Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 455 to 458, 460 to 463 and 466.
Question No. 455--Mr. Kenny Chiu
With regard to the statement by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the House of Commons on February 23, 2021, that “A registry of foreign agents is something that we are actively considering”: (a) what is the timeline for when a decision on such a registry will be made, including the timeline for the implementation of such a registry; (b) when did the government begin considering a foreign agent registry; (c) who has been assigned to lead the government’s consideration of a foreign agent registry, and when did that person receive the assignment; (d) what other changes have been implemented since January 1, 2016, to address the threat of foreign influence; and (e) what other specific actions does the government plan to implement to address the threat of foreign influence, and what is the timeline for the implementation of each such measure?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.
In response to (a), the Government of Canada does not tolerate harmful activities such as foreign interference and applies a whole-of-government approach to safeguarding our communities, democratic institutions, and economic prosperity.
In December, Minister Blair publicly outlined the threats related to foreign interference and the critical work of the security and intelligence community in a letter addressed to all members of Parliament. The Government of Canada is always evaluating the tools and authorities required by our security agencies to keep Canadians safe, while respecting their fundamental rights.
In response to (b), the Government of Canada is always looking to learn from the experiences of our international partners to see what may be advisable or possible in Canada.
In response to (c), the Government of Canada takes a whole-of-government approach to combatting foreign interference. As part of this effort, the Government of Canada is always evaluating the tools and authorities that our national security agencies need to help keep Canadians safe. This involves officials across multiple departments and agencies.
In response to (d), Canada has been leading the G7 rapid response mechanism aimed at identifying and responding to foreign threats to democracy since it was agreed at the 2018 Charlevoix summit. Since its establishment, the mechanism has focused on countering foreign state-sponsored disinformation, in recognition of the critical threat this issue poses to the rules-based international order and democratic governance. The mechanism’s coordination unit, located at Global Affairs Canada, also supports whole-of-government efforts aimed at safeguarding the Canadian federal elections, as a member of the security and intelligence threats to elections, SITE, task force, along with the Communications Security Establishment, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
There has been an increase in foreign interference, FI, investigations at the RCMP over the last few years, which could be attributed to several factors, including increased reporting by victims, greater awareness by local police, and media attention.
It is predominantly the RCMP’s federal policing national security program that looks to identify common activities that could be attributed to FI, including intimidation, harassment and threats. This work requires collaboration with police of local jurisdiction and other local partners, as these types of criminality are almost always brought to their attention first. Should there be criminal or illegal activities occurring in Canada that are found to be backed by a foreign state, the federal policing national security program will take the lead in these types of investigations, given the complexity and the classification of information that form their basis. As such, the RCMP can only confirm that it is monitoring and actively investigating threats of FI in Canada.
The RCMP has a broad, multi-faceted mandate that allows it to investigate and disrupt FI by drawing upon various legislative statutes with a view to laying charges under the Criminal Code of Canada. The RCMP also works closely with its security and intelligence partners to identify and protect those who may be experiencing harassment or intimidation, which may be at the direction of a foreign state. Furthermore, the RCMP works with police of local jurisdiction and other local enforcement to ensure that instances of harassment and intimidation, which are commonly reported at the local level, with potential links to national security are considered by the RCMP’s federal policing national security program for investigation.
In response to (e), the Government of Canada’s security and intelligence community is combatting foreign interference threats within their respective mandates. The Government of Canada continues to look for new and innovative ways to enhance the measures in place to address foreign interference.Question No. 456--Mr. Taylor Bachrach
With regard to the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) actions concerning the Panama Papers case and the Paradise Papers case, broken down by each case: (a) how many taxpayer or Canadian business files are currently open with the CRA; (b) how many taxpayer or Canadian business files have been referred to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada; (c) what is the number of employees assigned to each case, broken down by job post title; (d) how many audits have been conducted since each case was disclosed; (e) how many notices of assessment have been issued by the CRA; (f) what is the total amount recovered so far by the CRA; (g) what is the average time to close a case; (h) what is the average return for closed cases; and (i) how many have been settled and what was the loss in amounts recovered?Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the above-noted question, what follows is the response from the CRA.
