believe in a response that is guided by science, evidence and public health expertise. In fact, that is the only way to get through this pandemic, to listen to those people who are putting their own lives on hold to help guide Canadians through this incredible challenge. It is important that we do not sow fear and distrust among the public health officials who are doing so much work to get us all through this safely.
     I call on the member opposite to support a public health response that is based on science and evidence.

[Translation]

Points of Order

Statements by Members  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I have been told that, during my member's statement, one of my colleagues was speaking over me. I am asking for permission to redo my statement.
    I heard it.
    I will take this opportunity to remind members who are here virtually, not physically, to pay attention to their microphone. When they do not have the floor, members must ensure that their microphone is on mute so as not to interrupt others as they deliver a speech or a very important message.
    I would also ask all members to keep their headset on and place their microphone between their nose and lips for it to work. You may have to experiment with how it works best for you. Sometimes the way we exhale can cause a sharp noise that is hard on the interpreters' ears.

[English]

    I would ask everyone to play with their microphones to determine whether the best place is between their noses and upper lips, because that avoids a lot of the pops, or to have it just below their lower lips so that the pops do not affect the ears of the interpreters, because it is rather painful on their part. That is my message for today.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.
    Mr. Speaker, Canada's future is at stake.
    The Liberal Prime Minister was slow to roll out the vaccines and will be even slower to restart the economy. Now is not the time to reimagine the economy. The Prime Minister wants to be the centre of attention and wants to lead us into the unknown with economic experiments that will leave millions of Canadians behind. Every Canadian worker deserves to get their job back. Every Canadian worker in every sector of the economy deserves to be part of the economic recovery.
    The Prime Minister has decided to choose which Canadians will have a future. That is not the right solution for the millions of workers who built Canada.
    What the Conservative leader is proposing is a more secure future, a Canada with fewer slogans and more money in families' pockets. After months of hardship, Canadians want to rediscover hope for a better life. Abandoning thousands of workers in traditional sectors is not going to help us succeed.
    As the leader of the official opposition stated in his excellent speech on Friday, we must rebuild Main Street. After COVID-19, only the Conservatives' economic recovery plan will provide Canadians with a stable economic future.

[English]

Hate Crime

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I hope that when you seek it, you would find consent for the following motion. I move:
     That the House express its horror at the recent mass shootings in Atlanta and its solidarity with the victims of the shootings and their families, condemn the rise of anti-Asian racism and racist attacks throughout North America and urge the government to take further action to tackle hate crimes, including by (a) hosting a federal-provincial-territorial meeting to discuss the rise in hate crimes in Canada and to coordinate our collective efforts and identify best practices to countering this trend; (b) creating and properly funding dedicated hate crime units in every community in Canada; (c) establishing national standards for identifying and recording all hate incidents and their dispensation in the justice system; and (d) working in collaboration with non-profits to facilitate the reporting of hate crimes.

  (1515)  

    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
     The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
     Hearing no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

[Translation]

    We have another point of order.
    The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

Party Representation in the House

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of order regarding the COVID-19 safety protocols. I have two specific questions for you.
     In a report submitted to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs dated June 30, 2020, entitled “Options for In-person Voting”, the recommended number of members who can safely attend sittings of the House is 86.
    As you are well aware, we, all parliamentarians, follow public health guidelines. We keep our distance, we wear our masks when we are not speaking, and we have far fewer than 86 members in the House at any one time. We have never exceeded that number, and no one has even thought of exceeding it. Everyone is doing their part and, generally, all political parties are working together—well, almost all.
    I realize that the virtual chamber is an extension of the physical chamber. You will have noticed that, for several weeks now, here in the physical chamber, only two government members have been attending the sittings of the House—sometimes three, but very often only one.
    As you know, in all House committees, the principle is that the number of members selected to attend meetings reflects the proportion of seats held by each of the recognized parties in the House. This principle applies to all membership matters involving the House of Commons.
    I would say this principle should apply to the maximum number of members who can safely attend, in accordance with established standards and the maximum number of people allowed in the House. The government side should not be limited to two members. There is absolutely no justification for this, especially since there have been some disappointing contradictions on the government side for weeks now.
    For example, the Minister of Justice always responds to questions virtually from his office, which is here, on Parliament Hill, two buildings away. In a specific sense, he is not physically in the chamber. He is in his office, 1,023 feet away. To get to that office, the minister faces all of the usual risks. He crosses the provincial border, he encounters security officers, he encounters people in the halls and in the elevator. However, he is not here, in the House.
    He even came to this building, the West Block. He made a comment to the press a few days ago, not very far from here at all, in room 125-B. You are very familiar with the physical spaces in the House. Room 125-B is the one that is located just under the floor of the House of Commons. Since he was in the building, why was he not at his desk here in the House of Commons?
    Here is another reality. When we leave the West Block at night and go out the side door, we often see a fair number of the ministers' executive vehicles or limousines, a word that might, in and of itself, give us pause. We do not see just one or two from time to time but a fair number. I do not have any proof, but if a minister's executive vehicle is at the door of the West Block, then the minister in question is probably in the building.
    If ministers are coming to the West Block for cabinet meetings, why can they not come here, to the physical House of Commons?
    I repeat: Members are allowed to participate from another place as long as it is by virtual means. Of course, we recognize that the virtual House is an extension of the physical House. However, like you, we have noticed some disappointing inconsistencies and contradictions.
    Now the Prime Minister is leaving the national capital region. Last week, he went to Montreal. Today, he is in Trois-Rivières. If he and his cabinet can make themselves available in places other than Ottawa, why can they not do the same here in the House, safely and in accordance with the rules?
    We find the under-representation of the government party and cabinet in the House to be unacceptable. That should be remedied in order to ensure the integrity of our system of responsible government.

  (1520)  

    What is most troubling is that the very important doctrine that must guide our work is ministerial responsibility. Ministerial responsibility is a constitutional convention whereby ministers are responsible to Parliament for the actions of the government. It also means that they have a duty to be present in the House and to be accountable for their actions and failures.
    For the third time, let me be clear: We recognize that the virtual chamber is an extension of the physical chamber. However, when we see, as you do, Mr. Speaker, incongruities, contradictions and appalling situations where ministers and government members come to Parliament Hill, even to West Block, but do not attend sittings in the House, that is very disappointing. That is why the under-representation of this group in the House makes a mockery of our system of government and the very institution of Parliament.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the fact that the member was addressing the physical presence of members in the House, I would point out that despite the fact he said that the virtual version of Parliament was an extension, his arguments do not support that. As far as the hybrid setting and the rules that have been laid out, the reality is there is no difference between sitting in the House and participating virtually.
    The member is suggesting we have a two-tiered system. The reality of the situation is that this is not a two-tiered system, and I can hear some of them saying that it is. Whether someone is participating virtually or in the House, it is the exact same thing.
    I would suggest this is not a point of order, but it is important to understand why that side of the House has chosen to do this. It is important not just for the safety of the members of the House, but more for the safety of the people who work here. I bring that to the attention of the member. I would bring that to the attention—
    I am going to interrupt. I am having a hard time hearing the argument because there are some interruptions. It is something we have not seen in a while, so I think we are all going to have to get used to it or eliminate it right off the bat.
    I will just stop now and hopefully I will hear the rest of the hon. member's argument.
    Mr. Speaker, to conclude that point, with all due respect to the House leader of the opposition, we are not going to take lessons from him while he stands less than two metres away from House officers, without a mask on and speaking over top of them.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to add to what my Conservative Party colleague was saying earlier.
    I completely agree with everything he said. Over a month ago, at a meeting of the House leaders, I talked about the fact that there was just one Liberal Party MP in the House. At the peak of the pandemic, we talked about having 25 MPs in the House, and at the time, we had an agreement with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons that the ministers who were most likely to be questioned would be physically present in the House to answer questions.
    I hear my Liberal Party colleague. I agree with what he said about the virtual Parliament being an extension of Parliament. Everyone agrees. However, more and more often, parliamentary secretaries to ministers are the ones answering questions. When they are not here, the answers tend to be a little more evasive than usual, and that is saying something. If they were in the House, I think we would see better collaboration. That goes without saying. Nobody needs a dictionary to understand that.
    For over a month now, the Bloc Québécois has been pointing out that the governing party has not really been present in the House. Today, as usual, there is just one Liberal Party MP, one who, unfortunately for us, never answers questions. We have to get our answers via videoconference, and, increasingly, we are getting those answers from parliamentary secretaries. We are in the middle of a pandemic here. The government should be absolutely transparent, but it does not want to answer questions. Great. Just great.
    I completely agree with what my Conservative Party colleague, the esteemed House Leader of the Official Opposition, said. The Bloc Québécois completely agrees with his point of view.
    I want to remind members that some have almost broken the rule on mentioning the presence or absence of a member in the House. They have come close. I want to remind members to pay attention to what they are saying.
    The hon. Minister of Infrastructure and Communities on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, we will come back with additional comments shortly.
    I will take the matter under advisement and come back to the House with a response if necessary.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two treaties.
    The first is entitled “Protocol to amend the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas”, done at Palma de Mallorca, Spain on November 20, 2019.

[Translation]

    The second is entitled “General Coordination Agreement between Canada and the United States on the Use of the Radio Frequency Spectrum by Terrestrial Radiocommunication Stations and Earth Stations”, done at Ottawa on January 12 and 13, 2021.

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 53 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

Committees of the House

Scrutiny of Regulations  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations concerning the mandate and the quorum of the committee. If the House gives it consent, I intend to move concurrence in the first report later this day.

Public Accounts  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, entitled “Main Estimates 2021-22: Vote 1 Under Office of the Auditor General”.

  (1530)  

[Translation]

Health  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Health, entitled “Supplementary Estimates (C), 2020-21”. The committee has considered the votes referred to it by the House and reports the same without amendment.

