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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 124

CONTENTS

Thursday, November 3, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 124
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer


  (1000)  

[Translation]

Points of Order

Requirement of Royal Recommendation for Bill C‑290—Speaker's Ruling 

[Speaker's Ruling]
     I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised by the member for Mirabel regarding C-290, an act to amend the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, which stands on the Order Paper under his name.

[English]

    In my statement of September 26, 2022, on the management of Private Members’ Business, I expressed concern about Bill C-290. At the time, I encouraged members who wished to make arguments about whether or not the bill requires a royal recommendation to do so. The member for Mirabel, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby and the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader did just that in points of order on September 28, October 21 and October 25, 2022. I would like to thank them for the information they shared in their statements.

[Translation]

     In his point of order, the sponsor of Bill C-290 explained that clause 5 of the bill stipulates that chief executives must provide support to public servants who make disclosures. He said that this support is not of a financial nature, but instead includes information, referrals, guidance and advice, and would not entail any new expenditures.
    In addition, regarding the proposed amendments to the definition of “public servant” in subsection 2(1) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, the member said that, since the act already includes provisions on contract employees in the public sector, adding these employees to the definition does not mean the bill needs a royal recommendation.
    The member for New Westminster—Burnaby agreed with the bill’s sponsor. In his intervention, he noted that nothing in Bill C-290 indicates that the support provided to public servants who make disclosures must be financial in nature. He further remarked that amending the definition of “public servant” as the bill proposes would only prevent the withholding of a payment or the termination of a contract.

[English]

    As for the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, he said that the bill’s inclusion of former public servants and those retained under contract would expand the scope of the public servants disclosure protection regime. For this and other reasons, the parliamentary secretary argued that Bill C-290 should be accompanied by a royal recommendation.
    As stated in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, on page 838, “Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown’s financial initiative.”

  (1005)  

[Translation]

    The Chair has carefully examined Bill C-290. Currently, section 42.2 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act prohibits some forms of reprisal against contract employees, including payment withholding and contract termination. The new definition of “public servant” proposed by Bill C-290 would, among other things, allow for the payment of compensation or the reimbursement of expenses or financial losses to contract employees who are found to have been subject to a reprisal following an investigation.
    In the view of the Chair, the implementation of Bill C-290 would infringe on the conditions of the initial royal recommendation that accompanied the current act. Accordingly, a new royal recommendation is now required before the bill can proceed to a final vote in the House at third reading.

[English]

    In the meantime, when the bill is next before the House, debate will continue on the second reading motion, and the motion will be put to a vote at the conclusion of the debate.
    I thank the members for their attention.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 17 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

Committees of the House

Finance  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill C-228, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.
    The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.
    I would like to thank our finance committee clerks, Alexandre Roger and Carine Grand-Jean; legislative clerks Philippe Méla and Marie-Hélène Sauvé; committee assistant Lynda Gaudreault; all committee staff, interpreters, services, witnesses and officials; and all members of the finance committee.

National Food Waste Awareness Day Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table my first bill, which designates October 20 as national food waste awareness day. I thank the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford for seconding my bill.
    This bill has a special place in the history of the office of Port Moody—Coquitlam, as it was researched by Yulia, our intern from Ukraine. Food insecurity is a reality, and her work was driven by a global concern.
    Having a day to recognize the impacts of food waste on food insecurity will raise awareness, inspire change and contribute to meaningful solutions to make Canada's food system more secure. Sixty percent of the food produced in Canada each year is thrown out, and half of it is fresh, edible and nutritious food that could help feed four million Canadians, one million of whom are children who struggle daily with access to healthy food.

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

  (1010)  

Canada Shipping Act, 2001

    He said: Mr. Speaker, for years, communities in and around the Salish Sea have had to deal with the presence of large freighters using our waters for extended periods of time while they wait their turn in the Port of Vancouver. Today, I am pleased and honoured to introduce a private member's bill to address this issue by amending the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.
    The bill proposes to introduce a new section, 23.1, to the act, which would prohibit the anchoring of large vessels in an area surrounding the southern Gulf Islands and the east coast of Vancouver Island. Any vessel contravening this prohibition would be committing an offence and would be liable to a fine of up to $100,000.
    The coastal communities in this area are frustrated by years of inaction from the federal government. These anchorages were established on traditional territories without the free, prior and informed consent of local first nations. If the federal government values these same waters enough to establish a national marine conservation area, then they also deserve protection from being used as an overflow industrial parking lot. This bill would do just that.
    I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, for being my seconder.

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

Committees of the House

Veterans Affairs  

     Mr. Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, presented to the House on Tuesday, March 1, be concurred in.
    In May 2019, the veterans affairs committee published a report entitled “Moving Towards Ending Homelessness Among Veterans”. Then, after two elections and two Parliaments and more than two full years later, with no government response to that report, the veterans affairs committee published another report, again entitled “Moving Towards Ending Homelessness Among Veterans”, in June 2021. In between that time, a motion was also moved in the House of Commons, in June 2019, indicating that the House should affirm that it wants to end veterans' homelessness, with a date of 2025 to see it end.
    It seems to me that we have a government that continues to talk and talk, but absolutely no action has happened from 2019 until present. We are talking more than three years later and we still have no action. We are still moving toward ending homelessness among veterans and it does not seem like we are moving very quickly. It does not seem like the Liberal government is moving very quickly. In fact, I do not think it is moving at all. That is why we are seeking to move concurrence in this report today.
    I will mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Barrie—Innisfil.
    We have a government that received a very thorough report about the need to end homelessness among veterans from a parliamentary committee. It gave no response, and two elections later there is still nothing happening. That is why the report was moved by the veterans affairs committee and we are discussing it today.
    Again, it just seems like under the government, we keep hearing it is going to do things. We keep hearing announcements in press releases, but there is never any action. The veterans who served this country made sacrifices, and in some cases very significant sacrifices with very significant physical and psychological injuries. They were prepared to serve this country at a moment's notice. They did serve this country and have suffered injury as a result. We have a duty and the government has a duty to ensure that we care for them. We must ensure that their needs are taken care of.
    We have heard that we probably have in the neighbourhood of 5,000 veterans in this country who are homeless. That does not sound like we have a government that is caring for them and ensuring their needs are met. There should never be reports of a veteran being homeless or needing food. I know there are many food banks dedicated specifically to veterans out there in this country. That should never be the case, but under the Liberal government, it just seems to be getting worse and worse, with no action being taken. The Liberal government is failing the veterans who gave this country what we have today.
    When veterans go to Veterans Affairs because they are in a crisis or have needs, they are met with layers of bureaucracy and endless wait times and processing times for their disability applications and pension applications. A service standard is required to be met, and that standard has not been met in seven years, not once since the Liberal government took office. The last time the service standard was met was in the last year of the previous Conservative government.
    The Liberal government has even failed to meet its own internal service standards. What we are seeing now in many cases is that two years is not an untypical amount of time for veterans to wait for service. They say that the average wait time is 43 weeks to get an application processed for veterans' benefits.

  (1015)  

    In many cases, veterans are waiting two years, and there are even cases where applications have taken as long as 10 years to get processed. This is clearly not a government that takes ensuring veterans are cared for very seriously.
    There have been a number of reports that have indicated such to the government. The Auditor General has indicated it in a report. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has indicated it in a report, and the veterans affairs committee itself has indicated it in numerous reports. The recent Auditor General's report said the government's “actions did not reduce overall wait times for eligible veterans. The department was still a long way from meeting its service standard. Implementation of initiatives was slow. Data to measure and improvements were lacking.” In other words, it is failing on every single measure.
    It is even more concerning that less than half of first-time mental health-related applications are being processed within the already lengthy 16-week period provided. The Auditor General calls that a significant deterioration of the processing times of the previous Conservative government. We are talking about mental health crises in some cases.
    What is happening instead? Instead, Veterans Affairs employees are suggesting to veterans that maybe they should consider assisted suicide. We have heard about the case that has been in the media, and we heard about it at the veterans affairs committee, where assisted suicide was offered to a veteran who did not ask for it. This veteran was in crisis and went to the government looking for help, and it was suggested to the veteran that maybe he should consider killing himself. Even when he said no several times, this Veterans Affairs employee continued to pressure him to consider it.
    The comment made, according to testimony from another veteran at the veterans affairs committee, from this employee to the veteran was that accessing assisted suicide would be “'...better than blowing your brains out against the wall.'” Can anyone imagine that one of our veterans had that happen to them?
     What is the Liberal government's response? It is not much, actually. It seems like it is trying to cover its own butt. Essentially, it tries to deny responsibility. When the minister was at committee, he continued to defer the responsibility for this to his officials. He seems to be completely removed from the operation of the department he is responsible for.
    I forgot to mention that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil.
    There was no apology offered to this veteran and no indication that anything was being done. Veterans Affairs said it was going to provide some training, but it could not give any indication when that would happen or how that would happen. I certainly did not leave feeling assured, and I know the many veterans across this country I have heard from certainly did not feel assured that the government was not going to do anything to ensure that it would never happen again.
    We have often heard a saying from veterans, which is “Deny, delay, die”, the triple d's. That is really what veterans feel they get from Veterans Affairs. They get denied the services they need. There are delays in processing times, and now they are being told that maybe it would be better if they just died. We seem to have a minister who is asleep at the wheel. Our veterans pay the price for that. Things are just so backward right now.
    Veterans and their families served this country. They sacrificed for this country, and we owe it to them to ensure they are getting the services they need. We owe it to them to ensure they are not left out in the cold, and that is actually what the government is doing. The Liberal government is actually leaving veterans out in the cold. There are 5,000 homeless veterans in this country, and the government is leaving them out in the cold instead of ensuring their needs are protected.
    There have been parliamentary reports, PBO reports, Auditor General reports and reports from the veterans affairs committee, but the government is doing nothing to make sure our veterans are cared for.

  (1020)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the shadow minister for Veterans Affairs, for bringing this issue forward to the House today. I would like to draw attention to a not-for-profit organization in Ontario called Ruck 2 Remember. It has been doing things for over 15 years, but just this year it conducted its road to recovery march as part of the Legion's operation: leave the streets behind program. It did the whole Bruce Trail, from Tobermory right down to basically Niagara Falls, which is over 900 kilometres, this summer.
     I want to pay tribute to Lino and Joey, who are the two people who did it all. I had the privilege of joining them for a little over 10 kilometres in my riding. I also want to thank the member for Flamborough—Glanbrook, who joined in as well for part of the march. I did inform all MPs whose ridings are part of the trail to get out there.
    I am drawing attention to the volunteers, veterans and phenomenal Canadian citizens who are standing up for our veterans. I would like my hon. colleague to elaborate on why it is so important for the Liberal government to do more to get our veterans off the streets.
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank the member for his service to our country. That is something the Liberal government has failed to do in its actions. I am glad he highlighted there are so many groups. He mentioned one in his riding, but there are so many groups across the country that are picking up the slack. They are filling the needs the Liberal government is not ensuring are being filled. I am proud of so many Canadians who are doing just that. However, they should not need to do that. The government should ensure those needs are being provided for.
    I will give an example. I mentioned earlier the training needed for employees at Veterans Affairs to ensure we never have another instance of suggesting to a veteran that maybe they should consider assisted suicide. There is an organization called Wounded Warriors, and it has the ability to provide that training tomorrow. The government is aware that could be the case, but it is not engaging in that.
    This is a situation where the government is not doing enough to serve the needs of our veterans, and Canadians and organizations across this country are having to step up to make sure veterans have their needs filled. They are paying for veterans to get the mental health supports and physical supports they need. The government is not doing it, so people are stepping up across the country to make sure it happens.

  (1025)  

    Mr. Speaker, is the member aware of the fund we created back in 2018, which is the veteran and family well-being fund? It is a very, very important fund. It did not exist prior to our government being elected in 2015. Many organizations right across the country have taken advantage of that fund so they can continue to help veterans on the ground.
    I know many Legions benefited from it, as well as homes for veterans groups and VETS Canada. There are many organizations right across the country, and probably in his riding, that are creating new and innovative ways of supporting veterans on the ground. The government is working with organizations and partners. I am wondering if he is aware of that and what he would like to share with the House concerning that program.
    Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of the fact that the Liberal government likes to make announcements, put out press releases and try to pretend like it is doing something. That is what we have seen from the Liberal government. This is another great example. It makes announcements about all kinds of money it is going to put into Veterans Affairs, but it does not spend it. A report just came out this week about almost a billion dollars in lapsed funding this year. That is money that was set aside to spend on programs for veterans that the government did not spend.
    The government has certainly been accused many times, and rightly so, of spending far too much money, but one area where it should never save money is on our veterans. When there is money that has been put out there for veterans, when there is almost a billion dollars in lapsed funding sitting around while veterans' needs are not being filled, that is not providing service to veterans and their families. That is a press release designed to fool the Canadian public into believing the government cares when it clearly does not care about veterans or their families.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his concern for the well‑being of veterans. It is indeed very important.
    I would like to know whether my colleague is aware that claims from francophone veterans take much longer to be processed than claims from anglophone veterans. I get the impression that Bloc MPs are the only ones who care about this. I hope that is not the case.
    I would like my colleague's opinion on this scandalous situation that makes no sense and has been denounced by my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.
    Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague on the delays in service for francophone veterans.

[English]

    There is no doubt. It has been very clear that francophones are, in fact, receiving even worse service than anglophones.
    I will condemn that, but even more importantly, I will condemn the fact that the government is leaving veterans out in the cold. It is leaving them to wait for two years, in many cases, to even get their benefit applications processed. That is completely unacceptable, and the Liberal government should be ashamed of itself for the way it is treating our veterans and our veterans' families.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the motion for concurrence on the report on veterans homelessness that was presented to the House of Commons.
    It is really appropriate this Veterans' Week, in advance of the country coming together, to salute and honour our veterans and their families that have given so much and sacrificed so much for our nation, not just fighting for democracy, the rule of law, human rights and freedoms around the world but peacekeeping as well.
    This weekend, I know many members of the House will be attending Remembrance Day ceremonies in the lead up to Remembrance Day. I look forward to being at the Lefroy-Belle Ewart Legion and Sandycove Acres for their Remembrance Day services, as well as Cookstown. I will be there to honour and respect those who served our country, those who continue to serve our country and, more important, their families. Oftentimes, it is forgotten that families serve as much as the members who serve. In all of the discussions we have, we have to realize that.
    The issue of veterans homelessness has been a pervasive problem for many generations of successive governments. Seemingly, we are not doing what we need to do to solve the issue of veterans homelessness.
    Oftentimes this issue becomes a problem during the transition out of services. I happen to believe that transition out of our Canadian Armed Forces, for whatever reason, medical or otherwise, needs to happen the first day a person signs on to be a member of the Canadian forces. It has to be a process, not a process that is an end process at the time of transition but it has to be an ongoing process to prepare veterans for that transition.
    Often veterans are not prepared for a transition and that is often the reason we find our veterans in a homeless state. We expected a study to be released in the summer, talking about veterans homelessness, how pervasive it was and how nothing seemed to be done.
    I agree with my hon. colleague from Banff—Airdrie that the Liberals are going to stand and talk about throwing millions and millions of dollars at a problem, which is seems to be what they doe, but it is doing nothing to solve this pervasive problem.
    The problems in Veterans Affairs, like backlogs and disability claims, are not money problems; they are process problems. Whether the Conservatives are in government or the government of the day, we need to find the will to deal with this processing problem.
    In every study that is done, every stakeholder, advocate, family member and every veteran who comes forward, along with the defence ombudsman and the veterans ombudsman, will say the exact same thing. In my experience in listening to these professionals and those who are directly impacted by this problem, it is a process problem and the processes have to be fixed. It is not a money problem.
    Groups out there are doing tremendous work, as my hon. colleague from Banff—Airdrie said, to help veterans and their families not just transition, but deal with the existing homelessness issue. There are a lot of solutions out there. There are a lot of partners we can work with to solve this process issue to ensure that veterans and their families are looked after as they transition out of the military.
    In my time as the veterans affairs critic, I had the opportunity to meet with the Veterans Transition Network, Wounded Warriors Canada and VETS Canada. Another one I was really fascinated by was a non-for-profit organization called Homes for Heroes based out of Calgary.
    I had an opportunity to meet with Dave Howard, who is the president and co-founder of the Homes for Heroes Foundation. One of the things he talked to me about was the need to not just work with municipalities to find areas where we could build transitional housing for veterans and their families, but also the need for government support in that regard.

  (1030)  

    I want to highlight as one example of many that veterans' advocates are proposing. The program is called “The Path to Recovery”. The goal of the program of the Homes for Heroes Foundation is to assist veterans with reintegration into civilian life. The first step is to provide them with housing, somewhere to be safe, secure, warm, a place to keep their personal belongings and to take care of their personal needs, a tiny home in one of these villages it is building and proposes to build. It has several proposals on the books, but is having a difficult time finding the funding for that. The idea behind it is to create a veterans' village, a community of understanding what veterans and their families are going through as they transition out of the military.
    One of the challenges is that 5,000 veterans are homeless. These numbers are as of 2015, but I suspect would probably be similar to this day. I have talked to advocates right across the country like Don Leonardo and the organizations I highlighted before. The last place veterans need to be is in a shelter. They need to be among themselves, with veterans who understand and are going through very similar situations. Therefore, I would encourage the government to use any aspect or avenue it can to support these types of organizations that understand the needs of veterans and their families and to resolve the issue of homelessness by building communities of veterans who can work together.
    With respect to some of the other aspects of this, the projection is that each village would provide 5,000 to 9,000 bed nights per year for veterans experiencing homelessness. There is a whole plan. I would encourage the government, if it has not met with Dave and the Homes for Heroes Foundation, to make it a priority to talk them about their vision and goal toward helping veterans and their families as they transition.
    It is a broader problem right now that is not just affecting veterans and their families; it is the state of the economy. We are all aware of the inflation and affordability crisis that is facing Canadian families and businesses. Veterans and their families are dealing with the same situation as everyone. The cost of groceries and housing has made it unaffordable. We add to that the challenges they are facing with disability backlogs and claims, oftentimes waiting up to two years for claims to be processed. Despite the fact that the government has thrown millions of dollars at the problem, it has not solved the problem because it is a process problem. Families and veterans dealing with transitional and mental health issues and occupational stress injuries do not need the process to be as cumbersome as it is.
    I know the government has, to some degree, started to look at the presumptive benefit claim process, and I would encourage it to look at more. I have said this publicly before, and I believe I have said it in the House. When people file their taxes, if there is a rebate coming back, Revenue Canada will often deposit that into a bank account within 10 business days, yet veterans and their families that are transitioning out of the military face a cumbersome process of delays as a result of claims and benefits that are attributed to service. We need to create a presumptive benefit claim process wherein if veterans file a claim with Veterans Affairs, we presume it to be attributed to service and they should be entitled to the money and benefits they deserve in their service to our country.
    There are simple processes that can solve not just the issue of those benefit claims, but also the issue of homelessness. I would encourage the government to heed the advice and recommendations of the committee, after listening to stakeholders from right across the country, those who are in the trenches, who are working to help veterans, the social agencies and veteran agencies, and to work to solve this problem, especially now given the affordability and inflation crisis that Canadians are facing and which veterans and their families are disproportionately facing to a great degree.