In response to part (a), as of December 25, 2020, the most recent data available, the CRA defines “files” as audits, and there are 160 taxpayers audits currently ongoing related to the Panama papers and close to 50 audits currently ongoing related to the paradise papers.
In response to part (b), as of March 31, 2020, the most recent data available, no cases related to the Panama papers or the paradise papers have been referred to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, PPSC.
Criminal investigations can be complex and require years to complete. The length of time required to investigate is dependent on the complexity of the case, the number and sophistication of individuals involved, the availability of information or evidence, the co-operation or lack thereof of witnesses or the accused, and the various legal tools that may need to be employed to gather sufficient evidence to establish a case beyond reasonable doubt.
In response to part (c), the CRA is interpreting the term “employees” as noted in the question as the budgeted full-time equivalents, FTEs, in the auditors, AU, category: 37 auditors are assigned to the Panama papers workloads, and 14 auditors are assigned to the paradise papers workloads. It is important to note that these auditors are not solely dedicated to Panama papers and paradise papers, and some auditors work on both the Panama papers and the paradise papers workloads.
In response to part (d), as of December 25, 2020, the most recent data available, the CRA has completed close to 200 taxpayer audits linked to the Panama papers and close to 80 taxpayer audits linked to the paradise papers.
In response to part (e), as of December 25, 2020, the most recent data available, there have been over 35 audits resulting in reassessment for the Panama papers and under five for the paradise papers that resulted in tax earned by audit, TEBA.
It is important to note that with each individual audit, there may be multiple notices of reassessment issued to each taxpayer depending on the number of years audited and whether penalties are applicable to the audit. For example, if there are six years under audit, there can be potential for several notices of reassessment issued for the one taxpayer audit should non-compliance be identified.
In response to part (f), the CRA is unable to respond in the manner requested, as it does not track payments against specific account adjustments like audits, as its systems apply payments to a taxpayer’s cumulative outstanding balance by tax year, which can represent multiple assessments, reassessments such as audits of different types, and other adjustments.
However, based on an October 2020 study by the Parliamentary Budget Officer of recent federal budget investments in the CRA tax compliance operations, it was generally estimated that approximately 80% of total audit fiscal impact will materialize and result in successful collection actions.
In response to part (g), the CRA is defining “case” as an audit. Please note that there are many factors that could impact the amount of time to complete a Panama papers and paradise papers audit, such as the time from the date the case is created to the date the case is assigned to an auditor; delays beyond our control such as the time it takes the taxpayer to respond to questions; cases involving offshore assets require exchange of information with other jurisdictions, other tax administrations, which can take a significant time. The average time to complete a Panama papers audit is close to 380 days per audit and close to 360 days per audit for paradise papers.
In response to part (h), as outlined in part (d), there have been close to 280 taxpayers audits completed linked to the Panama papers and paradise papers, resulting in more than $21 million in federal taxes and penalties assessed. The average return, TEBA, for closed audits for the Panama papers is $110,216.
However, as noted under part (e), to date, there have been fewer than five taxpayer audits with links to the paradise papers that resulted in non-compliance. Under the confidentiality provisions of the acts administered by the CRA, in situations where the sample size is so small that a taxpayer or business could be directly or indirectly identified, aggregate data is not released. Therefore, disclosing dollar values related to paradise papers cannot be provided as the identities of the taxpayers or businesses could be revealed or inferred.