[English]

Natural Resources  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources in relation to the supplementary estimates (C) for the year 2020-21. Our committee has considered the estimates referred by the House and reports the same back without amendment.

[Translation]

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Supplementary Estimates (C), 2020-21: Vote 1c under Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Votes 1c, 5c, 10c and 15c under Department of Employment and Social Development”.

[English]

    I will take this opportunity to thank the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion for appearing before the committee along with their hard-working officials and for the excellent work of the members of the committee to get to this point in a collaborative way, including some rearranging of schedules. By all accounts, it was a moment that would make Parliament proud.

Status of Women  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following three reports of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women: the third report, entitled “Supplementary Estimates (C), 2020-21”; and the fourth report, entitled “Main Estimates 2021-22”. The committee has considered the estimates referred by the House and reports the same.
    The fifth report is, “Request for a Government Response to the 18th Report from the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session” on “A Force for Change: Creating a Culture of Equality for Women in the Canadian Armed Forces”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to its fifth report.
    On a personal note, I want to thank the hon. member for adjusting her mike perfectly so there is no popping and is loud enough. That engineering background has really worked out well.

[Translation]

Hellenic Heritage Month Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, as a proud Canadian of Greek origin, I am honoured to rise in the House today to introduce my bill to designate the month of March as Hellenic Heritage Month. This bill celebrates the dynamic culture of Canada's Greek community and recognizes the invaluable contributions of Canadians of Greek origin to our diverse and multicultural society.

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

[English]

    This week, on March 25, as we celebrate 200 years of Greek independence after 400 years under the rule of the Ottoman empire, Greek Canadians can be proud of their heritage and look forward to national recognition of their culture, language and history during the symbolic month of March.
    I ask my hon. colleagues across all party lines to support this bill in naming March Hellenic heritage month.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

  (1535)  

Committees of the House

Scrutiny of Regulations  

    Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 1st report of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations presented to the House earlier this day be concurred in.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
     Hearing no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

     (Motion agreed to)

Private Members' Business

    Mr. Speaker, I move:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order, special order or usual practice of the House, until Wednesday, June 23, 2021, during the taking of a recorded division on a Private Members' Business, when the sponsor of the item is the first to vote and present at the beginning of the vote, the member be called first, whether participating in person or by videoconference.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
    Hearing no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

     (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

The Environment   

    Mr. Speaker, as an Albertan and someone who grew up hiking, skiing and playing in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, I am deeply honoured to table this petition, which is signed by over 18,000 Canadians.
    These Canadians are urging the environment minister to ensure that there is a fulsome assessment of the impacts of all proposed coal developments and exploration activities in the Rocky Mountains. In particular, the petitioners wish to see the government ensure treaty and aboriginal rights, water quality, species at risk and environmental impacts are assessed and adequately protected.
     In addition, until the federal government does such a study, on behalf of the over 18,000 Canadians who have signed this petition, I urge the minister and this government to delay a decision regarding the proposed Grassy Mountain coal project until the cumulative impacts of all mining activity in the region have been adequately considered.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, in full solidarity with the Haitian people, I am tabling petition e-2448, signed by 148 citizens, to shed light on the role played in Haiti by the Canadian government and member countries of the “Core Group”, which many believe are propping up the current prime minister of Haiti, who is accused of corruption and repression, not to mention all the horrors to which the Haitian people are currently being subjected.
    The petitioners are calling on the government to publish all documents relating to what is known as the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”, which was described on the Radio-Canada program Enquête, and to hold a hearing of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to learn everything there is to know about the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”, including its link to the “Core Group”. In closing, I would like to congratulate Josephe Turenne, who officially started this petition.

[English]

Indigenous Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition signed by over 32,000 Canadians, including 471 of residents of NWT.
    This petition was sponsored by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and calls upon the Government of Canada to apologize for its role in the harmful legacy of Giant Mine. It also calls upon the government to ensure that the YKDFN are properly compensated and are able to fully participate in the site's remediation.

  (1540)  

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in the House. I am presenting six petitions today.
    The first petition is in support of Bill S-204. It is a petition that seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. I am very pleased to share that this bill has now passed second reading in the Senate, and will now be going on to be studied at committee.

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition I am presenting is with respect to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or the IRGC. The petition notes that, in 2018, the House of Commons passed a motion to immediately list the IRGC as a terrorist entity. It also notes that, in response to the storming of Capitol Hill in January 2021, the Liberal government listed Proud Boys as a terrorist organization within less than a month, thus demonstrating that listing a group as a terrorist organization can be done quickly and efficiently. As well, the petition notes that it has been three years since the motion to list the IRGC was passed. Therefore, petitioners call on the government to immediately list the IRGC as a terrorist organization, and to explain why there has been a three-year delay.

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition deals with Bill C-7. The petitioners are very concerned by the fact that this bill has removed vital safeguards associated with the euthanasia regime, safeguards which the government said were essential only a few short years ago.
    The petitioners call on the government to restore the 10-day reflection period, restore the original requirement that a person must give consent to a life-ending procedure immediately before it is performed, restore the requirement for two independent witnesses, require medical professionals to do everything possible to enable the person to access life-affirming services to relieve their suffering, and accommodate persons with communication disabilities by clarifying their refusal of or resistance to administration of physician-assisted death.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition deals with the horrific genocide of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China. Petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada, not just Parliament, to recognize the genocide and to use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the Magnitsky act, to sanction all of those responsible.
    We have seen some tentative steps in that direction today, but the government needs to actually and finally join our allies in recognizing the genocide and holding accountable all those responsible.

Conversion Therapy  

    Mr. Speaker, the fifth petition deals with Bill C-6, the government's conversion therapy bill. Petitioners note that they are opposed to conversion therapy and would like to see legislation banning it. However, they note that the government's definition of conversion therapy in Bill C-6 is deeply flawed and has many unintended consequences.
    Petitioners join the calls from many groups and Canadians for the government to address the drafting errors, fix the definition, make sure the bill actually only applies to conversion therapy itself and then proceed with banning conversation therapy once there is a fixed, clarified definition.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, the sixth and final petition is with respect to the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Petitioners are concerned about human rights violations as well as the humanitarian situation. They are calling for an end to violence, humanitarian access and international investigations. They are calling on the Government of Canada to engage directly and consistently with the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments with respect to the issues around this conflict, and to promote short, medium and long-term election monitoring in Ethiopia.
    I commend these petitions to the consideration of all hon. members.

COVID-19 Vaccines  

     Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House this afternoon to present e-petition 2961, with over 41,000 signatures of concerned Canadians. This petition calls for greater awareness and action overseeing all aspects of the COVID vaccination program across Canada currently under way.
    The main points of the petition call upon the federal government to protect the ethical, legal and moral rights of Canadians to informed consent; to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are voluntary as opposed to mandatory, and the choice must be without prejudice; create an independent committee with a broad range of stakeholder representatives, including citizen vaccine safety advocates; ensure no committee member has intellectual or financial conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical or medical industry; and grant this committee the power to independently review applications for approval of all vaccines, including those for COVID-19.
    One of the key points within this petition is to develop a vaccine injury compensation program related to compensation for those injured or killed by vaccines, and this was actually acted upon by the federal government shortly after I authorized this petition in December of 2020.

Medical Marijuana  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of concerned Canadians, including my own constituents, who are tired and frustrated with inaction by the government to clamp down on illegal marijuana production, including the exploitation of medical marijuana permits. Our communities are becoming less safe and less liveable as organized crime outfits are taking advantage of a system full of loopholes and absent of any real compliance and enforcement measures.
    A simple Google search on the topic reveals numerous paid ads from companies guaranteeing access to production permits even without a demonstrated medical need. This needs to be fixed now.
    The petition calls for the Government of Canada to reform the licensing and oversight of the production of cannabis for personal medical use and to grant resources and authority to provinces and municipalities to regulate and enforce the production of cannabis for personal medical use.

  (1545)  

Indigenous Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition today, which is World Water Day. The petitioners note that almost all community drinking watersheds on the east coast of Vancouver Island are privately owned because of the E&N land grant, which was part of the agreement to bring B.C. into Confederation 150 years ago this year. They point out that the E&N land grant violated aboriginal rights and title. They also observe there is a high risk of drinking water contamination due to industrial and human activity in these watersheds.
    The petitioners are calling on the government to work with first nations, all levels of government and private landowners to begin the process of bringing these community drinking watersheds under public ownership and control to maintain a secure source of clean drinking water for future generations.
    I would like to thank the members of my constituency in Nanaimo—Ladysmith for putting forward this petition.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a number of petitions today.
    The first petition is signed by Canadians from across Canada. They are calling on the government to recognize the genocide happening to the Uighur people in China and to use the Magnitsky act to hold those who are perpetrating this heinous genocide to account.

  (1550)  

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from Canadians from across Canada who are concerned with the illegal organ harvesting that is happening around the world. The petitioners are calling for the speedy passage of Bill S-240.
     I believe it has passed through the Senate. I look forward to it coming to this place.

Mental Health  

    Mr. Speaker, I present the third petition on behalf of Albertans who want to draw to the attention of the House a recent StatsCan report, which highlights that a disproportionate number of young men died between May and October. The petitioners are calling on the government to recognize that men are three times more likely to commit suicide.
    Albertans have suffered an energy downturn, an oil price war and a federal government that is unwilling to support major pipeline and investment projects. Alberta has one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada.
     The petitioners are asking the House to approve shovel-ready projects across the country to get Albertans back to work and ensure that the Trans Mountain expansion is completed, that local communities and organizers are supported and that the 988 national suicide hotline is quickly created.