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for mentioning so many local organizations that are working so hard to keep our veterans in a safe place.
    I wonder if the member would comment on the fact that London, Ontario is the first city in Canada to attain functional zero veterans homelessness status and how important it is for all levels of government to work closely with communities and organizations that are getting the work done, so whatever process is put forward actually works.

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes an important point. It is a place that we should all aspire to be, that there is zero veteran homelessness.
    It is not just the stakeholders that are involved. Not only does the federal government have a role to play, but all levels of government have a role to play when it comes to the example I gave earlier about Homes for Heroes, ensuring there is proper zoning to allow for micro housing, tiny villages that could be built within built boundaries of municipalities, and dealing with zoning issues to ensure that those types of things happen.
    I agree with the hon. member that it is not just the federal government that has a role to play, it is not just advocates and stakeholders that have a role to play, and they are doing great work as it is across the country, but all levels of government. The will to help Canada's veterans should be universal among all levels of government and among every Canadian.
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to hear the member for Barrie—Innisfil speak about Homes for Heroes. This is an incredibly ambitious project that is being led by individuals who genuinely care about making housing available for veterans.
    He indicated some of the challenges that they face. However, one of the biggest challenges they face is finding land and very quickly getting this land rezoned for the purposes that they need.
    I know that the provincial government came into Kingston and, basically, from an order from the minister, rezoned the land without going through the city council process. I know he would be very familiar with it, having had experience on Barrie City Council. Quite frankly, it expedited the process to start moving it forward much quicker than waiting the year or year and a half that the planning application process normally takes.
    I wonder if the member could comment on whether he thinks that is a good initiative for the provincial governments to be doing and if he would encourage the provincial government to do that in more areas throughout the province.
    Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the issue of veterans homelessness, the issue of affordability and attainability among housing stock for Canadians needs to be addressed.
    If we talk to the Canadian Real Estate Association or the Ontario Real Estate Association, as I have, they talk about the cumbersome process with respect to zoning and development applications. That needs to be done by municipalities to ensure that the process is expedited so we are building houses.
    Young people across the country feel that they have been let down in many ways or lied to in terms of hope and opportunity. I would actually say that young people are despondent right now in the sense that they will not be able to afford a home like their parents did. This needs to be done throughout the entire process, the zoning process, the municipal, provincial and federal process. However, the federal government does have a role. There is excess real estate that could be repurposed to help not just veterans, but the homelessness and attainability problem in general.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it really speaks to me when a colleague talks about projects for veterans. In Quebec City, the “repos du soldat” veterans' housing project has been delayed for primarily administrative reasons.
    With respect to financing to help veterans, there is a $20.9-million infrastructure program to end veteran homelessness. That is very little, considering that the monarchy receives at least $67 million year, on a recurring basis. I believe that our veterans deserve more than one-third of what the monarchy gets.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I said at the onset of my discussion today, a lot of money gets thrown at the problem, but it is the processes that really need to be streamlined, filtered and expedited so that the money gets to where it needs to be and the effect of that money is realized when it comes to homelessness among veterans.

  (1045)  

    Now is my normal public service announcement, where I remind folks to keep their questions and answers short so everybody gets to participate in this debate.
    Mr. Speaker, I am profoundly honoured today to provide a government response to the first report from the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, entitled “Moving Towards Ending Homelessness Among Veterans”. It is especially important to note that Veterans Week starts tomorrow, and, leading up to Remembrance Day on November 11, we will be commemorating those who have done so much to safeguard our democracy.
    For generations, Canadians have gone to military service for reasons that can be both unique personally and remarkably similar all at once, most notably the common desire to protect and defend the values that they and their fellow Canadians believe in.
    More than 650,000 Canadians bravely served in World War I. During the Second World War, over one million people from Canada and Newfoundland would enlist for service on battle fronts all over the globe. Thousands more Canadians would serve in Korea, the Persian Gulf, the Balkans and Afghanistan. Here at home, members of our military have responded to natural disasters, like major flooding and devastating ice storms. Of course, they have been counted on during the COVID-19 pandemic, most notably tending to our seniors, including veterans, in long-term care facilities.
    Today, one in 60 Canadians is a veteran. It is our responsibility to meet their needs in post-service life and to commemorate and remember their incredible service and sacrifice.
    Many former members were released from the military without needing any major assistance. Their transition was for the most part smooth, and from one day to the next they were able to move on to a new chapter in their lives. However, for others, the transition from a career in the armed forces to post-service life is much more difficult, owing to any number of factors, including dealing with physical and mental injuries that limit post-career employment opportunities, experiencing financial instability that makes it hard to make ends meet, or having difficulties adapting to a life that is far less regimented than what a former member is accustomed to.
    The consequences can be devastating, with homelessness being one of them. The government's position on veteran homelessness is clear: One homeless veteran is one too many. Of course, the issue is much more complex than that. As the report notes:
    Homelessness likely affects between 3,000 and 5,000 veterans, or between 4.6 per 1,000 and 7.7 per 1,000 of the nearly 650,000 veterans living in Canada.
    Therefore, there is quite obviously a problem. It is one we know we can address and prevent with a determined and coordinated effort.
     Before we can even seek to address homelessness, we have to know exactly what it is. Let me spell it out. Homelessness is a symptom of a failed or challenged transition process. It is an outcome of a system that lacks the right supports at the right time and one in which gaps exist. Most obviously, it is a grave concern that impacts a person's overall well-being.
    Each of these points brings up some tough questions that we must ask ourselves. What do we know about homeless veterans? What leads them to end up without a home? What are the key factors? What do we not know? Who is leading the research in this area? What have our partners found out? Where is the latest information on the issue? Who offers what services? Whose are the most innovative and effective? How do our allies approach veteran homelessness, and what can we learn from them?
    These are questions that are constantly asked, and we are working with allied countries, community organizations, the homeless sector, veterans groups and federal partners to address and understand them. As more is learned about the issue, we will be able to do even more to identify and help our veterans.

  (1050)  

    One way is through public consultation and stakeholder engagement. Last week, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion hosted three national round table events on veteran homelessness.
    Participants included a veterans organization, a homeless sector organization and a veteran who themselves have experienced living without a home. They talked about identifying gaps and barriers for diverse groups of veterans experiencing homelessness, the impact of COVID-19, the best practices, and how different sectors can work together to find solutions.
    They explored a number of themes related to veteran homelessness. Some of the themes are as follows: ensuring veteran housing supports, for example, through rent supplements; making wraparound services available in conjunction with affordable and safe housing, to ensure a personal route out of homelessness; integrating mental health, addictions counselling and other health and medical services into supports for our veterans; having better data and data-driven approaches to veteran homelessness; increasing awareness of available programs and services for veterans at risk of or experiencing homelessness; and coordinating across sectors, government departments and levels of government to prevent and reduce homelessness.
    We have also worked in collaboration with partners such as the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness in addressing homelessness among veterans to provide all Canadians with a safe and affordable home.
    The government itself has also taken several steps to address this issue. Over the last two years, we have invested over $100 million to launch a new veteran homelessness program. In partnership with community organizations, it will provide wraparound services and rent supplements to veterans experiencing homelessness.
    These investments show how important this issue is for our government, and they add momentum to our efforts to address homelessness. Veterans experiencing homelessness have unique circumstances that require unique supports. We are always seeking to work with outside organizations and other government departments to ensure that veterans have a safe and affordable place to live.
    Veterans Affairs also supports homeless and at-risk veterans in other ways. These include the VAC assistance service, which provides free psychological support for veterans, former RCMP members, family members and caregivers. The service is free and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by simply calling the toll-free 800 number that can be easily found on the VAC website.
    Veterans experiencing homelessness or who are at risk can also obtain assistance through the veterans emergency fund, which provides prompt financial supports to veterans, their families and survivors who are facing an unforeseeable financial emergency that is threatening their health and well-being. It can cover essentials such as food, clothing or mortgage payments, medical expenses, and expenses required to maintain safety and shelter. The emergency fund exists to provide financial assistance to veterans and their families quickly and without complicated eligibility requirements and approval processes.
    For longer-term help, VAC will refer applications to other resources and other internal and external programs to assist our veterans. We also have the veteran and family well-being fund, which provides supports to organizations that are coming up with new and innovative ways of improving the well-being of Canadian veterans and their families. In 2018, over 60 organizations across the country received more than $25 million through that fund.

  (1055)  

    Thanks to the new increased funding in budget 2021, the well-being fund awards $8 million a year until 2023-24. This year, we have funded projects to support veterans and their families during COVID-19 recovery, including those experiencing homelessness.
     The Homes For Heroes Foundation is a good example of an organization that has benefited from this fund. Earlier this year it received $250,000 to go towards the Calgary veterans village and another $315,000 each to similar projects in Halifax and Winnipeg. These villages give veterans access to affordable and innovative housing as they transition into life after service. Not only that, but they also have access to the resources, training and counselling that can help them live independently in the long term. We also awarded Homes For Heroes $712,000 in 2021 to hire a national coordinator to oversee the operation of its national expansion plan.
    Fredericton Homeless Shelters is another organization that has received support from our veteran and family well-being fund. In 2020 it was awarded nearly $60,000 to support its homeless veterans pilot project, which identifies veterans in the Fredericton area who are experiencing homelessness. It gives them temporary shelter and access to services and supports that will help them find long-term housing and bring more stability to their lives. For example, it helps them access doctors and specialists, find a job or go back to school.
    This is the type of baseline assistance that makes life easier, not just for veterans, but for everyone. The Fredericton Homeless Shelter also received $40,000 in 2021 for its “from crisis to home” project and $75,000 in 2022 for a project called “continuum of care for veterans”. These are the kinds of projects that the government created the well-being fund for; ideas that can change the lives of veterans in Canada.
    It is tragic to think that anyone who served our country in uniform could one day end up homeless. On any given day, members of our Canadian Armed Forces can be anywhere in the world, putting their lives on the line for the safety and security of Canadians. They go where they are sent, and they do what they are told to do for our country. By the time their careers are done, some may sail into the sunset, while others land in more choppy, difficult waters.
     As a government, we are fully committed to every Canadian who has worn the uniform, whether they have served for decades or were honourably discharged early in their careers. All deserve a safe and affordable home in which to live after they are released, and this government will continue to do everything it can to ensure that all our veterans receive the support they need and have a home to live in.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention and for his service on the veterans affairs committee, which we work on together.
    The member talked about the existing military being shipped overseas, and how they could be called upon at any time, and he recognizes that we have an issue with housing for veterans. Could the member make any comments with regard to the pressing issue that existing military members have in trying to find housing at this point in time, and what the Liberal government is doing about that?

  (1100)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his work on the veterans affairs committee, which is very important.
    I spoke about some of the partners we have on the ground, which are very helpful, and I mentioned Homes for Heroes and tiny homes. This summer I had the opportunity to visit tiny home villages in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. Some funding has been allotted to support veteran homelessness in Halifax and Winnipeg, as well some great work that is happening in Fredericton and in London, Ontario, where we are working toward zero homelessness.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. Unfortunately, I agree with very little of what he said. His speech paints a very rosy picture of the assistance provided by the government.
    My colleague sat on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs when it analyzed the situation and when the report containing nine recommendations was tabled in 2019.
    Would he agree that three years later none of these recommendations have been implemented?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question and for his outstanding work on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. I also want to acknowledge the work we have done to address the situation for francophones, for whom things seemed to take longer.
    A unit has been dedicated to francophones to ensure that progress is made on their files and that they will not wait longer than anyone else. We are also hiring more francophones and bilingual people.
    With respect to many of the recommendations that were made in the reports, we are developing programs to support these veterans.
    I am very proud of our government. Much of the $11 billion it has spent has been invested in programs to enrich the lives of veterans and to help them.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I serve with the member on the veterans affairs committee, on which I have served for many years. I was there when the first report was tabled and then retabled to get a response from the government because it did not get a response due to the election in 2019.
    It is too bad that we are not seeing the numbers change. There are 5,000 veterans, it is estimated, who are still without a home or a safe place to be, and those are the people who served our country.
    The Auditor General was very clear in her report. One of the biggest challenges is that there is no correct data to identify the places where there are shutdowns of services. When we look at the system, services are not being delivered and we do not know why because the data does not tell us why. That seems like a big concern.
    Will the government invest in making sure that the data is there so we can identify the bottlenecks and serve veterans much more effectively?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent work. She has been on the veterans affairs committee for four or five years and has been doing some excellent work on that front, which is very important.
    Our government, as I indicated in my speech, has invested monies to create programs. One of the programs is the mental health program, in which we invested $140 million. What is important about that program is that it is an immediate program. That means that while veterans are waiting for their applications to be processed, they receive services from day one. That is an immediate program, so there are no wait times on that front.
    We also created the office of women and LGBTQ veterans to support those veterans, in particular, though we are not talking about that.
    Many of the wait times were created because the Conservatives, let us not forget, closed nine veterans offices that we reopened and fired over 1,000 frontline workers that we rehired as soon as we became government.

  (1105)  

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate all of my colleagues in the House who sit at the veterans committee and do this important work.
    Some years back, I was a critic and I had a great opportunity to learn about what was being provided and what was not being provided. I was quite appalled at the situation we were in. The fact that we are focusing on housing in this report, and that we are doing a concurrence motion, gives us a chance to talk about the good things we are doing and about where there are still unfilled gaps.
    One of the programs that I helped create was called Helmets to Hardhats. I wonder if my colleague is familiar with it. It was specifically to help veterans position themselves when they came back to get into the construction industry, which had tremendous needs.
    Could my colleague comment on that program?
    Mr. Speaker, there are so many programs and organizations out there helping our veterans. It is quite remarkable, but we should look at what we are going to be studying over the next few weeks or months, the veteran employment strategy. It is exactly in line with many of the organizations that my colleague mentioned that support our veterans. That is a key factor.
    Some of our veterans have had challenges and this is an opportunity to help them along. I know of a number of private sector organizations now hiring cohorts of veterans. That is the type of thing that veterans need to continue in life with opportunities. This is one way of helping them get back on their feet and supporting them as they are transitioning to civilian life.
    Mr. Speaker, my thanks to the hon. parliamentary secretary and other hon. colleagues in this place.
    Yesterday, I spoke of war heroes who happened to be my constituents. I specifically mentioned retired commander Charles “Chic” Goodman, who served in France and Belgium and helped liberate the prisoner of war camp in the Netherlands. I mentioned he was near death. He died this morning.
    The nurse placed a fresh poppy on his chest, next to his French Legion of Honor, an award he received from the French government for his service. He received many accolades from Veterans Affairs but not what he most wanted, which was that his wife, now a widow, would not face homelessness.
    We must get rid of the so-called “gold diggers clause”. Please, will the hon. parliamentary secretary say the government is going to remove this unfair and absurd anachronism?
    Mr. Speaker, that was an important question. My sympathy goes out to the family for their loss of the veteran she mentioned yesterday in her speech.
    Our government has put forward $150 million to study the data to see how we can best support the survivors of veterans who marry after 60. That report is being studied in the committee as we speak and recommendations will follow, which are so important.
    Again, I want to thank the men and women who have served and continue to serve. I was in Dieppe, France, this summer to commemorate the men who were lost on the beach. I cannot share enough the emotions of the people of France, Dieppe, the Netherlands and Belgium feel toward the Canadian military. They thank us for their freedom and for their liberation. That is powerful. I was so proud of them and proud of our men and women who have served and continue to serve.