In response to part (i), under the confidentiality provisions of the acts administered by the CRA, in situations where the sample size is so small that a recipient could be directly or indirectly identified, aggregate data is not released. Given the small volume of cases and the need to ensure confidentiality, the details cannot be provided as the identities of the taxpayers or businesses could be revealed or inferred.Question No. 457--Mr. Gérard Deltell
With regard to the announcement by the current Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry on February 19, 2018, related to a federal contribution of $2,066,407 to have Bell install broadband Internet in Lac Pemichangan and certain other Outaouais communities: (a) did the government chose which communities would be covered or did Bell; (b) what specific criteria was used to determine which communities would be covered by the announced funding; (c) on what date did (i) the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, (ii) the current Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, become aware that the Chief Executive Officer of Bell had a vacation property in Lac Pemichangan; and (d) why was the funding not used to expand broadband service in Chelsea or other more populated areas of the Outaouais?Ms. Gudie Hutchings (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, in response to (a) connectivity has never been more important, and we continue to make progress in ensuring all Canadians have access to reliable high-speed Internet, no matter where they live. Since 2015, we have approved programs and projects that will connect 1.7 million Canadian households. Our government has introduced programs like connect to innovate, or CTI, and the universal broadband fund that are working to improve Internet connectivity, because we understand that all Canadians need access to high-speed Internet to live, work and compete in today’s digital world.
Through CTI, we are helping more than 900 rural and remote communities, more than triple the 300 communities initially targeted and including 190 indigenous communities, get access to high-speed broadband. This project was chosen under the CTI program. CTI focused on building transformative high-capacity backbone connectivity to connect public institutions like schools, hospitals, and first nations band councils.
Applications were accepted between December 2016 and April 2017 for broadband infrastructure projects in areas identified as underserved because they lacked a backbone connection of one gigabit per second, Gbps. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s, ISED’s, national broadband Internet service availability map was used to determine these areas. For this project, ISED selected Bell’s application, in which Bell proposed to provide backbone access to the underserved communities of Grand-Remous, Clément, Lac-Pemichangan, Petit-Poisson-Blanc, Danford Lake, Alcove and Lascelles and did not include the last mile connection to homes.
The communities ultimately covered by this project were decided through contribution agreement negotiations between ISED and Bell. However, Bell had committed to invest its own contribution to build a last mile network to connect homes. As no federal funding contributed to the building of the last mile network, Bell is solely responsible.
In response to (b), eligible communities were identified on the eligibility map on the CTI website. The data for these maps was provided by a number of sources, including Internet service providers, or ISPs, provinces, territories and others to identify where points of presence, PoP, delivering service of at least 1 Gbps are located. For CTI, an eligible rural community was defined as a named place with a population of fewer than 30,000 residents that was two kilometres or more from the nearest 1 Gbps PoP.
All applications to the CTI program were assessed using a three-stage assessment process. First was the eligibility screening to determine if the applicant was eligible for funding. The second was the assessment of essential criteria, which included technological merit and the extent to which the application demonstrated a feasible project management plan. The sustainability of the proposed solution, including whether the applicant had a reasonable plan and the financial potential to maintain the infrastructure and services on an ongoing basis for five years after the project is completed, was also considered at this stage. Finally, those applications that met the essential criteria underwent an assessment against a series of comparative criteria in the categories of community benefits and partners and costs. Taken together, the program must ensure that projects provide a good regional distribution, allow the program to reach a sufficient number of communities, and do not exceed available resources. This project went through each of the steps outlined above.
In response to (c), the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and the parliamentary secretary became aware of this via media reports in February 2021.
In response to (d), projects were selected from applications received for the underserved communities identified on ISED’s eligibility maps.Question No. 458--Mr. Taylor Bachrach
With regard to offshore tax havens, since November 2015: (a) how many taxpayer or Canadian business files are currently open with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); (b) how many taxpayer or Canadian business files have been referred to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada; (c) what is the number of employees assigned to each case, broken down by job post title; (d) how many audits have been conducted since each case was disclosed; (e) how many notices of assessment have been issued by the CRA; (f) what is the total amount recovered so far by the CRA; (g) what is the average time to close a case; (h) what is the average return for closed cases; and (i) how many have been settled and what was the loss in amounts recovered?Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the above-noted question, what follows is the response from the CRA. In response to parts (a), (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g), while the CRA may use the term "tax havens" for illustrative purposes to communicate with a broader audience, in practice the CRA’s risk assessments focus on jurisdictions of concern. There are generally two essential attributes that are used to identify offshore jurisdictions of concern: no taxes or low effective rates of tax; and banking secrecy or confidentiality laws providing anonymity.
