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43rd PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 078

CONTENTS

Monday, April 12, 2021




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 150
No. 078
2nd SESSION
43rd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, April 12, 2021

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

  (1105)  

[English]

Canada Revenue Agency Act

    The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-210, An Act to amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act (organ and tissue donors), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.
    There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.
     moved that the bill be concurred in.

    (Motion agreed to)

    When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
     moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-210, at third reading. For those who may not be familiar with Bill C-2l0, it is a proposal that would allow Canadians to indicate their interest in being an organ and tissue donor through their annual tax forms. Right now the tax forms can only be used for the collection of taxes. The bill would create a legal exemption, just like that made to Elections Canada, to allow for its important question of organ donation to be added to the tax form.
    The bill was unanimously supported at both second reading and at committee. The bill was also my bill, Bill C-316, in the last Parliament where it was also unanimously supported, however unfortunately, it died in the Senate. It did get a second decent life in this Parliament when I won the PMB lotto. I was picked as number one, so I resurrected the bill.
    It is very timely that we are speaking about the bill today as April is Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month. It is also two weeks away from the tax filing deadline in Canada, so it is ironic to be speaking here today on this. If we have any hope of getting these changes to the tax form implemented in time for the next year, the 2021 tax year, we need to move the bill through both the House and the Senate before the summer. If we miss that deadline, the Canada Revenue Agency will not be able to implement the required changes for yet another year. We just cannot let that happen.
    I want to convey my sincere thanks to all parties in the House for showing such strong support and offering genuine co-operation to move this proposal forward. Members' unanimous support and unwavering support at every stage has been heartwarming and shows we really can pull together for Canadians. I specifically want to thank all my colleagues from all parties on the health committee, both currently and in the past when I served on the health committee, who have been vocal, determined and dedicated supporters of the bill.
    I also want to thank the government for the allocation of funding in the past fall economic statement to facilitate the implementation of this legislation. Governments do not often commit funding ahead of legislation passing, especially when it is for a private member's bill from an opposition member of Parliament. That funding is very much appreciated and it signifies a shared will to see the bill pass.
    I want to bring out the matter that came up at committee. First of all, for this initiative to be most effective, the question on organ and tissue donation needs to be placed on the front page of the tax form. The committee members made this very clear to the CRA. In fact, they specifically voted down the idea of suggesting that the CRA had latitude to move it to some back page in oblivion. Parliament has spoken and it wants this on the front page along with the existing Elections Canada question.
    I was pleased that individuals from the CRA have acknowledged that this is a priority of Parliament and committed to putting this on the front page. I implore the folks at the CRA to dig deep and push forward to make sure that we get this done as soon as possible. Their work will have life-changing consequences.
    One other aspect I want to spend a few minutes on is something that the bill does not directly address, but is a significant problem here in Canada. This is the reason we have Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month. Research has shown that as many as one in five potential organ and tissue donors have their final wish overturned by their family at the time of death. That is 20% of families overturning the wishes of their deceased loved ones. This decision by their families is robbing those in need of a life-saving transplant of a chance to live. It is robbing their loved one of their final wish. This is unconscionable and it has to change.

  (1110)  

    We can do better and we must do better, and that is why it is so important to talk to family members about final wishes when it comes to organ and tissue donation.
    I have met with many people who have allowed the donation of organs and tissue of their deceased loved ones, and every single one of them without exception has said that it was an essential part of their grief and healing process. The ability to find some good in a time of utter grief is profound and everlasting. They want other families to know that sharing a loved one makes accepting the loss so much easier. Their loss has purpose, and their gift has brought unimaginable relief and joy to another family in need. That is the legacy to leave for a loved one.
    We have our own reasons for supporting this legislation. Some of those reasons are closer to home for some members than others. Some members themselves or their family members have medical conditions, which means that they know one day they may require a life-saving transplant. Other members in the House are able to love, laugh and live with loved ones because they received a life-saving transplant and are still here with us today. No matter the reason for supporting this bill, it is very much appreciated.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his private member's bill. It is quite rewarding as a private member to have a bill go through this place to committee and then come back here with such support. Indeed, what the member has presented is something that will change lives.
    For so long, we seem to have been stuck in this place of not taking initiatives like this. The member's idea of having this option on the tax form, which the vast majority of Canadians complete on an annual basis, would put it right in front of people's faces so that they can see it and make that decision. I think a lot of people retroactively would have wished that they had made that decision if they could have, and this gives them the opportunity to do that.
    I am wondering if the member could comment on why he thinks it has taken so long to get to this place, and how he sees people supporting it and actually using it on their tax form.
    Madam Speaker, I absolutely agree with the member that this is long overdue.
    What initiated this bill is the fact that we could not get a bill passed here in the House on creating a Canadian-wide organ and tissue donation registry because it conflicted with provincial jurisdiction. I wondered how we could help the provinces and their registries as a federal government, and this bill came to mind. We could get this question on the tax form and then share that information with the provinces throughout the country.
    I certainly hope that we can get this bill passed before the summer so that we can get it implemented in the next tax season.

  (1115)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, this bill hits close to home for me, since I have family members who needed an organ donation and some of them died before they were able to get one.
    It is another step in the right direction, but my hon. colleague raised two equally important points. What can we do to improve education regarding organ donation so that the family does not go against the will of the person who chose to check off the box?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the intent of this bill is to have a tax filer indicate their willingness to donate their organs upon death. All it would be is a tick on the box on the form, and that information would then be shared with provincial registries throughout the country, depending on what province the tax filer is living in. A representative from the province would then contact the individual to ask the appropriate questions on what his or her wishes are, whether it is to donate any and all organs, specific organs or whatever, and so the detailed information would come from the provinces from asking those questions.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for bringing forward this important private member's bill.
    The Liberals, the New Democrats and the Conservatives have all brought forth this bill at one time or another. I am so proud of the work this member has done to make this a reality and hope it gets through the Senate this time around.
    Could the member talk to the House about how important it is that people access this? I am also wondering about his thoughts. Other countries have chosen an opt-out system, in which everybody is on the list and they have to opt out, and they have found a lot more participants and saved a lot more lives. I am wondering what his thoughts are on that.
    Madam Speaker, I want to correct a statement the member made with respect to others in the House trying to pass this particular bill in the past. That is not correct. I think the hon. member is talking about the attempt to have a national registry implemented in this country. It is something that was attempted in the past, but it was unsuccessful. This is why I have now brought forward this particular bill to help out these provincial registries.
    With regard to the opt-out question, it is provincial jurisdiction to determine whether to implement an opt-out system, so I will leave it with the provinces.
    Madam Speaker, first, my thanks to the member for Calgary Confederation for bringing this issue back to the attention of Canadians and the House. We will also be recognizing National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, which will take place from April 18 to 24 this year.
     This is a timely discussion, as this upcoming event raises awareness about the critical need for more donors across the country and encourages Canadians to register their decision and talk to their loved ones about organ donation. This topic hits close to home for me as my family and I are all registered organ and tissue donors. I believe more Canadians should at least consider this option as we see rising numbers of people added to wait lists each year.
    According to the latest data from the Canadian Organ Replacement Register, in 2019 a total of 3,014 organ transplant procedures were performed in Canada, which is an increase of about 42% since 2010. Despite this good news, the national data shows that approximately 4,400 people in Canada are waiting for organ transplants, and more than 1,600 people are added to the list each year. Sadly, due to this, an estimated 250 people die each year while waiting for a transplant. As our population ages, the need for organ and tissue donations keeps increasing.
     The Government of Canada recognizes the value of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Since 2018, the government has supported an initiative called the organ donation and transplantation collaborative, led by Health Canada. The collaborative’s goal is to achieve organ donation improvements that result in better patient outcomes and increase the number and quality of successful transplantations.
    The government recognizes that too many Canadians are on organ wait lists. We are committed to improving the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system. Alongside the provinces, territories and key stakeholders, we are establishing leading practices, strengthening professional education and raising awareness to improve organ and tissue donation. The Government of Canada continues to work collaboratively with organizations such as Canadian Blood Services, as well as with the provinces and territories, to encourage public participation and increase organ donation rates across Canada.
    Additionally, I am proud to say that in the 2019 budget, the government allocated $36.5 million to develop a pan-Canadian data and performance system for organ donation and transplantation.
     I would like to briefly note that my colleague, the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge, suggested certain amendments at the committee stage to make Bill C-210 easier for the CRA to implement. While these were not adopted, I believe it is important to review and discuss the intentions behind the amendments. I want to emphasize that we all want the objectives of Bill C-210 to become a reality sooner rather than later. At any moment anyone in this room or their loved one could be in need of an organ. I sincerely hope that it will be there when they need it. Therefore, I want to take a moment to address some concerns regarding the implementation of this bill.
    The current legislation, which has the CRA directly collecting organ and donor consent on behalf of the provinces and territories, could potentially cause significant roadblocks and time-consuming delays. For the CRA to implement Bill C-210 in time for the tax filing season next year, we need the quick engagement and support of the provinces and territories.

  (1120)  

    We have spoken in the past about the need for efficient implementation of this bill. The member for Vaughan—Woodbridge proposed an amendment that would have the CRA collect and share the personal information of individuals wishing to become organ and tissue donors with their respective provinces and territories. The provinces and territories, in turn, would obtain consent from Canadians to share this information and store it in a database. Although this amendment was defeated, I still emphasize the critical role of the provinces and territories in the administration of this bill as the maintenance of donor information is legally within their jurisdiction.
    Additionally, the legal requirements of donor eligibility and informed consent are very complex and vary greatly by jurisdiction in Canada, so the bill would have different applications for each province and territory. This is why my colleague, the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge, proposed a separate sheet for organ donation that could be inserted into T1 income tax packages. This sheet was modelled on the insert page for the Ontario Trillium benefit, which is inserted into the tax packages of Ontario residents and then provided directly to the Province of Ontario.
    Despite these concerns, I want to reiterate that the CRA will continue to respect the role that the provinces and territories play in organ and tissue donation, ensuring that Canadians' personal information is handled securely. I believe strongly that this collaboration between the CRA and the provincial and territorial governments is essential to delivering real, positive change to Canadians. In fact, I believe that having a pan-Canadian data system in place would support decision-making and improve patient care. It would also help create better records, which could be used for both monitoring and forecasting purposes.
    Despite the concerns about the manner of implementation, rest assured that the Government of Canada will fully support Bill C-210. The CRA will continue to work with all parties to make the member for Calgary Confederation's objective a reality, which would make the dream of saving the lives of thousands of Canadians a reality. It is only by working together that we will continue to improve organ and tissue donation progress, along with the transplantation system, and ensure that Canadians have timely and effective access to care.
    I encourage all members in the House to vote in support of this bill once again.

  (1125)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I want to say hello to all of my colleagues. I am very pleased to see them again after the two weeks that we spent in our ridings.
    The debate on Bill C-210 is timely because National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week is set to take place from April 18 to 24. This bill seeks to amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act.
     First, the bill would authorize the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, to enter into agreements with the provinces and territories to collect, via the income tax return, the information required to establish or maintain an organ donor registry. Second, the bill would authorize the CRA to disclose that information to the provinces and territories that have entered into such an agreement.
    Just as a reminder, this bill was first introduced in 2016 by our colleague from Calgary Confederation as Bill C-316. Unfortunately, it did not get past first reading in the Senate. This iteration of the bill has a new number, but the contents are the same. As such, the Bloc Québécois's position on this bill remains unchanged. Quebec is just fine with Bill C-210, and the Bloc Québécois fully supports it.
    However, as I have already told my House colleagues, it is highly unlikely that Quebec would sign an agreement with the CRA because it already has its own tax return. It is also no secret that the Bloc Québécois is fighting for a single tax return managed solely by Revenu Québec, so why delegate to the CRA a health matter that Quebec is perfectly capable of handling and that is under its exclusive jurisdiction?
    Basically, the Bloc Québécois supports this bill because we believe it will benefit the inhabitants of other provinces and territories where the CRA administers the tax system.
    We have absolutely no issue with allowing the CRA to collect and share information related to organ and tissue donation. If the Quebec National Assembly were to sign an agreement with the CRA, we would fully respect that decision. Quebec is free to sign or not sign an agreement, and my tone would be completely different if we were to assume otherwise.
    According to the most recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2019, 3,084 whole organs were transplanted into 3,014 recipients. This includes 1,789 kidneys, 610 livers, 212 hearts, 404 lungs and 68 pancreases. This might seem like an odd list, but it demonstrates the magnitude of the situation. Furthermore, although the total number of transplants has risen quite dramatically compared to ten years ago, I would remind the House that there is still a significant gap between the number of transplants performed and the number of people on waiting lists. In 2019, of the 4,352 people waiting for a transplant, 249 unfortunately died before getting their surgery. This is appalling, and it could be described as a deadly wait. The governments of Canada, Quebec and the other provinces must do better, and everyone needs to do their part.
    The COVID-19 pandemic certainly has not made things easier in that regard. In 2020, Transplant Quebec recorded a 20% drop in organ donation and transplantation activity, both in terms of referrals and actual donors and transplant recipients. Quebec is not alone. Other provinces and other countries have seen a similar decline. The pandemic is hitting us hard, but thanks to the tenacity and remarkable adaptability of our medical community in Quebec, things have returned to a semblance of normality in the past few months.

  (1130)  

    Before I go any further, I would like to take a minute to sincerely thank all the donors who have signed their card and consented to organ or tissue donation. I know that it is not an easy decision for everyone to make.
    I also want to take this time to commend the work of doctors who specialize in organ procurement and those who perform the transplants. They do remarkable work. We can never say it enough. Thanks to them, 13,000 people in Quebec and Canada are living with a transplanted organ. It is amazing. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must do more, and Bill C-210 will help us do that.
    As I mentioned before, this bill will probably not affect Quebec in any way because Quebeckers have their own tax return, and Quebec could collect the required information for its own registry if it wanted to. So much the better if Quebec does not have to do it and Ottawa manages this matter. However, the last time I checked, health is almost exclusively a provincial jurisdiction. In this great and beautiful Canada, geographical distance is a significant problem for the successful completion of transplants. In light of the fact that a transplant must be completed within 12 hours for a liver and eight hours for a lung, for example, it is obvious that the proper administration of registries is crucial. In my opinion, the provincial centralization of data collection and registry maintenance is a win-win proposition.
     That said, I would like to share some more thoughts about this bill. This amendment to the Canada Revenue Agency Act is truly a step in the right direction, but there is no evidence to show that it will have a direct, noticeable impact on the number of deceased donors, so long as we do not do more to promote awareness and education of organ and tissue donation. I remind the House that there is still a significant gap between the number of people who say they are in favour of organ donation and those who explicitly consent to it. I signed these papers when I turned 18 because I had a teacher at the end of high school who told us about the importance of organ donation.
    I do want to commend the Government of Nova Scotia, which officially adopted an opt-out system in January. This system is the complete opposite of the opt-in system that exists in the rest of North America. Quebec has been considering this issue for some time now. I would be interested in seeing how this system unfolds with our maritime neighbours. I think it could be very worthwhile. I remind members that there is no data to establish a clear link between the implementation of an opt-in system and an increase in the number of transplants.
    That has been demonstrated by Spain, which is a leader in this medical field. The opt-in system expands the pool of deceased organ donors, but that is only useful if we have the appropriate and necessary infrastructure. One of the keys to reducing the gap is to increase investments in medical infrastructure related to organ donation and transplants. There is no point in having more donors if there is a lack of trained staff or if the registry is not administered properly.
    Another key is awareness, and I have a special interest in that. In addition to family refusal, there is also a widespread belief that minimal effort will be made to save the lives of those who agree to be organ donors. We need to counter this type of misconception through education and awareness.
    I want to take this opportunity to recognize the work of an organization in my riding in Quebec called Chaîne de vie. Chaîne de vie's team of health and education professionals have been visiting high schools across Quebec since 2007 to educate young people between the ages of 15 and 17 about organ and tissue donation. This tremendous work does not just raise awareness among youth. It also encourages family discussion—

  (1135)  

    Order. The member's time is up.
    The hon. member for North Island—Powell River.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am here today to speak to Bill C-210. This bill would change the Canada Revenue Agency Act to allow for people in Canada to sign up for organ donation on their income tax form.
    I want to thank the member for Calgary Confederation for bringing forward this bill for a second time. As this is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month, it is important that this is the debate we are having at this time.
    This is a hard one to talk about because of the emotional nature of this process. Currently, we know that there is a provincial and territorial jurisdiction. This means, sadly, that someone could be in desperate need in one province or territory and have no way to access organs that people have identified they want to donate. This means that people cannot get their second chance.
    As a New Democrat, I fundamentally believe that we must make every possible effort to ensure that every Canadian who needs an organ or tissue transplant receives it. This is so important, and I support this because it allows people, while they are doing their taxes, to check another box, to show that this is something, if they were in the saddest circumstances, they would be able to provide.
    We know that one donor could save up to eight lives and benefit more than 75 people. That is a tremendous generosity. Yet, at 18 donors per million people, Canada's current donation rate puts us at the lower third of developed countries.
    Allowing Canadians to register to donate their organs and tissues through their tax return would help increase registration rates. This would improve consent rates and also help to build a donation culture in Canada. If we think about this being something that we do once a year to review, it would give that opportunity for us to have conversations with our loved ones about the decisions we have made.
    We know that across Canada people are dying on wait-lists because our organ donation rate is so low. At present, only 20% of Canadians have joined their province's organ and tissue registry.
    This is such an important bill because it allows the federal government to coordinate with provinces and territories to allow Canadians to register as an organ and tissue donor through their taxes.
    There is a lot of concern here, sometimes, about the bill with its unauthorized sharing of personal information. This would allow for individuals to be required to give consent.
    In my riding, I have read multiple articles about constituents, or have talked to constituents themselves, who have talked to me about the gift that it is when they receive a transplant. What I hear from people, again and again, is how they do not take a moment of their life for granted, as a donor. The gratitude they have for the person who gave them their second chance is incredibly powerful.
    Not too long ago, I read about a constituent named Darvy Culleton, who received a double lung transplant. He was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and other major organs, and was told from a very early age that he would potentially only live until around the age of 29. When he was 29, he got his transplant, and now has married his wife, Megan, and they have a baby. Although he did not know much about his donor, he said that every day he lives with a deep and profound gratitude, one that is shared by his family.
    In the last Parliament, the same legislation, then Bill C-316, was passed unanimously by the House of Commons. Unfortunately, it did not get passed through the second House, the Senate. In 2016, we know there was some concern that the Liberals brought forward about this bill, and it did not move forward in the way that it should have, because it was under provincial jurisdiction. I am very happy to see that people are coming together, understanding that this is the way we could make this work through the system.
    I know that for New Democrats in this House, the opt-out system is something we are very supportive of. We know that countries that have an opt-out system, which means people are automatically put into the list unless they take themselves out of it, see record-high donation rates. This is part of the approach that has made Spain a world leader in organ donation over the past 25 years. We know that in Australia the donor rate grew tremendously through the opt-out legislation that was put forward.

  (1140)  

    This is always a hard thing to talk about, because it is really about a sad situation that leads to somebody else having an opportunity. I want to thank the member for bringing it forward. I want to thank all the people across Canada who put their names forward to be organ or tissue donors. I want to stand in solidarity with the people who live life because somebody else was generous with theirs.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be able to address the chamber on such an important issue. I have been listening to members speak on this legislation, and I would like to start by complimenting the member for Calgary Confederation for a job well done in bringing forward and encapsulating what I believe Canadians and parliamentarians want to see take place.
    For example, the member for Oakville North—Burlington talked to me on a couple of occasions about wanting to see the bill pass, as I know Liberal members from all over the country want to see it pass. I suspect it will be passing, because that seems to be the desire and will of the House, which we have seen in previous votes and in the dialogue we are hearing during debate.
    It is interesting that we are having this debate today, when only a few days from now we will be starting the April 18 to April 24 National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. In good part, the purpose of that is to raise awareness of the issue across Canada so all Canadians can get directly involved, if they choose to do so, in promoting the importance of organ donation and raising general awareness.
    In listening to the debate, I could not help but think of why it is so important that we recognize that we need to respect provincial jurisdiction in the area of health care. I have talked at great length in the past about health care and have often cited examples of why the federal government should be involved, at times directly through cash transfers, but also indirectly. We need to respond to our constituents and listen to what they are telling us.
    In listening to members, I detected a great deal of respect for provincial responsibilities and jurisdiction, while at the same time reflecting on the importance of the issue at hand today. This bill would authorize the Canada Revenue Agency, in essence, to enter into agreements with territories and provinces with respect to the collection and disclosure of information required, which would enable the establishment of an organ and tissue donor registry in that province or territory.
    The member for Calgary Confederation rightfully pointed out that it is somewhat different from previous legislation, but it is very important legislation. It is not the first time there has been the principle of recognizing organ donations as something needing some involvement from the national government. It has been there now in different forms from different political entities inside the chamber. There are members of Parliament who have been touched in one way or another by this issue, either directly or indirectly.
    I think of a gentleman by the name of Hank Horner, who passed away. He was a huge advocate, and when I was an MLA it seemed like virtually every week he would talk to me about why it was so important for politicians to do more. At that time, I was a member of the provincial legislative assembly. He had ideas about MPI and how it could be mandated to have a reverse option, meaning that it is assumed that people are prepared to donate their organs unless they tell the government or MPI otherwise.

  (1145)  

    There was a bit of debate and discussion on that, and a bit of resistance. However, one of our provinces in Atlantic Canada has adopted that policy. I do not know all the details, but I do recognize that because there is provincial responsibility or jurisdiction over health care, we could see different systems across Canada.
    I come from a national perspective as to how we can best serve our constituents when they feel passionate about the national government doing things. A good example of that would be long-term care. We have this idea that has been talked about, voted on and passed through the House of Commons about the importance of the federal government playing some role in ensuring that we have donors from coast to coast to coast being more engaged and proactive on such an important issue.
    According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there were some interesting numbers that had come from that. It cites, in particular, the year 2018. To give people who might be following the debate a sense of what those numbers are, in 2018 there were 2,782 transplants performed in Canada. We are very much dependent and reliant on those numbers being collected and provided to the agency, and we feel confident in knowing that this number is fairly accurate. That is 2,782.
    We can take a look at the number of people who are on the wait-list, the individuals who are in need. I made reference to Hank Horner as an individual who inspired me on this particular issue. He was on a waiting list for many years, as many organ recipients are. At the end of the day, he was successful in getting his transplant, but he had to wait a considerable amount of time.
    We can think of the waiting list and how many people are on it, waiting. Back in 2018, the number that was provided through the Canadian Institute for Health Information was 4,351 people who were on the waiting list. If we contrast that number to the number of people who received a transplant, which was 2,782, we can get a sense of the numbers that carry over into the next year, and then new ones are added on. Hank Horner goes all the way back to the mid-1990s, if my memory serves me correctly, and every year there have been significant waiting lists. I do believe there is a need.
    It was reported back in 2018 that there were 223 patients who died while on an organ wait-list or waiting for a transplant. I am not a physician by training, but I suspect the correlation would be very high as to why they passed away. The question is, had they received the transplant, would they have survived? I believe the overwhelming response to that question would be yes.
    The very legislation we are talking about today matters. It saves lives. That is why I look at the member for Calgary Confederation and I say to my friend that I applaud his efforts in bringing this forward and look forward to its ultimate passage.

  (1150)  

    Madam Speaker, it is also an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-210, introduced by the member for Calgary Confederation. I understand, based on some of the discussion today, that he had also introduced a similar bill to this one in the last session of Parliament.
     I know from my own experiences how challenging it can be to work and navigate through the system and to hit those pitfalls and challenges along the way when trying to introduce a private member's business. However, to have the opportunity to come back and do it again, I really admire the passion the member has shown in his determination to get this issue on the table and in the centre of the public's attention.
    When it comes to a tissue and donor registry, as I indicated in the question I had asked earlier, I often wonder why it has taken so long just to get to this stage in having this discussion. I will focus on that for a bit and then I want to talk about the significance of putting this on the tax form and the intuitive way the member has gone about doing this, which I think is really going to highlight the need for this for so many Canadians.
     First, I will talk briefly about an experience I had as it relates to organ and tissue donation.
    I am not familiar nor do I know of anybody who has received an organ or has had his or her life significantly altered as a result of receiving an organ. However, when I was mayor of Kingston, going back seven or eight years, I was invited to a ceremony at the Providence Motherhouse in Kingston. As politicians, we are invited to so many of these various events and after a while they all start to appear to be the same. However, this one really sticks out in my memory. This was an opportunity for people who had received organs from other people to celebrate that they had those organs.
    Different speakers spoke about the way that getting the organ had changed their lives and how their lives had been impacted by the new opportunities they had. They talked about their lives before versus after. It truly, for me, was an eye-opener to what it meant to somebody. Sometimes, with the scientific talk and everything that goes on in the medical field, when we learn about these things, we quite often think it is pretty neat and interesting stuff. However, until we start to really hear the stories from the people who are impacted by these changes in medicine and these ways we can now save lives where we never were able to before, until we have the opportunity to experience that, I do not know if we really can appreciate the contribution that something like this has to somebody's life.
    I will always remember this, because part of the push at this event was to celebrate the lives saved and to hear the stories, but also to bring about awareness as to why it was so important to ensure that registries existed and that people got on the registries. As we know, it is an opt-in system in most parts, if not all, of Canada, and previous people talk about this, and that is one of the struggles. A lot of people do not want to think about this kind of thing. I will be totally honest with everyone that before I had been to this event, I had never wanted to actually think about dying and what would happen to my organs. It is something I think that, very innately, people do not want to think about, and so people try to push it off and say they will maybe think about it another day.
     However, when we consider the impact that we could have in saving lives and the impact it has on the families, as the member for Calgary Confederation mentioned in his speech, of the individuals who have passed on, knowing that they have contributed to another life that has been saved truly, is remarkable.

  (1155)  

    Going back to this event, I will never forget talking to some people there and thanking them for having invited me. I remember going straight home and telling my wife about this. Because people in Ontario can indicate it on a driver's licence or health card, I immediately signed up as a donor. I knew that if anything was going to happen to me, being totally honest about it and thinking clearly about it, there was nothing I could do to prevent or stop it, but what I could do was improve somebody else's life. Why would we not want to do that? Why would people not have that desire, knowing that if they were in a fatal accident, unfortunately ending their lives, why not use that as a way to improve somebody else's life moving forward?
    I really commend this. I had always wondered why we did not have an opt-in system. My NDP colleague from North Island—Powell River brought the point up about why we did not have a default system where everybody would be in and people could opt out based on personal, religious or any reasons individuals might have. They should have the right to make that choice, but by default, that would put so many more people into the system, people like me who did not want to think about it but when I did, recognized I did not have an issue with this, that it was really a good thing.
    What the member for Calgary Confederation has proposed recognizes that we might not be able to have that system given the complexities of the way our provinces work together and with the federal government in whose jurisdiction this might be under. However, it would put this right on the front of a form that Canadians are responsible to fill out every year. If accountants fill this out every year, they will ask their clients how they would like them to check the box off. It would force people to make that decision on an annual basis.
    I know that by default, this would generate so much more interest in it and would force people to have to think about it. As I said earlier, I did not want to think about this until I was confronted with the realities of about it. Knowing people will have to think about it and make that decision is important. It puts the onus on individuals to make a decision and this way their families do not have to be put in that position later on. People can declare early on whether they would like their tissue and organs to be donated.
    The government spent just under $37 million in budget 2019 specifically to work on collecting data and putting it together in a more cohesive way so it could be shared throughout the country. Various territories and provinces have been working on this information. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe Quebec is an observer to that and might not be in this group.
     All of that aside, this takes on a whole new dynamic, a dynamic that would put this in front of people when they do their tax returns. It is a form that every Canadian has to fill out. Therefore, it is a great opportunity to push this issue and put it at the centre of people's attention.
    I want to thank the member for Calgary Confederation for bringing this forward. In minority Parliaments like this, it is very easy to bring other ideas forward, some that might be a lot more partisan and political in nature, but the member has truly hit the nail on the head in finding something that appears to have bipartisan support throughout the House. I applaud him for that.

  (1200)  

    Madam Speaker, I would also like to speak briefly on this with the few seconds I have. I certainly am a supporter of an opt-out system.
     In a recent conversation, a good friend of mine told me about his heart transplant and the challenges with respect to the waiting period to become a recipient, the disruption to his family life, the financial challenges and so on. It is really challenging for people who depend on someone donating an organ to them. I understand where the member for Calgary Confederation is coming from and I speak in favour of his bill, because it is truly a great gift to receive that kind of—
    I have to interrupt the hon. member and advise him that he will have nine minutes the next time the House debates the bill.
    The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1205)  

[English]

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

     The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.
    There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

[Translation]

    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.

[English]

Hon. Steven Guilbeault (for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance)  
    moved that the bill be concurred in.
    Madam Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent to adopt the motion.