  (1110)  

    Mr. Speaker, in his remarks, the Liberal member made the comment that one homeless veteran is one too many. I certainly agree with him on that, but it is everything that came after that which I disagree with.
    He mentioned all kinds of dollar figures they are spending on studies and things like that. It is not a question of more money being spent on studies. This is a question of will. It is time for the Liberal government to take action instead of talking about the problem.
    There are 5,000 homeless veterans and we have almost $1 billion in lapsed funding this year. How much of that lapsed funding was in these programs? When will the Liberal government stop keeping our veterans out in the cold and take action to address this issue, rather than study it and talk about it?
    Mr. Speaker, that question gives me an opportunity to share with the House and with Canadians what the former Conservative government did prior to 2015.
    It is very important to note that it actually cut the budget on the backs of our men and women who served. In 2014, it closed nine veterans offices that were giving services and supports to veterans across the country. What did we do? We reopened them in the first year we were in government.
    The second thing it did was fire 1,000 frontline employees, which caused a large backlog. What did we do? We rehired those 1,000 employees and we trained them as well.
    When we talk about wait times it focuses on two things. There is the $11 billion the government put to support veterans, which allows them to have up to $2 billion per year in their pockets, and of course reversing the cuts that were made by the Conservative government.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, allow me to crack a smile. I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my admirable and highly esteemed colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.
    I have a little story to tell the House. In December 1908, an old man named James Daly was found unconscious at the entrance to a building in downtown Montreal. He was suffering from hypothermia and malnutrition. In fact, he was dying. He was brought to the Montreal General Hospital, where he was cared for by a man named Arthur Hair, who noticed a slip of blue paper in his coat pocket. Mr. Hair, a veteran, quickly recognized the type of envelope sent to soldiers discharged from the British army. He opened the envelope and found to his chagrin that the man in question, James Daly, had served for 21 years and fought in the Crimean war from 1854 to 1856. He had 21 years of service, two of them on the front lines.
    Now this poor man was on the street. He had lost everything, except for a slip of blue paper attesting to his military service. He was practically a John Doe. James Daly died in the hospital. Horrified that James Daly would not be given a proper burial, one year later, Arthur created the Last Post Fund, an organization that is still active today and whose mission is to provide a proper burial for veterans with no financial resources at the time of their death.
    Since 1930, many burials have taken place at the National Field of Honour, a private military cemetery in Pointe-Claire, on the Island of Montreal. More than 22,000 veterans are now buried there, including our cherished Léo Major. I visited the site last summer and it is impressive. I invite all members to go visit when they are in Montreal. It is an impressive place. I will go so far as to urge my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs to go see it. The cemetery was created after a homeless man was found dying on the street.
    I will get back to the subject at hand very soon. The point to my story is to show that, 114 years ago, homeless veterans were dying as John Does on the streets of Montreal. What upsets me is that, 114 years later, a 50-page report describes the same problem, which is even worse now than it was then.
     When the report was tabled in 2019, homelessness affected between 3,000 and 5,000 veterans in Quebec and Canada. In other words, about one in 150 veterans ends up in this sad situation. That is undeniably shocking.
    The study we are talking about is entitled “Moving Towards Ending Homelessness Among Veterans”, and it was done during the 42nd Parliament. A total of 23 members of Parliament, some of whom were veterans themselves, sat on the committee during that time. The committee held six meetings on this subject and heard from about 20 witnesses. Nine recommendations emerged from their work.
    My colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, who is the Bloc Québécois critic for housing and has a great deal of experience in this area, is in a much better position to talk about the housing situation in relation to homelessness than me. I am thinking about the national housing strategy, of course.
     The first recommendation in the report is as follows: “That Veterans Affairs Canada work in partnership with community agencies dedicated to helping veterans and establish ways for continual contact between the department and veterans, with the latters’ permission.”

  (1115)  

    Clearly, the department still has a long way to go. Yes, community organizations receive funding, but levels have stagnated and are far below the assistance and money necessary to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
    I would like to share with my colleagues a small initiative that is of particular interest to me. Each year, in partnership with Montreal’s Accueil Bonneau, the Royal 22nd Regiment veterans association distributes hot meals, clothing and personal care products. Naturally, they do it for people experiencing homelessness. Last year, they served almost 800 meals. It is a wonderful initiative, but much more needs to be done. That is where Veterans Affairs Canada fails to walk the talk. It is unfortunate, but shelters and hot meals are only a band-aid solution for a far bigger problem. It will not address the root cause of homelessness, I agree.
    I am convinced that preventive measures are needed to address the root causes, including improving services offered during the transition from military to civilian life, hiring more case managers and reducing wait times between requests for assistance and intervention, especially when it comes to the veterans emergency fund. There is a fair amount of money available, but the fund is very complicated. It is not easy for veterans to fill out the documents needed to access it.
    There is also the issue of access to mental health services for veterans and their families. We need to comply with the 16-week service standard when it comes to applications for disability benefits. Also, I cannot help but mention the need to offer equitable and quality services to francophones. Veterans Affairs Canada needs to address the problem upstream, but they appear to have difficulty doing that.
    Need I remind members that a veteran who is waiting can become a veteran who gets fed up? Veterans who get fed up can find themselves on the street or at the end of a rope. There is a reason why the suicide rate is so high among veterans, and there is a reason why the homelessness rate is also high among veterans. What is especially disappointing in all this is that, of the nine recommendations made, recommendations that are relevant, logical and based on veterans’ needs, none have really been implemented.
    I know I am running out of time, but I just have to add to something my colleague said earlier. There is a wonderful initiative to support veterans called the “Repos du soldat”. This non-profiit organization was registered in 2018 and has been struggling to get the Department of National Defence to hand over a parcel of land. Instead, a few years ago, National Defence agreed to allow an English-language school to be built on that land. That is rather odd.
    We look forward to getting an answer on this, because the project would mean an additional 90 housing units in the Quebec City area, along with space for health care professionals, including psychologists. This project is being led by Ms. Pelletier, the wife of a veteran suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. We are still waiting for a response to the letter that two Bloc Québécois members and I wrote to the Minister of National Defence about the matter. We have not received a response.
    I am out of time, but I had a lot more to say on this subject. As a final comment, I will just mention that I would like us to be able, at some point, to make recommendations in these committees that will not be shelved or put on the back burner. This is a perfect example of what we are dealing with. Out of nine great recommendations, not one is actually being implemented. It makes one wonder what the members on these standing committees are actually doing.

  (1120)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the work that he does on behalf of veterans. I know we all care very much about this particular file.
    I have to ask if the member is aware that there is a dedicated unit for the issue of francophone veterans who are coming back. There has been a significant increase in support in francophone areas, as well as a dedicated unit. Is he familiar with that? What are his thoughts on that dedicated unit, if he is aware of it?

[Translation]

    Of course I am familiar with that, Mr. Speaker. For the past three years, I have been fighting so that francophones can get the same type of services as anglophones. The unit was implemented in Montreal, but it is not being managed properly, so the response time for French applications is much longer than for English applications. Francophones have never been treated equitably in that regard. The resource is there, but the results are not.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his wonderful speech and his comment. He is always very interesting and, more importantly, he cares a lot about veterans.
    Speaking of veterans, I would like to say hello to my father, who is a World War II veteran and who is 99 years, two months, two weeks and two days old today. At that age, one basically starts counting the hours.
    My colleague mentioned that this report includes nine recommendations. Unfortunately, recommendations often get ignored.
    What does my colleague think is the first recommendation that should be implemented? Which one does he think is most important?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting question.
    I must say that delayed responses are an appalling source of stress for families and veterans. Again, these delays are worse for francophones than for anglophones. That would be the first point.
    Some may say that this is a bit far removed from homelessness, but it is not. Homelessness is part of a process. In order to address it, we need to tackle issues earlier on and find a way to adequately meet francophones' needs. I think that would be my main recommendation or where the focus should be.

  (1125)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his very important speech. We have worked together on the veterans committee for years and I really appreciate his dedication, especially to francophone veterans.
    Earlier this year, we were honoured to go with the minister to some important places. We went to Vimy Ridge and we went to Menin Gate. Those are places where there is such a deep respect for the men and women who served Canada and who served in those places during times that none of us can imagine. What concerns me is that we hear this long-standing history of Canada failing veterans. We continue to have over 5,000 veterans today who are without homes.
    Why do we appreciate their sacrifice, but we do not see the government, or the past Conservative government, recognizing what needs to happen for veterans?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, whom I hold in high regard, by the way.
     That is a question that I obviously cannot answer. There used to be a slogan that went something like “if you're curious about life, enlist”. People laugh, yes, but I often think of it in committee. One of the questions that both my colleagues and I regularly ask the witnesses we meet is whether they would still enlist if they could do it over again. Things happen a certain way in the military. There is a tremendous amount of respect for people in the military. When people leave the military, their lives change drastically in terms of support, respect, and so on.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today about the important issue of homelessness among veterans.
    I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, who is doing a wonderful job on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. He worked on the report and the recommendations. What a shame it is that most of the report's recommendations have yet to be implemented. It is a real shame.
    I will approach this issue from another direction. When we talk about homelessness, it is difficult not to talk about housing. Ultimately, what we want is to get people off the streets and into a home. We want to give them a roof over their heads. Unfortunately, it is clear that we are not taking care of our own in Canada and Quebec.
    I am pleased to rise so close to Remembrance Day. Today is an excellent day to talk about this issue. I would also like to pay tribute to certain people.
    In my riding, an entire ecosystem of assistance for people experiencing homelessness has sprung up in recent years. It is amazing. Take the Halte du coin, for example. My friend Nicholas Gildersleeve launched this initiative during the pandemic.
    During the pandemic, it became clear that there were Montrealers who were fleeing the city for the area around the Longueuil metro station for reasons that appear to be pandemic related. They believed that there was a serious outbreak in Montreal. They were leaving Montreal and congregating around the Longueuil metro station. There was a risk of a major outbreak and a possibility that the virus would spread outside the community of Longueuil.
    The people who work with the homeless and are involved in housing issues immediately sprang into action. Gilles Beauregard of Table Itinérance Rive-Sud did an incredible job. Everyone banded together as part of an ecosystem that cares for people. I should also mention Marlène Harvey of La Casa Bernard-Hubert, a men's shelter that offers six-month stays, and Sonia Langlois, who is doing a fantastic job with L'Antre-temps, a shelter for homeless youth between the ages of 16 and 21. When we think of homelessness, we often picture older people. There are older people experiencing homelessness, and that is a problem. Unfortunately, young people also end up on the street. They run away from home, they get placed in foster care, they run away and end up in the street, and there are organizations devoted to helping them.
    I would like to give a shout-out to Lucie Latulippe at L'Abri de la Rive-Sud and to Chrismène Joseph at the Centre de support médical et d'assistance sociale de Longueuil. These are people that I know and love.
    I went to the Halte du coin, which is a resource with a high social acceptability threshold; in other words, they accept everyone. It is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People come in and no one asks questions. Meals are served during the day. I went to help serve the meal and wash dishes one day, and I saw something that I found deeply troubling. People can come to eat, 50 meals are served, but, unfortunately, there is not enough room. This problem is related to what we are talking about today. There is not enough funding to deal with homelessness. We are not helping people enough.
    The resource has 20 beds in the summer and 30 in the winter. Winter is coming and it is a serious problem.
    They serve 50 meals without any issue; 50 people show up and are fed. It happens in a former church that has been turned into a support centre for the homeless. That is quite remarkable. It is a wonderful resource. However, there is not enough room for everyone. There is not enough room to house everyone. There are around 50 seats at suppertime. After the meal, the people leave, go outside, smoke a cigarette or a joint. As we know, homelessness can be related to drug use. After the meal, the space is turned into a place to sleep. The tables are replaced by beds.
    When I left the resource, everyone was there outside, about 50 of them. Unfortunately, not all of them would be able to get in. They were all waiting to spend the night in a warm bed, but there is not enough room. We are not providing a place to sleep for our own. We do not care for our homeless veterans in this country. That is a big problem.

  (1130)  

    Ultimately, the way to address the issue of homelessness is through housing. That is also noted in the report. Unfortunately, Canada is failing in its duty to house its citizens. The system is not working at all in Canada.
    The national housing strategy was launched five years ago with much fanfare. The goal was to spend $72 billion. We were told that people would be housed. When the Liberals talk about the great $72‑billion strategy, they never mention the fact that it includes the money that cities, provinces and organizations will invest. It is not all federal money.
    Five years on, Scotiabank estimates that Canada has a shortfall of 3.5 million housing units. Moreover, Canada has the lowest number of housing units per 1,000 people of all G7 nations. That is scandalous. We saw this week that Canada is one of the worst countries in the G20 in terms of fossil fuel investments, which is a downright scandal. All the Liberal ministers keep going on and on about the sustainable economy and the ecological transition, yet Canada is the second-worst country in the G20 in terms of public investments in fossil fuels. That in itself is shameful.
    Canada's record on housing is also shameful. There are 424 housing units per 1,000 residents. Canada is the worst country in the G7. That is appalling. Last week, we discussed Bill C-31. My Liberal and NDP friends think they are resolving the housing crisis with Bill C‑31. People are being sent a cheque for $500. How much will be required next year?
    Not a single housing unit will be built with Bill C‑31. Two weeks ago, during the Nuit des sans-abri, an event that raises awareness of homelessess, I met with friends who work with the homeless in Longueuil. When I talked to them about Bill C‑31, they were devastated. How many millions will be spent under Bill C‑31 without a single home being built?
    We need to build homes. According to a study by Scotiabank, 3.5 million housing units must be built over the next 10 years in Canada to meet the demand. Midway through the national housing strategy, 350,000 units have been built and 60,000 been renovated. That adds up to about 100,000. Can we call that a roaring success? No, it is a total failure.
    That is not to mention the other problem we have right now. There is a need to build more social housing, more housing that people can afford, and that is the important part. However, last month, a problem arose, a problem associated with the pandemic, rising construction costs and the labour shortage. Projects funded by the government will not be able to move ahead due to a lack of refinancing.
    It is easy to understand. Some projects that were funded under the rapid housing initiative or the national housing co-investment fund a year or two ago will not move ahead a year later due to rising costs and the labour shortage.
     Once the builders break ground on a project, it becomes clear that, to complete the 55 or 70 units, another $1 million or $2 million is needed. It is a serious problem. These are good projects funded by the government that will not see the light of day. There are many of these projects in Quebec and it is outrageous that we do not talk about it.
    Furthermore, midway into the strategy, while the government keeps boasting about spending money, only 30% of the funds have been spent. I said earlier that there is a shortfall of 3.5 million housing units in Canada. An economist at the CMHC told me a few weeks ago that, in Quebec alone, if the market is left on its own, 500,000 units will be built. The market alone will build 500,000 units, but 1.1 million would be needed to meet the needs of Quebec alone. That means we need 600,000 more. One way or another, the government must help. It must intervene in the market to build those 600,000 units, but that is not happening.
    That is not all. Over the last 10 years, according to my friends at the Réseau québécois des OSBL d'habitation, Canada has lost 600,000 affordable housing units, units that middle‑class people could afford. Those units are now being sold on the private market and have become unaffordable for the average person.

  (1135)  

    Not only is new housing not being built, but the units we helped build, units that were affordable or that the market built over the years, are no longer affordable for average folks. There is a lot of work to do.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the passion of the member. There are not a lot of people in this room who can get more vocal than I can at times, but he is certainly one of those members.
    He brought up a lot of interesting and I think debatable points about affordable housing. This government has done a lot, and even though he says that nothing has been done and nothing has been built, that is simply not the case. I can reference my riding, where a number of projects that have been funded by the federal government are now open and housing individuals who are in need of affordable housing. I will say that unfortunately, and I was listening closely, I did not once hear the member talk about the actual issue, which is affordable housing for veterans.
    There has been a lot of good discussion today from all sides of the House. I have heard the Conservatives talk about Homes for Heroes, and I have heard many other discussions about housing veterans. I wonder if the member would like to reflect specifically on housing the veterans who are in need right now and to depart from the more general topic of homelessness and focus on veterans.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague seems to expect me to applaud the government's actions, which I certainly will not do.
    When it comes to housing, I dream of how they do it in Vienna. A few weeks ago, I was in Laval for a conference about housing organized by the mayors of Longueuil and Laval, both of whom are very focused on social housing. I applaud their initiative.
     During the conference, we heard from the former mayor of Vienna. One hundred years ago in Vienna, people realized that they needed to do something about housing, probably because that is when veterans were returning after the First World War. People realized that the government would have to invest in providing housing for people. In Vienna, 62% of all the housing units are social housing. The city builds real communities, with bike paths and organic shops. It is extraordinary. I have seen pictures. That is my dream.
    The thing is, it takes the kind of will on the part of the government that we are not seeing right now.

  (1140)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Longueuil—Saint‑Hubert for his speech, which shows that he cares about our veterans. In his opinion, why did the CEO of Vets Canada state the following earlier this week:

[English]

    “A lot of them have expressed that they don't feel valued, they don't feel important.” She is referring to veterans. “These are men and women who put their lives on the line for our country, so I think we owe them a lot more than what we're providing.”

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the statement that my colleague just talked about. When we talk about housing for people, we are talking about all vulnerable populations in Canada. Veterans are very important, but there are also women who are victims of domestic violence and people with addictions, who are often veterans.
    That brings me to another point. Veterans have mental health issues, among others. People returning to civilian life suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. If we want to help people, the federal government must invest in health and make health transfers. There is a mental health epidemic in Quebec's hospitals. People are committing suicide in Quebec's emergency rooms. In the meantime, the federal government says that it will cut a cheque on condition that we do this and that. The federal government does not pay doctors, does not manage hospital, does not train nurses, but it wants to meddle in how the provinces manage their health systems. It is preposterous.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his usual passion and for his service to his constituents.
    I wonder if he could comment on the delays in processing veterans' claims. This important issue has been raised by our veterans affairs critic, who is doing an extraordinary job. Although money has been invested to address this problem, it does not appear to have been resolved.
    We are talking about homelessness, but when veterans are neglected, it causes them emotional and intellectual distress, which can lead to homelessness. We need to look after our people properly and with respect.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. It is a major problem.
    The figures show that, in 2018, the wait time was 19 weeks for applications in English and 52 weeks for applications in French. That is outrageous.
    In 2021, the wait time was on average 43 weeks for both anglophones and francophones. Service for anglophone veterans has gotten worse, and it has not gotten any better for francophones.
    I cannot help but feel as though there is a certain level of systemic discrimination against francophones in this country.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the amazing member for Edmonton Griesbach.
    When I reflect upon this report, I remember back to 2019 when it was initially tabled. There was a sense of urgency from all parties in the House that this needed to be a priority for the government and action needed to be taken, so it is frustrating to be having this discussion again, knowing this report from 2019 was retabled by the committee, which had been waiting for a response from the government. The committee has now received that response. However, it still does not address the key issues. When we retabled this, I wrote clearly in the supplementary report that it has been a full three years, yet very little action has been taken on this critical issue.
    I think also of how many veterans I have spoken to, how many veterans have come to the House of Commons to be a witness for us and how many veterans have sat at the table at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Many times they are asked if they would serve again, and they always say yes. What surprises me as well is how many of them, when asked if they would encourage their own children or relatives to serve, say yes.
    When we look at the reality of it, about 5,000 veterans are homeless now, without a safe place to live and dealing with things most of us cannot imagine, and they are still there. Even though they are there, they would still serve our country again. Their commitment to service runs that deep. It is important we remember that when we have these discussions.
    Their dedication to service is so profound, and our dedication to serve should, at the very least, match theirs. Our service to veterans, as parliamentarians, is to make sure they have the best services they can, that they are accessible and that they are not waiting a long, long time for them. We have to make sure that 5,000 veterans are not going to bed tonight without a safe home to live in.
    When I think of this, I think of recommendation 3 of the report, which reads, “That Veterans Affairs Canada, in cooperation with Employment and Social Development Canada and organizations supporting academic research, continue its efforts to better understand veterans’ homelessness, taking into account the overrepresentation of women and Indigenous peoples.”
    It is important to research this, but at the same time, we need to figure out what is going on and do actions. I talked earlier today about the work being done in London, Ontario, to collectively identify veterans in the community who are homeless and make sure they have a safe place to live. It is important we recognize this.
    We know, sadly, that of those veterans who are homeless, the number of women and indigenous people in this population is really high, when all of us in this place know that are they are still a very small part of the forces who serve us. Why is that? We need to figure out why that is. We also need to acknowledge that sometimes these groups are marginalized groups within a larger group who are even more marginalized by our systems. It is important that research is done, and that we honour that.
    I come back to something else I also mentioned earlier today, which is the fact the Auditor General, in their report, was very clear that Veterans Affairs Canada does not collect data in a way that allows it to identify where the problems are. When we have veterans who do not have a home, who are waiting for the services they need and falling through the cracks, and who feel a great deal of distrust for the ministry, the department and the people who work there, we also need to look at the fact that the data is not there to provide the information to correct the problem.
    What we see continuously is money being poured in, but we do not know if that money is being spent effectively because we do not know where there are bottlenecks. We do not know where the blockages are that veterans just simply cannot get through. We do not know that, and that is on the government. It is on the government to fix this core problem.