The CRA does not capture all the audit activity completed involving all jurisdictions of concern information in the manner requested above. The CRA does not specifically maintain an official list of offshore jurisdictions of concern. Through collaborative efforts with international partners, the CRA is able to identify and take action against those who are evading and avoiding paying their fair share of tax. Furthermore, where tax treaties or tax information exchange agreements are in place, sharing of information amongst tax authorities can also be used to help identify and address non-compliance.
In response to part (b), between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2020, the latest data available, 16 cases with an international component, regarding 19 taxpayers, were referred to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, PPSC. As with any criminal investigation undertaken by law enforcement bodies, including the CRA, these cases can be complex and require years to complete. The amount of time required to investigate is dependent on the complexity of the case, the number of individuals involved, whether international requests for information will be needed, the availability of information or evidence, the co-operation or lack thereof of witnesses or the accused, and the various legal tools that may need to be employed to gather sufficient evidence to establish a case beyond reasonable doubt.
In response to parts (h) to (i), between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2020, the latest data available, there were seven cases with an international component, regarding nine taxpayers, that resulted in convictions. This involved $2,639,269 in federal tax evaded and court fines totaling $1,501,097 and 24 years in jail. The average return for convictions was $377,038.42 per case.Question No. 460--Ms. Kristina Michaud
With regard to youth policy and the launch of the national conversation that sought to develop a new Canadian youth policy and that involved over 10,000 individual responses and 68 submissions from youth-led discussions and youth-serving organizations: (a) where did these 10,000 individual responses and 68 briefs come from, broken down by (i) the official language in which the responses and briefs were submitted, (ii) the home province of these participants; (b) during the consultations, did the government pay close attention to the needs of francophones, including francophones in minority communities, as well as those in rural areas; and (c) what was the total cost of the Canada Youth Summit, that took place on May 2 and 3, 2019?Mr. Adam van Koeverden (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport), Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, in response to (a)(i), out of the 10,000 individual responses from youth-led discussions, 12% of respondents provided responses to the “Have Your Say” booklet in French; 88% of respondents provided responses to the “Have Your Say” booklet in English; there were 68 submissions from youth-led round tables and stakeholder discussions, youth-serving organizations, and participants and stakeholders were offered the opportunity to respond in the official language of their choice.
The response to (a)(ii) is Ontario 47%, Quebec 13%, British Columbia 12%, Alberta 9%, Manitoba 6%, Nova Scotia 5%, Saskatchewan 2%, New Brunswick 2%, Newfoundland and Labrador 1%, Northwest Territories 1%, Prince Edward Island 1%, Nunavut less than 1%, Yukon less than 1%.
In response to (b), during the consultations, the government listened to the needs of all youth, including francophones from official-language minority communities. Participants were offered the opportunity to respond in the official language of their choice. The summit also provided simultaneous translation and interpretation services.
Various youth-serving organizations were included in the consultation process, for example Indspire, Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française, Oxfam-Québec, RDÉE, leader in the economic development of the francophone and Acadian communities, Regroupement des jeunes chambres du commerce du Québec, YMCA Montréal.
The consultation was designed to gather feedback from young Canadians, including indigenous youth, youth from different income groups, youth living in rural and remote areas, newcomers, vulnerable youth facing social and economical barriers, and youth from diverse backgrounds and communities.
Seventy-seven per cent of respondents indicated that they live in an urban community; 20% of respondents indicated that they live in a rural community; 3% of respondents indicated that they live in a remote community.
The response to (c) is $86,000.Question No. 461--Mr. Arnold Viersen
With regard to the motion adopted by the House of Commons on June 19, 2019, calling on the United Nations to establish an international independent investigation into allegations of genocide against Tamils committed in Sri Lanka: (a) does the government support calls for an international investigation into allegations of genocide; (b) has the government made any official statements or representations to other states, multilateral bodies, or other international entities respecting a possible independent investigation, and, if so, what are the specific details, including (i) who made the representation, (ii) the date, (iii) the summary of the contents, (iv) the form of representation (official statement, phone call, etc.), (v) the name of the state, body or entity the representation was made to, (vi) the title of individuals whom the representation was made to; and (c) does the government intend to raise this issue or any other issues related to human rights in Sri Lanka during upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council sessions?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.