Pornography  

    Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition is from Canadians from across the country who are concerned about the accessibility and impacts of violent and degrading sexually explicit material online and its impact on public health, especially the well-being of women and girls. The petitioners recognize that we cannot say we believe in preventing sexual violence toward women while allowing pornography companies to freely expose our children to violent, explicit sexual imagery day after day, which is a form of child abuse. As such, they note the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires Canada to develop the means to protect children from forms of media that are injurious to their well-being. As such, the petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to require meaningful age verification on all adult websites.

Conversion Therapy  

    Mr. Speaker, the fifth petition is from Canadians who are concerned about the current definition of “conversion therapy” in Bill C-6. The petitioners, like most Canadians, want coercive and degrading therapies banned. They are concerned that private conversations would be limited and ask the government to avoid criminalizing voluntary services, including professional and religious counselling. They ask for a clear and fixed definition of “conversion therapy”.

Firearms  

    Mr. Speaker, the sixth petition is from Canadians from across Canada who want to support the health and safety of Canadian firearms owners. The petitioners recognize the importance of owning firearms. They are concerned about the impacts of hearing loss due to the damage caused by the noise levels from firearms. They acknowledge the need for noise reduction and that sound moderators are the only universally recognized health and safety device that is criminally prohibited in Canada. Moreover, the majority of G7 countries have recognized the health and safety benefits of sound moderators and allow them for hunting and sport shooting and to reduce noise pollution. The petitioners are calling on the government to allow legal firearms owners to purchase and use sound moderators for all legal hunting and sport shooting activities.

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, the last petition I am presenting today is with respect to the importance of the lives of the elderly and the passing of Bill C-7. The petitioners are calling on the government to support measures to protect human life, as all life should be regarded with great respect. They believe we should support the most vulnerable and defenceless Canadians instead of facilitating their death. The petitioners are concerned about the passage of Bill C-7, especially with the inclusion of mental health.

Questions on the Order Paper

[Text]