  (1145)  

    I know that we can talk about a lot of exciting things that get people really upset, but having good data means better services to veterans. I am very firm that we cannot stop talking about how important this is because a lack of data means veterans are not getting the services they deserve.
    Recommendation 4 specifically talks about a “partnership with other federal, provincial/territorial and municipal organizations concerned, and with the community agencies”. In my riding, I have 11 Legions across some of the smallest communities we will ever see. The Legions are cornerstones to those communities because they provide support and services, and they create a place where a community to get together.
    Those organizations want to do the work. We asked the government to take all of those stakeholders and make sure to work with them to implement an action plan, such as the national housing strategy, to actually get to the core and eradicate homelessness for veterans.
    What we do know is that there are piecemeal investments under the national housing strategy in 2021. It really focuses on Edmonton and Ottawa, but it does not have any concrete plan to address this. That is a concern, and we know it can be done. Strategies can help veterans get into homes.
    In fact, and I will say it again, on February 16, 2021, in London, Ontario they did just that. They did it. Built for Zero Canada, working with the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness on the national effort to address the problem, monitors the progress of 12 participating cities. It endorsed London's claim that the city had the first Canadian community to attain the status of functional zero for veteran homelessness because the groups focused on the issue, gathered the relevant data, looked at community-focused solutions and did it.
    This is a model that we could be implementing by working with communities, regions, organizations and municipalities to identify what is happening in their community and which veterans are falling through the cracks. This is important because veterans do not often complain if they are homeless. They are ashamed that they are homeless, as though it is their fault, and they do not step up to disclose it.
    So many witnesses have come before us to say that often, when veterans are homeless, they will not disclose that they are veterans, so they do not even know how to connect them with those resources. They have shame and also a feeling that the department will not do anything for them. Those things need to be addressed. They need to be taken seriously, and we need to demonstrate for veterans that there are solutions and that, if they reach out for help, they are actually going to receive it.
    Not too long ago, I had a family member come to speak to me about a veteran in their family. She is an indigenous woman. She spent many, many years serving this country, and now she is couch surfing. She is living on the edge because how she left was not a good way to leave. I do not have permission to share what happened to her, but it was not a good thing. She left in desperation for her own safety from the military.
     Now she is sleeping on couches, and she has so much need, but no matter how much her family loves her and no matter how much they reach out to her, they cannot get her to ask for the services because she no longer trusts the system. We need to look at that. We need to own that in the House and stop pointing fingers. We need to start saying we are going to stop doing that and we are going to start serving veterans.
    In closing, I want to talk about recommendation 7, “That Veterans Affairs Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police...sign a memorandum of understanding to make RCMP veterans eligible for the Veterans Emergency Fund under the same terms and conditions as Canadian Armed Forces veterans.” We have heard from the president of the RCMP Veterans' Association that this has not gone into place. However people have served this country, we have to show them that, on the other side of their service, they will be respected enough to get the support they deserve. I am here in the House asking for that to be a reality because veterans have served us. We had best serve them back.

  (1150)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member for North Island—Powell River's intervention was quite insightful. She really hit the nail on the head with her comment toward the end which talked about how there are many veterans out there who just do not know that services are available to them. I think the government needs to play a stronger role, quite frankly, in getting in touch with these veterans.
    I know that in my riding of Kingston and the Islands a few years ago, there was an effort one Sunday morning, which I believe was happening throughout the country, where we went out into our communities, specifically to the areas where we knew homeless people were living, to get in touch with veterans. For starters, it was to try to locate them and account for them, but it was also to help them become aware of the services that were available.
    I wonder if the member could comment further on where she sees opportunities to reach out to veterans, in particular those who are not aware that services are available to them, so we can give them the services they deserve, and which the government should be providing them.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the key things we have heard from veterans repeatedly is that the transition period moving from service into their role as veterans is fraught with problems. The information back and forth is fragmented. They often carry the large load of trying to figure out how to make the system work. Therefore, the orientation of what services are available is not clear and is not done the way they need.
    When we think about serving people, one of the best and important things we can do, especially when we are in a seat of government, is to listen to people who go through those transition processes, hear where the problems are and fix them. It is not to blame veterans for not being able to ask for help, but to understand that we need to provide better help. That transition period is absolutely key. If the trust is not built there, then veterans will not feel comfortable to come forward to say they need assistance.

  (1155)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague.
    The government is responsible for making the relevant information available to people leaving the Canadian Armed Forces. I very much enjoyed my colleague's answer.
     I would like to give her a few seconds or minutes to talk about a project in London, Ontario, that wiped homelessness off the face of the map. I am extremely curious. Who financed the project? How did it start? What organization is responsible?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I did note the organization and what its name was earlier. What was so important is that the stakeholders and the municipality came together to say it was an issue they wanted to address. By bringing everyone together within that community, they identified I believe about 20 veterans in their area who were homeless. They then actively created strategies collectively.
    One of the things we know, especially when we sit here in a federal seat, is that we are big and we cover a huge country, but local solutions make the most sense because local people know how to work collaboratively, so it is important that, as the federal level of government, we always look at ways we can support the people on the ground. If those resources are not given to those organizations, then the actions cannot be taken in a meaningful way.
    I am glad London could do this, but I think it is very important that the federal government steps up, supports these kinds of programs and looks at models that work so we can do what we must do, which is get veterans into homes.
    Mr. Speaker, it is tragic that the Liberal government has not responded. Although the Conservatives have moved this motion today, it was the former Conservative government that was responsible for cutting supports to veterans. Now we have a crisis where people who sacrificed of themselves are living on the streets. I know the NDP has offered solutions. I wonder if my hon. colleague could discuss some of those them.
    Mr. Speaker, very briefly, the NDP has again recommended that we need more non-market housing. At the end of the day, what we need to deal with the housing crisis across the country is housing that is actually affordable, not defined by corporations but defined by people's incomes.
    Mr. Speaker, I want thank to my hon. colleague for a remarkable speech, one that hits on the very important aspects of today's debate.
    Today, we are talking about veterans and it is always an honour for me to recognize the contributions of veterans and also the veterans who are present in the House. I want to thank them for their service.
    What we are seeing across Canada today is truly deplorable. We are talking about homeless veterans, something that should never have been a topic in the House. It is to the extent that nearly 5,000 former serving members, who make up a part of about 630,000 veterans across the country, continue to live through this every day.
    We are seeing veterans on the front lines of poverty. Whether it is my community of Edmonton—Griesbach or Powell River or Winnipeg, indigenous women and other vulnerable groups hit the intersection of this crisis. When we are talking about veterans, the barriers they feel are immense.
    I want to highlight some of the history of veterans affairs in Canada and my own experience with advocacy for veterans in the Métis community.
    For a long period of time, Métis people have contributed greatly to the Canadian Armed Forces at home and overseas. I am reminded of the stories that veterans shared with me in September 2019, when the government and the Prime Minister apologized for the mistreatment of Métis veterans in Regina.
    I was present at that apology and what I heard was the recognition that indigenous veterans were left behind. They served in World War II. Whether it was the Cree code talkers or the expert snipers from indigenous communities, they put their lives on the line, even when Canada did not recognize them. They knew that the fight for justice and the fight for freedom was one that we all share and one that unites each and every one of us as Canadians.
    It is deplorable to think that, during World War II, this country was able to manoeuver and make what was financially impossible materially possible. We were able to house, feed and clothe over one million Canadians during the war. Today, we are talking about 5,000 veterans who do not have those means.
    This is a true matter of our nation's dignity, the treatment of those who put their lives on the line, the treatment of those who sometimes go ignored for their service. Today must be a day when we recognize their sacrifices, not just during their service but during the time that comes afterward. We just heard the New Democratic critic of veterans affairs describe the importance of veterans and the issues that they are currently facing in transition.
    When we think about the services that the government should be providing for veterans, we often think of the other groups that are doing that work, the groups that are filling the gaps for veterans, the groups that are continuing to feed, house and clothe with barely any resources. I think about the Veterans Association Food Bank of Edmonton, for example, which started as a food bank and today has grown into a larger mandate of supporting veterans. When I toured that food bank, I met with veterans who are proud of the service they have contributed to our country.
    What they are not proud of is the fact that Veterans Affairs and the government will not provide them that same level of dignity. They are a remarkable people, working and volunteering on behalf of veterans for veterans, who are doing this work in my city right now, helping veterans access those programs where Veterans Affairs will not.
    We must ensure that all veterans have that access. These programs that veterans have been unable to access are truly part and parcel of how we look toward a better future for veterans. When they do not work, it is the opposite. It shows these veterans that the door is closed, not open.

  (1200)  

    When I think about the tremendous work of veterans and their own contributions to communities, I think about the folks in my community who are volunteering at homeless shelters, even though they themselves face that same crisis. These are men and women who are contributing and want to contribute, but they also need to have their government contribute. We have the means in Canada as one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
    To all of my colleagues in the House, I know that each and every one of us is dedicated to the prosperity and betterment of veterans. This should not be a partisan issue. Each and every one of us can recount our own family members, friends and neighbours who have served, and some continue to serve. These barriers should not be present.
    As I said in the beginning of my speech, in Canada, when we had less wealth, when we had fewer people even, we were able to house, feed and clothe one million Canadians. Today, we must fight poverty, which is the challenge that is facing veterans and Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We can, in fact, make a contribution to veterans that eliminates poverty. We can, in fact, do the work that makes the financially impossible materially possible. I am confident that, with members of the House, if we can see beyond our differences for the betterment of all veterans in our country, we can, in fact, house 5,000 veterans, we can clothe those veterans and we can feed those veterans.
     There is no amount of money that is too much to ensure that veterans and their families are taken care of, because what they are offering is far more than what our country could ever give back. They are offering their lives, their families and their time. It is a huge sacrifice and one we cannot take for granted, one to which Canadians owe a debt. We can, in fact, eliminate poverty for veterans. I know we can do this if we are able to see veterans as the truly remarkable people they are, and not just when they serve but in our communities. They are our neighbours, our community members and the people who show up at the Legion and help out when they are asked to. These are real people. They do not, like many others, deserve to be homeless.
    Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. I know that, with co-operation from each and every member of the House, we can, in fact, eliminate poverty and we can eliminate houselessness. What better way to start than by ensuring that our veterans are housed, fed and clothed.
    On this day of our debate, I hope we can continue to hear, through the contributions of all of my colleagues, about the importance of veterans, and not just in our communities but across the country. I also hope to hear of members' commitment to work across party lines to eliminate the issues of transition that veterans face today, to see the nuanced division and intersection between indigenous veterans and women veterans and to see that we need to do more.
    I am confident that, if we do that, we will not have to return to this place and debate again the fact that we have houseless veterans, which is a true tragedy in Canada and one that we can eliminate. We can eliminate poverty.

  (1205)  

    Madam Speaker, I agree with the member for Edmonton Griesbach that we should allow nothing to stand in our way to house, in particular, these 5,000 veterans who are homeless.
    It would be very easy to put money to this, and I do not think anybody in the House would disagree with that. However, as indicated by the member for North Island—Powell River who spoke before the member, one of the real challenges has to do with getting in touch with these veterans who are homeless. Quite frankly, many of them do not know that the supports are there, and we do not know where many of them are physically located because they are homeless.
     I wonder if the member could comment on the position that perhaps the government should be taking to get the word out there and to try to get in touch. Is there anything that we can do beyond putting money towards something, which I know everybody in the House would agree we should do?
    Madam Speaker, there are existing community organizations doing this work.
     My hon. colleague for North Island—Powell River gave an example related to the elimination of veteran houselessness in London. We know that partnerships with local communities and municipalities can provide the data that is important in helping us identify those veterans, offer better supports and at times fund support programs that are already in place.
    The Edmonton veterans association, for example, hosts peer nights, where veterans come together, share stories and participate together. We need to invest in these solutions.

  (1210)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is very aware of the issues facing the French language. The hon. member for Rivière‑des‑Mille‑Îles, our veterans affairs critic, has taken up the fight and has often spoken about the major inequities between francophone and anglophone veterans, including the fact that francophones' files are shelved and nothing is done about them.
    I would like to know whether my colleague also condemns this, and whether he thinks it is acceptable for there to be two ways of doing things in this country, the fast way for anglophones and the slow way for francophones.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for bringing this important advocacy to the attention of the House.
    It is important that we understand that, often in Canada's history, francophones have been discriminated against not only in veterans affairs but often in other social programs for which they are eligible. This is part of a systemic problem not only in this place but also in local legislatures across the country, which continue to grapple with the promotion and protection of francophones.
    I am in solidarity with the member from the Bloc Québécois who is raising this important point. Francophone veterans do deserve the same level of respect and access to programs that they deserve.
    Madam Speaker, I know the NDP member is close to CFB Edmonton. Could he elaborate on how big of a challenge homelessness for veterans is in his own riding?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague not only for the question but for his service as well.
    Indigenous women and other minority groups are often the ones seen in Edmonton Griesbach in tents and on the streets throughout the community. What we do not often see is that some of these people are veterans. Some of them do not want to come forward and self-identify as veterans because of the shame associated with their living conditions. However, that is not their fault. That is the fault of the system that failed them.
    What we see is that when that transition period comes there is a massive drop-off. It is almost like going off a ledge, where they seem to plummet and not find the support they need.
    There is a grassroots movement across Edmonton. We have the Edmonton veterans association that has picked up the pieces to identify, house, clothe, feed, provide peer support and unite these veterans with community.
    Normally, I am very critical of the opposition, the Conservative Party in particular, moving motions of concurrence like this. I usually feel as though it is an opportunity to try to slow down government legislation, but I am grateful the opposition moved this today. It is very important that we have this discussion as we lead up to Remembrance Day.
    Quite frankly, I have learned a lot sitting here this morning while listening to what other members have had to say. Any opportunity we have to further educated ourselves on the issues that veterans are facing, in particular as it relates to homelessness, are opportunities we should take. I am more than happy to have the opportunity to speak to this.
    I have mentioned that we are approaching Remembrance Day. The Tuesday morning after Halloween, my six year old started talking about Christmas, as young children do as they move from one festive day to the next one. I made a point of saying, “Frankie, I think it is better if we talk about Remembrance Day for the next 11 days before we get to Christmas. He asked me what Remembrance Day was.
    That gave me an opportunity to explain to him about the men and women who had gone out to various parts of the world to defend the values we hold so dear and to give us the quality of life we have. His eyes completely expanded as he was absorbing what I was saying. Obviously, a six year old cannot understand the realities of war, the complexities of global and foreign affairs, and the struggles our country has gone through to give us our incredible quality of life. Any opportunity we have to talk about this important issue is one that we need to have inside and outside the chamber.
    It was referenced by the veterans affairs parliamentary secretary that one in 60 Canadians are veterans. We should stop and reflect on the number of individuals who have come from our country, and currently reside in our country, who have given that incredible quality of life. He talked about his recent trip abroad and about the people in the countries that Canada helped liberate many years ago through different wars. In particular, I think he was talking about World War II.
    I was immediately reminded of my own family. I literally would not be standing here today had not been for the men and women who fought for our country. My grandparents on my father's side came from Holland and my mother's came from Italy. They moved to Canada in the 1950s from their war-torn countries. My grandfather, up until he passed away in the mid-nineties, would tell the story of the Canadians who liberated Holland.
    My grandfather and grandmother owned a cornerstore in Hilversum, which is about 20 minutes north of Amsterdam. When the Germans moved into Holland and started to occupy it, he had to hide, as many men did during that time, from the Germans every time they would come through the country looking for men to work in factories.
    As the war dragged on and the Germans started to run out of people to work in these factories and as it was becoming more clear they were struggling, they would walk into houses. They would bang on the front doors of houses in Holland, walk in and take men who would often not return home. My grandfather told the story of how he would hide from the German soldiers, as many other men would, to avoid being ripped from their families.
    One day, he came out of hiding to see Canadian soldiers walking in the streets of Hilversum, literally liberating his country that had been under German rule for three years, I believe, by that point. They were liberated by Canadian solders. It was at that point my grandfather said that was where he wanted to live, in a country whose individuals had travelled across the world to defend values and freedoms.