Canada has long supported calls for credible truth-seeking, accountability and justice in Sri Lanka.
In 2014, Canada supported the UN Human Rights Council’s, UNHRC, mandated investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes in Sri Lanka, OISL. In 2015, Canada supported UNHRC resolution 30/1, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, which affirmed that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions and the participation of Commonwealth and other foreign judges. Canada also supported resolutions 34/1, 2017, and 40/1, 2019, which rolled over the commitments agreed to by the Government of Sri Lanka in 2015, while calling for their timely implementation.
When the Government of Sri Lanka withdrew its support from the above resolutions in February 2020, Canada, along with its core group partners on the resolution, led efforts to bring a new resolution to the 46th session of the UNHRC, February-March 2021. This was done in recognition that previous domestic processes have proven insufficient to tackle impunity and deliver real reconciliation, and that the international community’s continued scrutiny of Sri Lanka at the UNHRC constitutes a key step for advancing accountability.
The new resolution 46/1, adopted on March 23 strengthens the capacity of the OHCHR to collect and preserve information and evidence of crimes related to Sri Lanka’s civil war that ended in 2009. It also requests the OHCHR to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including the preparation of a comprehensive report with further options for advancing accountability to be presented at the Human Rights Council 51st session, September 2022. Canada and the international community will consider these options for future accountability processes, which may include an international investigation, when the OHCHR presents its comprehensive report.
Canada played a key role in building support for the adoption of this resolution during the council session. This included the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ statement during the high-level segment on February 24, during which he shared Canada’s concern over warning signs of a deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka, recognized the lack of progress in achieving accountability and reconciliation, acknowledged the frustration of victims, and reiterated Canada’s belief that the council has a responsibility to continue to closely monitor and engage on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
On February 25, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs delivered Canada’s statement on the OHCHR report on Sri Lanka. He echoed concerns about Sri Lanka’s commitment to a domestic reconciliation process and he asked council members whether Sri Lanka’s newly announced commission of inquiry could achieve justice for victims of the conflict, given it lacks a comprehensive mandate, independence and inclusivity.
Canada, alongside core group partners, also conducted advocacy and outreach to council members to build support for the resolution in the weeks leading up to the vote. These coordinated advocacy efforts were critical to the resolution’s successful adoption.
Canada will continue to urge Sri Lanka to uphold its human rights obligations, end impunity and undertake a comprehensive accountability process for all violations and abuses of human rights. Resolution 46/1 is a step toward securing a safe, peaceful and inclusive future for Sri Lanka, and, to this end, Canada stands ready to support efforts that work towards this goal.Question No. 462--Mr. Taylor Bachrach
With regard to the rebuilding regulations developed as part of implementing the 2019 amendments to the Fisheries Act: (a) will the regulations include definitions of targets for each prescribed fisheries stock; (b) will these targets be set to a level that will produce maximum sustainable yields; (c) will the regulations include a timeline for rebuilding each prescribed stock; (d) what criteria will be used to develop each timeline; (e) will all prescribed stocks in the critical zone be included in the first set of regulations to be released; (f) will the regulations direct related fisheries management to ensure science-based decision making; (g) will the departmental review of the resulting rebuilding plans be made public; (h) what indicators will be used to track progress towards the objectives of rebuilding plans; and (i) will the regulations seek to ensure protection and recovery of all conservation units within a Stock Management Unit consistent with Canada’s Policy for Conservation of Wild Pacific Salmon?Hon. Bernadette Jordan (Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the proposed regulations to implement the Fisheries Act Fish Stocks provisions, sections 6.1–6.3, recently went through the Canada Gazette, part 1, CG1, 30-day public comment period. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, DFO, is currently examining the feedback received.