Question No. 360--
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice:
    With regard to the support units and bases of the Canadian Armed Forces and subcontracts, broken down by fiscal year since 2011-12: (a) what are the details of each contract, including (i) the supplier, (ii) the amount, (iii) the commodity description, (iv) the sourcing, sole or not; and (b) for each contract in (a), why was this work not performed by the Department of National Defence?
Ms. Anita Vandenbeld (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence issues thousands of contracts each year to facilitate its operations and to better serve Canadians at home and abroad. These contracts are subject to national defence’s procurement processes, which allow the department to deliver the right equipment and quality service to the Canadian Armed Forces in a timely manner.
    As part of its commitment to openness and transparency, the Department of National Defence proactively discloses all of its contracts over $10,000. Details of these contracts, ranging from 2011 to 2020, can be found at the Open Government website using the following link: https://open.canada.ca.
    National defence does not centrally track subcontract data broken down by location. Providing the requested details would require a manual search and validation of over 160,000 contracts, which could not be completed in the allotted time.
Question No. 361--
Mr. Pierre Poilievre:
    With regard to private debt guaranteed by the government: what is its total value, including all Crown corporations like the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Export Development Canada?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the outstanding principal under loan guarantees issued by the government on the borrowings of third parties stood at $14.5 billion at December 31, 2019. At September 30, 2020, the date of the most recent finalized quarterly data available, the outstanding principal under loan guarantees totalled $15.8 billion.
    In addition, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, and the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, CDIC, operate insurance programs related to third-party debt for the government. CDIC operates the deposit insurance fund, which provides basic protection coverage to depositors for up to $100,000 of eligible deposits with each member bank, trust or loan company. CMHC operates the mortgage insurance fund, which provides insurance for mortgage lending on Canadian housing by private institutions. At December 31, 2019, total insurance in force amounted to $1,280,849 million. At September 30, 2020, the date of the most recent quarterly data available, total insurance in force amounted to $1,405,991 million. In the event that the corporations have insufficient funds, the government will have to provide financing. The government expects that the corporations will cover the cost of both current claims and possible future claims.
Question No. 362--
Mr. Randall Garrison:
    With regard to the government’s commitment to expunge the criminal records of LGBTQ2+ Canadians for historical offences that are no longer criminal offences as part of the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act: (a) how many people have applied to have their records expunged for unjust convictions; (b) what percentage of the applicants have been successful in having their records expunged; (c) of the unsuccessful applications, what reasons have been given for their rejection by category and how many rejected applications fall into each category; and (d) is there a deadline for applying for expungement under this act and, if so, will that deadline be extended to take into account the impact of the pandemic on the ability of those affected to complete applications?
Mr. Joël Lightbound (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, from December 2019 to January 26, 2021, with regard to (a), PBC received 37 applications for expungement.
    With regard to (b), 10) applications were accepted as eligible, and expungement was ordered for nine of them, 90%. The remaining application was refused because, upon investigation, the activity for which the person was convicted remains a criminal offence under the Criminal Code.
    With regard to (c), 27 applications were returned or were not admissible because the individual did not meet one or more of the legislated eligibility criteria--i.e., their convictions were not on the list of eligible convictions for expungement. Additionally, the board did not have jurisdiction--i.e., expired absolute/conditional discharge--over two of the ineligible applications.
    With regard to (d), there is no deadline for applying for expungement under this act.
Question No. 369--
Mr. Jack Harris:
    With regard to Global Affairs Canada, from August 2020 to the present: (a) how much funding was (i) allocated, (ii) spent by month to promote the candidacy of Bill Morneau to the presidency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; (b) how many public servants were involved in substantial activities related to Mr. Morneau’s candidacy; and (c) how many person-hours were dedicated to substantial activities related to Mr. Morneau’s candidacy?
Mr. Robert Oliphant (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the following reflects a consolidated response approved on behalf of Global Affairs Canada ministers.
    The Government of Canada was disappointed to learn that Bill Morneau did not obtain sufficient support to become the next Secretary General of the OECD. Bill Morneau was an ideal candidate to lead the OECD in these difficult times and his commitment deserves to be recognized. Although this result was not what Canada hoped, Canada will work with the next Secretary General of the OECD, Mr. Mathias Cormann, and would like to congratulate him on his appointment.
    In response to (a), consistent with its goals to contribute to an effective and high performing rules-based system that serves Canadians and Canada’s interests, the government campaigned for a Canadian to become the next Secretary General of the OECD. It provided diplomatic support, advocacy and strategic advice.
    As is the case in campaigns for leadership positions in multilateral organizations, outreach with key decision-makers in members’ capitals and members’ representatives to the organization is required. Based on the Treasury Board’s special travel authorities and the approach taken for travel-related costs in similar campaigns supported by the department in the past, existing resources of up to $98,385.19 were budgeted. No new resources were allocated. As of January 27, 2021, the total costs incurred by the government in relation to the campaign are $10,899.73.
    In response to (b), the department has not assigned any officials exclusively for the purposes of the OECD Secretary-General campaign. Nevertheless, as the lead department responsible for the relationship with the organization, to varying degrees and in line with their regular duties, 19 officials in the department and at the permanent delegation of Canada to the OECD provided punctual support to the campaign at different moments in time.
    In response to (c), the work performed by government officials is part of their regular duties, such as preparing briefing or communications materials, managing relations with the OECD and undertaking outreach with foreign countries.
Question No. 370--
Mr. Rob Morrison:
    With regard to the negotiations between Canada and the United States to renew the Columbia River Treaty: (a) what is the current schedule of the negotiations; (b) which organizations and individuals have been granted observer status for the negotiations; (c) which organizations and individuals have requested observer status but were not granted it; and (d) what is the government's specific reason for denying the request for each organization or individual in (c)?
Mr. Robert Oliphant (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the following reflects a consolidated response approved on behalf of Global Affairs Canada ministers.
    With regard to (a), Canada and the United States have held 10 negotiation rounds on modernization of the Columbia River Treaty, the CRT. Round 11 has not yet been scheduled.
    With regard to (b), in April 2019, the Minister of Foreign Affairs granted observer status to representatives from the Ktunaxa, Okanagan-Syilx and Secwepemc nations. These three indigenous nations work closely with Canada and British Columbia as part of these treaty negotiations.
    With regard to (c), the member of Parliament for Kootenay--Columbia has requested observer status. This status has not been granted.
    With regard to (d), the negotiating teams from both Canada and the United States are made up of non-political public servants. There are no political representatives from federal, provincial or state governments or other political representatives.
    The Canadian delegation consists of personnel from the federal government, provincial government, BC Hydro and the three indigenous nations official observers covering the range of CRT-related issues. The Global Affairs Canada negotiating team and chief negotiator continue to engage with and update Columbia River basin community groups, the Local Governments Committee and political representatives at provincial and federal levels. The provincial members of the team provide regular updates to the responsible minister and B.C. political representatives and host regular town hall meetings to ensure local communities are briefed on the negotiations and to receive feedback from people in the basin. The representatives from the Ktunaxa, Okanagan-Syilx and Secwepemc nations engage their leadership and communities on the CRT and bring back their interests to the Canadian delegation.
Question No. 372--
Ms. Michelle Rempel Garner:
    With regard to COVID-19 vaccines: (a) how many will Canada receive, broken down by week, between January 29, 2021, and the end of 2021; and (b) what is the breakdown by manufacturer with whom Canada has procurement agreements, including those manufacturers whose vaccines have not yet received Health Canada approval?
Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), as of March 16, 2021, the quarterly breakdown of expected deliveries of approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen) is eight million by the end of March, 28.5 million between April and the end of June, and 81.5 million between July and the end of September, for an aggregate total of 118 million by the end of September 2021. This includes accelerated doses of 1.5 million in March and one million in April and May. PSPC continues to work with vaccine suppliers to negotiate the early delivery of doses to Canadians, and as such, the information is subject to change.
    In addition, information about the quantities of COVID-19 vaccines that have been delivered to provinces and territories to date is published by the Public Health Agency of Canada on the Vaccines and treatments for COVID-19: Vaccine rollout website at https://www.canada.ca/en/ public-health/services/diseases/ 2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/ prevention-risks/ covid-19-vaccine-treatment/ vaccine-rollout.html#a4. This information is updated weekly.
    With regard to (b), information on Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine agreements, including a breakdown by supplier and number of doses, is published on Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Procuring vaccines for COVID-19 website at: https://www.canada.ca/en/ public-services-procurement/ services/procuring-vaccines- covid19.html.
    To protect Canada’s negotiating position and to respect confidentiality clauses in our vaccine agreements, Public Services and Procurement Canada cannot unilaterally disclose details of specific agreements. We continue to seek opportunities to be as transparent as possible about our procurements in support of Canada’s COVID response, while respecting confidentiality agreements and protecting our negotiating position.
Question No. 373--
Mr. Bob Saroya:
    With regard to illegal firearms entering Canada: what is the government’s estimate of the number of illegal firearms that have entered the country since 2016, broken down by year and by method of entry (air cargo shipments, land passenger vehicle smuggling, etc.)?
Mr. Joël Lightbound (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring that our border remains open to legitimate trade and travel while closed to those who seek to traffic or smuggle weapons or drugs.
    Following significant cuts by the previous Conservative government to our security agencies, in the last Parliament our government announced an investment of $327 million to combat gun and gang violence, with $86 million to prevent cross-border smuggling of illegal firearms. Of this, the CBSA is being provided an extra $51.5 million to enhance screening, detection and training around firearms smuggling, and $34.5 million for the RCMP’s integrated criminal firearms initiative to enhance intelligence gathering, technology and investigations.
    Upon the introduction of new legislation that will strengthen gun control at our borders, we announced additional anti-smuggling investments for the RCMP worth $42.4 million over 5 years, with $6.1 million ongoing. At the same time, for the CBSA we announced enhanced intelligence and investigative capacity of $21.8 million over 5 years, and $3.3 million for ongoing AI threat detection, with $1.7 million over 5 years.
    We welcome the opportunity to discuss ways to prevent cross-border firearms smuggling, considering that during the study of Bill C-71 study at SECU, the Conservative MPs proposed amendments that “there be no punishment for include ‘false statements to procure licences’, ‘false statements to procure customs confirmations’—so, importing or trafficking”, as seen at https://openparliament.ca/search/?q=%22randall+koops%22&page=3
    At every point in the travel continuum, the government undertakes activities to prevent the smuggling of illicit firearms. Pre-border, the government works closely with domestic and international law enforcement agencies to identify and disrupt criminal networks involved in smuggling or facilitating the smuggling of illicit firearms, through intelligence sharing and operations. The Canada Border Services Agency’s, CBSA’s, national targeting centre also uses intelligence, information and other indicators to conduct pre-arrival risk assessments of goods and people entering the country to identify high-risk shipments or travelers.
    If firearms are smuggled into Canada, the CBSA works closely with its law enforcement partners to identify smuggling routes and individuals involved, and to lay the appropriate criminal charges after a thorough criminal investigation. Where a foreign national may be involved, the CBSA can also remove the individual from the country, as such criminal involvement would likely deem the individual as inadmissible to Canada. From January 1, 2014 to September 6, 2020, the CBSA seized 4263 undeclared firearms at the border.
    Just recently, we announced that we will be re-establishing the cross-border crime forum with the U.S. while exploring the creation of a cross-border task force to address gun smuggling and trafficking.
    To fight the criminal act of gun smuggling and trafficking at our border, under Bill C-21 we will increase the maximum prison sentence to highlight how serious this offence is. Additionally, we will increase sharing of data between the RCMP and local law enforcement agencies to better prosecute trafficking offences, and will table an annual report for greater transparency and accountability.
    We welcome the support of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police who “wholeheartedly endorse all efforts to strengthen border controls and impose stronger penalties to combat firearms smuggling and trafficking”.
Question No. 374--
Mr. Pierre Poilievre:
    With regard to ownership of government bonds: what is the total ownership of bonds, broken down by wealth quintile?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, a search of the records of the Department of Finance did not produce any results, as neither the department nor the Bank of Canada collects data regarding holdings of government bonds, either in general or by wealth quintiles.
Question No. 375--
Mrs. Cathay Wagantall:
    With regard to the directives outlined in the Supplementary mandate letter of January 15, 2021, addressed to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence and signed by the Prime Minister: (a) what are the specific programs and services that will be reviewed to ensure veterans, their families, and their primary caregivers receive the best possible mental health supports, including timely access to service; (b) what are the metrics by which each program and service will be reviewed; and (c) when will a review of each program and service begin and end?
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, Veterans Affairs Canada recognizes the impact that military service has on the mental health and well-being of both veterans and their family members, and understands the importance of family to the overall health and wellness of veterans. As emphasized in the Prime Minister’s supplementary mandate letter to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Veterans Affairs is committed to ensuring that eligible veterans, their families and their primary caregivers have access to the mental health support they need, when they need it. Veterans Affairs Canada fully supports these efforts and is engaged in activities that are working towards delivering on this mandate commitment, including a review of mental health supports to ensure that veterans, their families and primary caregivers have the best possible mental health services. The timing and metrics are still being determined.
Question No. 376--
Mr. Michael Kram:
    With regard to the decision to layoff air traffic control workers at the Regina International Airport and the statement by the Minister of Transport in the House of Commons on January 28, 2021, that "No decision has been made. It is important to note that any changes in the level of service proposed by Nav Canada will be subjected to a rigorous safety assessment by Transport Canada": (a) why were layoff notices provided to workers prior to January 28, 2021, if "no decision has been made"; (b) on what date was the decision made; (c) on what date was Transport Canada first notified of the decision; (d) what are the details of how the "rigorous safety assessment by Transport Canada" was conducted; and (e) what were the results of the safety assessment?
Hon. Omar Alghabra (Minister of Transport, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), Nav Canada is a private, arm’s-length entity and Transport Canada is not involved in the company’s day-to-day management decisions. That said, Transport Canada assesses service level reductions to ensure that they do not have a negative impact on safety.
    With regard to parts (b) to (e), no decisions have been made by Transport Canada on a potential service level reduction. Transport Canada is still awaiting receipt of Nav Canada’s aeronautical study, which it will review to determine if the department is supportive of any proposed service level reduction at Regina International Airport. This assessment will begin once the study is received from Nav Canada.
Question No. 377--
Mr. Michael Barrett:
    With regard to the various travel restrictions and border measures put into place during the pandemic: (a) what is the government's criteria or exit strategy regarding when each restriction or measure will be eased, including the targeted number of vaccinations, cases or hospitalizations before the government will consider easing each measure; and (b) does the government have any projected timeline for when each criteria in (a) is expected to be met and, if so, what is the timeline?
Hon. Patty Hajdu (Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada’s top priority is the health and safety of Canadians. To limit the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada, the Government of Canada has taken unprecedented action to implement a comprehensive strategy with layers of precautionary measures.
    Between February 3, 2020, and February 14, 2021, the Governor in Council has made 45 emergency orders under the Quarantine Act to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in Canada, to reduce risks from other countries, to repatriate Canadians and to strengthen measures at the border to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Canada. Together, these measures have been effective. By limiting incoming travel to Canada, requiring mandatory quarantine for asymptomatic travellers, with some exceptions, and requiring mandatory isolation for symptomatic travellers, the number of travel-related COVID-19 cases in December 2020 was a fraction of the travel-related cases seen in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.
    In consultation with provinces, territories, and industry stakeholders, and in recognition of the low number of domestic cases, some travel restrictions were eased in October 2020. These include restrictions for extended family members of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and persons registered as Indians under the Indian Act; compassionate entry and limited release from quarantine for reasons such as funerals or to provide care to someone residing in Canada; international students; regular cross-border students; children in shared custody agreements; and residents of isolated border communities.