  (1215)  

    As a result, my grandparents packed up their family and left their war-torn country with literally nothing but the idea and the dream of having a better life. They travelled on a boat, and my dad still has the ticket from that boat, to Canada, where they eventually ended up in Kingston. My mother's story is not much different, just from another European country at the time. As a result, I am the product of the decisions made by both sides of my family that allow me to be here today and to be in Canada.
    I say this because when we talk about Canada being a country that promotes peace around the world, we quite often get caught up in this idea and lose sight of what that really means. We get caught up in thinking that it means people who stood in the chamber, debated in the chamber, created laws and policies and engaged in diplomatic foreign affairs throughout the generations before us somehow created Canada's incredible reputation. I would argue that this has very little to do with the politicians who were in this room and so much more to do with the men and women on the ground, even today, representing Canadian values.
    When I was on the defence committee, I had the opportunity to travel to eastern Europe to study Operation Reassurance and Operation Unifier, and nothing moved me more on that trip than when we were sitting with the chair of the defence committee for Ukraine. He asked if we knew why the Canadian brigade had all these other countries lined up to be part of it. He said it was because those countries had the option of joining the brigades of the United Kingdom or the United States, but they were not interested as they wanted to be part of Canada's brigade.
     When we talk about Canada's leadership throughout the world, it is not the leadership, in my opinion, that comes from this room; it is the leadership of our men and women and how they engage with people in other parts of the world.
    I say all this to set the premise for how we should be taking care of these veterans when they come back from serving our country. The member for Barrie—Innisfil, in addition to others today, brought up Homes for Heroes. This is an organization specifically geared toward helping veterans find stable places to live so they are not homeless. As many members in the House have said, it is an absolute travesty that there are 5,000 homeless veterans in our country, which I did not know before I heard it in the debate today, after the incredible sacrifices they made for us.
    Homes for Heroes is doing great work, and I understand the federal government has been helping to employ people to engage in growing this organization and making the operation successful. I am very familiar with the organization because it recently established a location in the city of Kingston to house veterans.
     One of the biggest problems with housing veterans and finding and establishing communities, like what Homes for Heroes is striving for, is ensuring we have the right pieces of land to make that happen.
    Unfortunately, because of decades of processes that have been put in place to rezone property, it can become quite cumbersome for organizations that are quite feeble in their operations and do not have the resources that larger developers might to properly go through the process of rezoning land to create villages like what Homes for Heroes is doing. The federal government needs to continue to explore with its provincial counterparts how to expedite that process. In Kingston, the provincial minister was able to say that the province was going to put an end to the process.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, we all in the House share a great respect and a tremendous debt of gratitude for all those who have served our country, who have fought and paid the ultimate price for our freedoms, not only our veterans but their families that carry such a weight along with those who serve and make those big sacrifices.
    One of the most tragic things that has emerged of late is about a veteran who was in crisis, experiencing tremendous trauma, and I am sure at a low point, needing help, reaching out for assistance, and was encouraged by a staff member of VAC to consider MAID as an option. That is a tragedy. This should never take place.
    I would like to know what the government will do to address that and ensure safeguards are put in place so this never happens again.
    Madam Speaker, I was unaware of this incident, although I have heard about it today in this debate. If I can accept what the member is saying to be factual, trusting that he has done his research, I will respond to that. I certainly do not believe it is anybody's business to discuss medical options with any individual other than the person's doctor and, in this case, somebody who is qualified to make comments to that end.
    Do I believe that any staff member, as the member suggests, should be talking about such things? Absolutely not. It is absolutely horrendous if that is the case and there should certainly be an investigation into this by that individual's superior.

  (1225)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the government has been setting targets for francophone immigration outside Quebec since 2004, but in all that time, it has never achieved those targets.
    In its response to a committee report, the government admitted that there was racism within IRCC and, as a result, students from francophone African countries have been treated inequitably. In the matter before us today, it is pretty clear that francophone veterans are discriminated against compared to anglophone veterans.
    Will the government admit, once and for all, that it does not care about the French fact in Canada?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I will not admit to anything about which I am unaware of the details. However, absolutely nobody should be discriminated against in our country.
    In particular, when we talk about veterans, if there is one issue that all members of the House should be able to get behind is that the safety, security and supports for our veterans are of absolute paramount and we should spare no expense to ensure that is the case. We will always have different opinions as to how that should be done. I think we can work in a collaborative way to forge some kind of consensus on how we move forward with that.
    To the member's question more specifically about discrimination, clearly I do not see a place for that. I do not condone it. I would certainly urge anybody who is in a position of authority to do something about that and look into it.
    Madam Speaker, even one veteran who is homeless is too many, yet we are here today debating and discussing the ways in which the government can move forward with solutions to ensure veterans are not homeless.
    As a member of the Liberal government, what would the member propose should be changed today to ensure that veterans have barrier-free access to supports, so we are not leaving veterans on their own to sort this out, and that we are providing these supports for them.
    Madam Speaker, one thing the government should focus on actually comes from a comment I heard from a colleague of the member for North Island—Powell River. We need to do more to find out where homeless veterans are. The reality is that there are many homeless veterans out there, but we just do not know there physical location. We know they are unaware of a lot of the supports that exist.
    I understand that we rely a lot on community and volunteer-based organizations to collect that data. I do not know the extent, personally, to which the government is collecting that data, but we need to work better at finding individuals who are homeless, veterans in particular, so they can be made aware of their supports.
    The federal government, in my opinion, should be focusing on that in addition to everything else.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague on a fantastic speech, which I found very interesting, particularly the part about the history of his family and his parents.
    Like all my colleagues here in the House of Commons, I am very thankful for what the members of the Canadian Armed Forces do for the well-being of everyone, the well-being of the country and peace in the world. Obviously, we are all deeply grateful for the sacrifices of these veterans, many of whom gave their lives to preserve, promote and protect our freedom and world peace.
    I represent a community, Montreal's West Island, that has deep ties to the military history of this country and to veterans. It is not because we are better than others, but due instead to a very particular history in the area.
    After the Second World War, there were a lot of veterans in the various cities and rural areas of the country. There were a lot of veterans in the Montreal area and many moved to the West Island.
    Also, Ste. Anne's Veterans Hospital was built in 1917, if I am not mistaken. That hospital received veterans from the First World War who required medical care. The hospital still holds a prominent place in Montreal's West Island community.
    The hospital was replaced by a new hospital in 1968, the highest building in the area. The building can be seen when you arrive on the island of Montreal. It can bee seen from the village of Hudson on the road toward Montreal. That building, which is also a hospital, is well-known to everyone who lives on the West Island.
    Attached to the original hospital was a centre reserved for those coming back from wars who were suffering from what is now called post-traumatic stress. That term was not used at the time. A lot of these people stayed on a type of campus attached to the veterans hospital, called Senneville Lodge. It no longer exists, as the hospital offers those services for veterans. In 2019, next to Senneville Lodge, the village of Senneville dedicated an extraordinary park on the Lac des Deux Montagnes now known as Souvenir Park. It is dedicated to our veterans, including those who spent much of their lives at Senneville Lodge or Ste. Anne's Veterans hospital.
    On the weekend, a series of ceremonies will begin in my constituency to mark Remembrance Day. It will begin with an extraordinary ceremony that is repeated every year, which takes place at an exceptional site known as Heroes Park.

  (1230)  

    I would like to recognize the person who spearheaded the project, who had the vision to create that park. He is a friend and a fellow citizen, retired Major Richard Gratton. He served in Afghanistan and, when he returned, he worked for the Canadian Armed Forces at home. He held administrative positions. It is thanks to Major Gratton that we can mark Remembrance Day in Beaconsfield at Heroes Park, which pays tribute to the military and to all first responders, including law enforcement. The ceremonies begin on Saturday.
    I would also like to mention that, although he is retired, Major Gratton works hard to help veterans, modern-day veterans, integrate. He works very hard for a foundation called The Trail.
    The Trail's mission is to promote excellence by supporting veterans in crisis in Quebec and Canada. To date, the foundation has opened three service centres for veterans to help them in their transition and reintegration into society. There is a service centre in Mirabel, one in the Quebec City area and one in Notre‑Dame‑de‑Grâce on the Island of Montreal. The foundation is currently working hard to open a shelter for veterans in transition on Montreal's West Island.
    The foundation is preparing a funding application under the veteran and family well-being fund, a program that has existed for some time but that was enhanced in budget 2021. The program works with community organizations.
    Through that program, the government has been able to support groups like the Old Brewery Mission in Montreal, emergency transition services for veterans, the Home for Heroes Foundation, homeless shelters in Fredericton, the Good Shepherd Refuge Ministries in Toronto, Legacy Place, and many others.
    I hope The Trail will be able to access the program's fund to carry out its extraordinary project of acquiring a shelter on Montreal's West Island.
    Obviously, there is still a lot of progress to be made. That is why we have committees that conduct studies and make recommendations like the ones we are discussing this morning. This committee work sometimes leads to some very specific recommendations being made to the government. This gives the government the opportunity to create a road map to improve our country and, in this case, the services we provide to our veterans.

  (1235)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, one of the things my colleague mentioned was the committee, which I sit on, and the number of reports and recommendations. In this committee, we have reports from the ombudsman, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, our own committee and now the Auditor General, in addition to this report, which have all said the government has a failing record.
    What is the point of having all these reports if the government is doing nothing about them? What is the government going to do?
    Madam Speaker, I am not a member of the government; I am a member of Parliament. I do not sit in cabinet. I share the objective of other members of Parliament, including those in the opposition, which is the goal of bringing attention to issues that the government needs to deal with.
    I hope that through the debate we are having today and, yes, through the report, some good concrete action will come out. The government has many programs that are benefiting veterans, but as our Prime Minister has said, better is always possible. Governments can always do better and do more.

  (1240)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see my colleague's list of agencies that are helping seniors across Canada.
    That being said, in Quebec City there is another organization: le Repos du soldat. It is requesting a parcel of land that belongs to the Department of National Defence, a department that gave land to an anglophone school in a city that is 97% francophone.
    Why is an anglophone school in a francophone community getting preference over our veterans?
    Madam Speaker, my colleague raises a very interesting point.
    Earlier I was talking about the Senneville Lodge, an asset belonging to Veterans Affairs Canada. A local association wanted to acquire the land in order to build seniors residences with a focus on veterans. However, there is a process to go through when the government wants to divest its assets. It is a rather objective and complex process.
    In the case my colleague raises, I am not aware of how this unfolded. I am sorry, I cannot comment.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, earlier this year, I participated in a Vancouver Island motorcycle run for homeless vets, and the funds we raised were given to Cockrell House, Homes for Heroes and the Legion. I am just wondering if my colleague can offer some thoughts on why, with this problem and in this day and age, we are still relying on the efforts of individuals to raise funds to address this problem. Does he have any comments on that? This problem is so perennial but we are still relying on the efforts of individuals. With no resources of their own, they are trying to highlight this issue and do the work that governments should be doing.
    Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, budget 2021 and budget 2022 did include some infusions of funding specifically to address the problem of homeless veterans, so yes, there is funding. I am sure there are areas where there could be more funding, but citizens step in even when there is ample government funding. We see it in the hospital sector, for example, where foundations are created because people want to help.
    This is an important priority and it deserves a great level of government support.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to recognize the residents of the riding I represent, Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, for all the efforts they have put into Remembrance Day, which is coming upon us.
    I will be splitting my time with the member for Yorkton—Melville.
    There is no doubt in my mind that our military has a proud heritage, not only for service on the battlefield and for those times in peacekeeping, but also behind the scenes.
    Many others in the House have shared their own personal stories of the exchange between Canadian military members and civilians, and I am reminded of my own mother, who was living in Scotland during World War II. She also interacted with Canadian soldiers who had travelled overseas. They had left their own homes and families and recognized the devastation in the war-torn country of Scotland, and they gave freely. They gave dolls, candy and food to those who were in need. This discussion about homelessness for veterans breaks my heart, as I know what Canadian soldiers have done on and off the battlefield.
    How then do we treat our veterans? Right now, the only word I can think of is “betrayal”. Just recently, our Canadian Armed Forces returned back from Afghanistan, and I think about the code and the honour they live by, and how it must be for them to know they left people in Afghanistan, interpreters and their families, and to feel that betrayal by their own country.
    Our Canadian Armed Forces are under duress. Right now there is a housing crisis in the Canadian Armed Forces, and now we get a report about veterans who are homeless. As I said earlier, I am very passionate about this subject, and I am deeply wounded to be reading this report. There are 5,000 veterans who are homeless across this country, and that is just from this report that we have received. As we sit in this chamber, we get reports from the ombudsman; we get reports from our own Parliamentary Budget Office; we get reports from the committee and recently the Auditor General on top of this report, and it is clear this government has not done anything for veterans. It has failed veterans, according to the Auditor General.
    I will read from a report on Veterans Affairs by the Auditor General.
     [Veterans Affairs] actions did not reduce overall wait times for eligible veterans. The department was still a long way from meeting its service standard. Implementation of initiatives was slow. Data to measure improvements was lacking. Both the funding and almost half of the employees on the team responsible for processing applications were temporary. As a result, veterans waited too long to receive benefits to support their physical and mental health and their families’ overall well-being.
    This was in a report from the Auditor General, and combined with all the other reports and the 5,000 veterans who are out on the street homeless, it is appalling. What is the government doing about this?

  (1245)  

    All we hear is about money being thrown at the problem, but no concrete solutions. I believe that politics is a performance-based industry, and if people do not perform, they should not be there. Seven years the government has been in power, and time and time again it has failed veterans and the existing military. The minister is asleep at the wheel right now. Leadership starts at the top. He should take ownership, take responsibility and start looking after our vets.
    I could go on with quotes and I could on with stats, but what good is it with a government that is not going to listen? This year so far, VAC has over $921 million in lapsed funding. That is money that was set aside for VAC in the budget but was not used to support veterans. Money is not the problem. Someone has to pull their finger out here. Someone has to start getting the job done and start looking after our vets. There is a morale problem here, not only in the existing military but for people who have served.
    We are on the verge of Remembrance Day, and when people take that moment of silence and bow their heads to think about the fallen soldiers, we need to think about those who have served and who are surrounding us now, and what we are doing for them. Money does not solve every problem. It is about getting the job done. It is about strong leadership, and it is about recognizing the problems.
    I am very passionate about this. I am very upset about this subject. Again, I could rattle off statistics and numbers, but the consistency throughout this is that the government has failed its veterans. That is an exact quote from the Auditor General. What are we going to do? What does a committee do when it sits there and produces reports, and works together, as I do with my colleagues from the Bloc or from the NDP, across the aisle? It is a good committee; we have achieved a lot, but from there, nothing gets done. There is no recognition. Veterans are being failed time and time again.
     I think about the soldiers who looked after my mother, who helped my grandmother, who fought alongside my grandfather in Holland to liberate a country that was not even theirs. They recognized that it was the right thing to do. The question I have to ask my colleagues is, what is the right thing to do for veterans? What is the right thing to do for our veterans? Who is going to lead the charge? Who is going to fix the problem?
    Right now, the minister is asleep at the wheel, not doing his job. I am disappointed. Not only am I disappointed, but my fellow colleagues in the Conservative Party are disappointed. My colleagues in the committee are disappointed. Not only do we deserve better, but our veterans deserve better.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, I cannot say there is a lot I agree with in the member's speech.
    In my riding of Saint John—Rothesay, I was pleased that under the veterans connection to home program we announced over $450,000 to identify and assist veterans.
    I want to tell a little story about 2014, when I was not a politician and was really not involved in politics at all. I was watching one of the TV channels, and the then minister of veterans affairs, Mr. Fantino, had refused to meet with veterans on the Hill. I will never forget the response from those veterans. I dug a little deeper and found that was the government that cut call centres for veterans and made cuts on the backs of veterans.
    Does the member opposite agree with what happened to veterans under the Conservative government?
    Madam Speaker, again we go back in history here, with the Liberal government trying to paint its problems with the previous government and failing to take responsibility for the job it was elected to do.
    The government that is in power has bragged about opening up offices, but the service has gotten worse. The wait times have increased. The number of issues that are brought forward has increased. The number of vets who are waiting to get served has increased.
    The member should give me a real question.

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, I really appreciate my hon. colleague's compassion and his passion for this subject. I agree with basically everything he said in his speech.
    Would my colleague agree with me that a lot of the reason we cannot get more young men and women into our military is the lack of housing and the morale issue we face today? Is that not a certain driver of why we have such low rates?
    Madam Speaker, sometimes, when I look at my hon. colleague, I feel like I am looking at myself.
    Yes, the number one conversation I had at the 50th anniversary of the Snowbirds with some of the people who are presently serving was about the issues we are talking about when we are talking about the Canadian Armed Forces. I turned the question onto them, and I asked them what challenges they are facing. They said housing. Housing is one of the number one problems they are facing.
    Governments do not build housing unless it is for the military, and it is not doing that. That is a big challenge that the government is facing and, again, doing nothing about.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague very much. I was very touched by his speech. It was one of his great speeches, and it is a real pleasure to work with him on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.
    I am reminded of something that happens every year. On November 11, we all go and lay wreaths and pay tribute to our veterans. Then the next day, we are back in the House, back in committee, trying to move things forward but not getting anywhere.
    I am not saying that things were better or would be better under a Conservative government, but we have here a report with great recommendations and none of them have been implemented.
    Would my colleague care to comment on that?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to recognize my colleague and all his hard work and passion for getting good service. I will say that this committee would be better under a Conservative government, so I thank him for giving me that opportunity.
    I know my colleague and I share the same feeling, because I shared it in my speech. We are disappointed. We are upset. We work so hard. We commit time to look after our veterans, and then nothing gets done. When we get reports back that nothing gets done, it feels like we are not being heard.
    Those numbers, those vets, those stats are people. They are not getting the service.
    Madam Speaker, in a recent take-note debate on mental health, I spoke about our veterans, who have unique challenges that impact their well-being and mental wellness and that very few civilians face. They embody the emotional and mental toll of having been deployed to many theatres of war, sometimes for peacemaking or peacekeeping, where they and their comrades face peril, injury and death and where they participate in and witness violence that they cannot and do not want to begin to share with anyone outside of those who have also had that lived experience.
    Too many have experienced mental, physical and sexual abuse from those they thought would be their mentors and have their backs no matter what. Many come home with physical and/or mental and emotional injuries after serving and they struggle to cope. They struggle on a whole other level as they start to realize they are failing in their relationships with their spouses and children. Many struggle with trying to fit into a civilian world, where, from their life experience and perspective, they have trouble finding their place.
    Then there is a challenge that is so counterintuitive and disturbing to me that it grieves my heart and keeps me awake. It is the added injury that sanctuary trauma inflicts on so many of our veterans. Sanctuary trauma is what happens to the spirit and mind of veterans when they experience the failure of the government to fulfill its promise to take care of them and their families. This happens while they serve and put their lives on the line and when they choose to leave or retire or are released due to injuries that, in the mind of their superiors, prevent them from any form of continued service in the Canadian Armed Forces.
    Having served now for seven years on the veterans affairs standing committee under multiple ministers and ombudsmen, everything from homelessness and mental wellness to seamless transition and the growing backlogs has been studied multiple times in different ways. Recommendations on top of recommendations have been made in reports that sometimes do not get the proper response from the government.
    The recent report from the Auditor General reinforces the need for VAC to have clear paths and metrics to determine its outcomes. The bureaucracy is broken. Yes, buckets of money have been announced for veterans, but the processes in place are not capable of getting it out the door. Veteran Affairs Canada is broken, and veterans and their families are experiencing unprecedented levels of sanctuary trauma because of that.
    Last night, I reached out to four individuals in very different veterans organizations that I deeply appreciate and that are part of those that are making a difference in combatting veteran homelessness.
    Stephen Beardwood of Veterans House Charity said this to me:
    If we only treat the symptoms but not the cause, we will have rows of housing with full bank accounts and no one spending the money or living in the accommodations. We have missed an incredible opportunity to change what causes homelessness. We need to change our approach. We must first start by greeting humanity with humanity, not bureaucracy and political solutions. I am hopeful one day soon we will embrace change as an opportunity to grow.” He says in the end, “Imagine if instead of wading into the stream daily to rescue drowning victims, we instead went upstream and kept them from falling in.
    Alan Mulawyshyn, the deputy executive director of Veterans' House Canada, is actually in Toronto today at a three-day Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness conference, where they are having a veteran homelessness breakout sessions stream for the very first time. His words for me today were to remind Parliament of its all-party motion of June 2019, which set the goal to both prevent and end veteran homelessness in Canada by 2025.
    Debbie Lowther, the CEO and co-founder of VETS Canada, emailed me last night to say:
    [A]ll levels of government must come together in a non-partisan way and commit to addressing Veterans’ homelessness. It’s not enough to talk about the issue; we need action, not words. And we don’t need more research. A big step in the right direction would be to provide sufficient funding to those on the front lines trying not only to confront the problem but to prevent it. Policymakers should consult these groups and Veterans with lived experience to ascertain the greatest needs. And listen to what they are told. The problem will only worsen due to the nationwide housing crisis and the rising cost of living.
    Organizations such as VETS Canada are no longer recognized as specialized service providers according to the Auditor General’s report. I cannot even understand this. I know Deb and VETS Canada well, and I cannot comprehend any good reason why they are not valued and validated by VAC.