With regard to parts (a)-(g) and (i), as the process to develop the proposed regulations is still under way, DFO may not comment on any specific changes that might be made to the regulations based on the public feedback received. However, the member’s points in (a) through (i) will be taken into account as DFO continues to review the comments received on the regulations during CG1.
With regard to part (h), the indicators used to track progress towards rebuilding plan objectives will depend on the particular objectives set for a stock in its rebuilding plan and the nature of the stock assessment for the stock, as the latter will determine the types of indicators that can be used. Thus the indicators may vary by fish stock. As an example, if an objective is to promote the growth of a stock’s biomass to a certain amount, estimated in tonnes, within a certain number of years, then the indicator would be the estimated biomass. DFO would estimate the biomass as part of the scheduled peer-reviewed science stock assessment process for the stock. If the biomass cannot be estimated for a certain stock, then other indicators may be used to determine progress to promote the growth of the stock. For example, for a salmon stock, the department may estimate the number of fish that return to a river or lake to spawn or the number of eggs per square metre laid in a riverbed.
Finally, with regard to part (i), DFO is committed to the conservation and sustainable use of Canada’s fish stocks and ensuring that Canada’s fisheries are managed sustainably using the best available scientific information. The department is also committed to taking actions aimed at rebuilding fish stocks that have declined and remains committed to implementing Canada’s policy for the conservation of wild Pacific salmon.Question No. 463--Mr. Peter Julian
With regard to the Canadian-American Council for the Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders and the implementation of its recommendations by federal government, since its inception, and broken down by fiscal year: (a) how much was spent by the government; (b) which recommendations have been implemented by the government; (c) of the recommendations in (b), what is the implementation status of each recommendation; (d) which recommendations are still not implemented and what is the rationale for each; (e) how many full time staff have been assigned; (f) what are the details of contracts awarded by the Council, including (i) the date of the contract, (ii) the value of the contract, (iii) the name of the supplier, (iv) the reference number, (v) the description of the services rendered; (g) what are the details of all travel expenses incurred, including for each expense (i) the name of the traveller, (ii) the purpose of the trip, (iii) the dates of travel, (iv) the air fare, (v) the cost of any other transportation, (vi) accommodation, (vii) meals and incidental expenses, (viii) other expenses, (ix) the total amount; and (h) what are the details of all hospitality expenses incurred by the Council, including for each expense (i) the name of the guest, (ii) the location of the event, (iii) the service provider, (iv) the total amount, (v) the description of the event, (vi) the date, (vii) the number of participants, (viii) the number of officials present, (ix) the number of guests?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 full and equal participation of women in the economy is not just the right thing to do; it is also good for the bottom line. Canadian women entrepreneurs are key to our economic success as a country, and are critical to key sectors. However, women today still face unique and systemic barriers to starting and growing a business, and these challenges have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, which was created in February 2017 to drive women’s participation, leadership and success in the workforce, developed advice to help boost women’s economic engagement and share the many inspiring stories of progress and successful women to motivate others to follow their lead.
As the final report highlighted, to create real opportunities for women business leaders, we need to make gender diversity in leadership a priority. This is why in the 2018 budget, our government took action by introducing the women’s entrepreneurship strategy, WES, and new policies to help more parents take parental leave. We also introduced new legislation to encourage diversity on boards and recognize corporations committed to promoting women leaders.
The women’s entrepreneurship strategy is a nearly $5-billion investment that aims to increase women-owned businesses’ access to the financing, talent, networks and expertise they need to start up, scale up and access new markets. In fall 2020, the government committed to accelerating the work of the WES.