    However, as the numbers increased again and new variants of concern emerged, more stringent measures were introduced once again. In December 2020, the Minister of Transport announced a 72-hour emergency travel ban on all incoming flights from the United Kingdom, and by January 7, 2021, travellers flying into Canadian airports were required to provide proof of a negative molecular test taken prior to departure, with exceptions. This was followed later in January with the ability of travellers to provide proof of a positive COVID-19 test taken at least 14 days and not more than 90 days prior to travel. At this time, strengthened measures continue to be necessary as new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, which are more transmissible, may have an impact on the efficacy of some vaccines and drugs. Therefore, additional testing and quarantine requirements for travellers arriving by both air and land, as announced by the Prime Minister on January 29, 2021, came into effect on February 14. Under these new measures, travellers arriving at Canada’s land ports of entry are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test, and as of February 21, all travellers arriving in Canada will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival and again later during their quarantine, with exceptions. Also as of February 21, travellers arriving by air will be required to reserve and stay in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for up to three nights, at their own cost, while they await the results of the COVID-19 molecular test they took upon arrival, with limited exceptions.
    A certain proportion of travellers will require the use of clinical resources for care. In addition, infected travellers can cause secondary transmission to household members or in the community. Therefore, travel continues to present a risk of importing cases, including cases of new variants of the virus, and increases the potential for onward community transmission of COVID-19. To increase monitoring for importation of variants of concern, and to allow our health care system to recover, these stricter measures are necessary to reduce immediate risks associated with new variants and to protect Canadians.
    Border measures are developed through consultation with provincial, territorial and international governments, and are based on national and international evidence-based risk assessments, including evaluation of available scientific data and assessment of domestic and international public health measures. The Government of Canada continues to review the available scientific evidence to determine future border measures, including the use of both testing and vaccination to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
    The Government of Canada recognizes that entry prohibitions, mandatory quarantine requirements and testing protocols place significant burden on the Canadian economy, Canadians, and their immediate and extended families. However, these measures remain the most effective means of limiting the introduction of new cases of COVID-19 into Canada. The Government of Canada continues to work with provinces and territories to gather evidence to guide policy and decision-making and to incorporate all available options to permit further easing of border measures. While approved COVID-19 vaccines protect an individual from the severe effects of illness, there is limited evidence regarding the ability of a vaccinated individual to transmit the virus to others. Questions also remain regarding the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing illness related to new variants of concern of COVID-19. We continue work towards a time where measures can be eased for those who are vaccinated.
    With the advent of new, more transmissible variants of the virus, the Government of Canada continues to take a precautionary approach to border measures in an effort to preserve domestic health capacity and reduce the further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 in Canada.
Question No. 378--
Mr. Marty Morantz:
    With regard to the impact of interest rate hikes on the government’s finances: what are the Department of Finance’s projections on the amount of interest the government will have to pay to service the debt in each of the next 10 years under the (i) current interest rate levels, (ii) increased interest rate levels, broken down by rate?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the most recent projections for Government of Canada debt charges can be found in the fall economic statement 2020, which was released on November 30, 2020, and is available at https://www.budget.gc.ca/ fes-eea/2020/ home-accueil-en.html. Specifically, the projection for interest paid on the federal debt for the current and following five years can be found in Table A1.5 on page 126, in the row labelled “Public debt charges”. The Department of Finance does not produce 10-year projections.
    These public debt charge projections have been calculated using interest rate projections provided by private sector forecasters through a survey conducted in September 2020. Further details and the results of the September survey can be found on pages 119 -121 of the fall economic statement 2020, including the private sector projection of the Government of Canada three-month treasury bill and the 10-year bond rates.
Question No. 380--
Mr. Bob Zimmer:
    With regard to the planned layoffs at the air traffic control towers in St-Jean, Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie, Regina, Fort McMurray, Prince George and Whitehorse: (a) how many air traffic controllers have received layoff notices, broken down by each airport; (b) does the Minister of Transport agree with the decision to lay off these air traffic controllers, and, if not, has he asked Nav Canada to reverse the decision; and (c) did Transport Canada conduct an analysis on the impact of these layoff decisions, and, if so, what methodology was used, and what were the findings, broken down by airport?
Hon. Omar Alghabra (Minister of Transport, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a), Nav Canada is a private, arm’s-length entity, and Transport Canada are not involved in the company’s day-to-day management decisions.
    In response to parts (b) and (c), and having said that, Transport Canada assesses service level reductions to ensure that they do not have a negative impact on safety. No decisions have been made by Transport Canada on potential service-level reductions currently under consideration. The department is still awaiting Nav Canada’s aeronautical study, after which the assessment will begin.
Question No. 381--
Mr. Chris Warkentin:
    With regard to the government’s response to Order Paper question Q-313, regarding SNC-Lavalin and COVID-19 programs and spending measures, and the $150,000,000 contract awarded on April 8, 2020, to SNC-Lavalin to design and deliver mobile health units: (a) was this contract solesourced, or was there an open competition; (b) if the contract was awarded through an open competition, how many other competing bids were received; (c) was the tender for this contract advertised and, if so, between what dates was the contract advertisement online, prior to the bid deadline; (d) on what date did the Minister of Public Works and Government Services approve the contract; (e) did this contract receive sign off or approval at any cabinet committee and, if so, on what date, and at which committee; (f) what are the terms of the contract, including any delivery dates; (g) what are the start and end dates of the contract; (h) has the value of the contract been amended since it was originally signed and, if so, what is the (i) original contract value, (ii) revised contract value, (iii) date of amendment; and (i) what specific products, and how many, have been delivered to date as a result of the contract, and where are each of the products currently located?
Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), a contract in support of the government’s COVID-19 response was awarded to the SNC-Lavalin PAE Joint Venture, SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc., on April 9, 2020, to design and deliver mobile health units following a limited tender solicitation. This contract is valued at $150 million.
    With regard to (b), two Canadian contractors were invited to submit proposals based on their proven record on complex logistics work: SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. of Ottawa, Ontario, and Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd. of Coquitlam British Columbia.
    With regard to (c), the tender was not publicly advertised. The two contractors were invited to submit proposals based on their proven record on complex logistics work. SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. was invited because of its past and current contracts related to supporting the Department of National Defence with camp logistics for deployed military operations, e.g., in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    With regard to (d), the deputy minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada approved the SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. and Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd. contracts on April 9.
    With regard to (e), the $150,000,000 contract awarded on April 8, 2020, to SNC-Lavalin to design and deliver mobile health units did not receive approval from any cabinet committee.
    With regard to (f), in accordance with the statement of work, the supplier is to provide up to 10 transportable 100-bed mobile health units, MHUs, with an option for additional units, and to also provide services, as and when required, through task-authorizations. Each MHU is to be a fully self-sufficient unit that can provide targeted care for persons with acute respiratory disease and distress.
    During the MHU contract period, the supplier may be asked to provide and warehouse up to 10 MHUs deployable kits; establish a program management structure and team to execute the work; and provide logistic support services, on an as and when required basis.
    With regard to (g), the contracts were issued with a six-month term and two six-month options. The award date for the two contracts was April 9, 2020. Both six-month extensions have been exercised on both contracts, which now have an end date of October 8, 2021.
    With regard to (h), the maximum contract value of both contracts has not increased from the original value of $150 million.
    With regard to (i), for the SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. contract, the contractor was required to provide up to five MHUs’ worth of medical consumables and medical equipment. The contractor has delivered three designs for different MHU configurations, including a container and pod solution. Project management services and warehousing of products continues.
    Some of the medical equipment has been transferred to the Public Health Agency of Canada for distribution to provinces to address provincial needs. The rest of the medical equipment and consumables remain within the contractor’s warehouse.
Question No. 382--
Ms. Michelle Rempel Garner:
    With regard to the government’s contracts for COVID-19 vaccines: (a) what recourse or financial penalties were written into each contract for (i) a delayed delivery schedule, (ii) deliveries with fewer doses than stated in the delivery schedule; (b) what was the original vaccine delivery schedule written into each contract; (c) what is the current vaccine delivery schedule for each contract; and (d) what intellectual property provisions were included in the contracts related to licensing for domestic manufacturing?
Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, to protect Canada’s negotiating position and to respect confidentiality clauses in our vaccine agreements, Public Services and Procurement Canada cannot unilaterally disclose details of specific agreements. We continue to seek opportunities to be as transparent as possible about our procurements in support of Canada’s COVID response, while respecting confidentiality agreements and protecting our negotiating position.
    For further information regarding vaccine procurement, please see https://www.canada.ca/en/public-services-procurement/services/procuring-vaccines-covid19.html
Question No. 383--
Mr. Jamie Schmale:
    With regard to procurement practices applied to contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic: (a) what constitutes a COVID-19-related contract or supplier; (b) what policies or requirements have been paused, removed, suspended, or deferred for contracts related to COVID-19; (c) have integrity checks been downsized or compacted to accommodate tighter supply timelines; and (d) what policies or requirements have been waived for companies bidding on COVID-19-related contracts?
Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), as a common service provider for procurement, PSPC has been engaged by its clients to procure a broad range of goods and services related to the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has included requirements such as personal protective equipment; medical/laboratory equipment and supplies; vaccines, logistics; professional services; software; health related services; guard and security services; cleaning services; and communications, advertising, and contact center and construction services.
    PSPC has been disclosing supplier names and contract values for contracts that it has entered into on behalf of other government departments and agencies for personal protective equipment, PPE, as well as medical/laboratory equipment and supplies at https://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/comm/aic-scr/contrats-contracts-eng.html. The information released will be adjusted over time as the procurement environment evolves.
    With regard to part (b), no policies or requirements have been paused, removed, suspended, or deferred for contracts related to COVID-19. However, the Treasury Board amended the contracting policy to confer time-limited increased emergency contracting limits to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement for COVID-19-related procurements.
    In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada made a request on behalf of the federal government that PSPC invoke a national security exception, NSE, with respect to the acquisition of goods and services required in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. That invocation, which covers a broad range of goods and services, is time-limited and applies only until the World Health Organization no longer declares the COVID-19 pandemic a public health emergency of international concern. An NSE invocation removes procurements from the obligations of Canada’s trade agreements for reasons of national security. NSEs are provided for in trade agreements to ensure that parties to the agreements are not required to compromise their national security interests through application of the trade agreements.
    With regard to part (c), the Government of Canada’s integrity regime and its verification process have been consistently applied throughout the pandemic, including for applicable COVID-19 related procurements. The verification process has not been impacted and the department continues to provide high-quality services to complete all requests within its prescribed service standards.
    With regard to part (d), no policies or requirements have been waived for companies bidding on COVID-19 related contracts.
Question No. 384--
Mrs. Cathy McLeod:
    With regard to the consultations conducted before the tabling of Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: (a) what are the details of all in-person and virtual consultations and meetings conducted by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations or the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs with all First Nations, Inuit, and Metis stakeholders, between August 1, 2018, and December 3, 2020, including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) name and title of the First Nations, groups, organizations or individuals consulted, (iv) recommendations that were made to the minister; and (b) what are the details of all in-person and virtual consultations and meetings conducted by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations or the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, with all provincial ministers of Indigenous Affairs and all third-party stakeholders, between August 1, 2018, and December 3, 2020, including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) name and title of the groups, organizations or individuals consulted, (iv) recommendations that were made to the minister?
Hon. David Lametti (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the question was interpreted as referring specifically to consultations conducted on Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Consultations on this bill began in early 2020, with a focused engagement period from September 2020 to November 2020. Between October and November 2020, the Government of Canada held 28 sessions with modern treaty and self-governing rights holders on a nation-to-nation, government-to-government basis as reflected in their agreements. The Government of Canada met bilaterally with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council. Our government also met with other national and regional organizations, including indigenous women’s organizations, LGBTQ2S+ groups, indigenous youth and indigenous law students.
    Justice Canada, with the support of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, CIRNAC,, will publish a what-we-learned report, which will be made available to members of the public soon.
Question No. 385--
Mrs. Cathy McLeod:
    With regard to offers or proposals received by the government to manufacture or produce COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, or to develop facilities for such production, since January 1, 2020: what are the details of any such offers or proposals, including (i) the name of the individual or firm making the offer or proposal, (ii) the summary of the offer or proposal, including the timeline, (iii) whether or not the offer or proposal was accepted by the government, (iv) the reason the offer or proposal was rejected, if applicable?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada does not comment on whether specific applications for federal funding, including from the strategic innovation fund, SIF, may be under consideration. Details related to applicants and/or applications are subject to commercial confidentiality and cannot be disclosed. The process for strategic innovation fund projects can be consulted on the program website at https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/125.nsf/eng/00023.html.
    In the course of the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s efforts to map the vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing landscape in Canada, departmental officials conducted a comprehensive outreach across a range of companies to better understand their capabilities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The nature and content of these conversations are commercially confidential. The Government of Canada also established the Vaccine Task Force, Therapeutics Task Force and the joint manufacturing subcommittee, comprising scientific experts and industry leaders, to make evidence-based recommendations to the government. All promising leads and offers to the government have been thoroughly evaluated for their specific scientific and technical merits and their ability to make a timely contribution to Canada’s biomanufacturing landscape, and investment decisions are made on that basis.
    To date, more than 20 proposals have been submitted that are related to biomanufacturing, vaccines and/or therapies. The Government has announced three of these projects, Precision NanoSystems, Abcellera and Medicago, and multiple others are in various stages of due diligence or other consideration, in consultation with the some of Canada’s leading scientists and industry experts in vaccinology, immunology, therapeutics and commercialization. Further projects will be announced in due course.
    On May 3, 2020, the government announced a $175.6-million investment in AbCellera through SIF to support its antibody therapy discovery and to establish a good manufacturing practice facility in Vancouver.
    On October 23, 2020, the government announced an investment of up to $173 million in Quebec City-based Medicago through SIF. The project, valued at a total of $428 million, will involve developing a vaccine through clinical trials, including phase 3, and establish a large-scale vaccine and antibody production facility to increase Canada’s domestic biomanufacturing capacity.
    On February 2, 2021, the government announced an investment of up to $25.1 million in Vancouver-based Precision NanoSystems Inc. for a new biomanufacturing centre to expand Canada’s capabilities in the production of ribonucleic acid, RNA, vaccines and future genetic medicines.
    A backgrounder that highlights the list of investments that have been made can be found at the following website: https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2021/02/backgrounder--government-of-canada-investments-in-covid-19-vaccines-and-biomanufacturing-capacity.html.
Question No. 389--
Mrs. Cathy McLeod:
    With regard to the agreement between the government and the Enoch Cree Nation related to the Yekau Lake Practice Bombing Range: (a) what is the summary of the terms of the agreement; and (b) is the text of the agreement publicly available and, if so, how can the public access the agreement?
Mr. Gary Anandasangaree (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, insofar as Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is concerned, the response is as follows.
    With regard to (a), the Enoch Cree Nation submitted its Yekau Lake Practice Bombing Range specific claim in November 2007, on the basis that the Crown breached both its fiduciary and statutory obligations under the Indian Act in respect of the lease of the former Yekau Lake Bombing Range as part of Canada's war effort during the Second World War. Canada has provided $91 million in compensation to fully and finally resolve the Yekau Lake Practice Bombing Range specific claim. Please see https://orders-in-council.canada.ca/attachment.php?attach=39817&lang=en for additional details.
    With regard to (b), the text of the agreement is not publicly available and is protected by settlement privilege.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Return

    Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 363-368, 371, 379 and 386-388 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the aforementioned questions be made orders for return and that they be tabled immediately?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 363--
Mr. Randall Garrison:
    With regard to the Royal Canadian Navy’s frigate replacement program and the National Shipbuilding Strategy: (a) how critical is progress on the modernization of the Royal Canadian Navy to the defence of Canada and its allies; (b) what is the status of the Canadian Surface Combatant procurement project, including the (i) timelines, (ii) costs, (iii) target dates for the Royal Canadian Navy to take delivery of the frigates; (c) has the government conducted an inquiry in regards to the management, costs and associated production delays of the Canadian Surface Combatant procurement project and, if not, will the government commit to holding such an inquiry and make the results public; (d) what measures are being taken by the government to make sure that the National Shipbuilding Strategy remains on track to provide Canada’s armed forces personnel with the equipment they need to do their work in a timely and cost-effective manner; and (e) has the government considered appointing a single minister responsible for defence procurement, similar to our allies in the United Kingdom and Australia, in order to streamline military procurement and to provide better accountability to the public and, if not, will the government commit to establishing such a position?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 364--
Mr. Eric Duncan:
    With regard to individuals entering Canada since April 1, 2020: (a) how many were (i) required to quarantine, (ii) exempted from quarantine requirement; and (b) what is the breakdown of (a) (i) and (ii) by month and by type of entry point (airport, land crossing, etc.)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 365--
Mr. Eric Duncan:
    With regard to the Canada Summer Jobs program since 2016, broken down by year: (a) how many applications for funding under the program were rejected or denied due to (i) incomplete or incorrectly filled out application forms, (ii) failure to meet the eligibility requirements, (iii) lack of funding, (iv) another reason, broken down by reason, if possible; (b) what is the total number of applications rejected or denied; and (c) what was the total dollar value applied for by the applications in each of the subcategories of (a)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 366--
Mr. Kerry Diotte:
    With regard to the government's support for the campaign to make Bill Morneau the next secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: (a) what are the total expenditures or costs incurred by the government to date in relation to the campaign; (b) what are the projected final expenditures or costs, if different than in (a); (c) what is the breakdown of expenditures by type of expense; (d) what are the details of all contracts signed related to the campaign, including the (i) vendor, (ii) amount, (iii) date the contract was signed, (iv) location of the vendor, (v) description of goods or services, (vi) start and end date of the contract, if applicable; and (e) what was the total number of individuals assigned to work on or assist with the campaign, including those assigned on a part-time basis?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 367--
Mr. Kenny Chiu:
    With regard to federal sponsorship of youth anti-drug programs: (a) does the government currently have plans to expand anti-drug programs for youth in Canada and, if so, what are the details; (b) how much funding has been given to support the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs in Canada in the last three fiscal years; and (c) how much funding will be provided for the fiscal year 2021-22?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 368--
Mr. Kerry Diotte:
    With regard to delays in the processing of immigration files submitted through the traditional hard-copy paper method: (a) how many files had their processing delayed as a result of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada employees not having access to paper files while working from home during the pandemic; (b) what is the number of files still (i) not being processed, (ii) delayed as a result of employees working from home, broken down by type of application; (c) what is the current backlog and processing times for applications submitted via (i) paper, (ii) online, broken down by type of application; and (d) what was the backlog and processing times for applications submitted via (i) paper, (ii) online, prior to the pandemic, or as of March 1, 2020?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 371--
Ms. Raquel Dancho:
    With regard to Visa Facilitation Services Global (VFS Global) processing visa applications for the government: (a) what is the list of countries in which VFS Global currently processes visas for the Canadian government; (b) what guarantees, if any, does the government have with VFS Global to ensure that any information collected from visa applicants is not shared with the company’s Chinese state-owned investment funds or the Chinese government; (c) does the government have any way of monitoring whether personal information provided to VFS Global is being shared or disclosed to any third party or state-owned organization; (d) how is the government notified and what processes are in place for when a data breach occurs with information in the possession of VFS Global; and (e) is the government aware of any such data breaches occurring and, if so, what are the details, including how individuals’ whose information was compromised were informed?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 379--
Mr. Marty Morantz:
    With regard to the government’s decision to grant a travel exemption to family members of Meng Wanzhou: (a) on what date was the exemption granted; (b) which minister signed off on the exemption; (c) why was the exemption granted; (d) did the family members also receive an exemption from the 14-day quarantine requirement and, if so, why was such an exemption granted; and (e) has the government provided any other travel exemptions since April 1, 2020, for family members of individuals awaiting extradition and, if so, how many were granted, broken down by month?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 386--
Mrs. Cathy McLeod:
    With regard to the announcement by the Prime Minister on April 7, 2020, that the government would team up with manufacturers to domestically produce up to 30,000 ventilators: (a) how many of those ventilators have been produced to date, broken down by manufacturer; and (b) how many of those ventilators are currently in Canadian hospitals, or similar types of facilities, broken down by (i) province, (ii) municipality, (iii) hospital?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 387--
Mr. Larry Maguire:
    With regard to the renovations and upgrades at the Prime Minister's country residence and surrounding area at Harrington Lake: (a) what was the total amount spent on renovations and upgrades in 2020; (b) what is the itemized breakdown of the expenditures in (a); (c) what is the description of all work conducted at Harrington Lake in 2020; (d) what is the budget or projected costs for renovations and upgrades in 2021; and (e) what renovations and upgrades are planned for 2021?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 388--
Ms. Rachael Harder:
    With regard to the government’s decision to require airline travellers arriving from outside of Canada to quarantine at a designated airport hotel: (a) what specific evidence or facts did the government use as a basis for the decision; (b) what is the detailed breakdown of how the more than $2,000 collected from each traveller is spent, including what amounts went for (i) transportation to the hotel, (ii) security, (iii) the hotel room rate, (iv) testing, (v) other type of expenditure, broken down by type; (c) is the government operating on a strictly cost-recovery basis or will the government be making a profit from the funds collected from the travellers; (d) how were the hotels chosen; (e) is the government paying a premium for the hotels over the regular government room rate and, if so, why; (f) were the hotels chosen through an open tender process or were they sole-sourced contracts; (g) if the contracts were solesourced, what specific measures were taken to ensure that the contracts were awarded fairly and without political bias; and (h) what are the details of each contract with the hotels, including (i) the name of hotel, (ii) the location, (iii) the amount of the contract, (iv) the contract start and end date, (v) the number of rooms provided?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Request for Emergency Debate