  (1300)  

    Like the United States, it is time for Veterans Affairs Canada to have a catalogue listed of all of these amazing veteran-centric organizations, with veterans helping other veterans, so that veterans can reach out. They will choose the ones they know are the most effective in this country.
    David Howard, president and CEO of Homes for Heroes Foundation, told me, “[D]eveloping solutions needs to come through partnerships between the municipal, the provincial and federal governments and at the same time private businesses and charity organizations like Homes For Heroes.” He said, as we have heard today, that the Senate published a report stating there were 5,000 veterans experiencing homelessness across Canada, but he believes the number is closer to 10,000. I have to agree, because I am becoming more and more aware of the many homeless veterans in my province alone who are not getting the care they need.
    He says traditionally our veterans do not self-identify. They are proud and are not using these services because they believe they are for women and children. This is more than just homelessness. It is veterans who are living rough, living in the woods and couch surfing.
    He also says that a number of our vets are struggling to transition back to civilian life, and the Homes For Heroes program builds tiny home villages with wraparound social supports to address the problem. That means they are coming off the streets into a home, working with social workers and working on the issues that put them on the streets in the first place, and now they are finding a sense of belonging. They then transition out of the program, with the majority of them working full time, and move to permanent housing, making room for more veterans.
    He says, “We are fortunate to have the support of Veterans Affairs, as they are a partner in supplying funding for our social workers.” CMHC is a partner and is providing funding for builds, but more is needed. He goes on to say, “I've been involved supporting our veterans for 25 years and we have an opportunity to eliminate the issue, but every day that goes by, the problem gets worse, and action is needed immediately.”
    He says it is a struggle to convince municipal and provincial governments to grant them land access for their projects, and also says they are struggling to find funds at the federal level, as the current government has not implemented housing for homeless veterans in its mandate. It is cheaper to house our veterans and have them work with social workers to move on and transition back to civilian life than it is to have these heroes, who stood on guard for us, living on the streets.
    I will end my intervention today by reiterating what I believe Stephen, Alan, Debbie and David have said.
    Imagine if instead of wading into the stream daily to rescue drowning victims, we went upstream and kept them from falling in. Who is serving whom and when? The government is not preventing them from falling in. The broken processes are pushing them in. The intentions expressed in the all-party motion of June 2019, which set the goal to both prevent and end veterans homelessness in Canada by 2025, must be honoured. All levels of government must work together in step with private businesses and charities to succeed.
    In the case of the federal government’s direct role right now, right here, it has a duty to consult, listen and implement what it hears from the lived experience of veterans’ organizations, which veterans and their families are trusting, by providing sufficient funding that empowers them to do the work that, quite honestly, I do not believe and it clearly appears government cannot accomplish directly. It has a duty to consult, listen and respond to the lived experience of individual veterans and serving members. It has a duty to end the sanctuary trauma that has become increasingly harmful to our veterans over these last seven years.
    I hear over and over again that we have the highest level of demoralization there has ever been in our Canadian Forces. There is a lack of willingness to even enlist, and veterans are being encouraged to consider options other than care. One comment was made in committee that they can access MAID in 90 days, but it is taking them over 265 days to get the care they need.

  (1305)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech and for her years of work on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.
    I have been wondering about something and am hoping my colleague can enlighten me. Members sit on committees whose job it is to report to the government. We take the time to hear from witnesses and document situations. How is it that a report from 2019 that contains what I believe are very important recommendations can be left on a shelf to gather dust and now members are shaking their heads about how there are apparently some 5,000 homeless veterans in Canada?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, as a new member of Parliament in 2016, I was dumbfounded when I went to the veterans affairs standing committee for the first time. A new report had been created in 2014 along those same lines, with all kinds of recommendations agreed to by the entire committee, yet there we were considering to restudy those same issues, and we actually did. I said that I was new but could not understand why we were not taking up the previous reports, looking at what recommendations the government agreed to, studying where they were at and why they were or were not accomplished, and moving forward with them.
    I agree with the member that there is a lot of frustration when we study a number of these things over and over again. We hear the right answers from stakeholders and veterans organizations on these issues, but somehow they are not getting through.

  (1310)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member Yorkton—Melville for her passion for veterans. She has displayed that at committee for a number of years. I think we all are looking forward to getting back to our ridings and participating in Remembrance Day events next Friday, as I certainly am, and attending as many as possible throughout the day to honour our veterans, which we truly need to do and which the government has failed to do.
    The member mentioned that she questioned why we see report after report but no action. It reminds me of one of the first reports I came across at the fisheries committee. Something was promised decades ago and was promised again a decade later, and the response from the department was that it would develop a plan to develop plans. That sounds like the government, which simply cannot even plan to put a plan together. I would like to hear the member's comments on that.
    Madam Speaker, the member is basically echoing what we heard from the Auditor General regarding where the current government is in its ability to manage the business of providing for our veterans. Its systems are such that it does not know what is happening and where. Even when it has tried to follow something, it has not put the right metrics in place to truly determine what is happening, and I appreciate that. It is part of why I say the government has a role here, a very important role, but there are areas where I believe small businesses, charities and veteran-centric organizations, which truly understand the dynamics, are the ones we should be empowering to do this work.
    There is not enough time, so we will go to the vote. The question is on the motion.

[Translation]

    If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division, or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    The hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I respectfully request a recorded vote.
    Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, the division stands deferred until later this day at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Petitions

Nuclear Weapons  

    Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to table in the House today.
    In the first petition, the undersigned recognize that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been signed by 86 countries and ratified by 66 but not by Canada. They state that as a non-nuclear state, Canada is in the best position to comply with the articles of the TPNW and guide its allies and other nations toward a world free from nuclear weapons.
    Therefore, they are calling upon the Government of Canada to sign and commit to ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to urge allies and other nations to follow suit.

  (1315)  

Corporate Social Responsibility  

    Madam Speaker, in the second petition I have, the undersigned recognize that companies based in Canada are contributing to human rights abuses and environmental damage around the world. The people who protect against these abuses and defend their rights are often harassed, attacked or killed. Indigenous people, women and marginalized groups are especially under threat, and Canada encourages but does not require companies to prevent such harms in their global operations and supply chains.
    The petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to adopt Bill C-262, which is an example of human rights and environmental due diligence legislation that would require companies to prevent adverse human rights impacts, require them to do their due diligence and require meaningful consequences for companies that fail to carry this out and report on adequate due diligence.
    I am pleased to table both of these petitions today.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 768 to 770 and 772.

[Text]

Question No. 768—
Mr. Damien C. Kurek:
    With regard to the statement from the Canada Border Services Agency that approximately 10,200 travellers received quarantine notifications in error due to a glitch with the ArriveCAN application: how will the government be compensating individuals who suffered damages, either financial or otherwise, as a result of being a victim of this ArriveCAN glitch and were, as a result of the error, forced to quarantine?
Ms. Pam Damoff (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in July 2022, the CBSA became aware of a notification glitch with the ArriveCAN application. Some travellers, despite having submitted all the required information and proof of vaccination using the ArriveCAN app, received automated quarantine notifications in error.
    A technical solution was identified and implemented by the CBSA on July 21, 2022. CBSA provided a list to the Public Health Agency of Canada, who notified all affected travellers.
    Fully vaccinated travellers who completed ArriveCAN and received quarantine notifications in error were encouraged to answer any phone calls they received from the Government of Canada, and provide factual answers and/or follow the recommendations of any Government of Canada official with whom they spoke. Travellers who believed they might not have to complete the requirements and were receiving ArriveCAN notifications were asked to contact the Government of Canada directly via the “technical and registration issues for ArriveCAN” web form and follow the instructions provided. 
    The CBSA has not received any formal request for compensation from travellers affected by the glitch. Such complaints will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Question No. 769—
Mr. Frank Caputo:
    With regard to the light armoured vehicles (LAV) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF): (a) what is the total number of LAV3 Kodiak that the CAF has which are (i) operational or in service, (ii) decommissioned, (iii) other, broken down by status; (b) what is the breakdown of where the LAV3 Kodiak are located; and (c) for each of the LAV3 Kodiak that have been decommissioned, (i) when was it decommissioned, (ii) where is it located?
Mr. Bryan May (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, National Defence conducted a search of its records and found that it does not currently have any LAV III, Kodiaks, that are operational, in service or decommissioned. The majority of the LAV III inventory was converted into LAV 6.0 by General Dynamics Land Systems–Canada, and there have been no resources applied against the remaining LAV III fleet for several years.
    Of the 651 LAV III originally procured, the vast majority have been converted and/or consumed as part of armoured vehicle upgrade programs. Specifically, 550 were used for LAV upgrades, five for the air support coordination and control modernization project, and 66 for the LAV reconnaissance and surveillance systems.
    The remaining 30 LAV III were to be declared surplus. These vehicles are awaiting sale or disposal and are currently housed at 25 Canadian Forces supply depot in Montreal. Their status is as follows: Three turreted LAV III are planned as artifacts and/or museum pieces. Twenty-seven LAV III have no armaments. As part of the LAV III upgrade project, turrets have been removed from these vehicles.
Question No. 770—
Mr. John Williamson:
    With regard to the $49.2 billion in total funds approved for loans and expansion under the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): (a) what is the (i) number, (ii) dollar amount, of CEBA loans that the government projected would have to be written off for bad debt or other reasons, such as fraud; (b) what is the (i) number, (ii) dollar amount, of CEBA loans that the government budgeted would have to be written off for bad debt or other reasons, such as fraud; (c) in what published document, if any, and on what date, was the dollar amount in (b) made public; (d) what is the (i) number, (ii) dollar value, of CEBA loans that have been written off to date; and (e) what is the (i) number, (ii) dollar value, of CEBA loans that the government projects will be written off in the future, but have not yet been written off?
Mr. Arif Virani (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to part (a) of the question, a specific number of loans was not projected. However, the dollar amount is $2.4 billion. With respect to part (b), Export Development Canada is not responsible for the budgeting of this program. Regarding part (c), the dollar amount projected to be written off was not published.
    Regarding part (d), the specific number of loans written off to date is not available. The dollar value of loans written off to date is $1.3 million. Financial Institutions administer the program and can only write off, that is, cease collection activities and report to us, if the loan is to a borrowing customer and the financial institution is writing off some or all of its own loan. With respect to part (e), a specific number of loans was not projected. However, the dollar amount was $2.4 billion.
Question No. 772—
Mr. Earl Dreeshen:
    With regard to the backlog at Transport Canada in processing aviation medical certifications: (a) what is the current average processing time for each of the four categories of aviation medical certification; and (b) what is the government's timeline for when the backlog will be over and the processing time will return to normal (between 30 and 40 days), broken down by each of the four categories?
Hon. Omar Alghabra (Minister of Transport, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, regarding part (a) of the question, all Canadian pilots, air traffic controllers and flight engineers require valid Transport Canada aviation medical certificates in order to exercise the privileges of their licenses, permits or ratings.
    Different categories of aviation medical certificates are required for different types of aviation activities: category 1, commercial pilot; category 2, air traffic controller; category 3, private pilot; and category 4, student pilot, recreational pilot or glider pilot.
    Transport Canada processes applications for category 1, category 2 and category 3 aviation medical certificates. These applications require applicants to undergo medical examinations by civil aviation medical examiners, who are physicians appointed to perform aviation medical examinations on behalf of the Minister of Transport.
    Category 4 aviation medical certificates are generally submitted medical declarations directly to Transport Canada licensing for issuance of a category 4 medical certificate, without the need for a civil aviation medical examiner examination. The service delivery target for category 4 aviation medical certificates is 40 business days and there is no current backlog.
    Transport Canada processes approximately 60,000 aviation medical certificate applications annually. Since March 2022, applications have increased from approximately 5,000 to 6,000 per month, due to increased aviation activity as the pandemic measures have eased.
    Except for prioritizing some applications for the preservation of essential aviation services, including aviation training, the department manages category 1, 2 and 3 applications with the same service delivery target and in the same processing stream.
    The service delivery target for new, uncomplicated aviation medical certificate applications is 40 business days after receipt by the department. The 40-business day service delivery target does not apply to incomplete or medically complex applications for which additional medical information is required. Applicants may be required to seek additional physician reports, tests or investigations within the provincial and territorial health care systems, where the provision of direct patient care may be prioritized over Transport Canada regulatory medicine requirements, thereby introducing delays.
    With respect to part (b), throughout the pandemic, the department did not discontinue service delivery at any time and was a global aviation leader in putting measures into place to ensure the continued provision of aviation medical certificates.
    However, despite the department’s uninterrupted operations, a backlog of applications did develop during the pandemic. Important factors that contributed to the backlog include pre-existing process inefficiencies in a paper-based system, delays in letter mail delivery and staff losses, including key physicians and administrative staff, that were challenging to replace in a labour environment in high demand for medical professionals. It is worth noting that the backlog is not distributed uniformly across Canada, with some regions experiencing very little or no backlog, and other regions experiencing greater backlog.
    Although it is not possible to provide a definitive timeline for when the backlog will be eliminated, Transport Canada is working to identify and process applications that were delayed and has hired additional physicians and administrative staff to increase file processing capacity.
    Furthermore, since the start of the pandemic, the department has undertaken major modernization efforts, including successful initiatives to streamline and digitize its processes. For instance, before the pandemic, fewer than 5% of applications were received digitally and, currently, more than 90% of applications are received digitally. This eliminates delays in the postal system and time-consuming paper handling by departmental staff.
    With respect to the status of Transport Canada service delivery as of September 2022, for every 10 applicants, on average, seven out of 10, or 70%, receive immediate service delivery. These are medically uncomplicated renewal applicants whose existing medical certificates are renewed in-office by their civil aviation medical examiners. Two out of 10, or 20%, receive service delivery within 40 business days. These are complete and uncomplicated applications for new medical certificates, or uncomplicated renewal applications for medical certificates not eligible for civil aviation medical examiner renewal in-office. Finally, one out of 10, or 10%, receive service delivery beyond 40 business days. These include incomplete or medically complex applications for which additional medical information is required in order to complete the assessments. In some cases, these applicants may have disqualifying medical conditions, and their assessments may be delayed long term awaiting the resolution or stabilization of a medical condition, or renewal applications for medical certificates not eligible for civil aviation medical examiner renewal in-office.
    Transport Canada continues to strive to provide timely aviation medical certification, with the majority of aviation medical certificate applicants currently receiving service within the 40-business day timeline.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Madam Speaker, if the government's response to Questions Nos. 766, 767, 771, 773 and 774 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 766—
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
    With regard to government measures related to the removal of unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO) in the Lac Saint-Pierre region: (a) which vendors have been awarded contracts related to the removal of UXO in the region since 2019; (b) what are the details of each contract in (a), including, for each, (i) the vendor, (ii) the value, (iii) the start and end dates, (iv) whether the contract was sole-sourced or awarded through a competitive bidding process, (v) the description of goods or services provided through contract; (c) for each contract in (b), how many UXOs in the region have actually been removed, broken down by year; (d) what are the projections related to the number of UXOs which will be removed by each vendor in (b), broken down by year between now and the end of the contract; (e) for each contract in (b), which was awarded through a competitive bidding process, how many vendors submitted bids; (f) does the government plan to award further contracts related to the UXO removal in the region, and, if so, what are the details of the plan; and (g) for each contract, what is the work schedule, broken down by month, including both work that has been completed to date and work that will be completed in the future?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 767—
Mr. Eric Duncan:
    With regard to fines issued related to violations of the government's restrictions and measures put in place in response to COVID-19 (ArriveCAN, quarantine requirements, etc.): (a) what is the total (i) number, (ii) value, of fines issued each month since January 1, 2022; (b) what is the breakdown of the fines in (a) by (i) province or territory, (ii) type of offence or violation, (iii) entity which issued the fine, (iv) amount of fine, (v) point of entry (if applicable); and (c) of the fines in (a), what is the (i) number, (ii) value, of amounts which have actually been paid or collected?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 771—
Mr. John Williamson:
    With regard to fines issued by Transport Canada to Canadian Coast Guard ships and other vessels owned by the government, since 2016: what are the details of each instance, including (i) the date, (ii) the type of vessel, (iii) the summary of the incident or infraction, (iv) the location of the incident or infraction, (v) the amount of fine, (vi) who paid the fine and whether the fine was paid out of personal or public funds?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 773—
Mr. Earl Dreeshen:
    With regard to the government's Net-Zero Challenge program: (a) what is the annual amount budgeted towards administering the program; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by line item or type of expense; (c) what is the number of employees or full-time equivalents assigned to work on the program; and (d) what is the breakdown of (c) by employee classification level (AS-07, EX-01, etc.)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 774—
Mr. John Nater:
    With regard to spending by Canadian Heritage on Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill and in the National Capital Region since 2010: what was the total amount (i) allocated, (ii) spent, on the festivities, broken down by year?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Public Complaints and Review Commission Act

     He said: Madam Speaker, I am honoured to open up the debate on second reading of Bill C-20, an act establishing the public complaints and review commission and amending certain acts and statutory instruments.