The Government of Canada will continue to support women-led businesses as part of their long-standing commitment to advancing women’s economic empowerment, which is key to Canada’s COVID-19 economic response plan. Women-led businesses provide good jobs that support families across the country, and by supporting them today, Canada will be in a stronger position as we rebuild for future success.Question No. 466--Mr. Peter Julian
With regard to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the applications of companies practicing aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion, broken down by aggressive tax avoidance case and tax evasion case: (a) how many full-time employees were verifying the applications of enterprises, broken down by category of employees; (b) what is the average duration of each verification; (c) how many verifications were carried out; (d) what are the steps in the verification process; and (e) how many applications were refused?Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to parts (a), (b), (c) and (e), the CRA does not track Canada emergency wage subsidy, CEWS, applications in this manner, by companies practising aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion, broken down by aggressive tax avoidance case and tax evasion case. Part 1 of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, No. 2, S.C. 2020, c. 6, notes that CEWS is available to qualifying entities, sets out definitions for the terms that apply to the emergency wage subsidy, and provides definitions of both eligible employees and qualifying entities. The CRA’s role is to administer legislation as it has been approved by Parliament and assented to by the Crown.
With regard to part (d), when the CRA processes CEWS applications, it uses an automated validation process and manually verifies certain elements of the claims when necessary. Manual verification can include contacting applicants directly. The CRA has also put procedures in place to identify fraudulent wage subsidy claims before it issues a payment. These procedures include intercepting claims from taxpayers associated with tax evasion or fraud. After payment, through the CEWS post-payment audit program, the CRA further verifies the legitimacy of wage subsidy claims and payment amounts. Taxpayers are selected for a post-payment audit through CRA’s risk assessment systems and processes. Selected taxpayers are sent an initial contact letter requesting information focused on the payroll and revenue tests. For many small and medium taxpayers that provide the required documentation, these tests can be performed swiftly, and if fully compliant, the audit can be closed quickly. The audit team conducts the payroll tests like any other payroll audit and confidentiality of the eligible employee information is maintained. In regard to the revenue test, where the taxpayer has used a consolidated accounting method or made an election in computing the revenue drop, then more audit work is required. The CRA examines whether the taxpayer took additional steps to artificially reduce or defer revenue to meet the requirements of the wage subsidy, and application of the specific anti-avoidance rule and the related 25% penalty is considered if the reporting of revenues have been manipulated.
Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 452 to 454, 459, 464, 465 and 467 to 471 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Question No. 452--Ms. Lindsay Mathyssen
With regard to Old Age Security, Employment Insurance, the Guaranteed Income Supplement and all programs designed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic: (a) was a gender-based analysis plus carried out prior to the implementation of the program, and, if not, has one been carried out since, and if so, when was it carried out; and (b) for each program, what were the conclusions of this analysis?
(Return tabled)Question No. 453--Ms. Lindsay Mathyssen
With regard to the Safe Return to Class Fund: (a) what is the total amount that each province or territory (i) has received, (ii) will be receiving; (b) of the funds in (a), broken down by province or territory, how much has been used to purchase (i) masks and face shields, (ii) high efficiency particulate air filters, (iii) heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, (iv) liters of hand and surface sanitizers; (c) broken down by province or territory, how many (i) new teachers and education workers have been hired, (ii) new cleaners and janitors have been hired; (d) broken down by province or territory, how many (i) new sinks have been installed, (ii) barriers and screens have been installed; and (e) broken down by province or territory, how many alternative teaching spaces have been rented?
(Return tabled)Question No. 454--Mr. Chris d'Entremont
With regard to moderate livelihood fisheries: has the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard made a decision, and, if so, when will it be communicated to Indigenous and commercial fishers?
(Return tabled)Question No. 459--Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus
With regard to the delays in processing spousal sponsorship applications since the announcement by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship on September 25, 2020: (a) what is the percentage increase in the number of decision-makers reviewing the sponsorship applications that were added; (b) how many sponsorship applications were reviewed in October, November and December 2020; and (c) how many applications in total were processed?
(Return tabled)Question No. 464--Mr. Peter Julian
With regard to government contracts since March 13, 2020, and broken down by registered lobbyists and their affiliated firms: (a) how many contracts have been awarded to registered lobbyists; and (b) what are the details of contracts awarded, including (i) the date of the contract, (ii) the initial and final value of the contract, (iii) the name of the supplier, (iv) the reference number, (v) the description of the services rendered?