[Translation]

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

    The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès): When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance)  
    moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to take part in this important debate on Bill C-14, which is set to implement certain aspects of the fall economic statement that was tabled in Parliament a number of months ago. Before I get into the specific measures included in Bill C-14, I think it is important to reflect upon the year we have just been through and the pandemic that very much continues today.
    Over the course of the past year, we have seen communities suffer in a way that I had never envisioned I would see in my lifetime. We have also seen communities across Canada respond in a way that is more admirable than I could have possibly imagined just a year and a half ago.
     I remember, when COVID-19 first entered our collective vocabulary, the fear I saw in our communities. I remember what it was like to show up at the grocery store and, when the warnings were to keep six feet apart, people were doing their best to keep 20 feet apart. At that point in time, people were showing up wearing the Rubbermaid gloves meant for washing dishes and masks made of whatever they had at the house. This was before there was the opportunity to purchase them.
     Perhaps what was most encouraging were the precautions I saw people taking. The behaviours I saw people demonstrating were rarely motivated by self-interest, but instead by an interest to help their neighbours and protect the integrity of our health care system. Warnings were coming through national media about the pressures that were being put on the public health care system in various provinces and the ability to take care of our communities' most vulnerable. I have never been so proud to be a Canadian and to be from the community I come from as when I saw my community members step up to help their neighbours.
    I have also been very proud to be part of a government that exhibited that same attitude. I must say, I give full credit to certain members of various political parties who reached out to me in a non-partisan way to demonstrate that they also had ideas they thought would help folks in their community as we were struggling with this pandemic.
    Our approach to combat COVID-19 has been first to do whatever we can to quell the spread of the virus as quickly as possible and, second, to support Canadian households and businesses so they will still be here to contribute to the recovery when it is over. The fall economic statement implements portions of that plan. Of course, in the early days of the pandemic, when Parliament was not sitting in the way that it typically does, we advanced a series of measures that were designed to keep people afloat.
    I am thinking of CERB, which reached the kitchen tables of over nine million Canadians; the wage subsidy, which has kept over five million Canadians on the payroll at their work; and programs such as the Canada emergency business account, which has helped nearly one million businesses literally keep the lights on and the doors open. These are important programs that I anticipate will be viewed quite favourably when history shines a light on the economic response that Canada has put forward in this global pandemic.
    I will now turn my attention to the specific bill before the House of Commons, Bill C-14. There are a number of specific measures included in this bill, but largely they play into the strategy that I described at the outset of my remarks, which is to help diminish the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, particularly among vulnerable members of the public, and to support households and businesses as we continue to weather the storm, so they can contribute fully to the economic recovery when the time is right to do so.
    The first policy I will draw members' attention to is the Canada child benefit. This was a marquee campaign commitment from our 2015 election. I will point out that I have recently seen data that indicated that the Canada child benefit has now helped lift more than 435,000 Canadian children out of poverty. That is something I am extraordinarily proud of, but there is still work to do.
    When I look at the child poverty numbers in my home province of Nova Scotia, I find it unacceptable that any child goes without the food they need, or are in a household where parents, through no fault of their own, may not be able to afford the very basics so many of us take for granted. That is why I am supportive of this particular measure to increase the Canada child benefit up to $1,200 per child under six this calendar year.
    Importantly, the pay periods of January and April have now passed, which means that as soon as this bill achieves royal assent, we can expect the increased child Canada benefit payments will flow to Canadian families this year.

  (1210)  

    This is the kind of thing that not only helps lift children out of poverty, but also helps with the increased cost of child care, which many families are dealing with. I can speak first-hand about the difficulty in trying to arrange ad hoc child care with a five-year-old at home who attends the pre-primary program in Nova Scotia some days of the week but not others. Finding someone to step in can be a challenge for parents. I know that this increase of up to $1,200 to the Canada child benefit this year would make that a little easier for a whole lot of families.
    I also want to draw attention to the change to the regional relief and recovery fund. In my mind, one of the strengths of our pandemic response, and I have heard this from constituents from the early days of the pandemic, was a willingness to consider the initial policy design and make changes as we realized the circumstances demanded such changes.
    At the outset of this pandemic we launched a number of programs that have developed over time. A great example of this is the increase of the initial version of the wage subsidy from 10% to 75%. I am thinking of changes such as increasing the Canada emergency business account, which was initially from $40,000 with $10,000 forgivable, and is now $60,000, of which $20,000 is forgivable.
    Some of the changes we are looking to make in the scale and scope of the Canada emergency benefit require a legislative change to help those businesses that may not have been eligible to seek access to the regional relief and recovery fund through regional development agencies. The bill would align those two programs to ensure that if a business did not access CEBA, but could access the regional relief and recovery fund, it would benefit largely from the same terms under either program. We heard testimony at the finance committee specifically indicating that as soon as the bill achieves royal assent, that money could flow to businesses in need to help them keep their lights on.
    There are a few other programs I would like to draw to members' attention, and before I turn to certain public health measures, perhaps I will look at one other along the lines of direct support for individuals. Long before I came into federal politics, my first foray was as a university student. I was the student union president at my undergraduate university, StFX. One of the things I took on in that role was to become an advocate in federal politics for policies I felt would benefit students. I remember sitting across the table from MPs in Ottawa when I was a student in Antigonish asking for certain measures to be adopted that would make life easier for students and young professionals.
    One of the things we always looked for was relief on the interest that accrued for students who had Canada student loans. A similar issue faces students at community colleges or polytechnics who may have accessed a Canada apprenticeship loan. One of the changes in the bill would put an end to interest accruing this year on the loans they may hold through federal programs.
    Given the disproportionate and negative impact that COVID-19 has had on the economic prospects of young people right across Canada, this is good policy. This is something that is going to make life a little more affordable for young people as they embark on their careers.
    I want to turn the House's attention to some of the public health measures included in Bill C-14 because we know they are the right thing to do to fight the virus, but they are also the smart thing to do from an economic perspective. Recent data indicate that the best economic strategy we can adopt is to advance a significant public health response and try to achieve a zero-incidence rate of COVID in our communities.
    I point out in particular, being from Nova Scotia, that we have had some real success in managing the COVID-19 pandemic compared to some of our counterparts in different regions of Canada. In my community, I can still take my daughter to swimming lessons. In fact, I have to do that this evening after we wrap up in the House. I can still visit with friends up to our gathering limits without social distancing and without masks. We still choose in many instances to take those precautions.
    Businesses by and large remain open, despite very serious early shutdowns and the public response has really shown that they have bought into the idea that we need to continue to take care of one another during this time of emergency. While I say it is also a sound economic policy, members do not need to take my word for it. We can look directly to the recent labour force survey results, which come out each month. The reason I argue this is because it is true.

  (1215)  

    Nova Scotia has now reached 100% of its pre-pandemic job levels. That would not be possible if we did not have such a strong public health response to COVID-19. It makes sense, of course, that when businesses must close down in order to protect the public's health, the jobs located in those businesses will disappear from the labour force survey. However, if they initially took the smart step to lockdown when it was appropriate to do so, and then continued to monitor community spread diligently, then there would be the opportunity to safely operate in their communities.
    Those strategies benefit from serious federal investments through the safe restart agreement with the provinces. They benefit from serious investments and things such as rapid testing and personal protective equipment. They seriously benefit as well from some of the economic measures we have extended to support households and businesses. Those measures, collectively, have allowed certain provinces to do what may have seemed like a difficult thing at a time, but what was the right thing and ultimately has been proven to be the smart thing.
    Specific to Bill C-14, there are certain public health measures that will continue to enhance the public health response to COVID-19 across Canada, but will also contribute to our ability to enter the recovery phase more quickly. Specifically, I want to draw members' attention to the issues around long-term care.
    The deaths we have seen in our long-term care facilities across Canada have been nothing short of a national tragedy. I think everyone in the chamber, whether present virtually or in person, knows someone who has been impacted by the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. I take everyone at their word that they want to address this issue when they say so. This bill is going to advance in excess of $500 million toward our long-term care facilities. It will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 among the vulnerable populations who live in those facilities.
    However, that is not the only public health measure included in this particular bill. Before COVID-19 was something that we had heard about, health care was the number one priority for my constituents. By and large, after being asking time and time again, this was an absolute priority. In particular, mental health and access to family doctors were at the very top of that list.
    This bill would not necessarily solve the shortcomings in the provincial health care system when it comes to accessing primary care or expanding support for mental health, but it will make a difference in the short term in a few very particular ways. This bill specifically is going to advance $133 million toward virtual care and mental health care.
     One of the things that I would urge people to do is this. If someone has never used virtual care, telehealth, or an online portal for mental health, it is easy to dismiss them as being less than having a person in the room with them. For some people, in-person care is essential, but there are others who will be able to access the quality of care they need virtually.
     I will give an example of telehealth, in particular, that I heard from my own community recently. It was in response to a comment about how these 1-800 numbers for certain health care do not really make the difference that certain people would like to see. The response came from the executive director of a local non-profit. She cited Kids Help Phone as one of those mental health supports offered through a 1-800 number.
    She explained to a room filled with people who were actively questioning the value of these telehealth opportunities that when a child calls Kids Help Phone, they often do not know where to turn. They do not have any other options, but they are not met with an operator or a robot on the other side who does not understand what they are going through or what resources may exist locally. In fact, in this instance, the person on the other side of that call said, “I know of a local non-profit in your community. It's a few blocks from you. You can go down and speak to a person who's going to find an adult who can help with the situation that you're dealing with.” I will reserve any details about who these individuals were for sake of their privacy.
    At the end of the day, access to that telehealth option provided a young person in my community with access to a professional who they were able to deal with and they continue to maintain a relationship with today. That is a positive outcome from embracing telehealth.

  (1220)  

    I have spoken with many people who have now dealt directly with a physician over a video call or through a simple text or phone call. The Wellness Together portal, which has been advanced with the support of federal money through this pandemic, has provided access to a huge number of Canadians who can conduct self-assessments and gain access to a professional if needed. I would encourage anyone who might be struggling with mental health or substance use to check out the Wellness Together portal that has been made available online through this pandemic, because it has helped a significant number of Canadians already.
    My hope is that some of the measures outlined in this bill and our pandemic response actually survive the pandemic. I am from a province that has historically had fewer family doctors than we would like to have, and I envision one day being able to create the opportunity for someone who lacks access to primary care in Nova Scotia to reach out to a doctor in western Canada who is looking for patients, and to access their services for basic prescriptions or referrals virtually. These are the kinds of innovations that may stem from this pandemic that would provide a long-term systemic benefit for Canadians right across our country.
    Our pandemic response has been expensive, but inaction would have been more expensive. We know that to do the right thing, we had to make serious investments to keep businesses afloat, keep workers on payrolls, keep families fed and ensure that provinces had access to the testing or personal protective equipment that they needed.
    There is a light at the end of the tunnel now, as we get closer to vaccine appointments. I think my parents are scheduled for theirs later this week, which is deeply encouraging, I must say, though I live in an area that has a relatively low number of cases. To see family members, friends, neighbours and particularly the most vulnerable members, front-line workers in the health care system and in retail, start to see the end coming is deeply encouraging.
    However, we are not there yet. We need to continue to advance the kinds of supports that are outlined in Bill C-14. It has been a pleasure, once again, to speak on this important piece of legislation. My hope is that this will pass unanimously in Parliament so that Canadians can access the supports they so desperately need. It would help protect our health and our economy in the long run.

  (1225)  

    Madam Speaker, one of the very important aspects of this bill that the member neglected to comment on is the fact that it would actually increase the country's debt limit from roughly $1.1 trillion to $1.8 trillion. This is a sum equivalent to Canada's total combined debt in history, from Confederation to 2020.
    Does the member not think, in the spirit of good governance, that a matter of this import should be debated and voted upon in a separate bill?
    Madam Speaker, the short answer is no.
    The long answer is that I agree it is important, but I do not think its inclusion in a fairly modest piece of legislation, which has only a few parts, diminishes the ability of parliamentarians to debate it, particularly given the extensive debate that it has received on the floor of the House of Commons and the delay that has cost about four months in its passage.
    Good governance demands that we monitor the spending of the Government of Canada, and that we plan for it accordingly.
    If the member is arguing that the debt limit should not be increased because we should be limiting government spending, I would ask the member to make that argument directly. It is clear to me, frankly, that the Conservative position seems to be to cheapen the economic response to the pandemic when our decision has been to invest in Canadians.
    The reality is that the pandemic created serious costs. The government made the decision to cover those costs and is planning accordingly for the future. We laid out all the details, by the way, in our fall economic statement—
    The hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech. We will absolutely vote in favour of this bill because action is needed.
    However, we all know that this bill does not address everything. We could speak at length about health transfers, but I want to call the parliamentary secretary's attention to the tourism and cultural sectors, and in particular the sugar shack sector, which have received little to no support so far. I have already asked the parliamentary secretary about this issue, and I appreciated having a meeting to discuss it.
    Where do things stand? Is progress being made? Can the parliamentary secretary give us any hope ahead of the upcoming budget?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, this piece of legislation includes certain measures that were included in the fall economic statement. It is not meant to be a comprehensive outline of the government's public health response throughout the pandemic or going forward. Of course, the budget will have more to say. I note in particular the recent announcement by the government to advance $4 billion directly to the provinces for the provision of health care, given that this burden has rested on the provinces.
    The tourism and transport piece is perhaps a separate conversation. The crux of his question was about the ma cabane à la maison initiative, which I did have the opportunity to meet with him on. I can spoil no secrets about the upcoming budget. I will mention that I had the opportunity, following our meeting, to connect directly with the Minister of Finance's team. I have seen the Prime Minister drawing attention to the initiative, and I would be happy to continue to work with my colleague as further updates become available.
    Madam Speaker, the government typically puts in measures that help with the pandemic and then it overreaches. The overreach is in one of its first pieces of legislation: It asked for unfettered spending for almost two years. With this particular piece, there is absolutely important support. However, then it asks for $1.8 trillion in terms of the debt level. This is much more than it says it plans on borrowing to fund its activities for the next few years.
    How can it justify asking for the ability to borrow $1.8 trillion when, according to its plans, it is not going to need that kind of money? Are the Liberals being disingenuous in terms of their plans, or are they again overreaching like they typically do?
    Madam Speaker, I do not view this to be an overreach in any way, shape or form. The details of our spending plan have been laid out in the fall economic statement, including a variety of different potential scenarios.
    I point out that in 2016, we passed a piece of legislation in Parliament that mandated a review periodically of the federal government's borrowing limit. The time has come to consider that limit and frankly, given what has transpired in the past year, it is obvious to me that we should be planning for the future and not setting the buffer exactly where the intended spending ought to be. That would not be a sound policy decision.
    We know the COVID-19 pandemic has created an immense cost. The government was better positioned to cover some of the costs to society than individual households or businesses would have been, and I would stand by the investments we have made to keep households and businesses afloat through this pandemic.

  (1230)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to ask the member about the clause in Bill C-14 that is authorizing a health-related payment of about $64 million for mental health and substance abuse. Investment in this area is very welcome, especially for communities like mine. However, it seems that when the government has opportunities to do big, bold things to finally tackle the opioid crisis, such as declaring a national health emergency or even Bill C-22, the recent justice bill, they are full of half measures.
    To this day, with all the statistics in place, why has the government not taken the big, bold steps to finally confront and put an end to the opioid crisis, which is ravaging so many small communities like mine?
    Madam Speaker, I sincerely appreciate my colleague's advocacy on this issue, not just today but over the past number of years. It is important to reflect upon the opioid crisis, which is a massive problem that is perhaps, in some regions, underappreciated in its severity. We may not see the concentrations of case numbers they have in his community, but nevertheless we are suffering serious consequences as a result of addiction.
    We have been trying to work with the provinces to advance funds for mental health support. In Nova Scotia alone, as part of our 10-year agreement, we reached a funding arrangement that saw $130 million that must be spent directly on mental health in the province. If the province believes tackling the opioid crisis with that money is the best thing to do, then we will be there with them. We do not want to substitute exclusively our own priorities for those of the provinces but we will—
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Thérèse-De Blainville.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech.
    I noticed that he described the work that has been done since the start of the crisis as admirable. I would not want to underestimate certain measures that have made a difference since the crisis hit, but, with all due respect, I find it less admirable that the government has been unable to adapt to the changing situation. The economic update came out last fall, and now it is spring. The pandemic has evolved and some sectors, such as aerospace and tourism, have received no direct assistance. They were forgotten then and are being forgotten now.
    What solutions will the government offer in the next budget to help these sectors be part of the recovery, as the parliamentary secretary was saying?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it may be outside the scope of Bill C-14, but that does not mean it is outside the scope of what the government is working on. When we tabled the fall economic statement, I did not anticipate there would be a need to continue to debate the fall economic statement in the following spring. Unfortunately, there has been a series of delays for this bill, which I believe were for largely partisan reasons, although the member's party agreed with us in that regard.
    For sectors such as aerospace, transportation and tourism, certain measures have had significant benefits. The wage subsidy is a perfect example, and we put forward HASCAP to specifically tackle some of these problems.
    We know more work needs to be done. I had the opportunity to meet with the aerospace sector, and I meet frequently with tourism associations in my own community. I will be looking forward to the upcoming budget to identify further opportunities for assistance to those hardest-hit sectors.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to add a little more to this debate.
    I just wanted to begin by sharing with the parliamentary secretary that what we as parliamentarians are doing in the House in debating and reviewing Bill C-14 is scrutiny and oversight, which is the role of the official opposition, and we are unapologetic about doing that. I want to start off by saying that we fully support parts 1 through 6 of Bill C-14, which would continue to provide Canadians with the critical support they need as they try to make it through this pandemic. The challenge is that, as Liberals are wont to do, they have also added the most massive borrowing increase in Canada's history to that bill. The parliamentary secretary suggested that these social program modifications are fairly modest and really should not prevent us from debating this, but this is the largest, most historic increase in Canada's debt ceiling and borrowing capacity ever, so that should provide Canadians with the context in which to judge this bill.
    What is it that Canadians are looking for from the government, now that we are slowly moving through the vaccination stage? Canadians are looking forward and asking when the end is going to come. I would suggest that Canadians are looking for hope and confidence for their future and the future of their children and their grandchildren, of which I have 11 and another one on the way, and even their great-grandchildren down the road. Do they have a prosperous future to look forward to? That is the question I believe Canadians need answered.
    By the way, they are not asking for the Prime Minister to reimagine the economy. They are not asking for the Prime Minister to build back better. Every single Canadian I have spoken to simply wants a return to some level of normalcy. They want their lives, their jobs, their small businesses, their communities and their places of worship back. They are not looking for the Prime Minister to foist a massive new social and economic experiment on them. Again, they want life to return to normal. That is it.
    Would Bill C-14 do that? Would it give Canadians that hope? So far, I have sadly concluded that it does not. Bill C-14 would implement the government's fall economic statement. That statement does include additional supports for Canadians who need help to make it through the pandemic. By the way, we support those benefits, as we have every single other COVID-related benefit program the government has brought forward. We have stood shoulder to shoulder with the government in saying that Canadians need and deserve that support.
    The problem is that the government has paid absolutely no attention to the long-term plan for our economy. What does our long-term future look like as a country? We know that the government failed to deliver a budget for over two years. In fact, Canada was the only G7 country not to deliver a budget over the last two years. The provinces and territories delivered budgets, yet the government's excuse was that we are in the middle of a COVID pandemic, so delivering a budget has no value. Actually, it is in the middle of a pandemic and the greatest economic crisis this country has faced since at least the Great Depression that is exactly when we should have had a budget and a plan for our economy, and sadly the Prime Minister did not deliver on that responsibility.
    In the meantime, Canadians have been in the dark about what the future holds. They are asking for a plan to reopen our economy and to get Canadians back to work, and to support small businesses as they struggle to get back on their feet.

  (1240)  

    Members should know that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has made it very clear that there are some 240,000 small businesses that could very well be permanently shut down by the end of this COVID pandemic. We know that the million-plus small businesses in our country are the great job creators. Effectively, if 20% to 25% of those businesses are eliminated, it will dramatically undermine job creation going forward.
    Let me talk very briefly about the seven parts of this bill. Quite frankly, Conservatives are in support of the first six parts. For example, part 1 would implement increases to the Canada child benefit, which I am sure families would welcome. It also addresses serious design flaws in the rent subsidy program to finally allow commercial and industrial tenants to receive some relief before they pay their rent. The irony was that, in the middle of this pandemic when tenants did not have the cash to pay their rent up front, they were being told they would not get support until after they paid their rent. This legislation would address that serious design flaw. There are other things in the bill as well that Conservatives support, such as eliminating interest on Canada student loans and Canada apprentice loans for one year and authorizing the Governor in Council to make regulations to seek additional information from companies about food, drugs and medical devices.
    In short, the six parts of the Bill C-14 fall economic statement effectively introduce, modify and improve programs that the government brought forward and that we as the official opposition are fully supportive of. Of course, like all things Liberal, there is always a catch. In this case it is part 7 of the bill. As my colleague from Winnipeg has just mentioned, the Prime Minister is asking Parliament to approve a historic, massive increase in the debt ceiling, in other words, the line of credit that the government has available to it. The government wants to increase that by $663 billion, almost one-quarter of a trillion dollars. That is massive.
    Before any parliamentarian should ever provide their support to that kind of an increase, they should be asking what this borrowing capacity is going to be used for. We have to consider this in the context of the fact that the Liberal government has been chastised by the Parliamentary Budget Officer for not being transparent in its spending endeavours. Every time it brings forward a spending bill, it refuses to explain to Canadians exactly how that money will be deployed. Parliamentarians do not have the ability to exercise proper scrutiny and oversight. The PBO identified that and said that the government is not transparent.
    Why should we trust the government when it now says it wants another $663 billion? I was at committee when we were asking questions of the Minister of Finance. We expressly asked her to please tell us what this additional $663 billion is needed for and where it will be deployed. All she did was refer Canadians to one chart in the fall economic statement. She said to go and look at that, all Canadians have that available. Most Canadians are not going to go looking for the fall economic statement to find the one chart that actually did not show where she was spending the money. It simply showed how much money she was asking to borrow. We deserve better as a country.
    Another thing is signalled in this fall economic statement and that is a $100-billion stimulus fund that the Minister of Finance has suggested might be required for Canada to get through the pandemic. Again, at committee, we asked very expressly if she could tell us what this stimulus fund is all about. She talks about $100 billion, asks us to trust her and so far she had been unwilling to provide any transparency on where that money might be deployed. Now she had an opportunity. She would not tell us. Would that money go into productivity-enhancing investments like hard infrastructure? Was it going to go into soft infrastructure? She would not say. She made vague references to guardrails, supposed rules that she was going to put in place to ensure that there were triggers that would allow it to slowly ease this money into our economy. The problem is that the economists have all pointed out that she has been so vague about what those guardrails are all about that it is impossible for anyone to exercise any kind of oversight over this $100 billion of additional spending. Those same economists have also sounded a precautionary note.

  (1245)  

    The government's $100 billion stimulus must take into account inflationary pressures. When we pump $100 billion into the economy in a short period of time, it means there are more dollars chasing the same number of goods, and that could lead to inflationary pressures. When the central bank, the Bank of Canada, senses that there are inflationary pressures, it increases interest rates.
     If Canadians across the country knew right now that there was a significant risk of interest rate increases, a lot of them would be panicking, because they got into this incredibly expensive housing market upon the condition that interest rates would stay low. However, if we pump more and more stimulus into the economy, that will stoke the fires of inflation, and it gets worse.
    Economists have also warned the government and the finance minister that the government needs to take note of the massive stimulus that the American government is pumping into its economy. It is a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan into the American economy. Layered on top of that is a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which adds even more stimulus to the economy. When that economy starts being stimulated, that sloshes over the border into Canada. It impacts economic growth, but it can overheat economic growth and again stoke inflationary pressures.
    Layered on top of all that is something that is counterintuitive. Even though we have come through the worst pandemic in our lifetime, the worst economic crisis in my lifetime, we have a situation where we have record amounts of savings on both the household side and the corporate side in Canada, savings that are eventually going to be pumped back into our economy, injected as stimulus. Therefore, when we add all this stimulus together, the government has to be very wary of adding another $100 billion to that.
    This is an unprecedented crisis, but Canadians want hope and they want confidence for the future. They want to know that the Prime Minister and the finance minister have a plan to safely reopen our economy. That includes safely reopening our common border with the United States, because we have somewhere in the order of $2 billion in trade crossing our border every single day. The U.S. is by far our largest trade partner. Therefore, I encourage the government, as it is moving toward tabling a budget, its first budget in over two years, to ensure that the budget includes a clear plan going forward to safely reopen our economy, and that will require Canadians to be properly vaccinated.
    What is the plan? The current plan has been a bit of a boondoggle. I think Canadians are understanding that. We need a plan to safely reopen our economy to get Canadians back to work, to help small businesses get back up on their feet and to manage this massive new debt that the government has incurred on Canadians' behalf. There has to be a management plan, which includes strong fiscal anchors, rules and guidelines by which the government will be guided as we emerge from the pandemic and struggle to get a grip on this massive financial obligation with which we will burden future generations of Canadians.
    We are fully supportive of parts 1 through 6 of the bill. It is part 7, the massive increase in borrowing, we cannot support, especially when the minister has been unable or unwilling to explain how that additional borrowing capacity, some $663 billion, will be deployed going forward.
    Canadians are fair, reasonable, generous people. All they are looking for is ethical and competent leadership, transparent leadership, to help them emerge from this crisis. So far, they have not been getting it, and they deserve better.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, it is April 12 and we are still discussing the fall economic statement that was introduced on November 30 of last year.
    The member started off his speech by telling us about how important it was for the opposition to critically look at every piece of legislation, and rightfully so. There is definitely a role and a responsibility to do that. My sense is that it will only be the Conservatives speaking until this bill eventually comes to a vote.
    Then the member proceeded to talk about how he supported parts 1 through 6, basically all the very important measures for Canadians, but then does not support the measure that actually pays for it all.
    Could the member explain to the House how he, if he were finance minister, as I am sure he aspires to be one day given his new role, would pay for everything that he supports in the bill without having to borrow the money to do that right now?
    Madam Speaker, I am sad that the member did not follow the proceedings of the finance committee, where we reviewed Bill C-14.
    At finance committee, we very clearly made it known that we were supportive of an increase in the debt ceiling to accommodate the current spending that the government had told us it had already blown through the previous debt ceiling, so we knew what the spending looked liked. We were prepared to accommodate the spending we are discussing today in the fall economic statement, but we said that the amount that was in excess of that, some $300 billion that the minister refused to provide any insight on, refusing to explain where it might be deployed, we just could not support—

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague touched on the issue of housing. Quebec is currently in the grips of a vicious, chronic housing crisis. Rent in Montreal is very high. It is hard to find housing for less than $1,000 a month. For families with more than two or three children, there is practically nothing available.
    In Saint-Hyacinthe and Granby, the vacancy rates are 0.3% and 0.2%. It is outrageous.
    Does my colleague not think it is high time for the government to invest heavily in social housing to help the people most affected by this housing crisis?

  (1255)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is time for us to look at how we address the current housing bubble in Canada. It is up to the Liberal government, in its upcoming budget, to come up with a plan to address the incredibly expensive housing market in Canada.
    Let me add that the solution is not to tax home equity as some Liberals have suggested. We know, as we speak, that CMHC is conducting a study on taxing the equity in principal residences. The government has denied it has any plans to tax home equity. We should not kid ourselves. The Prime Minister has made many promises and denials before, but has always been found wanting.
    The number one challenge with housing in Canada is, of course, a lack of supply. There are many other factors as well. It is up to the Liberal government and the finance minister to table a plan to address the housing crisis in the upcoming budget. To that extent, I agree with the member.
    Madam Speaker, the New Democrats are also concerned about how we are going to pay back the deficit we are running right now during this crisis. In fact, I received a message from Paul, a local health worker, last night. He is worried he will end up having to pay for the costs of repayment of the deficit.
    As New Democrats, we put forward a proposal to tax the super-rich, the multi-millionaires who hold wealth of over $20 million and the biggest corporations that have had excessive profits during this pandemic. We are not talking about the local bike shops. We are talking about the big banks and the largest corporations. However, the Conservatives and the Liberals voted against our proposal. They want this deficit to be left on the backs of everyday Canadians.
    When will the Conservatives stop defending the big banks and Canada's largest corporations and the super-rich, who have benefited and profited from this pandemic, and get them to pay instead of leaving it on the shoulders of everyday Canadians?
    Madam Speaker, I completely disagree with the premise of that member's question, but I would point him to what is the greatest generator of prosperity in Canada, and it is not going to be taxing Canadians to death. It is going to be generating economic growth, putting in place the key drivers of economic growth: investing in our productivity, investing in the competitiveness of the Canadian economy and ensuring our tax environment is one that attracts foreign investment rather than chases away foreign investment the way it has been chased away under the Liberal government.
    We, as Conservatives, will be coming forward with a plan for our economy. It will be a plan that focuses on economic growth and one that is going to ensure that future generations of Canadians have a prospect of prosperity, a prosperous future for themselves and their families.
    Madam Speaker, in listening to my hon. colleague from Abbotsford, one would be hard pressed to know the overlap between our health and COVID and the health of our economy.
    I am still waiting for a vaccination. How we get our vaccination is provincial jurisdiction and how they are purchased is federal jurisdiction. In the course of this debate, how do we insist businesses reopen when it seems increasingly clear that we are in a third wave where our focus should be on public health and ensuring we stop thinking we can bend the curve but actually slam it down to zero?