  

[S. O. 52]
    The Chair has notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Windsor West.
    Mr. Speaker, I am asking, under Standing Order 52(2), that we have an emergency debate in the House of Commons with regard to the takeover of Shaw Communications by Rogers Communications.
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became obvious that online Internet and cellphone services are paramount to Canadian society, business and even to this chamber. We pay some of the highest prices among the OECD, and have some of the most challenging environments among ourselves, to be connected. There is no doubt that the elimination of Shaw by Rogers would reduce services. We have four major providers and that would reduce them to three.
    I am calling for this debate because this was the first opportunity to bring this into the chamber. This takeover was announced during our break week, or our constituency week, and members did not have a chance to raise it at that time. That started the gears in motion of the process that is now in play.
    This will be the only opportunity for all members to participate in this debate because the CRTC, the Competition Bureau and other factors independent of this chamber are all starting their reviews. This is something that affects every Canadian, especially during the pandemic. Before this, New Democrats had declared the connection of Canadians to be an essential service. It is critical at this time that the expense, the connection and the type of connection are debated thoroughly, especially because telecommunications are a regulated industry. It has affected all Canadians as we continue to go through this pandemic. It will also affect the rollout of the spectrum auction that is taking place. This is definitely an essential service.
    I would also argue that there has been a democracy change with regard to this issue. Our chamber will even vote this night with our own cell phones and devices. Mr. Speaker, you have been around almost as long as I have with regard to this. We can remember the old days with the BlackBerry and the track that we would get as part of our things. Today, it is different. Our cell phones, our Internet connectivity and the competition for it are crucial and paramount, and we have transitioned to them even in this chamber for the inclusion of society.
    The reality is that some people still cannot follow Parliament right now either because they cannot afford the service or they do not have it in their community. The elimination of the fourth major service provider would reduce competition, and significant changes would take place out of this chamber. This will be the only opportunity for members to get on the record about that. There will be other vehicles to have some comment and discussion, but it will be after all those things. Those different agencies will be looking to Parliament for direction.
    As a quick example, and I will not go on too much longer, Freedom Mobile would be affected. Two million people would be directly affected by that. Freedom Mobile has been known to reduce prices and provide additional services. The government and Canadian Parliament set the rules of how we connect Canadians. Whether using access rights through our ground communications or through selling our spectrum, those auctions to allow companies to do so are part of public policy.
    Debating this is urgent, because this will be the only opportunity to do so for members of Parliament whose constituents are connected not just for social information or entertainment purposes, but for school, business and inclusion in society, as simple meetings have now moved to Zoom and other online platforms. It has been well documented that Canada has some of the highest prices for online services and some of the most difficult outreach problems. This affects all of us.
    The fact that we would go from four players to three would set in motion a series of manoeuvres from other companies. We have even witnessed public policy, which was supposed to expand competition, result in previous takeovers. At that time, there were no voices raising this in Parliament. We did not deal with it at that point, but here is an opportunity for us to do so.
    With that, I am calling for this section to be observed and for us to have this debate today. If we do not have it, it will be a missed opportunity. Canada has a closed market: We do not allow foreign competition to come into our telcos to own and operate with a dominance of shares. This is our only opportunity to have a public voice for the public policy that we set, including an investment of tens of millions of dollars into expanding broadband to rural and remote communities.

  (1555)  

    Again, this affects every member of Parliament. Even in urban settings, there is a lack of competition and service for some people. On top of that, there are the prices and costs, and our movement and democracy under COVID-19 have intensified things more than ever before.
    I believe this chamber would do well to give members the chance to express the concerns of their individual ridings as this is debated among the structures we have and the minister starts to review the situation.
    I thank the hon. member for Windsor West for his intervention. However, I am not satisfied that his request meets the requirements of the standing order at this time.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Long-Term Care  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona.
    COVID-19 has been a tragic time for many, especially for the people working and living in for-profit long-term care homes. In fact, during the first wave, 82% of COVID deaths in Canada happened in long-term care. Over 12,000 long-term care residents and workers have died in Canada since the start of the pandemic. We know that residents and workers in for-profit long-term care homes have a higher risk of infection and death than those in non-profit homes, and the unacceptable and poor living conditions for individuals living in for-profit long-term care have been further highlighted during the pandemic.
    Elders and many disabled adults have been denied the right to live in dignity as a result of cuts, underfunding and privatization. Profits should never be gained from the violation of an individual's dignity.
    It is beyond time that we take profit out of care. It is beyond time that individuals residing in long-term care are provided with a care guarantee that ensures a safe and dignified life. It is beyond time that young disabled persons are provided with a choice about whether they wish to reside within residential care. As Dr. Abraham Snaiderman, director of the neuropsychiatry clinic at the University Health Network's rehabilitation institute, noted, “Essentially it’s a default scenario because there is nowhere that a young person can go for long-term care, except a nursing home”.
    We must do better, and the pandemic has highlighted the issues. Lives have been lost, and loved ones, friends and family members are lacking the safety, care and resources to stay safe. They find themselves in the most dire of circumstances, some just trying survive.
    We know, through what we have seen in long-term care, that we cannot leave it up to companies whose purpose is to make profit over individuals to determine who is worthy and who is not. All beings are sacred and worthy of care, but unfortunately for-profit care homes have not demonstrated this, as witnessed in Parkview Place, a Revera care home in my riding of Winnipeg Centre, where too many lives were lost. One life is too many. Friends, family, loved ones and workers were lost. I extend my condolences to all those who have been impacted in my community and across the country.
    All of this is alarming because while for-profit care homes have only one-quarter of nursing home beds in Manitoba, they account for 44% of deaths that have occurred so far during COVID-19. We have heard stories about poor quality food and individuals with COVID left in rooms without care. So many lives have been lost. This is a crisis. Life is precious.
    I want to be very clear: This is not the fault of workers. Many lost their lives as a result of the poor working conditions in long-term care. We certainly knew it before the pandemic, but we know even more now that care work in this country is not nearly valued enough.

  (1600)  

    We also know that some groups are more predominantly impacted, such as women, and in particular poor, BIPOC and immigrant women, who are often in precarious work situations and face exploitative working conditions. This is unacceptable and needs to end now. In fact, there are numerous reports indicating that many personal support workers were not even provided with adequate PPE during the pandemic. They had to supply their own protective gear from home. This is totally wrong and totally unacceptable. It is a total disrespect to workers and residents.
    Care workers who are entrusted to care for residents in long-term care at the very least deserve a living wage, benefits, safe working conditions and security. That is why I am proud that today the NDP is proposing to take profit out of long-term care and put an end to public subsidies going to for-profit operators, which have paid out millions in dividends to shareholders. That money needs to be invested in caring for people, loved ones, friends and family members, and in ensuring safe working conditions for care workers.
    The NDP understands this. It is why we have called for the development of a regulated system of long-term care, with national care standards that would include accountability mechanisms supported by federal funding. We need to improve working conditions for front-line workers in the long-term care sector. It is time for a living wage and for the proper training and resources required to improve working conditions, which in turn support better quality care for residents of long-term care. The way forward is to immediately work toward putting an end to for-profit long-term care.
    Seniors and elders have inherent value in society, and in indigenous cultures globally, they are the backbone of our societies. They guide and direct decisions, and even today they are key decision-makers in our nations. Seniors did not just build this country; they continue to be leaders in our communities. Their knowledge and wisdom are essential for learning how to understand the world around us and how to live and thrive, not just survive. They are the ones who give us guidance about how we must move forward.
    When I think about my ancestors and the many elders I look to for guidance even today, I have to acknowledge, as I think we must all acknowledge, their profound wisdom. For this reason, it is so disturbing that elders and seniors in our communities in long-term care are almost treated as though they are disposable. They are locked away in institutions where they are not even afforded basic human dignity. This needs to end now. I wanted to share that because we often speak about the vulnerability and weakness of our elders, but rarely do we look at their strength, resilience, wisdom and leadership, which make up an essential part of our communities. Elders are critical.
    I want to end by taking a bit of time to talk about the culture of ableism, because I think, with everything we have been debating in the House, it is important to talk about it.

  (1605)  

    For far too long ableism has shaped long-term care, and this is seen through how we fund and organize institutions from—
    I am sorry, but we are out of time.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the leader of the government in the House.
    Madam Speaker, I posed a question to the leader of the New Democratic Party, and it is a very important question that needs to be answered directly.
    We recognize that the need for national standards for long-term care is there. It is very real. It is tangible. It is something on which this government has committed to move forward, but we also need to recognize that the provinces, as the administrators of health care, have an absolutely critical role. If we were to automatically do what the NDP wants us to do at the national level, that would then have additional costs and impacts on all the provinces.
    Does the NDP have any provincial support for this particular initiative?
    Madam Speaker, it seems that the Liberal government moves swiftly on things like pipelines, but when we are talking about life-and-death matters related to seniors, there is nothing stopping the federal government right now from putting in place national standards and ending for-profit care for seniors across the country.
    As for the money aspect, when we are talking about people who have perished in for-profit long-term care, certainly our seniors and disabled persons—
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Madam Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could pick up on where she was at the end of her speech in talking about issues of ableism and the implications of that. Many in our caucus have been very concerned about provisions in Bill C-7, and we have joined with people in the disability community in highlighting the ways in which the mechanics of that bill could really perpetuate the kind of ableism that people with disabilities experience when interacting with our health care system.
    I know the NDP members supported Bill C-7 at third reading, but then they opposed the message to the Senate. I wonder if that was in response to hearing feedback from all the disability groups that were speaking out about the bill.
    What does the member think we can do in this context to fight ableism in our health care system?