[Translation]

    I would like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security for their important review of systemic racism in the enforcement of the act.

[English]

    By creating a new public complaints and review commission, the bill would provide new tools to ensure transparency and accountability of the institutions Canadians rely on to keep them safe, to keep them safe in their communities through the work of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and to keep them safe by protecting our international borders through the work of the Canada Border Services Agency. Canadians depend on these public safety organizations, but, at the same time, want assurances that these organizations will use the powers that have been entrusted to them responsibly.
    Canadians have a right to consistent, fair and equal treatment when interacting with RCMP and CBSA officers. If members are not acting appropriately, Canadians naturally want and deserve assurances of a thorough review of these actions and consequences for any officer who engages in misconduct.

[Translation]

    This is a fundamental principle of our democracy.

[English]

    Our democracy depends on the principle of trust and confidence in our institutions, including law enforcement institutions. Independent civilian review overseeing is an essential element to that principle. This bill underscores it by creating an independent body that will strengthen transparency and autonomy through the independent review exercises of this new body.
    Independence assures that Canadians can have their concerns taken seriously. The bill also underscores that principle. That is why this is stand-alone legislation rather than simply amending either the RCMP or CBSA Acts.
    Currently, under the RCMP Act, an independent review and redress process is provided for by the RCMP through the CRCC, or Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. Current cases under the CRCC will be continued under the public complaints and review commission, or the PCRC, under the bill before us. The CBSA, on the other hand, currently has no independent review and redress process.

[Translation]

    It is subject to review by various independent boards, tribunals and courts.

[English]

    Without a dedicated review body, there is no avenue for independent investigation or review of public complaints against the CBSA.
     The government has tried twice previously to address this shortfall by creating a review body for the CBSA. Some colleagues will recall that in 2019, our government introduced Bill C-98 and then in 2020, Bill C-3. Those pieces of proposed legislation sought to add CBSA review to the mandate of the existing CRCC, but both died on the Order Paper.

  (1320)  

[Translation]

    This issue has remained a priority for our government.

[English]

    The 2020 Speech from the Throne included it in our agenda. The creation of a review body for the CBSA was of top priority and a component of the mandate that the Prime Minister gave to me when I took on this role in December of 2021.

[Translation]

    It is time to give Canadians the accountability they deserve.

[English]

    In the bill before us, the CRCC would be replaced by the new public complaints and review commission, which would continue to review the RCMP and would also become the independent review body for complaints concerning the CBSA.
    The bill contains several mechanisms that would strengthen accountability beyond what has been available under the current CRCC for the RCMP. After engaging and listening to Canadians across the country, we have made significant reforms to the regimes proposed under Bill C-98 and Bill C-3 previously. We listened and we acted.

[Translation]

    Therefore, in addition to creating a stand-alone law, other changes have been made.

[English]

    This would subject the RCMP and CBSA to codified timelines. We heard complaints from Canadians regarding the RCMP's, at times, delayed response to reports from the CRCC. This time around, we are getting it right. The RCMP and the CBSA will have six months to respond to the PCRC's interim reports. They must also respond to certain reviews and recommendations of the PCRC within 60 days.
    Second, the RCMP and the CBSA will be required to report annually to this office, the Minister of Public Safety, on their progress in implementing PCRC recommendations.
    The third major change responds to a mandate the Prime Minister gave to me to combat systemic racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system, and advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples. This is a critically important priority, especially at this time in our history.
    Over the past number of years, in Canada and around the world, we have had necessary conversations about the presence and existence of systemic racism in law enforcement about the disproportionate mistreatment of Black, racialized and indigenous peoples across the country. It is high time that we act.

[Translation]

    It is vitally important that this review system shed light on how to address these issues more fully.

[English]

    Under the bill before us, the PCRC would collect and publish desegregated, race-based data on complainants in consultation with the RCMP and the CBSA.
    I want to thank the chairperson of the CRCC, Michelaine Lahaie, and her colleagues for their advice and their vision on how the review process can become an essential tool to help not only understand systemic racism, but to eradicate it once and for all.
    The fourth major change introduced in the bill would provide the PCRC with a public education and information mandate. The PCRC would implement programs to increase public knowledge and awareness of the PCRC's mandate and the right to redress.
    Finally, the bill would address a gap in the current accountability and transparency regime involving how the CBSA responds to incidents of a serious nature.

[Translation]

    These incidents can result in death or serious injury or violations of federal or provincial law.

[English]

    The CBSA currently conducts its own internal reviews of such matters, but the bill before us would amend the CBSA Act so that the CBSA would be obligated to conduct such reviews. It would also need to notify both the PCRC and the police of appropriate jurisdiction.
    The CBSA would also be required to provide the PCRC with reports and other information of serious incidents. The PCRC would have the authority to send an observer to assess the impartiality of these internal investigations. As part of its annual report to this office, the PCRC would also include the number, types and outcomes of serious incident allegations.
    Taken together, these five changes represent a major step forward in the accountability and transparency mechanisms governing both the RCMP and the CBSA. The PCRC will be given the tools that it needs to help balance Canada's public safety and security priorities, as well as respect for the rights of the individuals with which they intersect.
    To support the establishment of the commission, the government is investing $112.3 million over six years and $19.4 million ongoing. By creating an enhanced independent review body, the public complaints and review commission will help assure Canadians that they can continue to expect consistent, fair and equal treatment under the law when receiving services from the RCMP and the CBSA.

  (1325)  

[Translation]

    I urge all hon. members of the House to join me in supporting this important bill.

[English]

    This is so Canada can assuage Canadians' concerns by creating greater transparency, oversight, and trust and confidence in our law institutions.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the Minister of Public Safety's bringing forward this important bill. It is critical that we have oversight bodies to hold those who hold power in our country accountable, notably in this bill the RCMP and the CBSA.
    Recently, we have been talking a lot about holding the RCMP accountable, particularly at the public safety committee. Recently in the Globe and Mail, certain journalists have talked about how our commissioner of the RCMP was texting the commissioner of the OPP concerning using applications on their phones that would not store deleted messages. To me, this seems like the commissioner was trying to avoid accountability for her communications on the Emergencies Act invocation.
     I wonder if this bill would do anything to hold the RCMP commissioner accountable for trying to hide any evidence and if the Minister of Public Safety is concerned about the commissioner's looking to use applications that would permanently delete text messages that could be used as evidence in the Emergencies Act invocation.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her work on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. I am proud to be part of a government that believes in transparency.
     The commissioner of the RCMP's testimony repeatedly before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, other committees and her upcoming appearance before the Public Order Emergency Commission is a vehicle to ensure that we are shining a light so there can be accountability when it comes to not only law enforcement's role, but, indeed, to the government's role with regard to our interactions when it comes to upholding public safety.
    At the same time, I want to encourage my colleague and all the members of her Conservative caucus to support the bill, if my colleague believes in transparency and accountability and she sees the work we have put into Bill C-20, which would set up enhanced rigour around civilian review so there can be accountability for which she advocates. By supporting the bill, we are taking a step in that direction, so all Canadians can have trust and confidence in their institutions, including in the RCMP.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for honouring his commitment to bring Bill C-20 before the House. This is an important debate.
    My riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford is policed entirely by the RCMP. I do enjoy good relations with them, but it is no secret that the force as a whole has some major problems. This has been detailed in the public safety committee's report on systemic racism in policing.
     We know, particularly, the problems indigenous people have had with the RCMP. The actions of the community-industry response group of the B.C. RCMP have been well documented with respect to the types of tactics used against indigenous protesters. Therefore, it is important that we add this layer of accountability and transparency, with legislative timelines for review.
    However, while I do believe that report influenced a lot of what we see in Bill C-20, I want to know how the minister is going to work to include indigenous oversight on this review body and how he is going to include indigenous investigators and decision-makers, so they are a part of this process and truly walking that path of reconciliation to involve them in an issue that affects them more than most Canadians combined.

  (1330)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's concerns that while we enhance civilian review for the RCMP, we are also walking the path of reconciliation. I want to assure him that, as part of my broader mandate, we are taking concrete steps to diversify through better recruitment and retention of indigenous peoples within the RCMP, within the CBSA and within all frontline agencies that work within the public safety community, so indigenous peoples see themselves reflected in the institutions that are there to keep them safe. As my colleague will know, we are also making huge strides when it comes to stabilizing and enhancing first nations and indigenous policing right across the country.
     He will know that recently we worked with our colleagues in Alberta to set the foundational framework to bring back a Siksika Nation police service. We recently have worked with our colleagues in Saskatchewan to put in place the money that is required to invest in similar steps taken for the Prince Albert, including the James Smith Cree Nation community should it choose to do that, so that we see more indigenous-led policing initiatives across the country. We have also recently created the position of a Correctional Services deputy commissioner for indigenous affairs. There is so much work that we still need to do.
     I look forward to working with my colleague when it comes to reconciliation and public safety.
    Madam Speaker, two questions in a row is a rare occurrence, and I will take advantage of it.
    I would like to ask the minister about another part of Bill C-20. The text of the legislation would allow provincial ministers and the federal Minister of Public Safety to initiate investigations. As parliamentarians, we are frequently made aware, not only by our constituents but also at committee, of certain transgressions that may be attributed to both the CBSA and the RCMP.
    I would ask the hon. minister if he would be open to amendments at committee that would allow parliamentarians and committee bodies to ask the commission to investigate both the RCMP and CBSA because of information we may have received.
    Madam Chair, as I am inclined to say whenever it comes to questions of working with committees and their independent study of bills such as this one, I will always keep an open mind. However, I want to underscore that the focus of this legislation is, of course, to give Canadians greater access when they have concerns about the conduct or potential misconduct of the RCMP and, I do want to highlight, the CBSA. This is one of the major vacuums this bill addresses.
     Right now, as the law exists, there is no independent civilian review of the Canada Border Services Agency. In my many conversations with communities across this country, including ethnic communities, religious communities, racialized communities and indigenous peoples, on their interactions with the CBSA, they have called for this legislation.
    To the credit of the CBSA, it has also called for this legislation, and to the credit of the CBSA and the president of the CBSA, they embrace this legislation and understand that we need to continue to push forward with reforms. They understand that those reforms have to be done in conjunction with civilian review, so we can enhance transparency and accountability, as an extension of the public confidence we need to have in our institutions.
    Of course, I do look forward to continuing a dialogue with my colleague on the work of the committee as well.
    Madam Speaker, I think I am setting a record here in the House of Commons with three questions in a row for the minister.
    I am glad the minister mentioned the CBSA, because as many people would know, there have been at least 16 deaths in CBSA custody since the year 2000. I would like the minister to clarify how exactly we are going to hold the CBSA to account for these deaths in the past. I would also like to know if he has any words to the families, both here in Canada and abroad, who have had family members die in CBSA custody. It is critical that the minister stand in this place to underline how important it is that we hold this particular agency to account, given that very sorry and dismal track record.
    Madam Speaker, of course, I would begin by extending my sympathies and condolences to the families who lost loved ones while they were in custody or in any interaction with law enforcement. This is one of the reasons it is so important that we put this legislation forward, because, as a result, any individual who has a concern about the conduct of the RCMP or again, for the first time, the CBSA, would have a tangible, practical vehicle through which we can ensure that there would be accountability.
     The mechanisms built into this bill would also require that incidents that are of a significant nature are, first of all, being carried out through internal investigations where the public complaints and review commission could have some oversight, but in addition to that, the separate processes that would be carried out by the PCRC itself. Therefore, taken together, this is about raising the bar when it comes to transparency and accountability as a means of strengthening public confidence in our institutions, which is a hallmark of our democracy.
     When we consider all the challenges we face with regards to public safety, it is important, now more than ever, that we spare no effort and are exhausting all of our efforts to ensure that we have all the mechanisms in place to maintain those pillars when it comes to our democracy.

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to put some words on the record concerning Bill C-20, an act establishing the public complaints and review commission and amending certain acts and statutory instruments.
    This is certainly something that the Liberals have talked about, I believe since the 2015 election. There has been about seven years where this has been in the making. It has been a very long time that they have been talking about doing this, and finally we are there. There are aspects of the bill that the Conservatives are interested in, particularly given that this bill reviews the public complaints and review commission, which of course is renaming itself from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.
    What exactly does that do? It would ensure that there is a complaints review process for everyday Canadians should they have an issue with the RCMP, and in this case, because of this bill, with the CBSA. It is very important that we are able to hold any sort of law enforcement accountable in our democracy when we provide very large powers—
    I am sorry, Madam Speaker, but perhaps the Liberal members would like to have their conversations in the lobby?
    Order. I would like to remind members that, if they want to have conversations, they should take them into the lobbies because they do disturb the proceedings of the House.
    Madam Speaker, as I was saying, it is very important that we have strong mechanisms to hold those in law enforcement roles accountable. I think that everyone would agree on that. These are the individuals who we empower to enforce law and order, so we need to have an equally powerful oversight body to ensure that there are no abuses of that power.
    Before I go into the rest of this, I do want to very sincerely thank all of the men and women in the country who wear a uniform to keep Canadians safe.
    It is very important that, as parliamentarians, when we talk about oversight, we also talk about the incredible sacrifices that RCMP and CBSA officers make. RCMP officers, with their families, are carted around the country to various small towns, often in rural and northern Canada. We need those officers to keep those communities safe, and they make a lot of sacrifices for their families. We know that CBSA officers, as well, are often in border towns or border communities that are far away from where a CBSA officer would normally live. There is a lot of movement around and a lot of weeks away from home.
    As we know, CBSA officers and our RCMP officers are consistently putting themselves in danger, again, to keep us safe, so I thank all of the officers out there who don a uniform and do that for our country.
    Certainly, as I was saying, the oversight body is very important. Particularly, we have been talking a lot about CBSA in recent years and their role in preventing things such as gun violence, for example.
    It has been discussed with many policing bodies the great threat of having, frankly, the largest undefended border in the world with a country that owns more firearms than they have people, which is just part of their culture and their history, and that is not up for debate in the House, but what is up for debate is how it impacts Canada and the important role that CBSA has in ensuring that none of those firearms make their way into Canada illegally.
    Unfortunately, in cities such as Toronto and Montreal, we are seeing significant issues, and deaths and murders, from evil criminal elements and gangs that take advantage of our porous border and smuggle into the country firearms that are not just restricted, but prohibited. They are using them illegally, possessing them illegally and really damaging, particularly, our vulnerable communities in Montreal, Toronto and other cities across the country.
    It is not just those neighbourhoods that are particularly vulnerable. We are seeing gun violence across the country in rural Canada. We are seeing it leak into suburbs, which normally feel very secure and safe from these types of elements. That is what is happening with the criminal elements in our cities, and they are being fuelled by what seems to be the ability to quite easily smuggle or drone in guns, either at our border and at our ports of entry.
    We also know that this is deeply tied to drug smuggling and drug trafficking across our border as well. CBSA has a huge role to prevent that as well. We are depending on our CBSA officers to prevent significant criminal activity that can contribute to death and mayhem in our cities. We are empowering them to do that. We need to make sure that they have the resources, equipment and training to fulfill those important duties for Canadians.
    Unfortunately, we do not hear nearly enough about it from the government. It is far too focused on going after law-abiding, trained, tested and vetted Canadian firearms owners than it is on the issue of our border. Perhaps that is a debate for another time. Given that we are talking about oversight of the CBSA today, I think it is worthwhile to bring in the important work that it does and how much we need to prioritize resources to the border to ensure that we are keeping Canadians safe from the impacts of gun smuggling and drug smuggling.
    We have also been talking a lot in recent weeks and, frankly, months about the RCMP. We know that the RCMP is facing a significant recruitment and retention issue. I have a lot of RCMP and Winnipeg police officers in my riding. They are incredible men and women, but they are saying morale is quite low. Where is the oversight and the responsibility from the government, and other levels of government, to ensure that RCMP and civic police officers are feeling valued in their role?
    That is something that deeply concerns me. We are facing a deficit of police officers when, frankly, there has been a 32% rise in violent crimes since the Liberals formed government seven years ago, since the Prime Minister became the Prime Minister of Canada. Another stat I would like to share is that there were 124,000 more violent crimes last year than there were in 2015 when the Liberals came into power. The need for police to keep our communities safe is greater than ever, yet we are facing serious retention issues.