  (1300)  

    Madam Speaker, if the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands looks at the opposition day motion that asked for the Liberal government to come up with a proper plan to reopen the economy, she will notice the words “safely and gradually” prefaced the word “reopening” the economy. We are in favour of reopening the economy, but only if it can be done safely and gradually.
    However, we have not seen any plan from the Liberal government at all. The one plan it had for rolling out vaccines has been badly botched. We are falling way behind other developed countries in the world. We are last in the G7. We are, I think, 52nd in the world. That is not a record of which I would be proud.
    We need the government come up with a plan to restore and protect the health of Canadians and also restore—
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Guelph.
    Madam Speaker, I cannot help but feel the hon. member across the way is very out of touch with the business community. As past president of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, someone who was on the board of the Downtown Business Association and was a board member on the Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre board and an Innovation Guelph co-founder, I have not found one business that says delaying talking about legislation is a good strategy to support businesses.
    For four months, we have been trying to get to the point of discussing this bill. Could the hon. member maybe highlight why this was a good strategy that the Conservatives employed to try to stop us from talking about this legislation and therefore stopping supporting our businesses in our communities?
    Madam Speaker, I have absolutely no idea what he is talking about. He is suggesting that somehow this delay happened.
    I noticed today that the Liberals were debating this very bill. If they were so intent on getting this bill passed, why do they continue to debate and debate in the House? The hypocrisy is jaw-dropping. I will repeat what I included in my earlier comments. The role of an official opposition, which the member obviously does not understand, is oversight and to exercise scrutiny over the—
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Joliette.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, this is unbelievable. It is April 12, and we are still debating Bill C-14, which implements certain measures announced in the fall economic statement. We are still debating this many months after the economic statement was presented.
    Part 1 of Bill C-14 deals with the children's special allowances program and corrects a problem regarding the Canada emergency rent subsidy. We support that.
    Parts 2, 3 and 4 of the bill temporarily eliminate interest on the federal portion of Canada student loans. Quebec is being compensated. We support that.
    Part 5 aims to prevent shortages of therapeutic products. Once again, of course we support that.
    Part 6 authorizes payments to be made from the consolidated revenue fund, specifically for the regional relief and recovery fund, to support the economy. We support that.
    Part 7 of the bill raised some questions and concerns. With that part, the government is asking to significantly increase Canada's debt limit. The current limit is $1.168 trillion, and the government wants that increased to $1.831 trillion. Those are astronomical figures.
     The Parliamentary Budget Officer spoke about that at the finance committee. The answers he provided confirmed what I had read and believed: This is not about providing spending authority, but about increasing the debt ceiling. He stated that every expenditure proposed by the government should be voted on in the House. There could not be any shenanigans during an election, which could come sooner rather than later, when the government would ask the chief justice, who is standing in for the Governor General, to support other new spending. This part thus seeks to increase the debt ceiling.
    This is similar to what we often see in the United States, where the Republican Party's strategy is to limit the government's spending capacity to the extent that it is no longer able to pay civil servants and has to shut down entire segments of the public service, something we do not want to do. Of course, that is not what would happen in the Canadian system. If such a situation were to occur, an election would be called. I do not think that we would want to call an election for that reason during a pandemic.
    Yes, this is a hair-raising amount, but it is an authorization to increase the maximum amount that the government can borrow to cover future expenses. Now, the budget will be tabled on Monday. We expect it will include a major recovery plan. I am looking forward to studying and analyzing it to see if it will meet Quebec's wants and needs. The money is to cover those future expenses.
    I would like to take the government to task for a few things. To my knowledge, setting a debt limit and making us vote on it before we see the spending plan is a relatively new approach. I am not against the idea, but I think the Minister of Finance should have taken the time to talk to all the political parties and finance critics to really clarify all this. Lawmakers who are analyzing the government's pandemic response need reassurance. They need to be certain that everything is above board, that they have a clear understanding of what is being done and that nobody is pulling the wool over anyone's eyes, which has happened since the start of the pandemic.
    The government has never spent as much as it did last year, and some of that spending is certainly debatable. Did the government systematically use a rigorous approach or standard? The answer is no. We need only look at the WE scandal or Frank Baylis's high-priced ventilators, which did not find any takers because they do not suit the needs of the health care system.
    Then there is the wage subsidy. There is not one word in the bill about the political parties using the wage subsidy. Using the wage subsidy to refill party coffers is unethical. The Bloc is the only party that did not touch this subsidy because we thought that would be unethical. I would remind my colleagues from all the other parties that this was inappropriate. The government has to be transparent.
    Part 7 seeks to raise the borrowing limit. The government could have communicated its intention better and not dilly-dally for months. It makes no sense.

  (1305)  

    Once again, the Bloc Québécois will support Bill C-14, which clearly does not mark the end of the COVID-19-related economic measures. As I was saying, we are looking forward to the government tabling its first budget since it was elected, which it plans to do on Monday. It has been over two years since the federal government has tabled a budget, and that is unacceptable. We understand that the government was under tremendous pressure and had to react quickly to the pandemic by developing programs and holding consultations. However, the pandemic has been going on for over a year now. That may have been a reason for the budget to be a bit late, but it is not a reason for the government to fail to meet its obligations, which is what I think it has done by not tabling a budget for two years.
    Obviously, in order for the Bloc Québécois to support the budget, the budget will have to meet the needs of Quebeckers, in accordance with our demands. There are no surprises there, since the government is well aware of what we want. I have already presented our demands to the Minister of Finance, and my leader will reiterate them to the Prime Minister today.
    The Bloc Québécois's budget expectations include better health care funding for the provinces, with no strings attached. That is what the Government of Quebec and the Council of the Federation want too. Studies conducted by the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Conference Board of Canada show that health care spending is skyrocketing, pandemic or no pandemic. The provinces are the ones that have to cover those costs, and Ottawa is not contributing as much as it should. We want Ottawa to play catch up. If it does not, the provinces' financial situation will be untenable in the short and medium term and will even get worse in the long term.
    The amounts announced in Bill C-14 are woefully insufficient to rectify this situation. The Council of the Federation, which includes all provinces, wants Ottawa to increase its share of health care costs to 35%. When this program was originally created, Ottawa was to cover 50% of the costs, matching the provinces dollar for dollar in the interest of fairness.
    Another thing we want to see in the budget and did not see in Bill C-14 is better support for seniors. This is something we have been calling for and waiting for since the last election. For decades now, old age security payments have failed to keep pace with inflation or the average salary. This benefit was originally meant to be commensurate with a percentage of the average salary, and we want to bring these payments back in line with that percentage. It is a matter of fairness and dignity for seniors. Simply put, we are proposing that old age security benefits be increased by $110 a month.
    In the last election, for some unfathomable reason, the Liberals decided to do that, but only for people aged 75 and older. Come on. Why would they want to create two classes of seniors, those 65 to 74 years old and those 75 and older? It is a matter of dignity. Although seniors are not complaining, we can see in our ridings that they are struggling, especially those who depend on that income to live with dignity. Housing and food costs have gone up, especially during the pandemic, when seniors cannot go out and do their shopping themselves. We need to ensure that all seniors aged 65 and over are treated fairly.
    For goodness' sake, let us stop dividing seniors into two classes. Over the weekend, the Liberals voted for that increase to come into effect at age 70. That is a step in the right direction, but it is not good enough. There is only one class of seniors: people aged 65 and older.
    In addition, the Canada emergency wage subsidy and the Canada emergency rent subsidy are all well and good, but we need programs targeting particularly hard-hit sectors, such as the aerospace sector, which Canada has abandoned, unlike other countries around the world with major aerospace industries that have all set up programs. Nobody in government recognized the strategic value of supporting an extremely profitable industry.
    The same goes for our airlines, the tourism sector and travel agencies in my riding and elsewhere, whose employees I have met with. They are going through really tough times and need a helping hand. Also on my mind a lot is the cultural sector. We can be proud of our creative industry, which generates economic spin-offs, but lockdowns have hit it harder than ever. We cannot afford to lose this sector. Culture is good for our souls. It shows us who we are. We have to support this sector and buoy it up, not give up on it. Another sector having a very hard time is local and regional media, which plays such an important role. Times are tough.

  (1310)  

    To come back to next week's budget, last fall, the Minister of Finance announced $70 billion to $100 billion for her economic recovery plan. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Biden administration has a $1.9-trillion recovery plan. Again, these are astronomical figures. There is much debate over whether such a plan is justified or not. The Bloc Québécois position will depend on what we see in the plan and whether this plan sets the stage for tomorrow's economy.
    I am thinking about the green economy. Quebec is all set for this shift. The climate crisis is the most significant crisis, and we have to pivot to a green economy. We need to see that in the finance minister's budget and her recovery plan. There also needs to be support for our flagship sectors and our regions, of course.
    The past year and next week's budget are going to cost a fortune, a colossal amount. Over the past few decades, or even the past century, economists have taught us that the least painful solution during a recession or a major crisis is to take carefully targeted action in order to relaunch the economy and eventually reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio. We know that Ottawa's debt has exploded during this pandemic, which is concerning, and I would like to take the government to task over that. It will have to act on this sooner rather than later, starting with a fairer tax system.
    The pandemic gave an unprecedented advantage to web giants like Amazon, which were the big winners last year. While our local businesses struggled and fought to survive, many people began buying from web giants by ordering online for home delivery.
    However, the Liberal government in Ottawa is still not taxing transactions with web giants. Come on. There was an announcement about this, but no action has been taken yet. Consequently, throughout the entire pandemic, Amazon and the other web giants were able to benefit from this advantage. Furthermore, these giants do not pay income taxes. Discussions are being held about potentially instituting a levy that would be equivalent to an income tax, but this measure is even further off. The pandemic gave all the advantage to web giants, and Ottawa did not even ask them to contribute. That must change, and it must change now. We can never make up for what was lost this past year because of a failure to take responsibility.
    Local businesses here in downtown Joliette and all across Quebec and Canada are struggling or shutting down. It makes me sick to see the Prime Minister acting like he is down-to-earth while putting web giants ahead of small, independent businesses that are struggling. It makes no sense. We should be putting local businesses first and, at the very least, requiring web giants to follow the same rules. How has this not been done yet? This is unacceptable, and it needs to change.
    Speaking of missing revenue, I think the government should be taking a harder stance on tax havens than it has so far. The fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance is a global concern, but Canada has made no progress in a little over five years, since the current Liberal government and Prime Minister came to power. Notwithstanding the lofty rhetoric from the Minister of National Revenue, Canada has an abominable record and is in a class of its own compared to the rest of the world and other countries in the G7 and the OECD. This needs to change. It is ridiculous.
    I will give an example that was reported on by the CBC about a week ago, I think. Five years ago, the Panama papers came to light. Every country conducted an investigation into this worldwide scheme, leading to criminal charges and convictions. As I recall, the United Kingdom recovered over $300 billion and Germany recovered nearly $250 billion. The Panama papers therefore made it possible to recover hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars. However, Canada recovered only $21 million. How many cases here resulted in criminal convictions? The answer is a big fat zero, which is rather shameful.

  (1315)  

    Revenu Québec managed to recover more money from the Panama papers than the Canada Revenue Agency did. I feel a bit resentful about that because it seems to me that everyone pays, everyone has a hard time, and the country goes into debt when some people who should be contributing do not. The government's role is to make sure that things are fair, but it is asleep at the wheel. This does not make any sense, and it has to change.
    When I introduced my bill on a single tax return, one of the arguments that the Liberals put forward against it is that it would hinder the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance. Quite frankly, Revenu Québec is doing a better job than the Liberals just for Quebec.
    Clearly, Canada is an international laughingstock when it comes to the fight against tax avoidance and tax evasion, and the current Prime Minister and the Liberal party are largely to blame. The Prime Minister likes to project an image of himself as a progressive leader, but he is allowing the inequality gap to continue increasing by allowing access to tax havens. This is unacceptable; it has to change.
    Of course, I am also thinking of the abuse associated with the big banks on Bay Street, which all have subsidiaries in tax havens. They artificially and virtually divert funds and declare their most lucrative activities in those countries so they can pay less in taxes here.
    Throughout the pandemic, the government has been asked a number of questions in this House about companies that use tax havens to avoid paying taxes here but are supported by wage subsidies and other measures they are entitled to. The Prime Minister said this was necessary to save jobs and support the economy. That is a good argument, but if we do this, we must ensure that everyone contributes according to their means, without giving a free ride to the wealthy who use schemes and tax experts. There must be fairness for everyone.
    Canada will soon have an unprecedented opportunity. The United States Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, announced plans to crack down on tax avoidance and tax evasion. She is calling for a more vigorous and coordinated international response. I hope Canada will answer the call, reverse its permissive approach of recent years and decades and stop pandering to those who use tax havens. This is an opportunity, and people can count on the Bloc Québécois to keep an eye on things and make sure Ottawa alters its approach to this issue. This is not a trivial issue.
    Anyone who checks out the website for Morneau Shepell, former finance minister Bill Morneau's family business, can see that the company offers to advise insurance and pension funds on how to take advantage of tax havens so they do not have to pay tax in Canada.
    That brings to mind another Liberal finance minister, Paul Martin. He owned a fleet of ships called Canada Steamship Lines, which he had purchased from the Desmarais family. These ships primarily navigated the St. Lawrence but were registered in Barbados, a country that had just become a tax haven under new income tax regulations brought in on the sly. That example involves the highest political office in the country.
    The entire tax haven system needs to be replaced, and it always has. Sure, we needed an economic development and support plan during the pandemic, but at the very least, things need to be fair and everyone needs to contribute their fair share. Web giants, multinational corporations and the big banks are using tax havens, and this needs to stop right now.

  (1320)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, through some great work by the Auditor General and the PBO, we have known for a fact that many of the COVID support programs were very poorly targeted and, even more shocking, friends of the Prime Minister got single-source contracts shaped by the PMO staff, which is totally illegal. We sent money to people in businesses who should not have received it. We overpaid so much that the finance minister had to create some media spin, calling the overpayments “preloaded stimulus”, so she is clearly in damage control mode.
    Knowing all these facts, does the member really expect Canadians to have any confidence that the Liberals will be good stewards with further massive borrowing capacity?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague for her question and comments. I would also like to tell her that it is a pleasure working with her on the Standing Committee on Finance.
    In a recession, an economic recovery plan is obviously the best or the least bad solution. However, in that case, there must be full confidence in the government and the measures must be very well targeted. A business or individual should not receive money they do not really need. In fact, we know that taxpayers will have to pay back this money, and that is why it is important to properly design the measures.
    As my colleague mentioned, corners were cut in some cases. The Liberals attempted to award contracts to their friends or even did so, but this was not done to serve the common good or Canadians. It is our role to be watchful.
    The government must change its approach because Canadians must have confidence in it. In my opinion, the government made serious mistakes that are undermining this confidence. That is why we continue to be watchful and monitor what the government does.
    I would like to tell the Prime Minister and the government that there will be no more Frank Baylis ventilators.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we are well into the third wave, and we are in a situation where many small businesses and Canadians on the whole are very worried about their economic future.
    The small business community is calling for the extension of the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy, to be extended until the end of 2021. Is that something the member will support?
    Further, would the member support sector-specific funding? For example, he mentioned the live industry sector and the cultural sector. We really need to be dedicating resources to those communities so they can survive the pandemic and thrive beyond the pandemic.

  (1325)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Vancouver East for her question.
    I completely agree with her. We need to help our SMEs and our businesses for as long as the crisis lasts. Often, we are talking about businesses that have been operating for decades, family businesses, people who do not have a ton of money and who contribute to their community and to society.
    We do not want to wake up tomorrow morning and see our city centres deserted or repopulated with soulless American retailers. We therefore need to support these measures for as long as it takes.
    I also want to reiterate to the Minister of Finance that our SMEs need predictability. If the announcements are made month by month, these individuals and businesses will not necessarily make the best decisions for their survival and for the stability of the economy. They need predictability, and special measures are needed for the hardest hit sectors.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague from Joliette is a brilliant economist who knows how to explain complicated things in a simple way.
    When we invest in something, we usually expect a significant return, one that is larger than our investment. Last June, I asked the Minister of National Revenue about the $1-billion investment to combat tax havens.
    In my colleague's opinion, has that investment yielded a good return for taxpayers?
    Madam Speaker, I want to acknowledge my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou and thank her.
    Before the last election, there was plenty of talk in the House about how the billion-dollar investment would tighten the net. We saw what happened with the Panama papers: $21 million were recovered thanks to that $1-billion investment.
    Of course the Canada Revenue Agency needs the resources to investigate and put a stop to wide-open access to tax havens. That means investing and developing expertise. Despite the minister's claims, the Liberal government has completely missed the boat so far.
    I just want to remind my colleague that, two years ago, on the very day the minister signed off on a report detailing the recovery of tens of millions of dollars, the minister said the government had recovered $25 billion. We therefore have reason to doubt her competence.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague and friend from Joliette for his speech.
    That is a key issue. We are in the middle of a pandemic, a public health emergency. At the same time, we are in a climate change crisis, a climate emergency.
    The Canadian government continues to give large subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
    Would my colleague from Joliette agree that we need to eliminate these multi-billion-dollar subsidies, like the ones paid for the Trans Mountain pipeline?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague and friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands. I want to congratulate her on all the work she has done for so many years to save the planet.
    We are in the midst of a pandemic, a terrible crisis. However, the real crisis of our time is the climate change crisis. We must do everything we can to stop it. In order to succeed, we must indeed take measures to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Subsidizing pipelines and incredibly polluting fossil fuels is wrong, for we are now living in a new era. Obviously, we need to consider the people who live in those regions and we need to offer them alternatives. Let us all work together to develop the green economy.

  (1330)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I note that in the comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, he spoke pretty much about every aspect of Bill C-14 except the one that actually touches on his portfolio, which is the increase of the debt limit to $1.8 trillion.
    First, does the member think this is a matter that should be debated under a separate bill? Second, is he concerned that there is a lack of transparency by the government in bringing such an extraordinarily large measure in a bill with many other things?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. Until recently we had the chance to work together at the Standing Committee on Finance and it was always a great pleasure.
    As I said in my speech, part 7 of Bill C-14 is problematic. It calls for increasing the debt ceiling. We had questions about that, but I was quickly reassured when my questions were answered, including through the responses from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
    The problem I have is that the government brought this in out of nowhere, as though it were a foregone conclusion. We are being asked to say that the government can borrow up to $1,831 billion. The Minister of Finance could have taken the time to sit down with representatives from each party to explain where things stand, take questions, have discussions and address the challenges. Instead, here we are. In my opinion, this is the government's fault. We could have split the bill because this part is quite different from the other parts. I completely understand the concerns of my colleague and his party.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to follow up on some comments my colleague made about the energy sector in my province. The reality is that we are not going to have an economic recovery unless we are prepared to work to revitalize our critical sectors in this country, which includes resource extraction and manufacturing. It baffles me that some political parties think we can have a strong economic recovery without attending to those elements, which of course supply transfer payments to the member's province and have been key for the prosperity of the whole country.
    I wonder if he has a comment on how Quebec would do without the benefit of the transfer payments it has been receiving from energy-producing provinces for a long time.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, climate change is the defining issue of our time.
    We must transition our economy to a green economy. I know that it is quite complicated and is causing hardship for families in his riding and province who work in these sectors. I know it is not easy. However, I believe, as does my party, that we do not have a choice.
    Can we afford not to shift to a green economy and—
    Order. Resuming debate.
    The hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am hopeful that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for me to split my time with the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.
    Does the member have unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Madam Speaker, it is a huge honour to rise on behalf of the people of Courtenay—Alberni and as the critic for the federal NDP on small business, tourism, fisheries and oceans, and economic development.
    As we know, the third wave is among us, especially here in British Columbia. I would not be surprised if further measures are announced by the provincial government today, but right now we know that restaurants are closed for the better part, unless they are serving on a patio outside. Many small businesses are restricted in what they can offer right now. It is having a huge impact on everyone in all of our communities, on their mental health and well-being, and on economic opportunities. People are scared. People are wondering how they are going to survive the pandemic, especially those in the hospitality and tourism sector. We know that small business owners have done the right thing. They have closed their doors or they have adhered to public health measures to protect public health. They are truly the unsung heroes, I believe, of this pandemic.
    In my riding, tourism alone is almost 10,000 jobs, so it is having a huge impact on people in our communities. Right now we still are not seeing any supports for start-ups, for example. There is a brand new bakery called Wildflower Bakery. It really is a wildflower. It is a fabulous and great eatery that has just opened up. The bakery is employing people, creating economic development and prosperity in our community, offering diversity of cuisine. It is a new start-up and it has not been able to access the wage subsidy, rent program or the CEBA loans program, yet it is still paying rent. There are common-sense provisions that the government could provide so that it could qualify for the wage subsidy and the rent program, but the government has chosen to leave them out. It has been abandoned by the government.
    We know that there is a group that started savestartups.ca that is building momentum. This is a generation of businesses that we could lose if the government does not amend the programs and create more flexibility. We are hearing from a lot of people who have fallen through the cracks who cannot access these programs, whether it be the HASCAP or many other programs that are being offered. They might be off a basis point or two, or somehow fall through the cracks in terms of the timing of when they started or whatnot. The government needs to create more flexibility to support these businesses or we are going to lose them. The cost to the Canadian economy is much greater than saving them right now.
    We are calling on the government to come up with a program. I asked the Minister of Finance about this very concern. She said that the government understands that this is a problem and that it is looking into it. The government has been looking into it for months. Meanwhile, people are losing sleep or losing their businesses and wondering how they are going to survive it, if they can.
    The other thing that we are hearing from businesses is that they want certainty. Whether it be the wage subsidy program or the rent program, we know that there is a commitment from the government until June. We need the government to commit that it is going to be there, in place, until the end of the pandemic. We just met with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, which is deeply concerned. We know that this summer, for example, regardless of how quick the vaccine rollout is, it is very unlikely that we are going to have international tourists coming to our region. If one's business relies on international tourism, it is going to lose a second summer. We need the government to commit that it is going to be there right until the end, instead of actually doing segments like we are doing. This uncertainty is killing business. Also, it is very difficult for business owners to go out to seek financing and get the leverage needed to continue to get through these difficult times.
    The other thing is with regard to the CEBA loan program. The expected repayment date is the end of next year. It will be nearly impossible for small businesses, given that there is a third wave coming with such force and with the new variants spreading so quickly. We need the government to extend those repayment periods. In fact, I know when I had a loan with a community futures development corporation in my riding that it was a 10-year loan for $40,000, so to expect that repayment date to be the end of next year is completely unreasonable. Businesses need to be certain that they are not going to be gouged with a high interest rate should they have to repay it. As well, the government needs to increase the loan. I know the government just extended it to $60,000, but it needs to increase it to $80,000.

  (1335)  

    Given that it is the third wave, it is the third round of impact that these small businesses are going through, and it is just impossible for many of them to survive without better support. In increasing that $20,000 that they do not have to repay if they repay the loan in a certain period of time, the government could help absorb some of the costs that they are incurring.
    Also, the government is talking a lot about a child care plan. Here in British Columbia, we have a provincial government that is investing in child care, and it needs a federal partner to create accessible, affordable, universal child care for everyone. The chambers of commerce in my riding are calling for that, and were calling for it before the pandemic. In fact, the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce cited that as its number one priority before the pandemic. We know that it is needed now more than ever before, given that women have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic, and many of them are struggling with how they are going to get back to work and how they are going to get the support they need.
    As well, the government continues to not want to tackle the merchant fees. We are paying some of the highest merchant fees in the world. There is a voluntary rate of 1.4% based on the big players, whether it be Walmarts or large multinational corporations paying an even lower rate, which means that the smaller businesses are paying a higher rate. However, in Europe, they are paying 0.3%.
    We know that this is not a priority of the government. In fact, in the last government, Linda Lapointe, a former member of Parliament from Quebec, made commitments to the Quebec Convenience Stores Association and other groups in Quebec to take on this issue. She moved debate on her bill 16 times. Clearly, the government did not want this bill to be debated, and it does not want to tackle merchant fees. I was appreciative of the spirit of her efforts, but it got shut down, and the government needs to take this on. The Conservatives do not believe this is an issue that they should intervene on either. We heard from their finance critic that they do not want to see government intervene. However, government does have a role and a time to intervene, especially when small businesses and merchants are being gouged by large corporations.
     I have met with Visa and MasterCard and they say that it is not their issue but the big banks' issue. The big banks are getting record profits right now, which is public information, and they are not paying their fair share in this pandemic. We are calling on the government to hold them to task and make sure that they pay their fair share.
    Members have also heard me speak about the wild salmon emergency and how critical it is that the government invest in wild salmon in this upcoming budget. However, there is nothing in Bill C-14 for that, despite the fact that we had the lowest return in the Fraser last year and the year before.
    One thing that is really close to me and the people in my riding is the lack of investment in affordable housing. With the rapid housing initiative, the government committed $1 billion. Out of the hundreds of billions of dollars in COVID support, there are people who are most marginalized, there are people who are falling through the cracks more now than ever. They are being isolated are dying on our streets.
    We have an opioid crisis. I was talking to Julia Mewhort from Qualicum Beach, who has now joined up with Moms Stop the Harm. She lost her son, Stephen, to a preventable opioid overdose that resulted from fentanyl poisoning, a drug source that was tainted, which has killed over 16,000 Canadians, yet the government still has not declared a public health emergency. We know that it requires a national public health emergency declaration from the federal government under the Emergencies Act so that we can manage and resource this issue to reduce and eliminate deaths that are preventable. She is calling for action so that more sons like hers do not die due to tainted drugs.
     The current war on drugs has clearly been grossly ineffective and has resulted in widespread stigma for addiction and those who use illicit drugs. We know that the government's new bill still carries with it the stigma and is not solving this issue. Criminalization of particular substances has resulted in the establishment of a drug trade that now trafficks dangerous and lethal products such fentanyl.
    We need new law reform, and the Liberals are not doing enough to end the stigma. We need to decriminalize and regulate to ensure safe sources and proper measures and supports that will reduce the number of deaths that are happening in our communities. We did not see anything in Bill C-14, but I am hoping that in the next budget the government is going to make it a priority, declare a national public health emergency and invest a lot more than $1 billion in rapid housing. We are watching the sons and daughters of our communities die on the streets, and it is all preventable.

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, I always enjoy the interventions from the member across the way, specifically mentioning businesses and people who he is serving in his community. He is obviously well in touch with the people he is working with.
    I am wondering whether the hon. member could comment on the delay tactics that have been used to bring this legislation forward and whether the NDP could help us to move forward debates in the House so that we are not delayed by four months to deal with legislation such as we have in front of us today.
    Madam Speaker, it is frustrating. We have seen the Conservatives continue to delay legislation. They have not brought any new ideas forward to help in this crisis, and it has been challenging at best, but the Liberals as well are delaying. They are delaying every time that they put out programs with timelines like June. We are looking for the government to commit all the programs, whether they be the wage subsidy or the rent program, to the end of the pandemic. The small businesses need certainty. Like the member, I ran a chamber of commerce. I was deeply involved in the small business community where I come from, and they are saying they need certainty and a stronger commitment from the federal Liberal government.

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, does the member have any explanation as to why the HASCAP, a program that took forever to happen and was supposed to support those in highly affected industries, is yet again another massive failure? Why on earth would the government allow banks to deny HASCAP loans to small businesses because they cannot provide a revenue statement? How can they provide a revenue projection when they have no certainty they can reopen in 2021, due to the pathetic vaccine rollout? How can this program be so dysfunctional yet again?
    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question. We are also asking the government to fix the broken HASCAP. People cannot access the liquidity they need right now. These businesses are running out of time. I will go back to the certainty of the wage subsidy and the rent program. They need a commitment that the government is in it for the long haul, right to the very end, and will fix the broken program. Start-ups and other businesses are being left out by small slivers of the current program; programs need to be amended so they can capture these businesses and protect them. It is absolutely critical, so I appreciate her question, and we are looking to the government to answer that.
    Why is there such a slow rollout on the HASCAP, especially when businesses are desperate right now?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Courtenay—Alberni for bringing attention back to the critical public health emergency of the opioid crisis. He mentioned the extraordinary work and the courage of Moms Stop the Harm. Leslie McBain lost her son; she is one of my constituents from Pender Island. It reaches every community. It is not so much overdoses as fentanyl poisonings that are occurring, and it is urgent. I just wanted to thank him for raising it and join in his hope that we will see real movement in the upcoming budget to address the opioid crisis, if he wants to comment further on what needs to be done.
    Madam Speaker, everyone across the country is being impacted by the opioid crisis, and it is preventable.
    These are fentanyl-poisoned drugs that people are using right now, when they need a clean source. The member asked about some of the solutions. We need therapeutic treatment centres like those in Portugal. We need the government to actually declare it a national public health emergency and to build affordable housing, so that we can get people in stable housing and get them the wraparound supports they desperately need. It is the only way we are going to resolve this issue.
    I appreciate the pilot project in Vancouver and Victoria that is happening right now, but they need to broaden that right across the country. In rural communities, like where I live in Port Alberni, I have seen three of my friends' kids die in the last six months. I have not seen them, but I have known them, and these are lives that are lost that are all preventable deaths. That could have been done with common-sense policy, and instead the government is right now playing politics. That is costing people lives, and it is unnecessary. The Liberals need to take urgent action. They need to listen to Moms Stop the Harm. They talk about listening to public health, emergency and medical experts. Why are they not doing that right now, when it comes to the opioid crisis?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to give a shout-out to the member for Courtenay—Alberni. We are in neighbouring ridings on Vancouver Island, and I always appreciate his interventions in the House and the work that he does on behalf of his constituents.
    I am also pleased to be participating in today's debate to represent the good people of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford and give some of my thoughts on Bill C-14, which is coming back to the House after its long journey through committee and is to implement certain provisions of the economic statement that was tabled in the House all the way back on November 30, 2020. I have a feeling that the bill, in a week's time, is going to be greatly overshadowed by the federal budget: the first one we are going to have seen in two years. It is going to be interesting to see what the government does with its budget implementation act and with Bill C-14, because it has taken a long time for us to get to this stage.
    This is important to underline because a lot has changed in our country and around the world since the economic statement was delivered in November. In those days, we were just starting to get into the throes of the second wave of the pandemic. A lot of people were hoping that, by the spring, public health measures would have taken effect and we would largely be getting out of this ordeal, but that has not come to be. We are now very much in the grip of a third wave, and this one is very concerning because of the dangerous spread of variants of concern. Provinces such as Ontario and my home of British Columbia are seeing very worrying spikes, and this is certainly not a time for us to let up on our guard. It is certainly not a time, in particular, for the federal government to contemplate anything like an election, but it is a time to make sure the government is still there for individuals and for small businesses until our public health experts give us a clean bill of health. Until they declare that this pandemic is over, it is very important that all levels of government continue to focus on getting us through this.
    I want to underline that people are exhausted. Pandemic fatigue is very much in place. We have been going through this for over a year. People are scared. They are worried about their futures, and people are wondering how much more we can go through. That underlines the importance of the federal government still being there.
    I want to give a shout-out to communities like Port Renfrew, Lake Cowichan, Chemainus and Crofton, all the way down through the Cowichan Valley to its southern tip and the great city of Langford and the District of Highlands. The story is the same no matter which one of those communities people are in. Businesses have closed or they are operating on a razor's edge. People have lost their jobs. Front-line health care workers in hospitals in the region are dealing with so much. I want to give a shout-out to their efforts and say that we are certainly not all in this together, but we are in the same storm. Some of us have had a far greater ability to get through this than others, and for those who have been less fortunate it is very important that we collectively look after their interests.
    In order for us to get through this pandemic, Canadians are looking for some semblance of normalcy. I agree with that, but I also think they are looking for innovative and ambitious measures to fight the pandemic and to get us on to the recovery. While there are a lot of things in Bill C-14 that I can support, unfortunately there are a lot of half measures. I want to see far more commitment to strengthening our communities over the long term.
    For example, I know there have been commitments made recently by the finance minister with respect to strengthening our child care system. Unfortunately, this is a promise that we have seen all too often from the Liberal Party and, while in Bill C-14 we see measures to increase child benefit payments, it remains to be seen what kind of measures will actually be in next week's budget about strengthening the child care system. When I speak to many parents in my riding, the biggest concern aside from cost is availability. There simply are not spaces.