(Return tabled)Question No. 465--Mr. Peter Julian
With regard to claimed stock option deductions, between fiscal years 2012-13 and 2020-21 inclusively, broken down by each fiscal year: (a) what is the number of individuals who claimed the stock option 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. 467--Mrs. Cathay Wagantall
With regard to the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion (OHRFI): (a) in the last five years, what programs in other countries have been funded by the OHRFI related specifically to the advancement of religious freedom or the protection of the rights of religious minorities; (b) what has been the impact of each of these programs; (c) how does the government measure the impact of these programs; and (d) which of those programs specifically advanced the rights of minority communities that are (i) Hindu, (ii) Jewish, (iii) Buddhist, (iv) Christian, (v) Muslim, (vi) Sikh, (vii) Baha’i?
(Return tabled)Question No. 468--Mrs. Karen Vecchio
With regard to contracts entered into between the government and Abacus Data since January 1, 2016, and broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation, or other government entity: (a) what is the total value of the contracts; (b) what are the details of each contract, including (i) the initial amount, (ii) the amended amount, if applicable, (iii) the start and end date; (iv) the description of goods or services, (v) the specific topics Abacus provided data or research on related to the contract, if applicable, (vi) whether contract was sole-sourced or competitive; (c) what are the details of all polling, surveys, or focus group research provided to the government from Abacus including the (i) date provided to the government, (ii) topics, (iii) specific questions asked to respondents, (iv) type of research (online poll, focus group, etc.), (v) number of respondents, (vi) responses received, including the number and percentage of each type of response, (vii) summary of the findings provided to the government; and (d) what are the details of all communication assistance or advice provided by Abacus, including the (i) start and end date, (ii) topics, (iii) value of related contract, (iv) summary of advice provided?
(Return tabled)Question No. 469--Mr. Damien C. Kurek
With regard to the government’s hiring policies: (a) is the government currently hiring for any positions wherein the successful applicant must be a member of a particular underrepresented group; (b) what are the particular positions for which the requirement in (a) has been implemented; (c) what are the underrepresented group or groups with which an applicant must identify in order to be eligible, broken down by each position; (d) what is the process for determining if an applicant has made a false claim in relation to the requirement in (a); and (e) what process does the government follow for determining which positions will be reserved for underrepresented groups?
(Return tabled)Question No. 470--Mr. Robert Kitchen
With regard to the acquisition of freezers required to transport and store the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine: (a) how many freezers were purchased; (b) what is the total cost of purchasing the freezers; (c) what is the cost per unit of freezers purchased, broken down by type of unit; (d) how many of each type of unit were purchased; (e) how many of each type of unit purchased are in each (i) province or territory, (ii) local health unit district; (f) how many of each type of unit were purchased for the purpose of transporting the vaccine; (g) how many freezers were rented; (h) what is the total cost of renting the freezers; (i) what is cost per unit of freezers rented, broken down by type of unit; (j) what are the estimated costs of (i) transporting, (ii) maintaining the freezers, broken down by type of expense; and (k) what are the details of all contracts over $1,000 related to the purchase, acquisition, maintenance, or transportation of the freezers including, (i) the vendor, (ii) the amount, (iii) the description of goods or services, including the quantity, (iv) whether the contract was sole-sourced or awarded through a competitive biding process?
(Return tabled)Question No. 471--Ms. Rachel Blaney
With regard to the international and large business sector of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), since November 2015, and broken down by year: (a) how many audits were completed; (b) what is the number of auditors, broken down by category of auditors; (c) how many new files were opened; (d) how many files were closed; (e) of the files in (d), what was the average time it took to process the file before it was closed; (f) of the files in (d), what was the risk level of each file; (g) how much was spent on contractors and subcontractors; (h) of the contractors and subcontractors in (g), what is the initial and final value of each contract; (i) among the contractors and subcontractors in (g), what is the description of each service contract; (j) how many reassessments were issued; (k) what is the total amount recovered; (l) how many taxpayer files were referred to the CRA's Criminal Investigations Program; (m) of the files in (l), how many were referred to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada; and (n) of the files in (m), how many resulted in convictions?
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
Some hon. members: Agreed.