  (1610)  

    Madam Speaker, I agree. Disability organizations from across the country have been very clear. They are denied their basic human rights every day, such as the right to adequate housing and health support.
    When we are talking about long-term care, we must first of all take profit out of long-term care, but that also needs to be coupled with an expansion of community-based care, such as home care to support those who wish to live at home in their community—particularly young disabled persons who are often not given a choice between living with home care or in nursing homes. That is why I am proud to stand in support of my—
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I really enjoyed the hon. member's speech.
    Last spring, the Canadian Armed Forces carried out Operation Laser in long-term care homes. The report that was written indicates that the problem was not the standards themselves. The problem was that the standards were not met because of a lack of funding. Recently, the Quebec National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion denouncing the implementation of Canadian standards in long-term care homes and calling for an increase in health transfers.
    I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the fact that the Quebec National Assembly has unanimously spoken out against implementing Canadian standards in long-term care homes.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is important to point out that we knew there were issues in for-profit long-term care facilities long before the pandemic and we refused to act. What it resulted in was thousands of people losing their lives. This is unacceptable.
    It seems that the federal government can find billions of dollars for pipelines and for helping its corporate friends while turning a blind eye to offshore tax havens, but when we look at expenditures that will literally save lives, putting in place national standards in long-term care to ensure that people are able to live with dignity and human rights, it seems to be an issue that we immediately need to address. It is beyond overdue. We are not out of the pandemic yet, and seniors and disabled persons deserve better.
    Madam Speaker, COVID-19 has been hard on everyone, but we know it has been hardest on one group of Canadians. More than anyone else, our seniors and those who care for them have borne the brunt of this deadly global health pandemic, and seniors and staff in for-profit long-term care have been impacted most of all.
    I know everyone in this House has heard the devastating statistics. We know that over 80% of deaths in Canada occurred in long-term care homes. We know that 12,000 residents and workers have died in long-term care homes since the beginning of the pandemic. We know this is the worst record among comparable countries and double the OECD average. We know Ontario's for-profit nursing homes have 78% more COVID-19 deaths than non-profit homes. We know that if long-term care facilities are owned by a chain, they are far more likely to have serious outbreaks.
    In my riding of Edmonton Strathcona, at one point in November, over 90% of the residents at South Terrace Continuing Care Centre, a for-profit centre, tested positive for COVID-19. Heartbreakingly, many of those residents have lost their lives.
    These facts and figures are alarming. They are shocking, but much more importantly, each number represents seniors our government has failed. Each percentage represents a loss of life and grieving families left behind, unable to say goodbye, unable to share final days.
    What happened and what continues to happen in Canada's long-term care homes is a national disgrace. The thousands of seniors we lost to COVID-19 did not have to die. They are dead because the government failed to protect them. How many more thousands of seniors must die before we finally fix our long-term care system, before we finally decide to actually care for our elders, before we put the care of our loved ones and the workers who care and support them first?
    Each December I deliver poinsettias to the long-term care centres in my riding to bring a little festive cheer and holiday spirit to the community. I pop in to say hello, I share a cup of coffee with some of the residents, I chat about how they are doing and how I can help and I talk to the staff and thank them for their incredible work. It is one of my favourite things to do.
    Obviously, this December it had to be different, but I still wanted to do what I could to brighten the day of the residents and staff in long-term care homes in Edmonton Strathcona and let them know that while I cannot visit like I used to, I am thinking of them and am fighting for them in the House of Commons. Knowing I could not enter the residence, I put on my PPE, wore my mask, called ahead to make sure I was following every safety protocol and dropped those poinsettias and holiday cards off outside the long-term care centres.
    That was a very hard day. I saw family members who were standing in the bitter cold waving at their loved ones through windows to keep their fathers, mothers, grandmothers, uncles and aunts safe. I saw those same seniors isolated, lonely and terrified. I spoke to long-term care workers who broke down in tears because they were so tired and scared. They had been through so much and they felt let down by their government. They were scared; they were tired, absolutely, but they were also mad.
    One caregiver, a young woman named Claire, a woman who had worked at a for-profit care centre, explained that before the pandemic she had worked at several different long-term care centres in Edmonton just to pay her bills. While she and her co-workers were doing everything they could to help residents stay safe and healthy, she felt like the government had let her and the seniors in her care down.
    This young woman on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, who literally risked her life to take care of our seniors, spoke of the deplorable conditions in long-term care before COVID-19. She told me of cost-saving measures that resulted in the deterioration of care over the years, the understaffing, the increased workload. She told me that the need to increase profit for corporations that owned these homes meant seniors and staff who cared for them were already in a precarious and dangerous situation before the pandemic.
    Increasing privatization has moved the focus from caring for our seniors to creating profits for shareholders. I have said this many times in this House, but let me reiterate it: Care and profit are two oppositional forces.

  (1615)  

    The only way to profit from providing long-term care is to cut the care itself, to cut the number of people providing the care, to cut their wages, to cut the time spent providing care and to cut money from the design and maintenance of the homes themselves.
    Long-term care was not working in this country before COVID-19. Experts had warned us. Seniors advocates had told the government over and over again that the level of care was deteriorating and that the profit model in many care centres resulted in massive profits for corporations and increasingly dangerous conditions for seniors and staff.
    The fact that there were no national standards of care also meant that there was a huge discrepancy in the quality of care provided, and this was all before the worst global health pandemic of our time.
    COVID-19 hit our long-term care centres like a tornado. Every flaw in our system—every unheeded warning about overworked staff, about under-resourced centres, about dangerous conditions—was exposed.
    We heard from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. They spoke of appalling conditions, overworked staff, rampant profiteering and a devastating loss of life. Further, they stated:
    Canada’s long-term care is in crisis. Frontline health care workers have been sounding the alarm on conditions for years, but governments have failed to take responsibility and act....
    The refusal to take responsibility for the crisis in long-term care has gone on for far too long and its true cost is measured in lives lost.
    In my riding of Edmonton Strathcona, the vast majority of residents and staff at the South Terrace Long Term Care Home tested positive for COVID-19. Very many of those residents and staff got sick, and the loss of life was not just at South Terrace, but also at Carlingview Manor, Montfort long-term care home, Forest Heights Long Term Care Home, and McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre, just a few of the long-term care centres that had outbreaks and high levels of infection and death.
    What do all of these long-term care centres have in common? All of these long-term care facilities are owned by one very large corporation, Revera. In fact, Revera owns more than 500 long-term care facilities worldwide. While it is not the only for-profit with large COVID outbreaks, it is unique because it is owned by the Canadian pension fund, and its board is appointed by cabinet.
    It is because of this that I am joining my colleagues within the NDP to urge the government to immediately bring Revera under public ownership, and not just Revera. We have heard from specialists, we have heard from families, we have heard from workers, and we have heard from seniors themselves just how dangerous and deadly for-profit long-term care has been.
    We need to work with provinces and territories to transition all for-profit care to non-profit care no later than 2030. We need more than just words and we need more than just a throne speech: We need long-term care that guarantees standards of care for our seniors regardless of where they live, regardless of how much money they have.
    We need to ensure adequate funding for long-term care. The NDP would invest an additional $5 billion over the next four years in long-term care, with funding tied to respect for the principles of the Canada Health Act.
    We need to ensure that workers who are caring for our seniors earn wages that reflect the value of their work and are honoured for the support they provide to our families and our seniors.
    We need to begin. We need to finally begin to take profit out of long-term care, starting with Revera, by 2030.

  (1620)  

    Madam Speaker, as a government, we will continue to fight for national standards. We recognize that. We are responding to the whole idea that we can in fact build back better.
    The issue that I have with the NDP, is that it would appear, based on my questions, that it has not had any consultations with provincial entities. Our provinces are responsible for the administration of health, and that includes personal care home facilities. We have had New Democratic governments in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, none of which have ever taken that direction.
    Has the NDP done its homework and gotten any support from any province, or is it hoping that Ottawa would do those negotiations on its behalf?
    Madam Speaker, I find it interesting that the member is talking about our doing our homework when he speaks about fighting for national standards, as if he were not a member of the government that could in fact put in national standards right now. Does he actually know that he is part of the government and that they could do that?
    As for working with the provinces I am going to quote André Picard, a journalist who specializes in health care, who tweeted, “Can we please, in the name of all that is good and holy, stopped pretending there is some kind of constitutional impediment to improving care for elders”.
    The federal government has a role to play in working with the provinces to make this happen. It has the work to do. It has a job to do and it has not done it. It has been decades.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague and the NDP for bringing this issue forward. Like many other Canadians, my mum is in a long-term care residence, and I think this issue is a very important debate to have today.
    I do want to follow up with what my Liberal colleague was saying, though, because we do want to make sure that these standards are effective. When bringing up a topic of national standards, it can be very complicated.
    I wonder what my colleague would say would be an NDP plan to respect the diverse needs and challenges of our vastly unique country in bringing forward these standards for Canada.
    Madam Speaker, I extend my best wishes to my colleague's mother. I hope she is doing well during this very difficult time for seniors in this country.
    I think it is important that we recognize that while we have diverse realities across the country, there is a level of care that every senior, regardless of where they are located, deserves to have, with a level of dignity and a level of respect. That is why I think is so important that we make sure that is in those standards of care.
     Of course, we need to be convening and having conversations across the country, but there are those standards of what we feel or know about seniors and the dignity that they deserve to live with. I think it is so important that it does not matter if someone is in—

  (1625)  

    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Drummond.

[Translation]