  (1350)  

    If we truly want parents to have full economic opportunity to participate in the workforce, particularly women who have been among the hardest hit in this pandemic, it makes economic sense to have those child care spaces so that small businesses are not losing valuable employees. When businesses are working with a staff of four or five people and they lose one, it can be devastating. It makes economic sense to be putting in these measures.
    I want to go over a few things in Bill C-14. One helpful thing it would do is lift the interest on student loans for a full fiscal year: from April 1, 2021, through to March 31, 2022. However, this clause is a perfect example of how the Liberals like to govern: It appears they are tackling a problem, but they are really only paying it lip service.
     Students have been particularly hard hit by this pandemic. I recently spoke with the Simon Fraser University Student Society. They are reporting that many of their members are using the food bank and skipping meals every single day to make their monthly budgets stretch.
    Why not be bolder? Why not eliminate the interest on student loans altogether and give young people a real chance and opportunity at a time when society expects them to be at their most productive?
    The federal government should not be profiting on the backs of students, through loans. We should be bold and get rid of the interest on student loans altogether. Let us give young people a real hand up to make their way in the world once they exit post-secondary education.
    A part of Bill C-14 refers to payments from the consolidated revenue fund toward some regional development agencies. That is good to see, but members will recall that the federal government recently made a big announcement about British Columbia getting its very own regional development agency. That is a great thing. Our province is unique. It needs to be split off from the other western provinces to recognize our unique needs.
    However, since the announcement, we have heard nothing else. The details on how this new B.C. RDA is going to come into being remain scarce. I certainly am hoping for much more detail on it.
    In the final bit of my speech, I want to speak specifically on the opioid crisis. In Bill C-14, there is an authorized payment of $64.4 million for mental health and substance use in the context of COVID-19. I want to be very clear that I think any investment in this area is welcome news. My main problem is with the amount: $64 million of investment.
    I acknowledge previous investments have been made, but $64 million spread across the country is very much a drop in the bucket. Communities like mine of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford are suffering under the opioid crisis. Every single death from fentanyl poisoning is preventable. I really need to give a shout out to the small business owners and front-line health care workers who are in the middle of this every single day. I live in a province that has been dealing with this crisis for many years, but last year we had a record number of deaths. The problem is not going away.
    We do not need just $64 million of investment. We need a federal government that is going to step up to the plate, declare a national health emergency, and work with full decriminalization of personal amounts. I know the government has introduced Bill C-22 with a declaration of principles, but that is not going to go far enough. When the Province of B.C. and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are both asking for decriminalization and the federal government does not deliver, that is a very big problem.
    The federal government needs to step up to the plate. The time for half measures in this area is well and truly over. We need bold policy.
    There is a lot to speak to in Bill C-14. It is quite a big bill. At this point, I would welcome any comments and questions from my colleagues.

  (1355)  

    The questions and comments for the hon. member will come after Oral Questions.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Newfoundland Election

    Madam Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Premier Andrew Furey on his recent election win in Newfoundland and Labrador.
    Also, I want to give special recognition to all the successful candidates in my riding of Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, all of whom I truly look forward to working with to advance the needs of our common constituents.
    While this election took many twists and turns, the people of this province have spoken to give Premier Furey a majority mandate to help guide us through the pandemic and beyond. I trust all newly elected MHAs will work together to address the many challenges facing this province, especially with COVID-19, and that our federal government will be a strong partner with the province in this fight.
    I ask everyone in the House to join me in sending congratulations and best wishes to the newly elected majority Liberal government here in Newfound and Labrador.

  (1400)  

HMCS Wetaskiwin

    Madam Speaker, as the previous member of Parliament for the constituency of Wetaskiwin, it is an absolute privilege for me to be in the House today to honour the 81st anniversary of HMCS Wetaskiwin.
    Laid down in north Vancouver on April 11, 1940, this Flower-class corvette proudly launched on July 18, 1940, and on December 17, was the first west-coast-built corvette to enter service with the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War.
    She participated in 40 transatlantic convoys, including the largest convoy of the Second World War, with 166 ships escorted without loss. On July 31, 1942, while escorting convoy ON.115, she and HMCS Skeena sank the U-boat U-588.
    HMCS Wetaskiwin received battle honours of the Atlantic 1941-1945 and of the Gulf of St. Lawrence 1944. She and her crews served our nation proudly and with honour.
    It is important to pause to reflect and remember the important events that have shaped our nation's great history.

McGill University

    Mr. Speaker, on March 31, McGill University celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding. This historic institution of higher learning has been central to Canada's intellectual, cultural, political, social and economic development.
    McGill's greatest strength has always been its people. Trailblazers such as Madeleine Parent, Maude Abbott and Ernest Rutherford have inspired generations of students. The university's faculties, including medicine, law, the arts, education, engineering, agricultural sciences and social work, have contributed immeasurably to the progress of society.

[Translation]

    Today, McGill University has some 39,700 students, including more than 27,000 undergraduate students, more than 10,000 postgraduate students, and nearly 2,000 residents, fellows and postdoctoral scholars.

[English]

    As a McGill alumnus and proud representative in Parliament of the university's Macdonald Campus, I wish McGill continued great success in its world-class educational mission.

[Translation]

Laurentian University

    Mr. Speaker, today we got some disturbing news about Laurentian University in Sudbury and the future of French-language education in Canada. The university is poised to eliminate around 60 programs in a bid to avoid bankruptcy, and programs for francophones are expected to be hit especially hard. Once again, the French language and francophone institutions are the first to be sacrificed in Canada.
    The Bloc Québécois wants to reiterate its support for Franco-Ontarians and their ongoing struggle to protect their language. The ability to study in one's own language is a fundamental right. Young people in northern Ontario's large francophone community deserve to have access to high-quality services without being forced to move to Ottawa or Quebec.
    The Minister of Official Languages needs to send a clear message today to all francophones outside Quebec. She must prove that her government is prepared to walk the talk, in light of its sudden interest in protecting French.

Edgardo Durisotti

    Mr. Speaker, artists are creators who share their vision of the world poetically.
    Today I want to pay tribute to an artist from my riding, signore Edgardo Durisotti. Born in 1929 in northern Italy and introduced to painting and other art forms at a young age, he immigrated to Canada in 1954 to create religious art. Signore Durisotti is one of the few artists to apply gold leaf to church ornaments and to restore frescoes and statues. He has left his mark on many churches in Quebec and the Maritimes.
    It was my honour to be personally acquainted with him and to have one of his works hanging on the wall in my riding office. This talented artist hung up his tools at 91, but he lives on through his work.
    Buon viaggio signore Durisotti.

  (1405)  

Robert Hakim

    Mr. Speaker, on March 31, Saguenay lost a great member of its community, a great advocate for regionalism. A friend to all and director of memories, Robert Hakim was more than a cousin to me. He was a friend. He put Saguenay on the cultural map. People from Saguenay and Quebec were able to participate in major events organized by Productions Hakim. One need think only of the Festival international des rythmes du monde and the Festival des bières du monde, which were two of his biggest accomplishments. Robert was a vital part of the community and knew practically everyone. He was intelligent, trustworthy, refined and, above all, extremely generous. He made a big difference in many people's lives, including mine.
    The entire region will miss you. On March 31, I said that Saguenay would wake up the next day to a little more darkness, one less ray of sunshine, but, in reality, Robert, your light will continue to shine bright and strong.
    Thank you for everything, and rest in peace.

[English]

Elsipogtog First Nation

    Mr. Speaker, today I am filled with both deep sorrow and great joy.
    On the opening day of my region's snow crab season last week, two members of the Elsipogtog First Nation, Seth Monahan and band councillor Craig Sock, also widely known as Jumbo, tragically lost their lives. The community has been mourning this great loss. I had the honour of having Jumbo present at my swearing-in ceremony in 2019. Seeing him sit in my seat in the chamber is a memory I will always cherish.
    Before his passing, Councillor Jumbo, along with many in the community, had been working hard for many weeks toward the goal of having Elsipogtog named this year's Kraft Hockeyville. Well, the region came together to support a community in mourning Saturday night and it was named the winner. This will allow the rebuilding of the Chief Young Eagle arena, an integral part of the community.
    The spirit and memory of Jumbo and Seth will live on in Elsipogtog, and I hope this great win will help members of the community with their healing.

[Translation]

Marisa Ferretti Barth

    Mr. Speaker, on March 28, the Italian Canadian community was saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Marisa Ferretti Barth, a caring and selfless woman, a pioneer.
     Senator Ferretti Barth was well known in Montreal. She dedicated her life to the well-being of seniors. She set up over 88 seniors' clubs and founded the Regional Council of Italian-Canadian Seniors, or RCICS. Thanks to her initiatives, hundreds, even thousands of seniors have access to living environments that help them break the fetters of isolation and allow them to flourish.

[English]

    Her impressive community achievements and memberships in various boards were recognized in 1997 when she was duly named to the Canadian Senate. Her appointment was historic, as she was the first woman of Italian origin to ascend to the top leadership position in Canada's Parliament. Her accomplishments were remarkable and noteworthy, as she achieved them despite the challenges of gender equality. Her contributions to the well-being of our seniors and to the Italian community will always be an inspiration to me and to the many who knew and worked with her.
    [Member spoke in Italian]
    [English]

Canadian Cancer Society

    Mr. Speaker, April marks the Canadian Cancer Society's daffodil campaign, an opportunity for us to show support for the over one million Canadians living with and beyond cancer, and to remember those we have lost after their own courageous battles with this disease.
    This year, the daffodil campaign has gone virtual. Canadians can go to cancer.ca to donate and create their digital daffodils to honour and remember those who have fought this terrible disease. Nearly half of Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and every family is impacted by the disease in one way or another.
    I encourage all members of this House, and indeed, all Canadians who have the means, to donate generously to this worthy cause.

  (1410)  

Search and Rescue

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share the miraculous story of Jude Leyton. On March 28, three-year-old Jude was reported missing in rural South Frontenac, Ontario, just north of my riding. The Ontario Provincial Police and community volunteers quickly coordinated a search response. This involved over 100 people navigating rough terrain as they scoured the surrounding area searching for Jude. For three long days, communities across Ontario were following the news closely, praying for Jude's safe return.
    On the afternoon of March 31, the news broke that Jude had beat the odds and was found by an emergency response team alive and well after spending three days and nights, sometimes in sub-zero temperatures and rainy conditions, roaming through the forest. As a father, and like so many parents, I was overjoyed and immensely relieved to hear that Jude was found safe. I can only imagine how his family felt when they came to learn he would be safely returned.
     It is with great respect and gratitude that I acknowledge the many police officers, community volunteers, firefighters and first responders who worked tirelessly for this incredible outcome to bring three-year-old Jude home.

Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month

    Mr. Speaker, April is Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month. It is a month to highlight and raise awareness about the critical need for more donors across the country. It is a month that encourages Canadians to register their decision. Most importantly, it is a month to encourage Canadians to have important conversations with their friends and loved ones about their decision to donate and ensure their organ donation wishes are understood.
    Every week, five Canadians die awaiting a life-saving transplant. Every week we lose five Canadians who could have enjoyed many more years of life had they received a transplant. Every day we dispose of perfectly good organs while some in our communities sit by the phone waiting for that second chance at life. Sadly, the pandemic has reduced transplants by 30% this past year.
    Canadians overwhelmingly support organ and tissue donation, but we need to take that support just one more step. Canadians should register with their provincial registries today, tell their loved ones that they want to save a life when they die, and ask their loved ones to respect their final wishes.

COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the government have not just dropped the ball. They have buried it. The government's handling of the COVID crisis will go down in history as a prime example of how not to deal with a problem of national scope.
    Last spring, the Prime Minister put all of Canada's eggs in one basket, turning to Communist China for vaccines. Last week, the Liberals decided their pet policies are more important than getting Canada's economy going and making a plan to return the lives of Canadians to normal.
    It is time for this so-called woke Prime Minister to wake up. That is why we on this side of the House are calling for a public inquiry to examine every aspect of the government's pandemic response. The Conservatives are also calling for the appointment of a special monitor from the Office of the Auditor General to track the pandemic response in real time and ensure that lessons learned are captured for future emergency responses. If nothing else, the government should try to learn from its abject failure.

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

    Mr. Speaker, I rise virtually today to express condolences on behalf of New Democrats to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the entire royal family on the death of Prince Philip. As it has been for all families who have lost loved ones during this pandemic, necessary restrictions make these losses even harder to bear.
    Prince Philip will be remembered not only for being the longest-serving consort in the history of the British monarchy, but also for being the person he was: someone dedicated to encouraging young people to set high goals and work hard to achieve them through the Duke of Edinburgh's Award; someone who recognized the importance of the conservation movement and keeping our world habitable; someone who could support a powerful and strong partner and only rarely, if ever, get caught trying to upstage her; and, someone who was a dedicated public servant, keeping an active schedule well into his nineties and even remarking at one point that he was probably the world's most experienced plaque unveiler.
     Let us not forget that Prince Philip was also a World War II naval veteran as we wish him fair winds and following seas in bidding him farewell.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Young Farmers' Day 2021

    Mr. Speaker, last Saturday was the Journée relève agricole, or young farmers' day 2021. Because of the pandemic, young farmers gathered virtually for an evening of fun and dialogue.
    We need to support the next generation of farmers and create the right conditions for them to thrive. Encouraging young farmers will benefit the economy of the entire country and ensure our food sovereignty. Government action is needed to facilitate the transfer of farms from one generation to the next and to correct the problems that make it easier to sell to a stranger rather than to one's own children.
    I also encourage parliamentarians to continue to support Bill C-216, which seeks to protect our supply-managed sectors in future trade negotiations. This will ensure predictability for young farmers working in these sectors.
    All parliamentarians must join with the Bloc and demonstrate that they are proud of our farmers and that they want to secure the future of our agricultural businesses.

[English]

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

    Mr. Speaker, I want to take this moment to give my deep condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the family of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip upon his passing earlier this week.
    Prince Philip represented a shining example of loyalty, honour and committed service, both as the Queen’s husband and consort, and in his work for the British Commonwealth. He served for decades as the Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Canadian Regiment, during which he developed a strong bond with Canada. His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was an ardent supporter of our Canadian military and its families, his ties formed and strengthened during his experiences alongside Canadians fighting in the Second World War. He visited Canada more than 60 times, including my riding of Sarnia-Lambton.
    In 2011, upon the occasion of his 90th birthday, the Canadian government honoured His Royal Highness by naming him general of the Canadian army, general of the Royal Canadian Air Force and admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy. The death of Prince Philip is a loss to the Commonwealth and its people. May he rest in peace.

[Translation]

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

    Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness last week that we learned of the passing of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

[English]

    A man of great service to others, first as a decorated naval officer and later as a dedicated leader in the area of community engagement and philanthropy, the Duke of Edinburgh always sought out the best in people and challenged them to strive for greater heights. Prince Philip maintained a very special relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces and over the years became the Colonel-in-Chief of six Canadian units.
    In 2011, he was named the honorary general of the Canadian army and the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as the honorary admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy. Prince Philip was a man of great purpose and conviction who was motivated by a sense of duty to others. Our Queen has lost a life-long companion who was always by her side. A family has lost a beloved husband, papa, grandfather and great-grandfather.

[Translation]

    On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my most sincere condolences to Queen Elizabeth II and the members of her Royal Family.
    May he rest in peace.

[English]

    There has been discussion among representatives of all parties in the House, and there is an agreement to observe a moment of silence in memory of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
    I now invite hon. members to rise.
    [A moment of silence observed]

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the third wave is here, and while other countries are getting vaccinated and opening up, Canadians are being locked down yet again. Yesterday, Canada officially passed the United States in the number of new cases per capita. Twenty per cent of Americans are fully vaccinated; only 2% of Canadians are.
    Could the Prime Minister admit that his slow vaccine rollout has resulted in the third wave of COVID-19 on Canadians and more destructive lockdowns?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, indeed, we surpassed our six-million target prior to the end of March by receiving 9.5 million doses. We are on track to get 44 million doses into this country by the end of June, and 110 million by the end of September. We will continue providing the provinces and territories with vaccines, and we will work together as a country to ensure that all Canadians who wish to have access to a vaccine will have one prior to the end of September.
    Mr. Speaker, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Americans last week to “avoid all travel to Canada”. It said, “Because of the current situation in Canada even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk”. We know the Prime Minister is trying to blame the provinces for vaccines in freezers, but it is his slow and inconsistent rollout that is causing such poor delivery.
    How does the Prime Minister mess things up so badly that travelling to Canada is now a risk to people's health?
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, my heart goes out to all who are struggling with COVID-19, whether they have been personally affected by it or whether they are on the front lines of our health care system working to save lives. The member opposite is right. Now is not the time to travel internationally, and I believe that it is very important that Canadians continue their hard work to protect each other. We know Canadians have sacrificed so much. We see the finish line. We will get there safely if we work together.
    Mr. Speaker, most of this country is facing new and devastating restrictions, and this is a direct result of the Liberal government's inability to get vaccines. To add insult to injury, Canadians are being told they are going to have to wait four months for a second dose. Canadians are being forced to accept substandard dosage intervals. Why? It is because the Liberals cannot get vaccines on time.
    How long will Canadians be punished because of the Liberals' failed vaccine rollout?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that vaccines are an important tool to save lives and stop the spread, but we also know that while we vaccinate, we have to continue to apply appropriate public health measures to protect each other. We also know that it is not the federal government that decides which public health measures need to stay in place in which province or territory.
    I want to thank all Canadians for working so hard and making so many sacrifices to protect each other, knowing that we are going to be stronger together when we get through this.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is being hit hard by the third wave, more so than other countries, all because of the Liberal government's inertia when it came time to negotiate vaccine procurement.
    Barely 2% of Canadians have received their second dose to date, compared to 11% in England and 20% in the United States. Ten times as many Americans as Canadians have been vaccinated and five times as many British people as Canadians are now vaccinated. This makes no sense for a G7 country that we are all so proud of. Why did the government drag its feet on the vaccination file?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is now on track to receive 43 million doses of vaccine by the end of June and more than enough doses for all Canadians by the end of the summer. We will not rest until all Canadians have access to the vaccine. We will continue to be involved and work with the provinces and territories in these efforts.
    Mr. Speaker, speaking of efforts, I thank the minister for speaking French and I congratulate her for her efforts.
    However, the problem is that Canadians find the facts very troubling. New COVID-19 cases are levelling off in the United States, but they have tripled in the last month in Canada. That is completely unacceptable.
    The best solution, but not the only one, is vaccination. This requires access to vaccines. The third wave that is hitting Canadians so hard is the Liberal Party wave, because the Liberal Party unfortunately dragged its feet on the vaccine file. Why did the government drop the ball?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    Once again, by the end of September, Canada will have enough vaccines for every person who wants to be vaccinated. As I have already said, Pfizer deliveries have ramped up. We will receive at least one million doses every week from March 22 to May 11.
    To date, Canada has received 10 million doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Vaccine shipments have resumed. It was a temporary delay, not a loss.

Intergovernmental Relations

    Mr. Speaker, a senior official has given us a glimpse into the federal government's mindset in the lead-up to the budget.
    In response to a question from the CBC regarding provincial jurisdictions, the official said, and I quote, “The feds have the spending power. If we set out the terms and the money, the provinces who want to be early movers on this will come on board. Those that don't will have to reckon with their electorate.”
    This is peak predatory federalism. The federal government has the money, and if we want that money, we have to do Ottawa's bidding. Why is the government taking a confrontational approach instead of working with Quebec and the provinces?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with respect, the federal government has been working hand in glove with provincial governments from the first time we got elected, in October 2015. I note in particular the health care transfers we have made to the provinces, which allow them to take care of their citizens but also target particular measures for areas such as mental health or in-home care for seniors.
    I look forward to the upcoming budget so that we can continue to invest in partnership with provinces and territories to serve the best interests of Canadian families.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary sounds like a broken record.
    Senior officials have said that Ottawa's budget strategy is to intimidate Quebec and the provinces into going along or else being cut off. That is the gist of the budget rumours we are hearing.
    Quebec needs health care transfers to be increased to 35%. Not only is Ottawa refusing to do so, but it also wants to force Quebec's long-term care homes to comply with Canadian standards and force Quebec to adopt a Canadian pharmacare program. Both of these initiatives have been unanimously rejected by the Quebec National Assembly.
    Why not simply address Quebec's needs?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague and friend spoke about rumours. I am going to talk about facts.
    The fact is that we have been working with Quebec since the very beginning of the pandemic, first with regard to equipment and now with regard to vaccines. Aside from the pandemic, there is the joint announcement at Lion Electric and our ability to work together to solve the problem of Internet access in the regions. This proves one thing: If we ignore the rumours raised by my colleague and talk about facts, we see that the two governments work very well together.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the third wave of COVID-19 is hitting hard. The variants are spreading rapidly.
    We have seen a record number of cases in Ontario, and the numbers are rising in every province. We need to immediately improve access to the paid sick leave program. We need to do everything we can to get everyone vaccinated. We need to act now.
     What is the Prime Minister waiting for?
    Mr. Speaker, we are not waiting for anything.
    We are working with all of the provinces, as we have been doing all along for PPE. Let us not forget that the Canadian Armed Forced and the Red Cross provided key support for our seniors. Our government has been working with the provinces to procure supplies and roll out the vaccines.
    This is an ongoing process. Every day we are in talks to look at how we can improve the health, safety and lives of all Canadians.
    I want to interrupt question period for a few moments.
    For the sake of the interpreters, I would ask members who are participating virtually to place their microphones either between the nose and upper lip, or between the chin and lower lip. This will make the interpreters' job easier and would be appreciated.
    The hon. member for Burnaby South.

  (1430)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is on fire. The variants are spreading rapidly. COVID cases are hitting record numbers. We have seen a record number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario. They are needing to set up field hospitals. Things are very bad. It is not good enough to sit on the sidelines and ask to help. Leadership means finding solutions. Leadership means acting now.
    Will the Prime Minister immediately improve access to the paid sick leave program, make it better and make it work? Will the Prime Minister use all tools available to assist in vaccinating everyone in this country? Will the Prime Minister act like it is the serious crisis that it is?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his deep concern for Canadians. In fact, it is actually Canada's field hospitals that are on loan to the Province of Ontario. It is a demonstration of how the federal government has been there for provinces and territories every step of the way. We will be there for as long as it takes and for as much as it takes to protect Canadians and to support provinces and territories to deliver in their health care jurisdictions.
    We will stop at nothing. I think our government has demonstrated that.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, the House of Commons directed key players in the Prime Minister's WE scandal to testify at the ethics committee. Instead of obeying the will of Canadians, the Prime Minister blocked those witnesses from testifying. Canadians deserve answers.
    Is the problem that the Prime Minister does not understand the rules, or that he believes the rules do not apply to him?
    Mr. Speaker, we believe in the principle of ministerial responsibility. It has been a long tradition in our country. We are accountable to Parliament, and our staff is accountable to us. I appeared at the ethics committee for three hours to answer many questions. My colleague, the associate minister of finance, was ready to do the same. She showed up twice, but the opposition refused to let her testify on both occasions. They say they want to ask questions, but at the same time they refuse for the minister to appear. They have to make up their mind.
    Mr. Speaker, it sounds like the government House leader does not understand the question. It is very straightforward. The House ordered witnesses to appear, and the Prime Minister and the Liberal government blocked those witnesses from appearing. Will the Prime Minister apologize for defying an order of the House? Will he agree to testify at committee, or do we need to build back with a better Prime Minister?
    Mr. Speaker, we believe in ministerial accountability. This is why our ministers appear at committees all the time. They love to answer those questions for the opposition, but the Conservatives want to ignore that tradition. That was their position at the time. What is it today? If I read what their House leader used to say at the time, it was a bit different. I will quote him: “When ministers choose to appear before committees to account for their administration, they are the best source of accountability and they must be heard. Public servants and ministerial staff support the responsibility of their ministers. They do not supplant it.”
    Mr. Speaker, sure, the minister was there to answer questions, except he did not know any of the answers. We asked, for example, why the contract with WE had been backdated more than six weeks; he did not even know that was the case. We asked why it was that they went ahead with the grant after Treasury Board found no evidence that WE could even deliver the program; he did not even know that. He did not know that the Prime Minister's Office had received promotional material from WE with his mother and wife in it.
    Did they not just send this minister over to the committee because he did not know anything and therefore could not accidentally tell the truth?
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that I was at the committee for three hours and I answered many of the questions, and all of this was to talk about a staff member who was barely involved in the issue. There was one phone call, and the opposition decided to have a three-hour meeting about one phone call, instead of concentrating on the priority of today. Our ministers appear at committee. It was a pleasure for me to appear at that committee. We do it all the time, but they should use the time that is allowed to the members to discuss the priorities of today.
    Mr. Speaker, we wanted to hear from the minister responsible, not Minister “I don't know”. That is what we got from him. He did not know any of the facts. We asked question after question, and he broke the Guinness Book of World Records for not having answers and, to his credit, openly admitting that he did not know any of the answers.
    If he does not know any of the answers, can the Liberals send another minister, who can explain why the government gave a half-billion-dollar grant to a group that had paid the Prime Minister's family half a billion dollars?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows the answers. There is nothing new there. He read from a document where the answers were already there. The problem for the Conservatives is that they are trying to say, “Aha, there's something new here”, when there is absolutely nothing. All the questions have been answered.
    We are defending ministerial responsibility, just as the member who just spoke defended it for a very long time until he changed his mind. I wonder why.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals at the defence committee just shut down the investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against General Vance. The Liberals are preventing key witnesses from appearing before committee and they are covering up what the defence minister knew about these serious allegations three years ago.
     The self-proclaimed feminist Liberal government wants to bury the truth rather than stand up for the brave women in uniform who serve us.
     Why did the Liberal government shut down the defence committee investigation that was trying to protect women in the military? What is it trying to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, I will always respect the work done by colleagues at the committee. In fact, I have worked with the national defence committee on this matter quite extensively. I appeared at the committee three times for more than six hours. I repeatedly have stated at each of those appearances, and in many times in the House of Commons, that our government, and I personally, will not stand for any form of sexual misconduct and that we will take strong action on this.
     I look forward to the recommendations of the committee when they come out.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister never did accept any responsibility. In fact, that is again another attempt on his behalf to cover up the sexual misconduct allegations he hid for three years.
     The Liberals say that they want answers, but they shut down the very committee investigation that was trying to get to the bottom of them. If the government truly cared about our women and men in uniform, they would be supporting the work of the defence committee. Instead, they are trying to stop us from hearing from key witnesses, key Liberal witnesses, so they can cover up their failures.
     When will the defence minister take responsibility for his inaction and stop his minions at the committee from obstructing the truth?
    Mr. Speaker, the committee makes its own decision, but I absolutely disagree with the member's assertions. We have taken strong action. In fact, we took strong immediate action when the information was provided and the PCO followed up the next day. I took the time, at every opportunity, to appear at committee to answer questions, in fact, for over six hours.
     I look forward to its recommendations on how we can stomp out this inappropriate behaviour inside the Canadian Armed Forces.

[Translation]

Intergovernmental Relations

     Mr. Speaker, speaking to the CBC, a senior bureaucrat revealed how Ottawa really sees its relationship with Quebec. When asked about interference in areas under provincial jurisdiction in the budget, this source stated, “The feds have the spending power. If we set out the terms and the money, the provinces who want to be early movers on this will come on board. Those that don't will have to reckon with their electorate.” In other words, we have the cash, and if Quebec wants any of it, it will have to accept our terms. How cynical.
    We are in the midst of a public health crisis. Is it not time to work together?
    Mr. Speaker, I am a bit surprised to hear the Bloc member talk about working together, because what he is trying to do with that question is pick a fight. That is the opposite of working together.
    What my colleague is saying is that one of the things Ottawa wants to do is impose its vision on Quebec, but the facts show that we work very well together. We are getting through the pandemic together. We are supplying vaccines, and Quebec is distributing them. We are doing all this together. We just addressed the issue of Internet access in the regions. We did that together. My colleague should at least have the decency to acknowledge that Ottawa and Quebec work very well together.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister is doing what the Liberals did all weekend long, that is, claiming that the Bloc wants to pick a fight. However, the rumours being leaked by the government leading up to the budget suggest that picking fights is precisely its strategy. Its senior officials are not even trying to hide the fact that they will interfere in Quebec and provincial jurisdictions, set the terms, and threaten to take away funding from governments that stand up for themselves.
    We are in the middle of a health crisis. Is this really the time to engage in such petty blackmail?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows very well, because I know him to be very well informed, that we have transferred roughly $7 billion in additional funding to Quebec, without any conditions or anything else, purely in the spirit of goodwill and collaboration.
    That is what we have been doing from the beginning. We have taken a very pragmatic approach, like Quebec, to emerge from this crisis as strong as possible, to protect the health of all Quebeckers, to solve the issue of Internet access in the regions, to invest in aerospace and to invest in Quebec society as a whole.
    The Bloc Québécois does not like this, because they become weaker when Canada is doing well, and that makes them unhappy.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, instead of trying to interfere in Quebec's jurisdictions, Ottawa should look after its own.
    Had it managed the borders as everyone had been asking it to do since the start of the pandemic, our schools might not be overwhelmed by the variants right now. Had it been quicker and more efficient at procuring vaccines, we might not be in the dark red zone today. We are paying dearly for this government's failures with respect to vaccine access and border controls.
    What makes it think it is in a position to lecture us today?
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is going to have to make up its mind.
    Two weeks ago, just before the break, the Bloc wanted to exempt all snowbirds, all of them, even those who had been vaccinated, from quarantines. Now, all of a sudden, it is saying that we must have more stringent border controls. We cannot do both. Which one is the Bloc supporting?
    The Bloc must at least be clear about that. We have been clear from the outset. We established strict rules at the border, among the strictest in the world. Why? It is because our priority is the health and safety of all Quebeckers and all Canadians.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, reports indicated the government threatened to cancel funding for the Halifax Security Forum if it awarded the John McCain Prize to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.
    The government’s attempt to silence those critical of China is shameful and it is counterproductive because it plays right into the hands of China.
     Will the government reverse its position, speak out for human rights democracy and the rule of law and support the John McCain Prize for President Tsai Ing-wen?
    Mr. Speaker, we will always be there to defend human rights. We have been there.
    In the case of China, very recently we imposed sanctions on the individuals who were identified with respect to the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. We have always spoken up very clearly, whether it is in China or in other countries, to defend the human rights of people living in those countries because it is part of our fundamental values.

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, determining the origin of the coronavirus is essential for preventing the next pandemic.
    However, we still do not know the exact origins of COVID-19, because Chinese leadership is obstructing the investigation by the WHO.
    Will the government acknowledge that the WHO caved to pressure from China, and will it work with our allies in calling for an overhaul of that organization?
    Mr. Speaker, we very clearly acknowledged in a report we worked on with other countries that more needs to be done to better understand the origins of COVID-19.
    The report that was submitted by the World Health Organization has gaps, and more information is needed to truly understand the situation.
    Canada, along with several other countries, has recognized that fact, and we encourage the World Health Organization to go further to gain a better understanding of the origins of this pandemic.

  (1445)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Taiwan’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most successful in the world. With a population of only 23 million, Taiwan has only had about a thousand coronavirus cases and 10 deaths.
    In May, Canada along with other countries, will be participating in the meeting of the World Health Organization, but Taiwan has not been invited even though it had observer status until 2017.
    Does the government support Taiwan’s participation at next month’s meeting?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on what my hon. colleague said and very clearly state that Taiwan has been extremely successful in handling the COVID-19 pandemic within its own country. There are things to be learned from its experience. We feel that dealing with the issue of the pandemic is something that should involve all those who have been forced to handle this very difficult situation.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the St. Lawrence River is one of our most precious assets. It represents hundreds of kilometres of rich biodiversity.
    The NDP supports the proposal of the International Observatory on the Rights of Nature and is calling for the St. Lawrence River to be granted legal personhood to protect it, because it is at risk. Unchecked industrialization is jeopardizing many species. The port of Montreal expansion project in Contrecoeur, the Laurentia project at the port of Quebec and the threat of the GNL Québec project are just a few examples.
    Will the overhaul of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act include recognition of the rights of nature before it is too late?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to protecting fresh water and to ensuring a safe and secure supply of water for generations to come. We have a strong and comprehensive approach and we have taken concrete and measurable actions to protect our water. That includes investing $31.5 million over five years to implement the St. Lawrence action plan.
     We are protecting the St. Lawrence though science, partnership, including with indigenous peoples and community initiatives.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was quick to say that the Conservatives were out of touch when they voted against acknowledging climate change at their convention. However, this weekend, 70% of Liberal delegates voted against ending fossil fuel subsidies to big polluters.
     The last time I called on the Prime Minister to end fossil fuel subsidies, he said that his government was on track to phasing them out, but recent reports show that is just not true. Not only are we not on schedule, but Canada has actually increased these subsidies year after year.
    If the Liberals know there is a climate crisis but refuse to take the necessary action are they really that different from the Conservatives?
    Mr. Speaker, I know the report the hon. member is quoting includes money that the NDP has voted in favour of to clean up abandoned orphan wells. We are working on ending fossil fuel subsidies and we have taken real action on climate change and will continue to do so.
     I hope members of the NDP continue to push forward for real action and help us move Bill C-12 through Parliament and into committee.

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the beginning of 2021 has brought its share of challenges and anxiety, but Canadians can take great comfort in the results of the government's vaccine procurement efforts.
    Not only did the government meet its objective of six million doses by March 31, but it exceeded its target by 3.5 million doses, which is a tremendous success.
    Can the minister give the House an update for this week, this month and this quarter that will reassure Canadians and help them keep their hopes up?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    She is right, we do have more good news for the second quarter. We will be getting five million Pfizer vaccine doses sooner than expected. To date, Quebec has received over 2.4 million doses. Another 400,000 doses will be delivered to Quebec this week.
    Canada is now on track to receive a total of 44 million doses by the end of June. We are well on the way to meeting our objectives by the end of the summer.

  (1450)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, across Canada, given frequent recent changes in advice from the federal government, people are asking questions about the AstraZeneca vaccine and about vaccine dosing interval advice in Canada. Some of this might have been alleviated if the media had access to the process by which the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, or NACI, develops its advice and how that is being used by the government.
    Most other developed nations have given the media access to their version of NACI. Why has Canada's Minister of Health not done the same?
    Mr. Speaker, I will point the member to the NACI website, which will list the decisions that NACI has made and the underpinning science and research behind those decisions. I will also point out that any Canadian, in fact anyone across the world, can sign up for regular updates from NACI. I have and it is very helpful.
    Mr. Speaker, that is a bit misleading, because NACI has not allowed media access into its meetings.
     In the last couple of weeks, we have had advice that said that AstraZeneca is safe for all age groups; then that it is only safe for those 55 to 63, but not those under 55; then the federal government said it was pausing the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and a few minutes later said it was not pausing the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, or the other way around.
    Given that NACI is a body created and appointed by the federal government, will the minister give a directive to allow media into the meetings?
    Mr. Speaker, as we have talked about before, as science and research evolves, so will the advice from the variety of different researchers and scientists who are advising Canadians.
    I will also point to the fact that it appears the member opposite is in fact trying to instill fear and anxiety in Canadians. I would say that now is the time to remind Canadians that any vaccine approved for use in Canada is safe. We will continue to monitor science and research, and update Canadians as that science and research evolves.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, I will put this question to the government again because my colleague did not get an answer earlier.
    Over the weekend, it was reported that funding for the Halifax International Security Forum would be cut because the forum wanted to award the John McCain Prize to Taiwan's president, a woman who is fighting for democracy around the world.
    I would like to know if the government has changed its mind. Will it maintain funding for this important security forum?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is an independent organization and makes its own decisions regarding these matters. In fact, when it comes to the funding, I authorized two separate funding authorizations in the last year; one in September and one in November.
    We have supported the Halifax International Security Forum for the last 10 years.

[Translation]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, I would now like to come back to the vaccines.
    For months, the Prime Minister stood in this House and told Canadians over and over that we had the largest vaccine portfolio in the world. The truth is that the Prime Minister has failed.
    Yesterday the Globe and Mail reported that Canada had surpassed the United States for the first time in the number of cases per one million people. The United States is gradually returning to normal life. Here, provinces are having to tighten and add controls. Canadians are stepping up, but they are tired of living with uncertainty.
    When will the Prime Minister admit that he failed in negotiating vaccine contracts, which is why we are still in the grip of the pandemic?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that 20% of Canadians have received at least one dose of vaccine.
    Canada now stands eighth in the G20 in terms of doses administered per 100 people. We have received 10.5 million doses in this country to date. We are on track to receive 44 million doses by the end of June and 110 million doses by the end of September.
    I would ask the opposition to co-operate and collaborate with all Canadians in the middle of this third wave so that we can ensure all Canadians are vaccinated as soon as possible.

[Translation]

Pensions

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals passed a resolution at their convention calling for old age security to be increased as of age 70, instead of 75, as the government wants. They are getting closer to the Bloc's position, which is to increase old age security for everyone 65 and older. That is the right position. The current proposal would create two classes of seniors: those aged 65 to 70 and those 70 and older.
    Why not simply increase old age security for everyone as of age 65?

  (1455)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we know seniors are living longer than ever before and are worried about rising health care costs and running out of savings as they get older.
    That is why we have reaffirmed our commitment to increase the old age pension by 10% for seniors aged 75 and over. It will bolster the financial security of over three million seniors and lift 25,000 seniors out of poverty, two-thirds of whom are women.
    Seniors built the Canada we know and love today, and they can be assured that our government will be there for them.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that is still discrimination on the basis of age.
    All seniors are experiencing a decline in purchasing power. All seniors are facing increased costs because of the pandemic. All seniors are suffering from the stay-at-home and isolation measures, and they are making sacrifices. All seniors deserve better support from the federal government.
    The government is finally recognizing that this is a problem and has publicly declared that it will increase old age security. How can it justify its illogical decision to seniors aged 65 to 75 that are being left behind and to those over the age of 75?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to touch on the point that my colleague raised about seniors' isolation, because it is a very serious issue that we are dealing with.
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, programs supporting local seniors and seniors organizations are more important than ever before. We have funded over 5,000 community support projects, supporting seniors to stay active and socially connected during the pandemic through the new horizons for seniors program. This year, increased funding and improvements to the program resulted in the highest number of applications ever, almost double the number of projects serving rural seniors and a greater share of funded projects for vulnerable seniors. It is important that we provide them with programs and support that they need and deserve.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the universal basic income, UBI, is an expensive, risky and untested experiment that will leave millions of Canadians behind as we continue to battle the pandemic.
     An extensive study was done by economists from three of Canada's leading universities. UBI is “not the best policy option to effectively tackle poverty”. It will instead leave seniors, people with disabilities, youth aging out of care and low-income Canadians worse off. Further, we know that UBI is estimated to cost an additional $93 billion annually.
     Will the Prime Minister be cutting critical social programs or raising taxes to fund this risky experiment, or both?
    Mr. Speaker, at the outset of this pandemic, we made certain that we were going to be there for Canadians in their time of need. That approach led to the creation of the Canada emergency response benefit, which has now landed on the kitchen tables of more than nine million Canadians. As we come out of this pandemic and look to continue to support Canadians as we enter the recovery phase, we are going to be considering different options to ensure that Canadians have the means to make ends meet now and going forward.
    My message to everyone listening today is that we are going to be there for them as long as it takes, no matter what it takes.

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, with the ongoing lockdowns, thanks to the Prime Minister's vaccine problems, Canadians who live and work in rural communities are stuck without reliable Internet broadband service. Farms and small businesses are severely hampered by no access to high-speed Internet for conducting daily business, like processing credit card transactions or monitoring their barns or greenhouses. Even cell-based Internet is intermittent at best and it can cost hundreds of dollars a month.
    When will this government stop the empty promises and start delivering reliable broadband for rural Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, life without high-speed Internet and cell service is difficult in the best of times. It has been particularly hard for rural and suburban Canadians, and Canadians living in smaller communities.
    We have been working to connect Canadians since our first mandate, and we have set aside the single largest investment in Canadian history in broadband. Just last week, we announced the connections along the Highway of Tears. We are connecting tens of thousands of Canadians through the rapid response universal broadband fund. We are working with our partners at SWIFT and EORN and there is more good news to come.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government continues to fail Quebeckers and all other Canadians when it comes to high-speed Internet.
    While the big players keep receiving taxpayers' money, they continue to connect senior executives, like the CEO of Bell. In nearby areas, only 20% of Quebeckers have adequate service. There is even a petition circulating in the riding of the Liberal member for the Pontiac.
    The Liberals are now in full election mode and making empty promises as usual. When will there be a real action plan?

  (1500)  

[English]

    The Prime Minister made a historic announcement with the Premier of Quebec to connect every single Quebecker to high-speed Internet over the next two years. This is a reflection of the hard work of the Liberal Quebeckers in caucus. They have done the heavy lifting, we are getting Quebeckers connected, and we will connect every Canadian to this essential service.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, the inshore fisheries of Canada's east coast are often family-run businesses that drive rural, local, regional and national economies. The fisheries in Cape Breton—Canso are the pride of our communities. I would like to know how our government is helping these family-run businesses prosper during these difficult times.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his hard work, working with harvesters, as well as the seafood sector in his riding.
    I am pleased to announce that our government put in place new measures to strengthen the independence of our hard-working interim licence-holders in Quebec and Atlantic Canada to ensure that economic benefits stay with them and within their communities. By enshrining the policies of owner-operator and fleet separation into law, we will be able to ensure that the revenue from the fisheries stays in our coastal rural communities.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, last weekend the Prime Minister had the opportunity to acknowledge Canada’s mental health crisis and the ongoing opioid crisis as he addressed his Liberal colleagues. Not once did he mention mental health or opioids. A hundred and forty days ago, parliamentarians voted unanimously to implement 988 as a three-digit national suicide hotline. Where is it?
    Liberal amendments to MAID, unbelievably, will make it easier for Canadians struggling with mental illness to end their lives. As Canadians faces two crises that are worsening by the day, why has the Prime Minister thrown in the towel and given up on our most vulnerable?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that none of that is true and he also knows that we have done more than any government to manage and support people who are living with opioid issues and problematic substance use. He also knows that it was actually the Conservatives who had a very cruel policy of eliminating harm reduction and refusing to look at the evidence and science on substance use.
    I will continue to work with the member opposite on the hotline that he knows we are working with him on, but it would be very helpful if the member opposite acknowledged things like wellnesstogether.ca so his constituents as well can get access to the help they need.

COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Mr. Speaker, pandemic restrictions are supposed to be temporary measures to buy time and get appropriate plans in place to protect Canadians. Emergency management best practices are designed to, one, contain the spread and reduce illness and death; two, mitigate societal disruption; three, minimize adverse economic impacts; and four, support the efficient use of resources. The Liberals have failed on all four. Why? Because they continue to ignore the practices of emergency management.
    When will Canadians be given an actual plan on recovery?
    Mr. Speaker, every step of the way we have been there for provinces and territories, in fact, to do exactly what the member has suggested. We have provided billions of dollars. We have provided evidence, expertise, additional hands, rapid response programs, the Canadian Red Cross, even more money, all the vaccines, all the testing, all the PPE. We have done everything we can and we will continue to do everything we can so that every Canadian can get through this safely. We will continue to be there for provinces and territories as they deliver on their health care responsibilities.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, to pay for raises, jet rides, payments to insiders and other lavish expenses, the Liberal government continues to increase taxes on Canadians who are just barely getting by. For some, a nice cold beer on a hot summer’s day was a relatively inexpensive comfort, but, sadly, that too is being taxed away. Is nothing sacred anymore?
    What other taxes is the government going to increase to pay for its lavish expenses?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, with great respect to my hon. colleague, the line of questioning he just launched is absolutely ludicrous. From day one, we have made it a priority to support middle-class Canadians and have not been afraid to ask the wealthiest Canadians to pay more. The very first thing we did when we came into office was to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1% and cut them for the middle class. We extended the Canada child benefit program to put more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 Canadian families. The very first thing we did after the 2019 campaign was to offer a middle-class tax cut for 20 million Canadians.
    The thing that these policies have in common is the Conservatives voted against them, so I will take no lessons from my hon. colleague opposite.

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, one of the most vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19 was seniors. The Minister of Seniors recently announced funding to support seniors as we continue to face this pandemic.
    Can the minister please tell this House how this funding is helping seniors across Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Newmarket—Aurora for his advocacy on behalf of seniors and for letting me share this exciting news for his riding and communities across Canada.
    This year, through the new horizons for seniors program, we are funding more than 3,000 community-based projects to support seniors. These projects will help seniors stay active, informed and socially connected during the pandemic. Our improvements and funding increase to the program resulted in almost double the number of projects serving rural seniors and a greater share of funded projects serving vulnerable seniors. This is great news for seniors all across Canada.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is on fire. People are worried. They are afraid and frustrated. To my question about the fact Ontario now had to set up field hospitals, the Minister of Health made it sound like a point of pride that the Liberal government sent the materials required for it. However, it is a mark of failure that we are at this point.
     We are calling for immediate action. It is not good enough to respond to the crisis by saying the government has sent tents for hospitals. We need to immediately make it easier to get paid sick leave and ensure everyone in the country is vaccinated. Will the government do that?
    Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite is missing the point, and the point is that we have been there for the provinces and territories every step of the way, including with billions of dollars, expertise, personal protective equipment, vaccines, rapid tests and PCR tests. The point is that we will not stop. We will be there for the provinces, territories and all Canadians within them. No matter what this virus throws at us, we are there for Canadians, including the financial supports he referenced.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, from 1938 to 1974, the Bank of Canada provided very low-interest loans to the federal and provincial governments for public infrastructure projects. Since 1974, the federal government has been borrowing from private banks and foreign lenders instead. The interest paid on those loans is $1.3 trillion. That is $1.3 trillion taxpayer dollars paid to private banks and foreign lenders.
     Will the government start using the Bank of Canada again for public infrastructure funding?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question. There are a couple of key points I would like to offer in response.
    First, the activities of the Bank of Canada, including to whom it lends, are made completely independently of the bank. I will note that the bank has put forward a number of measures over the course of the pandemic to ensure there is sufficient liquidity in the financial system in Canada to allow the government to offer its suite of programs for both the federal government and the various provinces.
    In addition, I would point out for the hon. member that we are currently benefiting from the lowest interest rates on government financing that we have had access to in over a century.
    As we launch forward into additional programs to fund public infrastructure, which will create good jobs in the short term and set the stage for long-term growth, we will do it in a fiscally responsible way.

  (1510)  

Points of Order

Oral Questions 

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, as you know, our Standing Orders prevent us from engaging in dialogue and discourse that would be considered dishonourable. In particular, one states, “Remarks directed specifically at another Member which question that Member’s integrity, honesty or character are not in order.”
    Today during question period, the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman referred to other members on the Standing Committee on National Defence as “minions”. I am wondering if he would like to apologize for making that comment to the House and for violating that standing order.
    The hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman is not responding, but I will take that under advisement and return to the House should we find it necessary.

Routine Proceedings

[ Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

Chief Electoral Officer

     Pursuant to section 536 of the Canada Elections Act, it is my duty to lay upon the table a report on the 2020 by-elections.

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 32(5), this report is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedures and House Affairs.

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 104 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in relation to the motion adopted on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, regarding sanctions imposed by the People's Republic of China.

[English]

Petitions

Hong Kong  

    Mr. Speaker, mainland China is tightening its grip on Hong Kong and its people. Recently, the territorial government signalled that Hong Kong residents who held dual citizenship had to choose between their Hong Kong identity and other national citizenships. It is a decision with severe consequences, including the loss of representation by the Government of Canada.
    For many generations, Hong Kong has accepted migrants and refugees from mainland China and elsewhere in Asia who were seeking freedoms and a better life. Today, the Hong Kong people are seeking assistance from other democracies and Canada should stand with them.
    Therefore, I table a petition signed by citizens and residents of Canada. The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to protect the rights of our citizens by informing Beijing the mobility rights of Hong Kong Canadians are non-negotiable and to be upheld; quickly open a path to Canadian citizenship for family members of Canadian citizens in Hong Kong; offer a three-year working visa with a path to citizenship for Hong Kong students completing an accredited study program in Canada; expedite asylum claims made by Hong Kong people involved in the pro-democracy movement; and work with the United Kingdom, United States, France, Australia, New Zealand and other democracies to protect the fundamental rights of all dual-national citizens living in Hong Kong.

  (1515)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I did not want to interrupt the member in his presentation of the petition, but I would ask if you could provide more information periodically, indicating that when presenting a petition, it should be somewhat concise and to the matter at hand.
    I should and the member just did it for me. I will remind hon. members to be concise and to the point. We only have a limited amount of time for petitions. It is a reminder more than anything else. I know sometimes we get involved and we get carried away.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to that. I generally agree and I do my best to keep presentation of petitions very brief. This is the first time I have presented a petition on this matter or, I believe, that any member has. Hence, it was a little longer than normal. I appreciate the Speaker's understanding in allowing me to complete the presentation. Should I come back on this, it will be brief like my other petitions.
    Again, I am not pointing fingers at anyone or blaming; it is just a reminder. I know how we all get carried away and sometimes we say more. We would like to keep it concise.
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

Conversion Therapy  

    Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions to present to the House today.
    The first petition is with respect to Bill C-6, which proposes to ban conversion therapy.
    The petitioners are supportive of the general direction of the government with respect to banning conversion therapy, but they have concerns about the drafting of the bill, in particular the definition used of conversion therapy. The definition used in the bill is not consistent with most definitions of conversion therapy that have been used or understood at other levels and in other circumstances. They are concerned about how the flaws in the definition create unintended consequences.
    The petitioners call on the government to fix the definition so we have a bill that in fact can command the full support of all members.

Ethiopia  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is with respect to the situation in the Tigray region in Ethiopia. Many Canadians are concerned about the human rights situation and the humanitarian dynamics as well.
     The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to take a more active role in responding to that conflict; to engage directly with Ethiopia and Eritrean governments on the issue; to promote long, short and medium-term election monitoring in the upcoming elections in Ethiopia; and to immediately call for independent monitoring as well as humanitarian access to the region.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition is in support of Bill S-204, which recently passed second reading and has gone to committee study in the Senate. It would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ that was taken without the consent of the person it came from. This is in response to organ harvesting and trafficking in China, but also in other countries around the world.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, the fourth and final petition calls on the House of Commons as well as the Government of Canada to recognize that Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China have been and are being subjected to genocide. It also calls for the government, in line with its obligations under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, to do all it can to protect vulnerable people in this region, to use Magnitsky sanctions and to make reforms to supply chain legislation.
    I commend these four petitions for the consideration of hon. members.

COVID-19 Emergency Response  

    Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition focused on the government's subsidy programs to support commercial businesses.
     The petitioners are concerned about the rules that exclude non-arm's-length holders who conduct their business in a 100% arm's-length manner. These businesses are in the tourism industry and they have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19.
     The petitioners call on the government to listen to their concerns and consider reviewing the rules around the commercial rent subsidy program.

Housing  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to table this petition initiated and signed by my constituents in Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
     The petitioners call on the government to take the following actions: to recognize housing unaffordability and homelessness as twin national crises; to redefine affordable housing to better reflect the economic realities of Canadians; to remove tax exemptions for real estate investment trusts; to increase regulation of foreign investment in residential real estate; to create an empty home tax for a residential property; to prioritize funding for non-profit and co-operative housing; to require covenants on taxpayer subsidized affordable housing units to ensure they remain affordable; and to create national standards to establish rent and vacancy controls.

  (1520)  

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 394, 396, 397, 398, 402, 405, 406, 411, 412, 414, 416, 418, 423, 428, 430, 437, 438, 440, 441, 443 and 450.

[Text]

Question No. 394--
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
    With regard to Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) hearings since January 1, 2016: (a) how many times has the government hired external legal representation for CITT hearings, broken down by case (or by department represented if there's an issue of confidentiality) and date of hire; (b) what is the cost associated with the hiring of external legal representation, broken down by case (or by department represented if there's an issue of confidentiality) and date of hire; and (c) what is the cost associated with internal legal representation, broken down by case (or by department represented if there's an issue of confidentiality)?
Hon. David Lametti (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the amount spent on legal matters brought before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, CITT, since January 1, 2016, to the extent that the information that has been requested is or may be protected by any legal privileges, including solicitor-client privilege, the federal Crown asserts those privileges. In this case, it has waived only solicitor-client privilege, and only to the extent of revealing the total legal costs, as defined below.
    The total legal costs, actual and notional costs, associated with matters brought before the CITT since January 1, 2016, amount to approximatively $8,105,000. These cases raise a variety of issues falling within the mandate of the CITT, including customs or excise tax matters, complaints by potential suppliers concerning procurement by the federal government, as well as issues arising under the Special Import Measures Act. In most of these files, the Crown did not initiate the proceedings but rather acted as a defendant or respondent. The services concerned are litigation services and litigation support services provided throughout the life of the file, not solely hearings, at the CITT level. They do not include services provided at other stages, for example at the Federal Court of Appeal, if the CITT decision is challenged. Most of these files are handled by Department of Justice, JUS, lawyers. JUS lawyers, notaries and paralegals are salaried public servants, and therefore no legal fees are incurred for their services. A “notional amount” can, however, be provided to account for the legal services they provide. The notional amount is calculated by multiplying the total hours recorded in the responsive files for the relevant period by the applicable approved legal services hourly rates. Actual costs represent the file-related disbursements paid by JUS and then cost-recovered from the client departments or agencies. The total legal costs, actual and notional costs, associated with files handled by JUS lawyers amount to approximatively $7,004,000. The balance, of approximatively $1,101,000, represents the costs associated with files handled by external legal agents. The Government of Canada has hired external legal agents for CITT matters 17 times since January 1, 2016.
    The total legal costs, actual and notional costs, associated with files handled by JUS lawyers are based on information currently contained in JUS systems as of February 11, 2021. The costs associated with files handled by external legal agents are based on invoices received from them and taxed by JUS as of February 25, 2021. It was not possible, given the scale of the request and the applicable deadlines, to consult all the departments and agencies responsible for these cases. The amounts provided in this response should therefore be read as approximate.
Question No. 396--
Mr. John Brassard:
    With regard to Transport Canada and flight crew and pilot ‘sit time’ for medical purposes and wait time for licenses: (a) how many licensed pilots are currently medically unfit to pilot an aircraft; (b) how many flight crew personal, excluding pilots, are currently unfit to fly; (c) how many licensed pilots and flight crew have completed the two-year ‘sit time’ and have been waiting (i) for three months for paperwork to be completed so they can return to work, (ii) for six months for paperwork to be completed so they can return to work, (iii) longer that six months for paperwork to be completed so they can return to work; and (d) how many pilot licenses are waiting to be signed by Transport Canada?
Hon. Omar Alghabra (Minister of Transport, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a), there are 170 pilots who are currently listed as medically unfit to pilot an aircraft in Transport Canada civil aviation’s, TCCA, licensing system.
    In response to parts (b) and (c), flight crew, according to the definition in Canadian aviation regulations 100.01, “means a crew member assigned to act as pilot or flight engineer of an aircraft during flight time”. TCCA does not have data about cabin crew members, e.g. flight attendants, as they do not require Transport Canada, TC, medical certification to perform their duties.
    Generally, pilots are not waiting on TC to complete licence paperwork in order to return to work. There are currently various COVID-19-related exemptions in place, which allow for pilots to continue using their current credentials to fly while waiting for licence paperwork to be completed.
    TC civil aviation medicine, CAM, was one of the first branches at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic to develop exemptions to keep aviators and controllers working without interruption. These CAM exemptions, which were issued in spring 2020 and remain in force, enable renewal of aviation medical certificates, MCs, for pilots, flight engineers and air traffic controllers, while reducing the need for face-to-face medical examinations and the regulatory demand for scarce medical resources. These exemptions allow renewal by attestations and telemedicine consultations. Regular in-person assessments also remain available for renewals and new MC applications.
    These processes are consistent with the acceptable renewal options permitted by the International Civil Aviation Organization during the COVID-19 pandemic. These exemptions optimize the use of attestations, i.e., self-declaration, and telemedicine to enable low-risk MC holders to be renewed immediately, i.e., no waiting period. Furthermore, civil aviation medical examiners remain able to renew MC in-office at their discretion.
    These renewal options have been successful in enabling the vast majority of pilots, flight engineers and air traffic controllers to retain their aviation MCs without interruption throughout the pandemic.
    While the exemptions have proven highly successful in ensuring that aviation MC holders remain certified, COVID-related disruptions to CAM administrative processes, caused by factors such as mail delivery slowdowns and government building lockdowns, have resulted in a significant lag in data entry related to MCs, including for MC holders who have remained fully certified throughout COVID. Thus, the CAM database is not able to provide the data requested.
    Furthermore, the data requested would be inaccurate, since the database also includes MC holders who have voluntarily allowed their MCs to expire, which is not necessarily indicative of a licensed pilot being medically unfit to pilot an aircraft.
    In response to part (d), if pilots fall within the parameters specified in the exemptions, they may continue to work with expired aviation document booklets as permitted/specified in the exemptions. If pilots are not covered by any of the exemptions, aviation document booklets continue to be issued in these rare cases, provided that the individual is in adherence to the regulations.
Question No. 397--
Ms. Sylvie Bérubé:
    With regard to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: has the government, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, other federal ministers and the provinces, started to develop an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration and, if so, does this action plan include (i) measures to combat injustices, (ii) measures to combat prejudice, (iii) measures to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination, including systemic discrimination, facing Indigenous peoples, as well as Indigenous seniors, youth, children, women and men, Indigenous people with disabilities and gender-diverse or two-spirit Indigenous people, (iv) measures to promote mutual respect and understanding and good relations, including through human rights training, (v) review or oversight measures, (vi) recourse avenues, (vii) redress measures, (viii) other accountability measures respecting the implementation of the Declaration, (ix) measures to follow up on its implementation, assess it and modify it?
Hon. David Lametti (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-15, an act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, was introduced on December 3, 2020 and is currently at the second reading stage in the House of Commons. The introduction of Bill C-15 was a key milestone to support the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. While the bill continues to advance through the legislative process, the government has begun preliminary discussions with indigenous peoples to determine the best path forward for the development of the action plan.
    As written, this bill would require that the action plan include, at a minimum, measures to address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against indigenous peoples; to promote mutual respect and understanding, through human rights education; and to develop monitoring, oversight or other accountability measures with respect to the implementation of the declaration.
    It is important to note that Bill C-15 requires preparation and completion of the action plan as soon as practicable, but no later than three years after the day of coming into force, recognizing that the development of an initial action plan in collaboration with first nations, Inuit and Métis partners should take adequate, but not indefinite, time.
Question No. 398--
Mrs. Stephanie Kusie:
    With regard to statistics held by the government related to the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) and reported pleasure craft incidents: (a) how many reported incidents took place each year on Canadian waters since 1999 (or as far back as PCOC statistics are available), broken down by type of incident (accident, injury, fine, etc.); and (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by (i) how many involved an operator with a PCOC, (ii) how many involved rented watercraft?
Hon. Omar Alghabra (Minister of Transport, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the department does not have a mechanism in place for mandatory reporting of incidents involving pleasure craft. The pleasure craft operator competency database only holds information related to the person who obtained a pleasure craft operator card; it does not track incidents.
Question No. 402--
Mr. Scot Davidson:
    With regard to the agreements between the government and the companies providing the COVID-19 vaccine: (a) on what date did the government ask each of these companies to manufacture those vaccines in Canada, broken down by company; and (b) what was the response of each company, and the rationale provided?
Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, a negotiation team was assembled in June 2020, led by Public Services and Procurement Canada, to initiate negotiations with leading vaccine suppliers. During these early engagements, both Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada raised domestic options for manufacturing vaccines. The specific details of the negotiations cannot be disclosed as it is confidential commercial information.
    After reviewing the options, the manufacturers concluded that biomanufacturing capacity in Canada at the time of contracting was too limited to justify the investment of capital and expertise required to start manufacturing in Canada.
Question No. 405--
Mr. Xavier Barsalou-Duval:
    With regard to confidential documents: what is the government’s disclosure policy?
Mr. Greg Fergus (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, to the President of the Treasury Board and to the Minister of Digital Government, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the security categorization of documents and the disclosure of documents are addressed through separate policies and processes.
    With respect to security categorization, the directive on security management, www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=32614, standard on security categorization, www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=32614, requires government institutions to assign security categories to information according to the degree of injury that could result if it were compromised. For instance, if unauthorized disclosure could cause injury to the national interest, the information is categorized as “classified” information, i.e., confidential, secret or top secret. Similarly, if information could cause injury outside the national interest, then this information is categorized as “protected” information, i.e., protected A, protected B or protected C, as defined in the standard on security categorization.
    With respect to disclosure, government institutions release information through a variety of means, such as by responding to requests submitted under the Access to Information Act. While the security category of a document may indicate the sensitivity of its contents, documents requested under the act may not be withheld on the basis of their security category alone. When a classified document is requested under the act, the government institution processes it like any other document, by conducting a line-by-line review to determine whether any of the exemptions or exclusions listed in the act should be applied to the information contained in the document.
    Under the policy on service and digital, www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=32603, government institutions are also required to maximize and prioritize the release of departmental information and data as an open resource on the Open Government portal, https://open.canada.ca/en, while respecting information security, privacy, and legal considerations.
Question No. 406--
Mr. Xavier Barsalou-Duval:
    With regard to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, since 1993: has the Service signed an information-sharing agreement with the Sûreté du Québec, and, if so, what is the content of that agreement?
Mr. Joël Lightbound (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of performing its duties and functions under the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, CSIS may, with approval of the minister, enter into an arrangement or otherwise co-operate with any department of the Government of Canada or the government of a province or any department thereof, or any police force in a province, with the approval of the minister responsible for policing the province.
    Given its mandate and specific operational requirements, CSIS does not generally disclose details related to operational activity, including its information-sharing arrangements.
Question No. 411--
Mr. Michael D. Chong:
    With regard to the Prime Minister’s comments on February 16, 2021 about “not applying it to things that don’t meet the very clear internationally recognized criteria around genocide” in reference to not designating the treatment of the Uyghurs by the Chinese government as genocide: what specific criteria has not been met that is preventing the government from declaring it a genocide?
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 has been clear in the view that human rights violations are occurring against Uighurs. The nature and scale of the violations by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, under the pretext of countering extremism, are deeply disturbing. Our government is gravely concerned about the existence of a large network of “political re-education” camps where credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained. We are also deeply concerned by the reports of mass separation of children from their parents.
    There are severe restrictions on freedom of religion or belief and the freedoms of movement, association and expression as well as on Uighur culture. Widespread surveillance disproportionately continues to target Uighurs and other minorities. More reports are emerging of forced labour and forced birth control, including sterilization. Actions by the Chinese government are contrary to its own constitution, are in violation of international human rights obligations and are inconsistent with the United Nations’ global counterterrorism strategy.
    The Government of the People’s Republic of China denies any and all allegations of human rights abuses against Uighur people and rejects any accountability for wrongdoing, instead casting blame on the victims and those who choose to speak out. Due diligence is needed given mounting evidence that the Chinese government’s systematic ill-treatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang amounts to crimes against humanity and constitutive elements of genocide.
    Canada, along with several other countries, has repeatedly called on the Chinese government to allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Special Procedures immediate, unfettered and meaningful access to Xinjiang. Such access would allow independent experts to assess the extent of the human rights abuses taking place.
    Canada continues to review options in addressing the gross violations of human rights taking place in Xinjiang, and understands that the most effective path lies in coordinating with our like-minded partners to maintain pressure and international focus on this issue.
    Canada has repeatedly called for an investigation so that impartial experts can observe and report on the situation first-hand. The onus must remain on the Chinese government to demonstrate that human rights abuses have ceased and that its obligations to prevent genocide are being fulfilled. More rigorous and comprehensive investigation and evaluation should occur in co-operation with our allies. Our collective voice, grounded in international law, stands to have the strongest possible impact.
    Canada continues to take action in addressing the situation based on the information it has regarding this situation. On January 12, the government announced a comprehensive approach to the human rights situation in Xinjiang, including measures to address forced labour. Canada has repeatedly raised concerns alongside our partners at the UN, including before the UN Human Rights Council, HRC, and at the UN General Assembly. In June 2020, during the 44th session of the HRC, Canada and 27 other countries signed a joint statement on the human rights situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. At the UN General Assembly Third Committee on October 6, 2020, Canada co-signed, along with 38 other countries, a joint statement on the human rights situations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
    In coordination with our international partners, we will continue to review available information and consider further options in how we address the situation in Xinjiang. We will continue to work to defend fundamental human rights and freedoms, and to call on China to uphold its international obligations.
Question No. 412--
Mr. Kenny Chiu:
    With regard to the processing of student visa applications by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC): (a) has IRCC targeted applications from students of certain countries in order to undergo heightened or additional scrutiny; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, which countries’ applications are receiving additional scrutiny; (c) what is the reason for why each country has been selected for additional scrutiny, broken down by country; and (d) what is the average additional processing time required by IRCC in order to perform the additional scrutiny?
Hon. Marco Mendicino (Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, against the threat of potential exploitation of immigration processes by foreign state actors who seek to advance their interests, the Government of Canada leverages a range of tools to protect national security, including from foreign interference actors.
    Foreign interference is a serious threat to the security of Canadians. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, has the mandate to investigate such threat activities and uses the full mandate of the CSIS Act in order to investigate, advise on and reduce these threats. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP, has a broad, multi-faceted mandate that allows it to investigate and prevent foreign interference on the basis of various laws. Immigration officers are highly trained to examine all evidence presented as part of an immigration application, including admissibility recommendations, before rendering a final decision in line with requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
    The Government of Canada takes seriously all allegations of interference by foreign states that would intimidate Canadian communities and applies a whole-of-government approach to protect national security, including from foreign interference actors.
    In response to part (a), IRCC does not target applications from students of certain countries in order to undergo heightened or additional scrutiny. All IRCC temporary and permanent residence applications are assessed for security and criminality concerns on a case-by-case basis, based on various indicators.
    Since the answer to part (a) is not affirmative, responses are not required for parts (b) through (d).
Question No. 414--
Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus:
    With regard to meetings between Public Services and Procurement Canada and either Health Canada or the Public Health Agency of Canada concerning the procurement or production of vaccines since January 1, 2020: what are the details of all such meetings involving officials at the associate deputy minister level or higher or ministers or their exempt staff, including the (i) date, (ii) title of persons in attendance, (iii) agenda items, (iv) summary of decisions made at meeting?
Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, PSPC has been in constant contact with key partners including the Public Health Agency of Canada, PHAC, Health Canada, Industry, Science and Economic Development Canada, ISED, Global Affairs Canada, the COVID Vaccine Task Force and others to plan and execute the procurement of personal protective equipment and medical equipment, such as masks, gloves, sanitizer, gowns, and ventilators; COVID-19 vaccines; and all related supplies, such as syringes and freezers. The minister, the minister’s staff and departmental officials are in constant contact with their colleagues.
    Through this close, daily collaboration, the Government of Canada has taken an aggressive procurement approach to fulfill emergent and immediate as well as long-term medical supply requirements. As a result, it has secured more than 2.5 billion articles of various personal protective equipment, and continues to receive steady, ongoing deliveries. Departments are also working together to leverage domestic supply chains.
Question No. 416--
Mr. John Nater:
    With regard to Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) support, including tax credits, provided to Huawei, since 2016: what is the total amount of SR&ED support provided annually to Huawei, broken down by year and by type of support?
Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the CRA is unable to respond in the manner requested, as confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act prevent the disclosure of taxpayer-specific information.
Question No. 418--
Mrs. Stephanie Kusie:
    With regard to the impact of the travel restrictions imposed by the government during the pandemic and the study released by Statistics Canada on October 23, 2020, which provided estimates on the amount of job losses and gross domestic product (GDP) reduction resulting from the travel restrictions: (a) what are the updated statistics on the estimated job losses and GDP reduction for 2020; and (b) what is the projected impact of the travel restrictions on job losses and GDP reduction for 2021?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the Statistics Canada study published on October 3, 2020, provided a range of estimates on the economic impact of travel restrictions on the Canadian economy in 2020. These estimates were based on several projection scenarios that were possible when the analysis was being performed, and these projection results differ from true estimates of what really happened. The scenarios involved different assumptions on when travel restrictions would be eased and what the recovery would look like after the easing of restrictions. For each scenario, a monthly recovery path for tourism activities from March to December of 2020 was assumed, as shown in chart A1 and chart A2 in the appendix of the study, which can be found at https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/ n1/pub/11-626-x/11-626 -x2020023-eng.htm. The study suggested that travel restrictions would lead to a reduction in gross domestic product, or GDP, ranging from $16 billion to $23 billon and to job losses ranging from 284,000 to 406,000 in the tourism industry in 2020.
    Since the publication of the study, Statistics Canada has published several statistics on the tourism industry, including GDP and employment, up to the third quarter of 2020. With an assumption that the fourth quarter of 2020 is similar to the third quarter, this newly released data suggests that the tourism industry could experience in 2020 a reduction in GDP of about $20 billion and job losses of about 190,000 from their 2019 levels.
    The estimated impact on jobs as suggested by the newly released data is smaller than what was presented in the study. The difference arises because the initial study focused on the impact of travel restrictions by holding constant other factors. The study explained that behavioural changes made by consumers, businesses and governments in response to shocks are not taken into account; that is, the study assumed no change in the production structure of the economy, no change in the tastes or willingness to work of impacted individuals, and no government intervention. The need for social distancing has introduced changes in the way businesses operate and how individuals work: consumers and businesses rely increasingly on online platforms to purchase and sell products and services.
    Also, the Government of Canada has responded to the pandemic with business liquidity support programs, including the Canada emergency wage subsidy, or CEWS; the Canada emergency business account; and the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program. The program take-up statistics for the CEWS suggest that the accommodation and food services industry and the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, main components of the tourism industry, are among the industries with the highest take-up rates.
    With regard to (b), Statistics Canada does not currently have an estimate for the impact of travel restrictions for 2021. Given the substantial changes that have occurred in the economy and the uncertainty regarding how consumer behaviour may have changed because of the pandemic, the methodology used in the initial study would produce estimates with unacceptable margins of error.
Question No. 423--
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
    With regard to the federal disability tax credit (DTC) that helps persons with disabilities and certain medical conditions defray unavoidable medical expenses, since fiscal year 2017-18: (a) what is the total number of DTC applicants for fiscal years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, broken down by year; (b) what is the total DTC amount claimed for fiscal years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, broken down by year; (c) what is the total number of DTC claimants for fiscal years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, broken down by year; (d) what is the total number of DTC applications that were denied for fiscal years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, broken down by year; (e) of the DTC applications that were denied, what were the tabulated and categorized reasons for their denial; (f) what is the total number of DTC applications that cited a doctor’s recommendation stating the applicant qualified for the DTC; (g) what is the total number of DTC applicants in fiscal years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, that were previously approved for the DTC; (h) of the DTC applicants in (g), how many were rejected; and (i) in deciding whether or not to approve a re-application for the DTC, what are the criterion utilized by the Canada Revenue Agency to make such a determination, and how are these criterion logged and recorded?
Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), (b), (c) and (d), information is available on the Government of Canada website. This information is compiled by calendar year rather than by fiscal year.
    The publication entitled “Disability Tax Credit Statistics – 2011 to 2019 Calendar Years”, which is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/ revenue-agency/programs/ about-canada-revenue-agency-cra /income-statistics- gst-hst-statistics/ disability-tax-credit- statistics/dtc -statistics-2019.html, provides statistics based on information that the CRA processed from applications for the disability tax credit, or DTC, or from individuals who claimed the DTC on their individual T1 income tax and benefit return. Tables 1 to 10 present demographic data by calendar year, while tables 11 to 13 present data on DTC determination and utilization for calendar years 2011-2019.
    Tables 1 to 10 contain the number of individuals with an accepted DTC certificate by restriction, age, gender, marital status and province.
    Table 11 provides a breakdown of DTC determinations by basic activity of daily living, or BADL, for DTC certificates processed during the calendar year.
    Table 12 provides the breakdown of the number of claimants from T1 returns assessed or reassessed over the calendar year. The breakdown by BADL is estimated by allocating that number by the proportion of accepted determinations by BADL published in Table 11.
    Table 13 provides the breakdown of DTC utilization from T1 returns assessed or reassessed over the calendar year. The breakdown by BADL is estimated by allocating the “Total Amount of DTC Utilized” by the proportion of accepted determinations by BADL published in Table 11.
    Tables 11, 12 and 13 replace the former “Disability Tax Credit at a glance” publication. The CRA is now publishing data by calendar year rather than by fiscal year.
    In some cases, totals may not add up due to rounding or suppression for confidentiality purposes. Please refer to the “Confidentiality procedures” section of the explanatory notes for more information.
    With regard to (e), the CRA is guided by the criteria as set out in the Income Tax Act, the ITA, and based on the specific medical information provided, the CRA does not record the information in the manner requested.
    With regard to (f), the CRA administers the DTC in accordance with the ITA. To that end, the CRA only captures the data needed to administer the DTC as prescribed under the ITA. For this reason, the CRA is unable to respond in the manner requested, as there is no legislative requirement to capture the information in this manner.
    With regard to (g) and (h), this data is not readily available. It would require a manual search that cannot be completed within the time provided under Standing Order 39(5)(a).
    With regard to (i), the CRA administers the DTC in accordance with the ITA. To that end, the CRA only captures the data needed to administer the DTC as prescribed under the ITA. For this reason, the CRA is unable to respond in the manner requested, as there is no legislative requirement to capture the information in this manner.
    Please note that the CRA’s role is to determine eligibility for the DTC based on the legislation and the information provided by the medical practitioner who certifies form T2201, the disability tax credit certificate. If the medical practitioner provides the CRA with information that suggests the patient’s severe limitations may improve over time, DTC eligibility is allowed on a temporary basis. When that period ends, it is necessary to submit a new T2201 in order for the CRA to redetermine the eligibility based on the current situation. The determining factor in all cases, whether a first-time claim or a reapplication, is based on the effects of the impairment on a person’s ability to perform the basic activities of daily living, or BADL.
    Although the ITA allows the CRA to request a new completed form T2201 at different intervals, all efforts are made to lessen the burden on the taxpayers and the medical practitioners.
    Once a determination has been completed, a notice of determination, or NOD, is sent to the taxpayer; the information is updated on the DTC database; and the taxpayer can view the disability information using the CRA’s My Account.
Question No. 428--
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
    With regard to communication between the Office of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Privy Council Office or the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the Clerk of the House of Commons between noon on February 17, 2021, and 4:00 p.m. on February 18, 2021: what are the details of all such communication, including the (i) date and time, (ii) type of communication (email, text message, phone call, verbal exchange, etc.), (iii) names and titles of the participants, (iv) sender and the receiver, if applicable, (v) subject matters, (vi) summary of the contents of the communication?
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Office of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons consults and interacts with all parties and MPs, as well as with representative of the House of Commons, in order to facilitate the mandate that the Prime Minister has given to him to lead the House leadership team to bring a collaborative and effective approach to the minority Parliament, placing a priority on transparency and communicating with Canadians on the work of their Parliament.
Question No. 430--
Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:
    With regard to the impact on the Canadian economy of the decision by the President of the United States to cancel the permits related to the Keystone XL pipeline project: (a) what are the government’s estimates on the number of job losses, both direct and indirect, as a result of the decision; and (b) what are the government’s estimates on the economic losses, both direct and indirect, as a result of the decision?
Mr. Marc Serré ((Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, following the recent decision of the U.S. administration on Keystone XL, which the Government of Canada strenuously objected to, the project proponent has stated that 1,000 construction jobs were impacted as construction season activity ceased. It had been anticipated that 2,800 construction jobs would be created in Alberta and Saskatchewan at the height of construction. The proponent has also stated that the project had been expected to create up to 17,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada.
Question No. 437--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
    With regard to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) hiring additional temporary employees for the 2021 tax season: (a) how many temporary employees is the CRA hiring; (b) prior to hiring individuals outside of government, did the CRA consider seconding individuals from other government departments or agencies who are on leave or unable to complete their regular work responsibilities due to the pandemic, and, if not, why not; and (c) how many temporary employees hired for this year's tax season were seconded from other government departments or agencies?
Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 filing season, the hiring target for CRA call centres was approximately 2,000 temporary employees by March 31, 2021.
    With regard to (b), at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRA was called upon to help administer emergency benefits on behalf of the Government of Canada. The CRA worked closely with Employment and Social Development Canada call centres to ensure adequate support was available to Canadians facing hardship as a result of the pandemic.
    In April of 2020, the CRA made a call to employees across the agency, asking those whose workloads had been deemed non-essential to work as temporary call agents. Approximately 7,000 CRA employees came forward to help. However, as CRA business resumption began, the CRA employees began returning to their regular duties.
    The CRA did not approach other government departments or agencies because we had made plans for recruitment and training of 2,000 external hires for filing season.
    With regard to (c), none of the temporary agents hired for this year's tax season were seconded from other government departments or agencies.
Question No. 438--
Mr. Marc Dalton:
    With regard to the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman: (a) how many complaints has the ombudsman received during the pandemic, since March 1, 2020; (b) what is the breakdown of complaints by type of products or services involved; (c) what is the breakdown of complaints by type of complaints; (d) how many of the complaints involved tenders related to products purchased as part of the pandemic response (PPE, ventilators, etc.); and (e) how many of the complaints involved tenders related the administration or implementation of government programs announced in response to the program?
Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), as per the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, the procurement ombudsman can review two types of complaints: complaints respecting compliance with regulations made under the Financial Administration Act regarding the award of certain contracts; and complaints respecting the administration of certain contracts.
    Since March 1, 2020, the ombudsman has received a total of five complaints regarding the award or administration of federal contracts.
    With regard to part (b), the breakdown of complaints by products or services involved is the following: environmental studies; audiovisual services; air charter services; professional, administrative and management support services; and vehicles, motor vehicles and cycles.
    With regard to part (c), of the five complaints, four were regarding the award and one was regarding the administration.
    With regard to part (d), there were no complaints regarding the tender of products purchased as part of the pandemic response.
    With regard to part (e), there were no complaints related to government programs in response to the pandemic.
Question No. 440--
Mr. James Bezan:
    With regard to the former Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, Mr. Gary Walbourne: (a) on what dates between January 1, 2018, and October 31, 2018, did he meet with the Minister of National Defence; and (b) on what dates between January 1, 2018, and October 31, 2018, did he hold a scheduled or unscheduled (i) phone call, (ii) video chat (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.), with the Minister of National Defence?
Ms. Anita Vandenbeld (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a) and part (b), concerning meetings between the Minister of National Defence and the former ombudsman Mr. Gary Walbourne between January 1, 2018, and October 31, 2018, there was one meeting on March 1, 2018.
Question No. 441--
Mr. James Bezan:
    With regard to the Minister of National Defence: (a) on what dates between January 1, 2018, and October 31, 2018, did the Minister of National Defence meet with the former Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, Mr. Gary Walbourne; and (b) on what dates between January 1, 2018, and October 31, 2018, did the Minister of National Defence hold a scheduled or unscheduled (i) phone call, (ii) video chat (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc), with Mr. Walbourne?
Ms. Anita Vandenbeld (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a) and part (b), between January 1, 2018, and October 31, 2018, the Minister of National Defence met with the former National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman once, on March 1, 2018.
Question No. 443--
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice:
    With regard to the email exchanges of February 11 and 12, 2020, between Kevin Chan, global director and head of public policy at Facebook, and Owen Ripley, director general at Canadian Heritage, regarding a job offer from Facebook, and the statement from the Minister of Canadian Heritage to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on January 29, 2021, “I did ask the department to look into the matter”: (a) on what date did the minister become aware of the email exchanges; (b) on what date did the minister ask the department to review the email exchanges; (c) based on which laws, regulations or codes did the minister ask the department to review the email exchanges; (d) what issues did the minister ask the department to review or check; (e) how long did the department’s review last; (f) under which laws, regulations or codes was the review conducted; (g) what were the findings of the department’s review; (h) when did the minister receive the department’s review; (i) what decisions did the department and the minister make following the review; and (j) what is the department’s position on requests to distribute or share job offers from registered lobbyists among public servants?
Ms. Julie Dabrusin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), the minister became aware of the email exchanges on October 28, 2020.
    With regard to part (b), on October 28, 2020, the minister’s chief of staff raised the email exchanges with the deputy minister of Canadian Heritage. As the official responsible for ensuring effective departmental management, including the conduct of departmental staff, the deputy minister informed the chief of staff of her intention to carry out a review of the circumstances surrounding the email exchanges.
    With regard to part (c), the deputy minister, as the official responsible for ensuring effective departmental management, including the conduct of departmental staff, reviewed the matter pursuant to the values and ethics code for the public sector, the Department of Canadian Heritage’s code of values and ethics, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, the Treasury Board policy on people management, the Treasury Board directive on conflict of interest, and the Treasury Board directive on terms and conditions of employment.
    With regard to part (d), the deputy minister, as the official responsible for ensuring effective departmental management, including the conduct of departmental staff, reviewed the matter pursuant to the values and ethics code for the public sector, the Department of Canadian Heritage’s code of values and ethics, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, the Treasury Board policy on people management, the Treasury Board directive on conflict of interest, and the Treasury Board directive on terms and conditions of employment.
    With regard to part (e), the department’s review lasted from October 28, 2020 to November 3, 2020.
    With regard to part (f), the deputy minister, as the official responsible for ensuring effective departmental management, including the conduct of departmental staff, reviewed the matter pursuant to the values and ethics code for the public sector, the Department of Canadian Heritage’s code of value and ethics, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, the Treasury Board policy on people management, the Treasury Board directive on conflict of interest, and the Treasury Board directive on terms and conditions of employment.
    With regard to part (g), based on the information specific to this matter, the deputy minister of Canadian Heritage determined that sharing publicly available information was not a reprehensible act.
    With regard to part (h), the results of the review were communicated orally to the minister on November 4, 2020.
    With regard to part (i), the deputy minister determined that, based on the facts related to this matter, no further action was required.
    With regard to part (j), each situation should be assessed based on their specific facts. While sharing publicly available information is not in and of itself a reprehensible act, departmental staff are expected to meet the highest standards with respect to conflict of interest, values and ethics. The Department of Canadian Heritage takes values and ethics very seriously, and has a solid framework in place to prevent and follow up on such matters.
Question No. 450--
Mr. Corey Tochor:
    With regard to the impact on the government’s estimates of the importance of the Enbridge Line 5 project: (a) what are the government’s estimates on the number of jobs at stake, both direct and indirect, dependent on the project succeeding; and (b) what are the government’s estimates on the economic impact to the Canadian economy, both direct and indirect, which is dependent on the project?
Mr. Marc Serré (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is fully committed to the continued, safe operation of Line 5. According to Enbridge, the Line 5 Sarnia petrochemical complex supports over 4,900 direct jobs and 23,500 indirect jobs. It is also responsible for over $65 billion in direct and indirect revenues, based on $28 billion in direct annual trade between Canada and the United States. In Quebec, Line 5 is a critical source of supply for the province’s refineries, supplying about two-thirds of the crude oil consumed in the province. This supports the refineries’ 1,080 employees, and more than 200 contract workers.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, furthermore, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 390, 391, 392, 393, 395, 399, 400, 401, 403, 404, 407, 408, 409, 410, 413, 415, 417, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 426, 427, 429, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 436, 439, 442, 444, 445, 446, 447, 448, 449 and 451 could all be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 390--
Mr. Pat Kelly:
    With regard to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): what are any statistics that the government has regarding demographics of CERB recipients prior to the pandemic, such as income level, employment situation (employed full-time, unemployed, student, retired, etc.), age, location information (geographic, urban vs. rural, etc.), or other similar type of statistics?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 391--
Mr. Michael Kram:
    With regard to federal government spending within the City of Regina, for each fiscal year since 2015-16, inclusively: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group, broken down by the (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency providing the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 392--
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
    With regard to public service and Crown corporation pensions: (a) what is the current account status on each pension; and (b) what is the discount rate used for each?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 393--
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
    With regard to free credit protection in relation to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): (a) how many CERB recipients are currently under investigation; (b) of the number in (a), how many are under investigation for fraudulent claims; (c) of the number in (a), how many are seniors; and (d) how many CERB recipients had no income for the previous tax year?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 395--
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
    With regard to the Canada Lands Company Limited (CLC), since 2016: (a) how many acres of land has the CLC turned over to municipalities or other jurisdictions for the development of low-income housing, broken down by municipality; (b) how many houses have been developed by CLC or in partnership with CLC; and (c) of those units in (b), how many are classified as low-income or low-cost housing?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 399--
Mrs. Karen Vecchio:
    With regard to government advertising during the Super Bowl on February 7, 2021: (a) what is the total amount spent by the government on advertising during the Super Bowl broadcast, including the pregame and postgame shows; (b) what is the breakdown of how much was spent by format, including (i) English television, (ii) French television, (iii) other language television, (iv) English radio, (v) French radio, (vi) other language radio, (vii) other types of format, such as streaming services, broken down by type; (c) what is the title and description or purpose of each government advertisement that ran during the Super Bowl; and (d) how many times did each advertisement run, broken down by format?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 400--
Mr. John Brassard:
    With regard to the Veterans Disability Program: (a) what is the oversight role of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) employees; (b) what is the oversight role of VAC executives, including key performance indicators assigned regarding the disability program; (c) what are the details of the Medavie Blue Cross contract related to the disability program, including (i) the summary of the terms of agreement, (ii) the contract start and end dates, (iii) the costs to administer, (iv) the summary of the review clauses, (v) the key performance indicators; and (d) what specific process does each application go through from the initial application until a decision is rendered?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 401--
Mr. John Brassard:
    With regard to the medical cannabis program for veterans: (a) what is the oversight role of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) employees; (b) what is the oversight role of VAC executives, including key performance indicators assigned regarding the program; (c) what are the details of the Medavie Blue Cross contract related to the medical cannabis program, including the (i) summary of the terms of agreement, (ii) contract start and end dates, (iii) costs to administer, (iv) summary of the review clauses, (v) key performance indicators; and (d) what specific process does each reimbursement application go through from the time of purchase through the reimbursement?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 403--
Mr. Xavier Barsalou-Duval:
    With regard to Canada’s constitutional system: has the Privy Council Office produced any documents, studies, opinion polls, memos or scenarios exploring the possibility of a fundamental change to Canada’s constitutional system, including the abolition of the monarchy, and, if so, what are (i) the nature of the constitutional changes being considered, (ii) the anticipated timeline for such a change, (iii) the steps that might be taken to bring about such a change, (iv) the concerns of the Privy Council Office with respect to the constitutional demands of the provinces?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 404--
Mr. Maxime Blanchette-Joncas:
    With regard to government spending in the ridings of Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Avignon—La Mitis—Matane–Matapédia, Manicouagan, Montmagny—L’Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Papineau, Honoré-Mercier, Ahuntsic-Cartierville and Québec, since 2015 and broken down by constituency: (a) what is the total annual amount, broken down by year; (b) what is the detailed annual amount, broken down by department, Crown corporation, agency or body; and (c) what grants and contributions have been made, broken down by year according to the source of the funding?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 407--
Mr. Garnett Genuis:
    With regard to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS): (a) what is the government’s position on the proposal from South Africa and India to temporarily waive certain intellectual property rights under TRIPS related to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic; (b) has the government conducted an analysis on the impacts of the proposal, and, if so, what are the details of the analysis, including methodology and findings; (c) what specific actions, if any, has the government taken to advance and promote its position; and (d) has the government made any representations to the World Trade Organization on this issue since the start of the pandemic, and if so, what are the details, including (i) the date, (ii) who made the representation, (iii) the position advocated by the government during the representation?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 408--
Mr. Steven Blaney:
    With regard to the National Shipbuilding Strategy and the Umbrella Agreement: (a) what are the total amount of contracts awarded or committed to (i) Seaspan, (ii) Irving Shipbuilding, (iii) Chantier Davie Canada Inc.; (b) what is the total backstop committed to each shipyard in (a); (c) what are the conditions which must be met to utilize the backstop provision under the umbrella agreement; (d) how many vessels are committed to each shipyard under their umbrella agreement and what are those vessels; (e) for each of the following programs, the AOPS program, the Off-shore Oceanographic Science Vessel, the Off-Shore Science Fisheries Vessels, the Canadian Surface Combatants, the Polar Icebreaker, the Program Icebreakers, and the Medium Patrol Vessels, what are the (i) projected costs (including taxes), (ii) expected delivery dates, (iii) costs for engineering and design, (iv) risks as identified by third party advisors around costs, budget and schedule; (f) what is the total number of AORs required to service a fleet of 15 surface combatants and the planned rotation schedule for each; and (g) on what date will the JSS 1 and JSS 2 (i) achieve full operational capacity, (ii) be outfitted or finished, and are there mitigating plans to provide resupply to the Royal Canadian Navy should these vessels not achieve Full Operational Capacity on the dates expected?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 409--
Mr. Steven Blaney:
    With regard to the government’s planned upgrades to the Esquimalt Graving Docks (EDG) in Victoria, British Columbia: (a) what is the timeline for the proposed upgrades; (b) what are the total committed or project investments, expenses and revenue related to the EGD for (i) 2016, (ii) 2017, (iii) 2018, (iv) 2019, (v) 2020, (vi) 2021, (vii) 2022, (viii) 2023, (ix) 2024, (x) 2025, (xi) 2026; (c) what are the uses of the facility by percentage of space utilized and period reserved from 2016 to 2026, broken down by year; (d) what is the summary of the impact and benefits of planned upgrades; (e) what is the date that any and all upgrades were approved by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and the date that funding will be released between 2019 and 2026; and (f) is there any known or unknown impact of these expansions on private shipyards in Canada and private businesses, including (i) Seaspan, (ii) Chantier Davie Canada Inc., (ii) Irving Shipbuilding, (iv) BC Shipyards?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 410--
Mr. Joël Godin:
    With regard to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program: (a) how many businesses and organizations qualified for CECRA but were not eligible for CERS due to restrictions on groups under the CERS program; (b) why did the government decide to exclude businesses receiving CECRA from the CERS program; (c) did the government take into account whether or not organizations are considered completely separate for tax purposes when determining eligibility, and, if not, why not; (d) was this decision intentional, or to what extent did the government forget it or make a mistake, and, if so, will the government change the qualification criteria; and (e) is there an appeal mechanism or recourse for businesses or organizations that were denied CERS, and, if so, what are the details?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 413--
Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus:
    With regard to government purchases of personal protective equipment: how many syringes has the government purchased, broken down by month and by type of syringe, since March 2020?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 415--
Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus:
    With regard to communications between the government and Honeywell related to procurement of surveillance technologies: (a) what are the details of all such communications with any department, agency, Crown corporation or other government entity since November 4, 2015, including the (i) date, (ii) type of communications (email, in-person meetings, etc.), (iii) subject matter discussed, (iv) title of sender and recipients for all emails, (v) title of attendees for all other forms of communications such as meetings, conference calls, etc.; and (b) with regard to communications and purchases, what are the details of all purchases of Honeywell products the government has made since November 4, 2015, including the (i) date, (ii) amount, (iii) description of products purchased, including volume, (iv) reason for or purpose of purchase, (v) whether or not contract was sole-sourced?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 417--
Mr. Michael Cooper:
    With regard to government expenditures related to Twitter since January 1, 2020, broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation or other government entity: (a) what is the total amount of expenditures related to Twitter; (b) what was the total amount spent promoting tweets; (c) what are the details of each tweet that was promoted, including the (i) handle or account, (ii) description of tweet, (iii) amount spent on promotion, (iv) date; (d) what was the total amount promoting hashtags; and (e) what are the details of all promoted hashtags, including the (i) handle or account, (ii) hashtag, (iii) amount spent on promotion, (iv) date?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 419--
Mr. Mario Beaulieu:
    With regard to the positions of deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers and associate deputy ministers, as of December 31, 2020: (a) what are the language requirements for the positions of deputy minister, assistant deputy minister and associate deputy minister; (b) what was the breakdown by first official language spoken; and (c) what was the breakdown of anglophones and francophones in positions that do or do not meet the language requirements of their position?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 420--
Mr. Brad Vis:
    With regard to the statement from the senior vice-president of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on February 4, 2021, concerning the Rapid Housing Initiative – Projects Stream that “Over 765 applications went through a triage process to assess eligibility. We have reviewed and prioritized 678 applications, requesting over $4.2 billion in funding”: (a) what are the details of each of the rejected 87 applications, including the (i) requestor, (ii) location of the project, (iii) federal electoral constituency of the project, (iv) project description, (v) amount requested, (vi) reasons for the rejection; and (b) what are the details of each of the 678 eligible applications, including (i) the requestor, (ii) the location of the project, (iii) the federal electoral constituency of the project, (iv) the project description, (v) the amount requested, (vi) the start and end date of the project, (vii) whether additional funds were received by the organization through the Rapid Housing Initiative – Major Cities Stream, and, if so, what amount was received?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 421--
Ms. Louise Chabot:
    With regard to the Canada Summer Jobs program: (a) for each of the 338 ridings in Canada, how much money, how many positions and how many hours of work were requested for fiscal year 2019-20; (b) for each of the 338 ridings in Canada, how much money, how many positions and how many hours of work were allocated for fiscal year 2019-20; (c) what is, in mathematical terms, and defining all variables, the formula that was used in fiscal year 2019-20 to determine the funding allocated to each riding; and (d) what is the share of overall funding, expressed both as a percentage and in dollars, that has been allocated to ridings in Quebec, broken down by fiscal year, since 2015-16?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 422--
Mr. Garnett Genuis:
    With regard to the Canada Service Corps initiative launched in 2018: (a) how much money has been spent on this initiative in total; (b) how many Canadian youth have participated, broken down by year and by province or territory; (c) how many volunteering projects (i) have been completed by the corps, (ii) are currently ongoing; (d) what is the (i) average number of youth volunteers involved per project, (ii) number of projects per province; (e) how many applications for service-related project funding has the government (i) received, (ii) accepted, (iii) provided funding to; (f) what is the number of service-related projects that the government (i) has funded since the beginning of the Service Corps, (ii) is currently funding; (g) what is the number of service related projects funded which were (i) national projects, (ii) regional projects, (iii) local projects; and (h) what is the number of projects funded at each of the $250, $750, and $1,500 fixed amounts?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 424--
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
    With regard to the First-Time home buyer incentive (FTHBI) announced by the government in 2019, from September 1, 2019, to date: (a) how many applicants have applied for mortgages through the FTHBI program, broken down by province and municipality; (b) of those applicants, how many have been approved and accepted mortgages through the FTHBI program, broken down by province and municipality; (c) of those applicants listed in (b), how many approved applicants have been issued the incentive in the form of a shared equity mortgage; (d) what is the total value of incentives (shared equity mortgages) under the program that have been issued, in dollars; (e) for those applicants who have been issued mortgages through the FTHBI, what is that value of each of the mortgage loans; (f) for those applicants who have been issued mortgages through the FTHBI, what is that mean value of the mortgage loan; (g) what is the total aggregate amount of money lent to homebuyers through the FTHBI to date; (h) for mortgages approved through the FTHBI, what is the breakdown of the percentage of loans originated with each lender comprising more than 5% of total loans issued; (i) for mortgages approved through the FTHBI, what is the breakdown of the value of outstanding loans insured by each Canadian mortgage insurance company as a percentage of total loans in force; and (j) what is the government’s position on expanding the FTHBI to make eligible Canadians with incomes above $120,000 a year?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 425--
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
    With regard to the federal government’s use of the Quarantine Act as part of measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, from March 1, 2020, to date: (a) how many locations in Canada have been designated isolation or quarantine sites or facilities by the government; (b) how many individuals have stayed longer than a day in these sites, for the purposes of quarantine; (c) what is the location of the quarantine sites, broken down by address, municipality and province; (d) how many federal government employees are at each location; and (e) how much has the government spent to maintain and fund each quarantine facility?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 426--
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
    With regard to treatments and therapies subject to approval for market by Health Canada, from January 1, 2016, to this date: (a) how many pharmaceutical drugs were granted market authorization by Health Canada, broken down by name of drug and date of approval; and (b) of the pharmaceutical drugs listed in (a), how many were for treatments and therapies for rare diseases, known as orphan drugs, broken down by name and date of approval?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 427--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
    With regard to the Acting Ministers Minute (P.C. 2021-0073): what are the statutory responsibilities of the minister without Portfolio (styled Special Representative for the Prairies)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 429--
Mr. Matthew Green:
    With regard to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), for fiscal years 2020-21, 2019-20, 2018-19, 2017-18, and 2016-17, broken down by year: (a) what is the net change in the number of regular members who (i) self-identified as visible minorities (persons of colour), (ii) self-identified as Indigenous persons, (iii) did not self-identify as a member of an Employment Equity Act group; (b) what is the number of regular member applicants who (i) self-identified as visible minorities (persons of colour), (ii) self-identified as Indigenous persons, (iii) did not self-identify as a member of an Employment Equity Act group; (c) what is the number of regular member applicants selected to attend the RCMP training academy (Depot) who (i) self-identified as visible minorities (persons of colour), (ii) self-identified as Indigenous persons, (iii) did not self-identify as a member of an Employment Equity Act group; (d) how many regular member applicants graduated from the RCMP training academy (Depot) who (i) self-identified as visible minorities (persons of colour), (ii) self-identified as Indigenous persons, (iii) did not self-identify as a member of an Employment Equity Act group; (e) how many of the regular members who applied for promotion, broken down by rank (Corporal to Staff Sergeant), (i) self-identified as visible minorities (persons of colour), (ii) self-identified as Indigenous persons, (iii) did not self-identify as a member of an Employment Equity Act group; (f) how many regular member promotion applicants, who reached the short list (top seven), broken down by rank (Corporal to Staff Sergeant), (i) self-identified as visible minorities (persons of colour), (ii) self-identified as Indigenous persons, (iii) did not self-identify as a member of an Employment Equity Act group; and (g) how many regular member promotions were awarded to regular members, broken down by rank (Corporal to Staff Sergeant), who (i) self-identified as visible minorities (persons of colour), (ii) self-identified as Indigenous persons, (iii) did not self-identify as a member of an Employment Equity Act group?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 431--
Mr. Philip Lawrence:
    With regard to online accounts being locked out by the Canada Revenue Agency after individuals’ information was obtained or accessed by unauthorized individuals outside of the organization since January 1, 2021: (a) how many online accounts were locked; (b) during what time periods were the accounts locked; (c) if the accounts are still locked, when will they be unlocked; (d) what specific measures were taken to notify the individuals whose accounts were locked; (e) what type of information was obtained by the unauthorized individuals that led to accounts being locked; and (f) who are the unauthorized individuals that accessed the information and where are these unauthorized individuals located?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 432--
Mr. Xavier Barsalou-Duval:
    With regard to federal spending in the constituency of Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, since October 19, 2015: what is the total amount of federal investment, broken down by (i) year, (ii) department, (iii) project?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 433--
Mr. Steven Blaney:
    With regard to the Victoria Class Submarines, since 2008 and, broken down by year, except for (f), (g), (l), (m), and (o): (a) how much has the government spent to maintain the fleet; (b) what are the details of each contract amended, including the (i) vendor, (ii) date, (iii) value of each amendment, (iv) reason for amendment; (c) what costs have been incurred by the Royal Canadian Navy to run the project office; (d) what was the cost to conduct independent reviews of the program; (e) what are the total number of sea days for each boat, broken down by vessel; (f) what are all risks identified by the government in relation to the upcoming contract tender and the possible award to another company; (g) what are all benefits and risks identified in relation to extending the current contract by more than one day; (h) what is the total number of Canadians who have been trained to maintain the submarines under the contract, broken by contractor; (i) how much was spent on transporting submarines from the east coast to the west coast and back; (j) how much was spent on submarine spares, broken down by vendor; (k) how many Canadian suppliers have been created to support the VISSC program, broken down by region and name; (l) what percentage of the current supply base is outside of Canada; (m) what are the risks related to accessing support and spares for the Victoria Class Submarines (i) presently, (ii) between 2023 and 2040, and proposed mitigation step for each by the builder and by Canada; (n) what is the total value of subcontracts awarded to Seaspan and Victoria Shipyards, broken down by the number of workers; and (o) who maintains the IP for the Victoria Class Submarines and what are the risks related to Intellectual Property for this orphan class submarine?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 434--
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice:
    With regard to the federal deductions that apply to the taxable income of individuals, between fiscal years 2012-13 and 2020-21, inclusively, broken down by each deduction and each fiscal year: (a) what is the number of individuals who claimed each deduction whose total annual income is (i) less than $60,000, (ii) less than $100,000, (iii) less than $200,000, (iv) between $200,000 and $1 million, (v) more than $1 million; (b) what is the average amount claimed by an individual whose total annual income is (i) less than $60,000, (ii) less than $100,000, (iii) less than $200,000, (iv) between $200,000 and $1 million, (v) more than $1 million; (c) what is the total amount claimed by individuals whose total annual income is (i) less than $60,000, (ii) less than $100,000, (iii) less than $200,000, (iv) between $200,000 and $1 million, (v) more than $1 million; and (d) what is the percentage of the total amount claimed by individuals whose total annual income is more than $1 million?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 435--
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice:
    With regard to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) advertising since November 4, 2015: (a) how much has CRA spent on advertising (i) on Facebook, (ii) on Xbox, Xbox 360 or Xbox One, (iii) on YouTube, (iv) in sponsored tweets on Twitter, (v) on Instagram; (b) for each advertisement, what was its (i) nature, (ii) purpose, (iii) target audience or demographic profile, (iv) cost; (c) what was the media authorization number of each advertisement; (d) what are the reference numbers of the documents, reports and memoranda concerning each advertisement or its after-the-fact evaluation; and (e) does the CRA compare the cost of advertising placement in traditional media with the media in (a), and, if so, what is the difference in cost for each of the advertisements in (b)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 436--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
    With regard to the Canada Revenue Agency hiring private firms to assist with the 2021 tax season: (a) what is the total value of all contracts signed; (b) what are the details of each contract, including the (i) vendor, (ii) amount, (iii) start and end date of the contract, (iv) description of goods or services provided; (c) what measures are in place to ensure that any information shared with these private firms is safeguarded and not subject to potential privacy breaches; and (d) for each contract in (b), did the government consider using existing government resources, including those in other departments or agencies, and, if so, why did the government decide to outsource instead of using government resources?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 439--
Mr. Marc Dalton:
    With regard to commercial space being rented by non-government clients (businesses, charities, etc.) from properties owned by the government and the impact of the pandemic: (a) what was the total amount of rent collected, broken down by month since January 1, 2020; (b) what was the total number of non-government clients as of March 1, 2020; (c) what is the current number of non-government clients; (d) as of February 1, 2021, how many clients' rent payments were (i) up to date, (ii) in arrears, broken down by how late the payments are (90 days, 180 days, etc.); (e) how many clients have been evicted since March 1, 2020; and (f) what is the breakdown of (a) through (e) by sector (retail, non­profit, etc.), if known?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 442--
Ms. Leah Gazan:
    With regard to Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and the target of 20 per cent reduction in poverty from the base year of 2015: has the government met its target, and, if not, by how much has the poverty rate in 2020 fallen from the base year of 2015?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 444--
Mr. Gord Johns:
    With regard to Motion M-225, adopted by the House on June 13, 2019: (a) has the government set a goal to prevent and end veterans homelessness in Canada by 2025; (b) what progress has the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development made towards developing a plan to present to the House to end veterans homelessness, and, if so, when will this plan be presented to the House; (c) broken down by fiscal year since 2015-16, how much funding has been put towards preventing and ending veterans homelessness through (i) Employment and Social Development Canada, (ii) Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, (iii) the Canadian Armed Forces, (iv) the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and (d) broken down by fiscal year since 2018-19, how much federal funding was directed towards the (i) Veterans Emergency Fund, (ii) Veterans and Family Well-Being Fund?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 445--
Mr. Gord Johns:
    With regard to the government’s Blue Economy Strategy: (a) how does the government define a blue economy, and is land-based aquaculture a part of that definition; (b) what consultations has the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard attended or plan to attend, broken down by date; and (c) for each consultation meeting in (b), which organizations, companies, and individuals attended or plan to attend those meetings?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 446--
Mr. Gord Johns:
    With regard to the Marine Communications and Traffic Services, broken down by centre and year since 2012: (a) what is the annual budget for each centre; (b) how many full-time staff are employed at each centre; (c) how much overtime has been claimed at each station; and (d) what is the total number of distress and safety calls that each centre responded to?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 447--
Mr. Gord Johns:
    With regard to volunteer firefighter and search and rescue volunteer services: (a) broken down by line and fiscal year between 2015-16 and 2019-20, (i) how many individuals claimed amounts on lines 362 and 395 of their individual tax returns, (ii) what was the total amount claimed in (a)(i); and (b) broken down by line and fiscal year since 2019-20, (i) how many individuals claimed amounts on lines 31220 and 31240 on their individual tax returns, (ii) what was the total amount claimed in (i)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 448--
Mrs. Marilène Gill:
    With regard to federal spending in the riding of Manicouagan for each fiscal year since 2019-20, inclusively: what are the details of all grants and contributions, and all loans to every organization, group, business or municipality, broken down by the (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency that provided the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 449--
Mr. Doug Shipley:
    With regard to the multipurpose vessels (MPVs) announced by the Prime Minister in May 2019 for the Canadian Coast Guard: (a) what is the approximate cost of each vessel, as well as the total cost of the program; (b) what are the details of all contracts issued to date related to MPVs, including the (i) amount, (ii) vendor, (iii) date of the contract, (iv) date of amendment, if applicable, (v) description of goods or services; (c) what are the costs related to the management of the MPV program, broken down by department, supplier and year; (d) what are total costs or projected costs related to the design of the MPVs, broken down by year between 2019 and 2029; (e) what are the details of the competitive process for the selection of a design for the MPVs, including the (i) number of invited bidders or potential bidders for the design work, (ii) names of invited or potential bidders with whom the government or the builder have had discussions, (iii) expected timeline for a decision on the designer for the MPVs or the name of the selected designer, (iv) date the contract was entered into for the design of the MPVs, (v) requirements for the vessels, (vi) summary of the technical statement of requirements, (vii) deadline to complete design; (f) what is the expected timeline for the delivery of vessels 1 to 16, broken down by year; (g) what is the location where each vessel (1 to 16) will be (i) constructed, (ii) launched, (iii) outfitted, (iv) at the date when it reaches initial operational capability, (v) at the date when it reaches fully operational capability; (h) what are the anticipated or projected savings, per vessel, as the builder moves from ship 1 through to ship 16; (i) what considerations, if any, were given to a fixed price build contract; (j) what incentives were offered to encourage on time and on budget delivery of the vessels; (k) what risks were identified in the program during the (i) preliminary design, (ii) basic design, (iii) construction, (iv) delivery; and (l) what specific measures were taken to mitigate each risk in (k)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 451--
Ms. Raquel Dancho:
    With regard to jobs funded through the Youth Employment Skills Strategy in the 2020 calendar year: (a) what was the total number of jobs funded through the program in 2020; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by riding; (c) what was the total amount of funding provided through the program, broken down by (i) province or territory, (ii) riding; (d) how many of the jobs funded were disrupted or eliminated as a result of measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic; (e) what amount of funding does the number of jobs in (d) represent; and (f) what is the policy related to what happens to the funding when jobs related to the funding are disrupted or eliminated?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

Request for Emergency Debate

Clean Drinking Water on Reserves  

[S. O. 52]
    The Chair has notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski.
    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 government missing its self-imposed deadline to provide clean drinking water to first nations. We need this debate. This is the first opportunity to bring this into the chamber since the government's deadline was missed this past March, but it is more than that. We are now into April, which means that the government has fundamentally broken its commitment to indigenous people.
    The fact that the deadline imposed by the government has come and gone without resolution is an emergency. The fact that the government refuses to set a date for when this will be solved is an emergency. The lack of clean drinking water is the emergency. There are still 58 emergencies in first nations as a result of decades of neglect on the part of Liberal and Conservative governments. The government will say it failed because of COVID, but we know this is not the case. In fact, the Auditor General was clear: “Indigenous Services Canada did not provide the support necessary to ensure that first nations communities have ongoing access to safe drinking water.” It is utterly shameful and beyond cynical that the government will blame its failure on COVID when we know this is not the case.
    Debating this is urgent. MPs who represent first nations know well the problem. Here in northern Manitoba, Tataskweyak Cree Nation does not have clean drinking water. The government refused to even test for the contaminant that was making people sick, forcing TCN to pay for independent testing. Stomach illnesses are widespread in the community. Children are covered in skin rashes and sores from bathing in the treated tap water. This is an emergency.
     The government continues to fight first nations in court over its own failures. Having missed its own deadline, the government still will not commit to when this problem will be fixed, instead offering up a website as its only solution. First nations, and indeed all Canadians, deserve an answer and action now. An emergency debate would allow MPs to urgently address this situation and determine a way to move forward. It would allow the Government of Canada to hear the deliberations of MPs to develop a more robust strategy, identify where gaps exist in our water-testing system and develop a clear deadline for when all Canadians will have access to clean drinking water without further delay.

  (1525)  

Clean Drinking Water on Reserves—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I thank the hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski for her intervention, however I am not satisfied that her request meets the requirements on the Standing Orders at this time.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

     The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, be read the third time and passed.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford has five minutes remaining for questions and comments.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Mr. Speaker, I was listening to my colleague's remarks before question period began. He spoke about the opioid crisis in great detail, and I share with him the sense of urgency in needing to take action. I would also say that the urgency should direct us to make sure that the action being proposed is the correct action. It is not enough to take action if we are not relatively certain that the action proposed moves in the right direction. It would seem to me that there was a great risk in his proposal for decriminalization at the present time, especially when the treatment available simply is not adequate, as I think he would acknowledge. If we undertake measures that would make it easier for people to access dangerous drugs without having treatment in place, it could create much greater risk in terms of people being exposed and getting addicted.
    Would the member agree that a better approach emphasizes public health as well as an opportunity for intervention when somebody may be vulnerable? Intervention could encourage them to seek help and treatment.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my hon. colleague.
    Decriminalization is not being called for just by the NDP. I made mention of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. I made mention of the provincial government of British Columbia. The chief medical health officer of British Columbia and countless experts in the field have all identified decriminalization as an important step out of many that we need to take.
    The stigmatization with the ongoing criminality of drug use is a major barrier to people getting help in the first place. I agree that we need a lot of treatment options. This is one step in a continuum of care, but I would argue that it is a very important step, especially for people who are suffering from ongoing stigma and who may not get the help they need because of it.
    Mr. Speaker, my question is regarding the issue of timing. This is a piece of legislation that has been before the House since last year. In fact, we can go back to when the Minister of Finance tabled the economic statement at the end of November last year. I wonder if my friend could provide his thoughts. Given the importance of this legislation and getting it passed through the system, why does he believe it has taken as much time as it has?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure there are many reasons, but if I look at how the Liberals have been scheduling House business over the last couple of months, it has been a bit of a scattergun approach. There does not seem to be any rhyme, reason or logical following for which bills are being brought up for debate. As for delay, when the Liberals decided to bring in a motion accepting Senate amendments to Bill C-7, it led to a whole new round of debate on a bill that the House had already presented its opinion on. This, of course, sidelined many other important pieces of legislation.
     I just wish that in the weeks ahead we would have a little bit more reasoning behind the scheduling of House business. I would agree with him that Bill C-14 has some important measures, and that Canadians would like to see some of the measures passed.

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    Mr. Speaker, in 1970, a national child care system was recommended by the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. Moving forward to 1993, the Liberals, in their platform, promised a national child care strategy. We have now been waiting 28 years for something that has been called for by child care workers across the country.
    How critical is it for the Liberal government to address this matter if we truly are going to honour the “she-covery” everybody is calling for?
    Mr. Speaker, I share my colleague's concerns with Liberal promises of decades that have gone by. Hopefully this is one promise that we will see an absolute commitment to, because it is incredibly important.
    I speak to young families in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. Often the complaint is that it is simply not affordable or not worth it for a person to get a second job because they would not be bringing in enough money to deal with the cost of child care. Aside from the cost, availability is also a huge issue.
     We really want both partners in young families to have an opportunity to join the work force and increase their economic opportunities. That is something that has been backed up by multiple chambers of commerce. The smart economic investment for families and their well-being is substantial investment in child care.
    Mr. Speaker, it is great to see everyone virtually as we start the next few weeks of Parliament sitting. I hope all my colleagues are doing well, and I wish all the best to them and their respective families.
    Today, I am speaking to Bill C-14, which we know contains many valuable measures to assist Canadian families as they continue to battle through COVID-19, just as the country and the world continue to battle through COVID-19. Thankfully the vaccines are arriving, and people are receiving their vaccinations. It is great to see the increase of the daily vaccination count here in the province of Ontario and to see people wanting to receive the vaccine.
    Before I begin my formal remarks, I would like to say a quick thank you to all the front-line workers, including the individuals at Canada's Wonderland, and at the new Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital here in the city of Vaughan, who are getting people vaccinated, doing it for hours and hours a day, and doing it with a smile. It is great to see.
     That is what Canada is about, our ability to rise to the occasion. That is what Canadians are doing on a daily basis, and what they expect from the 338 members of Parliament. They expect us to do the good work we are sent here to do and make sure we have their backs. We always need to think about that.
    Bill C-14 would implement several measures from the 2020 fall economic statement that would provide critical support to Canadians and businesses during the pandemic. These measures are targeted and offer a lifeline to Canadians who need them most at this critical time in their lives, and at a critical time for the country.
    Allow me to outline some of the key measures that this bill would put in place. There would be immediate support for families with young children. Families have been facing uncertainty with cancellations of in-person classes at schools, as well as day care closures. As a result many families with young children have had to find temporary alternatives to their regular child care arrangements. This is often at higher and unanticipated costs for Canadian families with children. It has also placed an undue burden on caregivers, the majority of whom are women.
    The government is committed to helping the many families who have been struggling with a wide range of unexpected expenses. Bill C-14 would provide immediate relief for low- and middle-income families with young children who are entitled to the Canada child benefit, or CCB. We are calling it the young child supplement. For these families, we are proposing to provide up to $1,200 in 2021 for each child under the age of six. This would represent an increase of almost 20% over the current maximum annual CCB payment and would have a meaningful impact for families in need of this support during the pandemic.
    As I was about to begin today's speech, we received news here in the beautiful province of Ontario that the Minister of Education would be indefinitely postponing in-class learning for students across Ontario. My understanding is that means two million children will now be at home for an additional few weeks. It is the delayed spring break this week. My two daughters are at home, and I now anticipate they are going to be home for several more weeks.
    I implore all members of the House to get this legislation passed. Let us get it to the Senate and let us get royal assent on it, so that we could provide assistance to all these families here in Ontario and, of course, across Canada, so they can ensure their kids are looked after and any additional expenses are covered. Frankly, individuals should not be faced with tough choices for their families, in terms of food or school supplies or anything of that nature that we do not even want to imagine or think about.
    Again, I ask all members of Parliament, and I ask the official opposition, to join us in passing Bill C-14. Specifically, if there is one measure in here that we could all agree upon, it is the Canada child benefit. Let us get this entire bill done and through Parliament.
    Families entitled to the CCB who have a net income above $120,000 would receive a total benefit of $600 for each child under the age of six. The support would automatically be delivered or deposited over the course of 2021 into the bank accounts of families entitled to the CCB. Those who have a net income at or below $120,000 would receive the maximum of $1,200. These payments would start to roll out shortly, after the passage of Bill C-14.
    This temporary assistance would directly benefit about 1.6 million families, which represents about 2.1 million children, during a period when families are still grappling with the financial impacts of the pandemic and the recent third wave, which has closed schools and day care centres in some provinces and territories. Again, I am alluding to the news we had here today in the province of Ontario. It is clear that this important assistance to families in their time of need should be approved as soon as possible.

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    The pandemic has also been particularly hard on young people. We know that. We see that in the labour force statistics. We see the elevated unemployment rates for young men and young women, who are unfortunately not working at this time. We see it in the lower participation rates for these cohorts of people. Internships and summer jobs have become scarce, as Canadians did the right thing and stayed at home. The government is working to ensure the pandemic does not derail young Canadians' futures.
    In addition to proposed measures from the fall economic statement that would provide more opportunities for young people to gain work experience, our government is also proposing to ease the financial burden on recent graduates. Bill C-14 would ease the burden of student debt by eliminating interest accrual on the repayment of Canada's student loans and Canada apprenticeship loans for 2021-22.
    This important message and measure, which has received praise from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, would bring $329.4 million in relief to up to 1.4 million Canadians with student debt who are looking for work or are otherwise in the early stages of their careers. It would also help graduates from low- and middle-income families, who tend to have higher levels of financial need. The government also proposes to build on the employment job skills development and educational supports provided to youth and students over the summer.
    I want to remind all members of Parliament that our support for students is not just this one-time measure. Since budget 2015, and really since budget 2016, I have received some questions in prior debates about what we have done for students. Budget 2016 alone provided $2.7 billion over five years of investments into the Canada student loans program.
    One measure that I want to make sure we all remember is that of increasing the repayment assistance plan eligibility thresholds starting on November 1, 2016, to ensure that no student had to repay their Canada student loan until they were earning at least $25,000 per year. I can spend a few hours speaking about our supports for students, but I want to ensure that all parliamentarians are aware that we have supported students since the first time we were elected, in our first mandate, and we will continue to do so through COVID and as we exit the pandemic.
    Let us speak about the Borrowing Authority Act. Beginning in 2017, in recognition that we needed to restore the requirement of parliamentary approval of government borrowing, the government enacted the Borrowing Authority Act. This important piece of legislation sets out a legislative maximum amount on total borrowing by the government and agent crown corporations and requires the Minister of Finance to update parliamentarians on how borrowing needs evolve on a regular basis.
    In recognition of the impact of COVID on the government's borrowing, the Minister of Finance proposed in the fall economic statement to amend the Borrowing Authority Act to increase the borrowing limit. This proposed measure in Bill C-14 would increase the maximum borrowing amount to $1.831 billion to cover projected borrowings out to March 2024 and include extraordinary borrowings made because of COVID-19. Including these extraordinary borrowings in the new maximum will provide greater transparency on the government's debt program to Canadians.
    I want to address something related to this, and I wish to be very precise here. It is something that the Deputy Prime Minister raised during FINA's consideration of Bill C-14. The increase in the borrowing authority is in no way a blank cheque. Every single expenditure by the government needs to be authorized by Parliament, by the 338 individuals who have the privilege of sitting in our Parliament.
    The borrowing authority sets a transparent and accountable maximum limit as to how much the government can borrow. Passing Bill C-14 would allow the government to continue to take decisive action to provide the support to people, businesses, our friends, our neighbours and their families. This support is needed to weather this pandemic. The action the government has taken and plans to take will help Canada come roaring back from the COVID-19 recession and prevent the long-term economic scarring that would weaken our post-pandemic recovery.
    We are seeing the benefits of the programs that were put in place. For example, the Canada emergency wage subsidy, which allowed us to maintain the attachment between employer and employee and has seen us through to the reopening throughout the country. Our March labour force statistics show over 300,000 jobs were recovered and created here in the country. That is something great. Our unemployment went down to 7.5%, if I remember correctly. Our participation rate went up and this is a direction we are happy to see, but we know how much the work continues and is needed.

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    We believe that we will return to recovery, but we are not there yet. The government will continue to provide support to Canadians and ensure the economy can get back on track. The measures I have mentioned are just part of the government's pandemic response and plans for recovery.
    I wish to touch upon the long-term care situation that we have seen across the country. Thankfully, through the vaccine procurement and rollout, our long-term care situation has stabilized, and I thank the minister from the riding of Oakville on the wonderful job she has done. However, we know we need to continue to make investments, and part of Bill C-14 is to provide funding of up $505.7 million as part of the new safe long-term care fund to support long-term care facilities, including funding in support of care facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths.
    I wish to thank the Canadian Armed Forces. They came to the riding I represent, Vaughan—Woodbridge. They went to the Woodbridge long-term care facility and stabilized the situation. It was a very drastic situation in the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many residents, unfortunately, lost their lives. The Canadian Armed Forces have been called upon again and again, and they have done their duties with exemplary service. I wish to thank them again.
    Finally, Bill C-14 would enable the government to move forward with implementing the important measures from the fall economic statement, which will help bridge the country to the other side of the pandemic. I urge all members of this House to support this important legislation at this most extraordinary period of time we find ourselves in. The world continues to face this, as every country and all leaders continue the vaccine rollout and get the vaccines to their citizens. We are seeing it here.
    I am so happy to see the millions of doses arriving in Canada on a weekly basis, and that Canadians are doing their part in getting vaccinated.
    Mr. Speaker, the member spoke much about part 7 and, as always, the devil is in the details. Part 7, the Borrowing Authority Act, would increase the amount of borrowing by an astronomical figure, but with a qualifier. In the Financial Administration Act, in paragraph 46.1, the wording permits the government to borrow any amount to pay back debt, and Canadians are very concerned that this is just a blank cheque.
    Please tell us how you expect Canadians to believe you are not going to just continue spending on things we should not be spending on.

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    I would remind hon. members to direct their comments to the Chair.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, we as a government, in collaboration with all provinces, have put in place a number of programs to assist Canadians. I was looking at the numbers today. We speak about what the government is investing in for Canadians, and right now we have Canadians' backs. We have their backs during this most extraordinary period of time.
    We must be able to utilize various measures to fund these measures, including the recovery benefits, and this includes the Borrowing Authority Act. That is at page 141 of the fall economic statement. It is very detailed in terms of what these borrowings are being used for. They are being utilized to support Canadians during this most extraordinary period of time.
    Nearly two million Canadians have applied for the Canada recovery benefits during this time because they continue to be impacted due to COVID-19.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to my colleague a big issue with the Canada recovery benefit.
    Hospitals in Quebec and Ontario are currently in triage mode, and surgeries have been pushed back because of the pandemic. As we know, EI sickness benefits were not extended to 50 weeks. There are people who are not eligible for the Canada recovery benefit, and since their surgery has been pushed back, they are left with nothing. People in my riding are being forced to dip into their RRSP to survive. This provides further proof that EI sickness benefits should be extended to 50 weeks.
    What does my colleague think of that?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as a nation going through COVID-19, our government has put in place a number of programs to assist Canadians at this very important period of time. If we look at the number of programs put in place, including the safe restart agreement, the flexibility we have afforded the EI system and the recovery benefits, we have strengthened our social safety net when it is most required and timely to do so. Those measures are assisting Canadians to the best of our ability today. We can look at how we can strengthen the EI system going forward.
    I look forward to having that debate with my hon. colleague from the riding of Jonquière and all other members of Parliament.
    Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about students and all the wonderful things the government had done for them. He mentioned that the government had forgiven $2.7 billion, but he failed to mention the fact that in 2016, the government collected $635 million; in 2017, $662 million; and in 2018, $862 million. Students owe $28 billion to the federal government from which it is making a profit. Therefore, the forgiveness he talks about is ultimately coming off the backs of students.
    We know that when we invest in education, we get $7 for every dollar we invest. Could the member talk about something that would show some more political courage? The New Democrats are talking about eliminating student loans entirely. We are talking about making post-secondary education free, because we see the value that this has for our future. Maybe he could talk about that and show some political courage.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for London—Fanshawe for her passion and obvious advocacy for students across the country.
    We know that Canadians are one of the most educated peoples in the world. Our education system is second to none. As a government, we will continue to fund education on the post-secondary level in terms of research grants and by investing literally hundreds of millions of dollars in our institutions. We will continue to do that.
     We will also continue to assist students with respect to the affordability of receiving education. There have been increases in grants from the Canada students grant program. There have also been many actions to ensure that once students finish university or college, they can actually start working. Once they achieve a certain level of income, which is above the $25,000 mark, then they can start to repay their student loans. That is a very diligent and judicious manner of investing in education, supporting our students and supporting our overall post-secondary education system.

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[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, does my colleague not think that the government's failure over the years to meet its responsibility to increase health transfers, as Quebec and the provinces have unanimously been calling for, and the fact that the health transfers have not been properly indexed contributed to the overall decline of health care systems in Quebec and the provinces during the pandemic, forcing the government to take measures that it probably could have avoided if the health transfers had allowed the provincial governments to do their job properly with their own health care systems?
    It is very disappointing to me to see no mention of permanent, unconditional health transfers in the economic statement.
    I would like my colleague's opinion on the effect this may have had on our health care systems during a crisis.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians from coast to coast to coast very much cherish and value our health system. We need to continue to invest in it. We have worked with the provinces collaboratively through the safe restart agreement and through utilizing the Canadian Armed Forces to assist individual provinces in their time of need. We will continue to do so. We will continue to make those investments in individuals such as our seniors, but also directly in our health care system.
     I look forward to those negotiations in terms of what the Minister of Finance lays out in the budget, with measures to assist all Canadians to grow our economy and fund our social safety net. We need to do so.
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague across the way talked about child care. While the child tax benefit increase is seen as a good first step, it does not create any early education child care spaces. On average, parents pay $800 to $900 a month for child care, so $1,200 for the entire year does not help parents effectively pay for one of the highest costs they have, which is second only to housing. The Liberal government promised in the House to immediately put in the $2 billion that the child care sector required. I hope we will see that in the budget. When can we expect to see that immediate investment of $2 billion in child care?
    Mr. Speaker, as an economist, having accessible and affordable child care for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast is something near and dear to my heart. We know it increases labour force participation rates and is a very large benefit to our economy. I look forward to continuing this conversation about how we can improve the lives of all Canadian families, so they do not have to make the decision to go back to work or to stay home.
     I personally know about the costs of child care. Affordability aside, when we lived in the city of Toronto, the waiting period for us to obtain accessible child care was almost a two-year window. I know what Canadian families go through. Therefore, I will continue to advocate for continual investments in affordable and accessible child care for not only the residents in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, but for all Canadian families from coast to coast to coast.

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Points of Order

Private Members' Business—Bill C-265  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order in response to your March 22 statement respecting the need for royal recommendation for Bill C-265, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act with regard to illness, injury or quarantine, sponsored by the member for Salaberry—Suroît. Without commenting on the merits of the bill, I suggest that the provisions in the bill to extend sickness benefits to 50 weeks would seek to authorize a new and distinct charge on the consolidated revenue fund not authorized in statute.
    In instances when there is no existing statutory or appropriation to cover a new and distinct charge, a royal recommendation is required. The provisions of the bill amending the Employment Insurance Act would increase the maximum number of weeks for employment insurance regular benefits. This increase in the number of weeks of benefits is authorized once passed by royal recommendation attached to the bill.
    The royal recommendation not only fixes the maximum charge on the consolidated revenue fund, but also the objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications of provisions subject to royal recommendation. Speakers have consistently ruled that bills seeking to increase the length of a benefit, change the qualifications or alter the conditions for employment insurance benefits need to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.
    Let me draw to the attention of the members a few germane rules on this matter.
     On April 22, 2009, the Speaker ruled on Bill C-241, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act regarding the removal of a waiting period. The Speaker stated:
...the chair is of the opinion that the provisions of Bill C-241 would authorize a new and distinct charge on the public treasury. Since such spending is not covered by the terms of any existing appropriation, I will therefore decline to put the question on third reading of this bill in its present form...
    On June 3, 2009, the Speaker ruled on Bill C-280, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act concerning a qualification for and entitlement to benefits. In the ruling, the Deputy Speaker stated:
    On March 23, 2007, in a ruling on Bill C-265...the Chair had concluded that:
     It is abundantly clear to the Chair that such changes to the employment insurance program... would have the effect of authorizing increased expenditures from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in a manner and for purposes not currently authorized.
    Therefore, it appears to the Chair that those provisions of the bill which relate to increasing Employment Insurance benefits and easing the qualifications required to obtain them would require a royal recommendation.
    Having heard no new compelling argument to reach a conclusion that is different than the one concerning Bill C-265, I will decline to put the question on third reading of Bill C-280 in its present form unless a royal recommendation is received.
    A more recent and directly relevant case is to be found in the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities' consideration of Bill C-24, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act, additional regular benefits, the Canada Recovery Benefits Act, restriction on eligibility, and another act in response to COVID-19, on March 11. This bill sought, among other things, to increase the number of weeks of EI regular benefits available by up to 24 weeks to a maximum of 50 weeks through legislation for claims that were made between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
    During clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, the member for Elmwood—Transcona proposed an amendment that attempted to increase the number of weeks of payments to an employment insurance claimant in the case of a prescribed illness, injury or quarantine from 15 to 50 weeks, therefore allowing people to access these payments for longer than they could currently under the Employment Insurance Act. In proposing the amendment, the chair of the committee ruled the amendment inadmissible because it required royal recommendation. The chair ruled:
    Bill C-24 seeks to amend the Employment Insurance Act by increasing the number of weeks paid under part 1 of that act under certain circumstances.

  (1600)  

    This amendment attempts to increase the number of weeks of payments to a claimant, in the case of prescribed illness, injury or quarantine, from 15 to 50 weeks, therefore allowing people to have access to these payments for longer than they can currently under the Employment Insurance Act.
    As House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, states at page 772, “Since an amendment may not infringe upon the financial initiative of the Crown, it is inadmissible if it imposes a charge on the public treasury, or if it extends the objects or purposes or relaxes the conditions and qualifications specified in the royal recommendation.”
    In the opinion of the chair, the amendment as proposed requires a royal recommendation since it imposes a new charge on the public treasury, and I therefore rule the amendment inadmissible.
    A royal recommendation may only be obtained by a minister of the Crown on the advice of the Governor General. In the absence of a royal recommendation, Bill C-265 may proceed through the legislative process in the House up until the end of the debate on third reading.
    In cases where the Speaker has ruled that royal recommendation is required and it has been provided before the third reading vote, the Speaker refuses to put the question at third reading and orders the bill to be discharged from the Order Paper.
    I submit that this is the case for Bill C-265. Precedent clearly suggests that a bill or motion that seeks to incur new and distinct expenditures from the consolidated revenue fund in a manner and for a purpose not currently authorized requires a royal recommendation.
    I thank the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands for these additional comments.
    We will now resume debate and go to the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

[Government Orders]
     The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, be read the third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, before I get started, I wish to offer my deepest sympathies to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the passing of her strength and stay, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, her husband of 73 years. Canada mourns for this tremendous loss in the royal family, and on behalf of my constituents, I wish them strength during this incredibly difficult time.
    I am thankful for the opportunity to put words on the record today regarding Bill C-14, the economic statement implementation act, and I will be splitting my time with the member for Lévis—Lotbinière.
    The bill, introduced this past fall, would implement a boost to the Canada child benefit, which we know is a popular program for Canadian families that originated under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Our new leader, the MP for Durham, championed this boost when he was running for leadership of our party. I am glad to see the Liberals agreeing with our Conservative party leader on this provision.
    The bill would also make changes to the rent subsidy, which the Conservatives have been calling for since it was first introduced last summer. In fact, I personally questioned the former minister of finance on the original program, which was deeply flawed and failed to support thousands of small businesses in need, including many in my riding.
    The Conservatives agree that most of the financial supports contained in the bill are needed to continue to support Canadians while lockdowns and restrictions continue to ravage our private sector, drive our small businesses to bankruptcy and leave millions of Canadians unemployed. Unfortunately, Bill C-14 also includes some very worrying provisions. It seeks to increase the maximum borrowing authority from the current $1.1 trillion to $1.8 trillion for the next three years. This is $700 billion of potential spending in the next three years, all of which would be financed through deficit. It includes $100 billion for discretionary stimulus spending, but no one really knows what that means because details have yet to be provided. As a result, the bill has inspired very little confidence in Canadians that the Liberal government has a plan to get us out of this health crisis and recover our damaged economy. Ultimately, this increase is far greater than the government needs for getting through the next fiscal year and would authorize a massive expansion of the national debt without any fiscal anchor or scrutiny of the dangers this new debt would create.
    Overall, the COVID deficit that Canadians are inheriting is truly astounding. At over $336 billion in a single year, it will take a Herculean effort, a lot of hard work, to get it under control.
    The C.D. Howe Institute, a highly respected non-partisan Canadian think tank, recently put out a strong warning to the Liberal government about the financial perils Canada faces if we cannot get the debt and deficit under control in the near future. In its report, it said the “Canadian governments’ deficits in fiscal 2020/21 will total about 20 percent of Canadian GDP, the highest among all advanced economies and seven percentage points higher than the average for G20 countries”. That is pretty shocking. The report goes on to say, “Year upon year of expenses exceeding revenues and the resulting deterioration of the federal government’s net worth—in other words, an accumulated deficit that keeps rising—signify an ongoing deterioration in Ottawa’s ability to deliver services to Canadians.”
    The Conservatives have long sounded the alarm of the perils of unchecked spending. If interest rates go up, which we know they will, the more Canadians have to pay on our debts, which would means less to spend on critical services like health and education transfers to provinces, defence and infrastructure, and the critical social safety net that the federal government provides to Canadians on behalf of taxpayers.
    We know the entire world is facing the same issues that Canada is facing as we battle COVID-19. Canada has spent more money per capita than any other country in the world, yet at the same time as other countries like the U.S. and the U.K. have presented plans to reopen their economies safely and permanently based on data, Canada is entering its third wave of lockdowns. Furthermore, despite astronomical spending, we are hovering between 40th and 50th, and sometimes even lower than 50th, in the world for vaccinations. Only 2.1% of our entire population has received both doses of the vaccine to date. More vulnerable and elderly people will die as a result of the poor vaccine procurement strategy of the government. I cannot stress how serious this is. It is a national shame and a strategy that could have been avoided.
    The Liberals wasted 100 days on the Chinese company CanSino before signing contracts with other vaccine companies. That is a fact. They put all of our eggs in one basket. They bet the entire future of Canada on the Communist Party of China, and within a week of the Prime Minister announcing to Canadians the vaccine contract with CanSino, the Communist Party of China cancelled it, which left Canada scrambling to sign other contracts in August. This was months after the pandemic started.

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    By that time, other countries in the world had, long before us, signed contracts with Pfizer, Moderna and others. That is one of the reasons that we are so far behind our G7 allies and countless other countries for vaccination rates. The Liberals wasted 100 days betting on one contract.
    Just this week, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention admitted that some Chinese-made vaccines offered low protection against COVID. Those vaccines do not even work. The Prime Minister's decision to waste time pursuing a vaccine partnership with the Communist Party of China will haunt Canada for generations and may cost thousands of vulnerable lives, but the government's horrific mismanagement does not end there.
    By and large, Canadians recognize this as a wartime effort. Although the Conservatives would have been much more respectful and considerate of the long-term damage of record deficit spending than the Liberals, we have fully and proudly supported the emergency spending measures for Canadians in their greatest hours of need, which have helped them get through these incredibly difficult times. We recognize how important those critical measures are. The difference, though, lies in how the Conservatives would have prepared Canada before the pandemic hit, as well as what we would be doing now and after the pandemic is over.
    The Conservatives would not have shuttered Canada's highly regarded international early warning pandemic system, which the Liberals did in May 2019. They broke their promise to run three modest deficits of $10 billion annually and instead ran up a $100-billion deficit, in a relatively stable economy, during their first term. They broke their promise, ran up the debt and spent the cupboards bare in the good times. They justified this spending by promising it would create incredible economic growth, yet Canadians experienced sluggish economic growth during the Liberals' first term. The bottom line is that the Liberals left Canada vulnerable before the pandemic hit, and that is on them.
    The question many people ask is what the Conservatives would do if they were in the driver's seat. I would like to talk a bit about that as I wrap up.
    In addition to calling on the federal government to bring forward a data-driven plan to support the provinces in a safe, gradual and permanent reopening, our Conservative leader was the first leader on the national stage to present a recovery plan to Canadians. He was the first and only leader on the national stage to present a plan to get Canada back on track, and he provided a top five list of priorities.
    The first is to secure jobs. Our plan is to recover the million jobs that were lost during the pandemic. That would be priority number one for a Conservative government. By unleashing the power of our private sector, and using Conservative ingenuity and a can-do attitude, we will ensure that every region and sector of our economy is firing on all cylinders. That is priority number one.
    Second is to secure accountability. After years of corruption, embarrassment and ethical scandals from the Liberal Prime Minister, such as the Aga Khan's billionaire island, SNC-Lavalin and the WE Charity, to name a few, Canadians deserve the strongest anti-corruption laws this country has ever seen, and we will deliver that.
    Third is to secure mental health with a mental health action plan. I am particularly proud to see our leader bring this forward, because I have spent countless hours on the phone with constituents who are in very desperate situations. I have had parents call me to tell me their little children do not want to eat because they are depressed. I have had elderly women cry to me on the phone that they do not want to spend their last months or years on this earth locked up in their apartments away from their grandchildren and families. I could go on about how devastating this is. I am very proud to see mental health as the third priority on our top five priority list.
    Fourth is to secure our country by creating a strategic stockpile of essential products and building capacity to manufacture vaccines at home. I know that every Canadian wants to see that and never again wants to see our people left vulnerable and dependent on other countries during a pandemic.
    Fifth is to secure Canada's economy by balancing the books responsibly over 10 years. I spoke at length today of the perils of Liberal spending. I believe Canadians agree that we need a competent government to handle this and get our economy's finances back on track after recovering from the pandemic.
    Ultimately, Canadians know that the Conservative Party is the party best able to manage jobs and the economy. It is what we are known for and have been known for for decades. We will provide steady, reliable and competent leadership in our country's greatest time of need. That is my commitment.

  (1610)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her speech.
    I listened carefully while she explained a number of things, and I heard her say what the Conservatives would do. However, she did not mention whether the Conservatives would commit to increasing health transfers, something that is sorely absent from Bill C-14.
    Will the Conservatives commit to increasing health transfers to 35% of health care costs, as the premiers of Quebec, the provinces and the territories are calling for?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives by and large agree that health transfers must be stable and that they must meet the needs of Canadians, but the difference between Liberals and Conservatives is that we believe health care transfers should be provided to the provinces with no strings attached. We repeatedly see Liberal governments attaching various provisions to this spending. That is not something we agree with. We do not always agree that Ottawa knows best, and health care should be delivered by the provinces. We are looking to increase that autonomy for provinces with health care transfers.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague who spoke about how the Conservatives introduced the child tax benefit, a benefit with a discriminatory structure for families with precarious immigration status, including refugee claimants, who are prevented from accessing this critical benefit even if they are legally working and filing personal income tax.
    The recommendation from the Campaign 2020 report states, “For some children, their parents' immigration status is a barrier to accessing the...[Canadian child tax benefit].” To address this, “Amend the Income Tax Act by repealing s. 122.6...which ties eligibility for the CCB to the immigration status of the applicant parent.” It continues that, “Every parent in Canada who is considered a resident for tax purposes [should be eligible] for CCB regardless of immigration status.”
    Does my colleague agree with that recommendation?
    Mr. Speaker, I would have to further look into the provision she is talking about. It sounds very interesting. What I can say about refugees is that the Conservative Party strongly supports humanitarian efforts to support the world's most vulnerable. When I was shadow minister for immigration for the Conservative Party, I was most shocked to see that although the Liberals' narrative is that they are the party of immigration and the most compassionate party on this topic, under their watch in immigration was a lack of dignity, compassion and respect for new Canadians: for new immigrants and prospective Canadians trying to come to Canada to join their families. I was completely appalled by how they treat immigrants, and I will continue to stand up for new Canadians.

  (1615)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have been watching unhinged borrowing by the Liberals, which the finance minister has described as pre-loaded stimulus to cover up the fact that COVID support programs by far overpaid those who did not even need the help. Part 7 of Bill C-14 is an alarming black Amex card for the Liberals.
    Does the member believe that Canadians should be concerned about the undisciplined spending that just seems to keep happening?
    Mr. Speaker, I am personally very alarmed at the spending. We recognize that in these difficult economic times with these shutdowns, because the government shut down small businesses and the private sector, that the government has the responsibility to support Canadians. My concern is that it is looking for unfettered access to increase the debt burden by $700 billion in the next three years with very little parliamentary oversight. I think all Canadians are concerned about that.
    Further to that, I am quite concerned that the Minister of Finance has never really indicated that she is at all concerned about her financial management of this country. I would expect a bit of humility and concern for the future on what is being done and how much work it is going to take to get us back on track.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-14, an act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures.
    Every time I have the privilege of rising in the House, I make a point of reminding members of how diligent the Conservative Party of Canada has had to be, since 2015, in monitoring and critiquing this Liberal government, which was spending recklessly well before the pandemic hit. We have witnessed many ethical breaches, even though we have been in the grip of an emergency, the pandemic crisis, for months. We need to continue to be very critical of the COVID-19 spending measures and this Liberal government's lack of transparency.
    The Conservative Party of Canada is much more than the official opposition party in the House. We are committed individuals with a sense of duty who take action. Not surprisingly, we support the main COVID-19 emergency programs, including the Canada emergency response benefit, the Canada emergency wage subsidy and the Canada emergency business account, which total nearly $175 billion.
    Let me be clear: We will make sure there is a solution for every vulnerable individual and every business during this pandemic. We have consistently said that seniors, who have been forgotten during this crisis, should get more help.
    However, there comes a point when we have to take a firm stand against skyrocketing deficits that will end up creating an unprecedented crisis if we give this Liberal government a blank cheque. Giving it another term in office or, worse still, a majority in the House would be a fatal mistake for our country, which has been more destabilized than ever since the Liberal government took office in 2015.
    A sensible, realistic approach would be to give the government sufficient borrowing power to cover prior expenses related to COVID-19 and the proposed new measures that will take us to the next fiscal year. We should not blindly support $100 billion worth of new debt-financed recovery measures. It would be irresponsible to believe we can have that money for free.
    No voter who cares about the debt we will pass on to future generations would want Conservatives to support $100 billion in additional debt for unspecified initiatives, even if the government says those initiatives will stimulate the economy. The Liberal Party is a master of corruption, favouritism, cronies and sole-source contracts, so we need to be prudent and find out what those initiatives are. The fact that the government refused to split the bill and take out part 7 clearly shows that it is acting in very bad faith. It is asking us for blind trust, which is totally unreasonable because it just does not deserve it.
    I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the courage that each of us has shown, in our own way, since the beginning of the pandemic. At home, at work, in our sports and leisure activities, all areas of our lives have been disrupted for several months now.
    I salute the courage of my constituents in the riding of Lévis—Lotbinière. They have managed to adjust, reinvent themselves and prioritize what is most precious to us: family, health and safety. I thank them for their trust. It is always with a sense of duty that my team and I come up with solutions to the challenges we face. We are all patiently waiting for the return of better days, which has become synonymous with being closer to one another, physically, in complete safety.
    Many people in my riding have told me this and, like them, I miss their presence, our warm interactions, working closely with community stakeholders and with our businesses that were thriving. Nothing is the same anymore, and we have to accept that. Many people in my riding are also writing to me to denounce how slow the Liberal government is to act, if it acts at all, and of course the insecurity they feel. There are many concerns about the government's lack of foresight, vision and leadership.

  (1620)  

    As I was saying, Canada became much more vulnerable well before the pandemic as a result of the Liberal's new carefree and spendthrift ways with no sense of responsibility for the consequences.
    Placing unconditional trust in the government has put us in the worst position ever in Canada's history, including the post-war period. Our level of debt is unfathomable, and it is imperative that we start investing in targeted measures that will pay a return on our investments in time, experiments and money.
    There is no denying that, since 2015, Canada has been regressing and is no longer evolving. After two elections chock full of fine promises, the living conditions of our seniors has not changed at all. Seniors built and enriched our country with their hard work, and it is inconceivable that we are letting them live in poverty. They deserve to live with dignity and serenity given their unwavering dedication to our community. Those who lose their spouse, especially women, find themselves in a precarious situation that is unacceptable and that their family cannot always remediate. We must act.
    In addition, violence against women and children is reaching alarming proportions, and then there are the pimps who go unpunished for exploiting child pornography. What about our young people since the government legalized marijuana? It still makes me sad to see the lines outside the Société québécoise du cannabis, often well before it opens.
    I am also against the Liberal government's quiet attempts to decriminalize hard drugs and prostitution. We need to put ethics and common sense back into our values.
    I want to see young people, who were paid to do nothing over the past few months, once again be able to have rewarding work experiences and opportunities to learn and grow in our communities. There is no greater accomplishment than finding a sense of purpose, contributing to our collective wealth and helping to strengthen our communities.
    The environment has also seen lofty promises and no action. We must urgently create programs to secure our green shift, which includes expanding access to electric vehicles and finding new ways to market green and energy-efficient innovations.
    The pandemic has also shown us that we need to focus on food sovereignty if we do not want to be short of resources. When we look at the chain of production and collaboration that puts food on our tables, we realize that transport is a key component of that. Transportation and travel mean fuel and gasoline. We cannot yet do without those things in our daily lives.
    I am very invested in creating a large national commission on our energy future with the input of our youth, of course. They must be part of the equation. Our safety and security must never be threatened by our consumption, and, realistically, we need to come to a common understanding about the best way to transport the oil and gas delivered by pipelines.
    We all have a role to play in future changes. I am confident that the third link between Lévis and Quebec City will be good for everyone in Lévis-Lotbinière and for our environment. Our future depends on our respect for the values that were passed down to us by our ancestors and our parents.
    Our language and culture are part of that, and we need to continue to protect them so that our future still reflects who we are. French is our most precious right, and the right to be served in French is simply not negotiable. We need to continue to exist as a francophone nation within a united Canada, while respecting provincial jurisdictions.
    Finally, there is a critical need for labour that cannot be overlooked and cannot be blindly entrusted to the Liberal government if we want our economy to recover. The global market is waiting for us, and we must continue to allow our seniors who wish to work to do so without being penalized financially.
    For all these reasons, we must stand together and work together, with a responsible government. We cannot and must not give a blank cheque to the Liberal government, which refuses to remove part 7 of Bill C-14.
    Now is the time to work together and work better for the future. My aim is to continue doing just that for a very long time for my constituents in Lévis—Lotbinière and for all Canadians.

  (1625)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very fond of my colleague from Lévis—Lotbinière.
    In his speech just now, I heard him speak about the French language and Quebec's traditional demands. On the issue of French, we know that there is a little problem that has tripped up the Conservatives. With respect to the single tax return, they supported it, but then voted against it. We do not understand why.
    At this time, there is something that my colleague can do for me. He can tell me if he agrees that there must be an unconditional increase in health transfers. Does his party agree with an unconditional increase in health transfers demanded by the Legault government?
    It is easy and very simple. The answer is yes or no.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, and I unreservedly accept his great fondness for me.
    With regard to culture and the French language, the Conservative Party has made major advances. The difference between the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois is that we will act for Quebeckers. We will give Quebec more power with respect to the French language. We will have federal institutions comply with Bill 101, as requested by the Government of Quebec.
    We, the Conservatives can do it. The Bloc Québécois can talk about it and the Conservative Party can do it.
    We just saw, here in the House, that the Bloc Québécois failed to move forward its EI bill because it required a financial effort. A private member's bill cannot be passed by the House.
    It is unfortunate, but we see here the difference between the Conservative Party, which can take action, and the Bloc Québécois, which can only talk about taking action.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the last few Conservatives to address the House have often referred to their concerns regarding the debt and deficit. On the one hand, they want to be very critical of the government on the debt issue, which seems to be the issue that will prevent them from allowing Bill C-14 to pass quickly, yet on the other hand, they seem to want to support the many programs being financed in good part by borrowing money.
    I am wondering if my colleague could provide some clarification on whether he sees a disconnect there, where they are, on the one hand, supporting the need to borrow money and, on the other hand, criticizing the government for borrowing money.

  (1630)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are also willing to help society's most disadvantaged, who have suffered heavy losses during the pandemic. However, we are not willing to give the Liberal government a blank cheque.
    From an ethics perspective, when the Liberals have spending power, there are plenty of cronies who benefit, unfortunately.
    If we give the Liberal government the power to borrow up to 1.8 trillion, and if interest rates climb to 3%, 4% or 5%, what kind of situation will we be in by 2025-26?
    Conservatives do not want to hand over a blank cheque. We want to know what initiatives are in the next budget. Then we will vote on the ones that deserve to be passed in the House.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a very simple question for my colleague.
    The parliamentary secretary, who just asked a question, said that we cannot say “yes” to the government for subsidies but “no” to the Liberals.
    As my Conservative colleague said, the fact is that it is very hard to trust this government. By way of comparison, if a spouse asked to spend the equivalent of $600 billion from the family budget, would the parliamentary secretary hand over that money no questions asked?
    The government's job is to help people, and we help the government do that. However, the opposition parties' role is to make sure that money is spent properly.
    Can my colleague give us some examples of improper things the government has done in recent years?
    Mr. Speaker, my friend hit the nail on the head. Allowing the government to spend hundreds of billions more dollars without any oversight is unacceptable to this side of the House. I am sure that even the Bloc Québécois and the NDP would agree with us.
    We are prepared to pay what was owed until the next budget, which is right around the corner. After that, we will take a close look at all the initiatives proposed in that budget for the post-pandemic economic recovery, one by one. We want this pandemic to end as quickly as possible for the benefit of all Canadians.

[English]