  (1340)  

    We are talking about oversight of our RCMP, but we also need to be talking about policies that ensure our RCMP members are adequately supported. What happens when we have overworked police officers and when there are not enough of them, so they are being spread thinner and thinner and their workload is going up higher and higher? We get fatigue. We get depression. We get accelerated impacts of PTSD from the things they see. If we do not have officers who can rest and take care of their mental health, then we have serious impacts on their ability to adequately do their jobs and keep themselves safe, keep their fellow officers safe and ensure they are doing their duty to keep communities safe.
    Any time we are talking about RCMP, CBSA or armed forces members, there needs to be an equal conversation about ensuring we are adequately supporting those officers and those members so that they are feeling valued and being supported enough so that they can adequately do their jobs to the best of their mental and physical abilities. Mistakes get made when they are tired. Mistakes get made when they are demoralized, frustrated, irritated and overworked. That is when the biggest mistakes happen. I think if we are going to talk about oversight, we have to talk about better support for our police officers and our officers at the border.
    Certainly, when we are talking about the RCMP as well, there have been a lot of discussions of how we can better serve the vulnerable communities that are seeing the most impacts from violent crime. We could talk about the revolving door that also exhausts police officers. About five years ago, the Liberal government brought forward a bill, Bill C-75, that instituted bail reform. This is something I have been looking into in recent weeks and months, and I have been discussing with police officers the impacts they have seen with these bail reform changes.
     It would seem that, quite significantly, Bill C-75 has contributed to the revolving door of crime. Those who are looking to break the law and perhaps harm others are in and out of jail over and over again. Police are encountering the same people, week after week, committing the same types of crimes. It is often just petty theft and petty crime, but often it could also be more significant crimes, like stabbings, shootings, rapes or other types of assault.
    Can members imagine being police officers and risking their lives to arrest the same person over and over? What does that do to those police officers? What does it do to their morale and their ability to consistently keep their spirits up and do their jobs, when it is the same people over and over again? If we want to talk about oversight, we have to talk about adequately equipping our police officers with the resources they need, and that goes back to our criminal justice system and how it ensures the people they arrest in the first place stay in jail if they are a threat to society.
    Then we have things like Bill C-5, which our party has really talked about a lot in terms of our belief in the threat it is going to pose, particularly to vulnerable communities. To refresh the memories of those watching, Bill C-5 would eliminate mandatory prison time for serious firearm offences, like assaulting a police officer with a weapon or drive-by shootings, so firing a gun with the intent to injure someone with a bullet would no longer mean mandatory prison time under the current Liberal government.
    It would also allow that, for serious offences, rather than having a mandatory minimum sentence, there would be the option to serve house arrest. Therefore, in a vulnerable community, for example, if there are people who are criminals or part of a gang doing very bad things to those in that community, rather than going to prison, they could be serving house arrest in the community they have terrorized. I do not think that is fair to those communities. I do not think they want those criminal elements in their communities. It also would not provide any opportunity for rehabilitation, which is provided in our penitentiary system. In my opinion we should have far more rehabilitation opportunities in our penitentiaries, but that is a conversation for another time.
    We also have a lot of concerns with leadership in the RCMP. I asked the minister today if this bill would provide any oversight to the RCMP commissioner, given the recent scandal and accusations, with corroborating evidence, that the RCMP commissioner politically interfered with the worst mass killing in Canadian history, notably the Nova Scotia 2020 mass killing. This is a very serious matter the Conservatives, together with the Bloc and the NDP, have been investigating for five months. Although the bill would improve the oversight of the RCMP, I do not think that would translate to the top leadership of the RCMP, unfortunately, though it is desperately needed.
    In committee just the other day we were talking to the commissioner of the RCMP, and this was the second time she came to committee about the same interference scandal. She also went to the Mass Casualty Commission to discuss this as well, and it was quite a challenging experience. I was hoping for some sentiment that she was remorseful she had handled the situation the way she had or any sort of legitimate explanation that we could understand that would provide us some relief that she did not do this. Unfortunately, we did not get any of that.

  (1345)  

    Our only ability to hold her accountable is through the public safety committee, at least as the opposition. The government could fire the commissioner, but it has not taken those steps. We believe it should. Bill C-20 is talking about oversight; however, there is no oversight mechanism in it, that I am aware, for the RCMP commissioner in this circumstance.
    Just to recap, a few years ago during the heat of the fallout, about 10 days into the tragedy that took 22 lives, including the life of a pregnant woman, we found out through the evidence we built through the MCC, that the RCMP commissioner, first and foremost, warned the government that sharing the weapons information about the evil killer in that situation, who, again, killed 22 people plus a pregnant women, would jeopardize the criminal investigation. She made it very clear that it should not be shared beyond the minister and the Prime Minister.
    Unfortunately, a few days later she turned around. We now had an audio recording where she was reprimanding her Nova Scotia deputies on the ground for not sharing the information that she warned her bosses not to share. We asked her and the MCC asked her what changed her mind. She has not provided a single coherent answer about what changed her mind. We have theories, but she has not provided a single coherent response.
    What we found out from the audio recording, and what was certainly corroborated before we got that audio recording by the Nova Scotia deputies and their meticulous notes, was that the commissioner was connecting the Liberals' forthcoming gun control policies. She did this because she wanted to help usher along the Liberal government's gun control policies.
    When we have the commissioner of the RCMP, with 22 murdered Canadians and the largest criminal investigation in Canadian history in that regard, looking at this as an opportunity to further her political boss's gun control policy, we obviously have a lot of questions and concerns about that. We believe that is political interference. What really tied it back to the Liberal government were her own words saying that they requested that she do this.
    The Liberal government has repeatedly denied this. We have her words in an audio recording. We have that corroborated with the Nova Scotia deputies who were in that meeting where she stated those things. They have written notes. They have testified at committee without a doubt in their minds, and given the audio we can see where they are coming from, that the commissioner of the RCMP sought to take advantage of the deaths of 22 people to further the Liberal political agenda. She also said that it was requested by the then-minister of public safety's office.
    We have gone through this for five months. The evidence has trickled out and built the case. To us, it seems irrefutable that this happened, yet she still has her position. We find that disgusting and appalling. We do not understand how someone, the head of our law enforcement, could come to committee and worm her way around the facts on the ground, the audio recording that we have, that she directly connects these things. However, she said things like that was just a conversation, that was taken out of context, this is all a misunderstanding or it was just a miscommunication. That is what we were hearing. However, we have the audio recording and we have the testimony from the people who were in the room.
     It is quite frustrating that we were not able to fully hold the most powerful RCMP officer in the country accountable. Perhaps that is a shortcoming of my own. Perhaps I could have done a better job. However, if we are going to talk about Bill C-20, the government also needs to talk about holding the RCMP commissioner accountable, which it has so far failed to do.
    It would be one thing if it was just in this scenario that she was using that kind of slippery language to make excuses for her behaviour, which was, as we believe, on the order of the Liberal government and its ministers. She also mentioned the PMO in the audio, so perhaps it goes as far as the Prime Minister's Office. However, we were unable to get any further evidence to convince media and others that it is the case. Should any more evidence come up, rest assured, we will be revisiting that issue.
    What I would say is that I think the reporters are finally experiencing a bit of what we experienced with the commissioner over the past five months.

  (1350)  

    Again talking about the oversight of the RCMP, recently a Globe and Mail story came out, which I think was yesterday or the day before, and now it seems that the commissioner is pulling the same sort of behaviour with the Emergencies Act. She apparently was texting with her counterpart at the OPP, the OPP commissioner, back in the height of the convoy when the government invoked the Emergencies Act. As a refresher, the Emergencies Act allows the government to supersede charter rights, which is a very big deal. That is why there is a built-in inquiry to hold the government accountable for doing it, to ensure the very high threshold of the Emergencies Act was met. We are going through that process right now and it is quite riveting.
    The commissioner is sort of pulling the same stuff with the media. There are text messages between her and the OPP. The title of the article is, “Top Mountie can’t explain text messages in which she suggested federal government wanted retroactive support for Emergencies Act”. Where is the oversight on this?
    She said the following to the OPP commissioner, which is unbelievable, “Has Minister Blair hit you up for a letter to support the EA?” My understanding from the article is that this is after the Emergencies Act was invoked by the Liberals. We have the commissioner of the RCMP asking for a retroactive support letter for the invocation of the Emergencies Act from the OPP commissioner. Two very powerful people are talking about backdating a letter retroactively to show that they are supporting this. That is pretty peculiar. Their integrity is pretty suspect and perhaps shows how desperate, which is speculation, the political bosses in that scenario were to build their case. We know that the Minister of Public Safety said mistruths in this House when he said that the police asked for the emergency powers, when in fact they did not. This is just building on that narrative a little more.
    Further, she told reporters she never requested such a letter, yet we have texts that say that she did. How can there be texts that say she requested this letter, when she tells reporters that she did not? This is what we have been going through for five months with the commissioner. We say she said something and she says that is not what that meant, over and over again. We are talking about RCMP oversight. Where is the oversight for the RCMP commissioner?
    I will conclude with this, because this is the part that shocked me the most. The head of the RCMP, the commissioner, texted the head of the OPP. Commissioner Lucki's texts show that she twice asked Commissioner Carrique about using a different messaging app that does not store deleted messages. In the context of talking about the emergency powers, is it not peculiar to anyone that the head of the RCMP is texting the head of the OPP saying they need use to an app where their messages can be permanently deleted? Is no one concerned about that?
    The heads of law and order are talking about using an app to permanently delete records. That is insane to me and it is unbelievable that the commissioner is still the head of law and order in this country. It is appalling. She should absolutely resign or, better yet, be fired by the public safety minister.

  (1355)  

    Madam Speaker, I have spent the better part of the last 20 minutes listening to my colleague's intervention, hoping that we would hear more about the substance of the bill itself. I will come back to my question for my colleague across the aisle.
    I will be the first person to stand up in this House and defend the incredible work that is done by law enforcement every day when it comes to keeping the public safe across the community. The investments that we have put into place, the technology, the resources and, frankly, the work of the Canadian Institute of Public Safety Research and Treatment, which is a group we met with just a couple of days ago, is proof of all of the supports that we will invest in our law enforcement so that they can carry out their work.
    The purpose of today's debate is Bill C-20 and I think my colleague, if she were to be candid with this chamber, would acknowledge that there were very few comments with regard to the substance of the propositions around reporting, discipline, recommendations and all of the things that will enhance civilian review so that there can be public confidence in our institutions, including the RCMP and the CBSA. Where does the member stand on the specific merits of this bill?
    Madam Speaker, the minister will have to take my apology. His government is keeping us so busy talking about oversight. I could talk for days and days about all the oversight the Liberals need.
    I would say that, overall, the bill does look promising and Conservatives are open to supporting it.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's speech. She talked about police officer morale. She has probably heard about Janet Merlo, who spent 20 years in the RCMP, reported persistent bullying and is still hearing from RCMP members about persistent sexual harassment in the force. I am just wondering if she has any comments on how Bill C-20 will address those concerns and maybe even act as a morale booster.
    Second, I take well my colleague's comments about the commissioner and the episodes we have had at the public safety committee. Does she have any comments on my private member's bill, Bill C-303, which seeks to add some clarity and specificity on the relationship the Minister of Public Safety has with the commissioner of the RCMP?
    Mr. Speaker, I admire that my hon. colleague looked at the past five months and went to a lot of effort and endeavoured to find a piece of legislation that could possibly fix the issue and the scandalous behaviour we have seen between the Liberal government and the RCMP commissioner. His bill looks very promising. I did a quick read. I am not convinced that it would have solved the ethical and behavioural problem that the Liberal government repeatedly faces, but we are open to supporting his bill.
    As to my colleague's first question, with my remaining few seconds, I am deeply concerned about any sexual harassment in the RCMP, as well as in our armed forces. I have talked at length in this House about the resignation request we had in the last Parliament regarding the then minister of defence and his lack of action for six years to address sexual harassment and assault in our military. I do not have any confidence that the Liberal government is going to take care of this. I will work seven days a week with the NDP member to solve that issue in the RCMP.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Gurpurab

    [Member spoke in Punjabi as follows:]
    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
    [English]
    Mr. Speaker, on November 8, Sikhs in Canada and across the world will be celebrating the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first guru and the founder of Sikhism.
    Guru Nanak Dev Ji emphasized the importance of hard work, kirt karni, sharing with those in need, vand ke chakna, meditating, naam japna, and selfless service, seva. He was a strong advocate for gender equality, believing that no one is high or low, and only rightness is supreme. These are the principles of Sikh values.
     This week I met with Amardeep Singh and Vininder Kaur, who are showcasing a 24-episode documentary series called Allegory, guided by Guru Nanak Dev Ji's travel and his spiritual life, so that more people can learn about his philosophies and teachings.
    Canada is home to one of the largest Sikh communities in the world. I want to thank all the organizations in Brampton and across Canada that are selflessly serving our communities. Happy Gurpurab to everyone.

Government Contracts

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' ArriveCAN app is a scandal of epic proportions. It was supposed to cost $80,000. It turns out it cost a whopping $54 million.
    The government spent $54 million on an app that did nothing to keep anyone safe. It was full of glitches, causing thousands of healthy Canadians to needlessly quarantine, and it trampled on the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
    The Liberals refuse to say who was grossly overpaid for this worse than useless app, and, in a transparent cover-up attempt, they voted against our Conservative motion to audit this scam.
    Canadians deserve answers. They deserve to know which Liberal friends and insiders got rich at their expense. It is time to follow the money. It is time to call in the auditors.

Blood Donation by Sikh Nation

    Mr. Speaker, 23 years ago a group of dedicated volunteers held their first blood donation event in Surrey to commemorate the lives of Sikhs brutally killed in India in 1984.
     Since then, the Blood Donation by Sikh Nation annual campaign has expanded to include donation events across Canada and countries worldwide, which has helped save over 165,000 Canadian lives.
    The Sikh Nation is the largest contributor to the Canadian Blood Services' pledge-based partners for life program. On November 5 and 6, I urge Canadians to visit Princess Margaret Secondary School to donate blood and plasma in support of patients in need across Canada.
    I ask all members to join me in thanking Blood Donation by Sikh Nation and its volunteers and donors, as they represent the very best Canada has to offer.

[Translation]

Lisette Leblanc Landry

     Mr. Speaker, Lisette Leblanc Landry has dedicated her life to serving others. A member of the Filles d'Isabelle for over 60 years and of the Avellin-Dalcourt residents' committee, she regularly visits the sick and accompanies people who need support during medical appointments.
    Mrs. Leblanc Landry considers herself fortunate to be in good health and to have free time, so she has dedicated herself to helping others through various organizations all her life. She was L'Écho's person of the year in 1985, won the Gaétan-Blais prize in 2014, and was profiled in Le Nouvelliste in 2018. At the age of 85, she was awarded the highest honour yet.
    In today's world, being available to others and taking the time to listen is a true gift. Mrs. Leblanc Landry shows us how. She deserves our utmost respect and I want to honour her contribution and thank her on behalf of everyone whose life she has enriched.

[English]

1984 Anti-Sikh Riots

    Mr. Speaker, 38 years later we still remember the dark days of November 1984, when government-organized mobs took to the streets of Delhi, India, with voter lists, school registration forms and ration lists in hand so they could identify Sikh homes and businesses.
    Court evidence has made it clear that these mobs were paid with money and alcohol, provided weapons and instructed to loot and burn Sikh properties. They were demanded by politicians to make sure not a single Sikh survived. Thousands of men, women and children were murdered, burned alive and raped.
    This is not a Sikh versus Hindu issue, as so many who seek to divide make it seem. In fact, many Hindu families risked their lives to protect their Sikh neighbours during this time, and for that they will always be grateful. This is an issue of human rights.
    To quote the Delhi High Court, “[T]he mass killings of Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere in November 1984 were in fact 'crimes against humanity'. They will continue to shock the collective conscience of society for a long time to come.”

  (1405)  

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, there used to be a formula that worked here in Canada. It was simple: Job plus hard work equals paycheque, minus mortgage or rent, bills, and taxes equals money to save and put towards the future.
    Under the Liberals, that formula has become fundamentally broken. Now, most people are barely getting by with the wages they earn. The prospect of owning a home, being able to raise a family or retire are all impossible dreams, out of reach for most people. Every time a small business closes, a senior gets their heating bill, a young couple looks to buy a house or a parent waits in an emergency room with their child, we are reminded of just how broken that formula has become.
    The Liberals are ignoring the ever-growing gap between the few who are comfortable and profit from this broken formula and the majority who are struggling without hope for the future. Conservatives will keep fighting to turn hurt into hope, make paycheques meaningful once more and re-establish a successful formula that will work for all Canadians.

Women's Centre of York Region

    Mr. Speaker, for 45 years the Women's Centre of York Region has served women and children who are victims of gender-based violence.
    I thank Jennifer Gibbs, chair of the board of directors, and Liora Sobel, executive director, who are at the helm of this organization, as well as Jully Black, songwriter and philanthropist, whose son spoke so passionately at the 45th anniversary celebration, which I attended with them last week.
    The government is clear that gender-based violence will not be tolerated. That is why we are working with provinces, territories and indigenous partners to implement a national action plan to end gender-based violence. We propose to invest $540 million over five years. The priority is increased support for the most vulnerable: indigenous women and girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals.
    With other levels of government, we can provide leadership, policies and funding, but change happens through the work of these dedicated community organizations.
    I thank Jennifer, Liora and all the staff, board members and volunteers at the Women's Centre of York Region for helping women overcome obstacles, heal from trauma and begin new chapters in their lives. We will continue to work together to protect all those who suffer due to gender-based violence, and ultimately to eradicate it completely.

WorldSkills Competition 2022 Medal Winners

    Mr. Speaker, this week is National Skilled Trade and Technology Week, an important initiative led by Skills/Compétences Canada to help young Canadians discover careers in skilled trades and technology.
    With over 700,000 skilled trades workers expected to retire in Canada by 2028, it is critical we do everything we can to help inspire young Canadians to pursue careers in these fields, from carpentry to mechanics, construction, cooking, welding, hairdressing and more. There are countless rewarding and well-paying career opportunities ready to be filled.
    I am pleased to recognize two amazing young women in skilled trades with us in Canada today: Korae Nottveit and Emma Kilgannon. Korae and Emma are recent WorldSkills Competition 2022 medal winners in the cooking and baking categories, and they are joined by Skills/Compétences Canada national board president, Dr. Patrick Rouble.
    I welcome them to Ottawa and congratulate them on their great accomplishments.

New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, there are tough times coming this winter for all Canadians. This is especially true for the hard-working people of Saskatchewan, who will see the triple increase of gas, groceries and home heating bills. However, the leader of the NDP has the nerve to go on Twitter and complain. His hollow “demand” to remove taxes from home heating would be more believable if he and his NDP comrades had voted in favour of our leader’s motion last week, calling to axe the carbon tax on home heating.
    The current NDP Leader looks more irrelevant every day. It is no wonder the Saskatchewan NDP rescinded its invitation to have him appear in person at its latest convention; even it knows how much brand damage this leader can do.
    I wonder how many more failed elections the NDP will have to go through before it realizes its policies, its party and its leader are all out of touch with the real struggles Canadians are facing today.

  (1410)  

Poppy Campaign Launch

    Mr. Speaker, every year, from the last Friday of October to November 11, Canadians wear a poppy to honour veterans and to remember those who sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy.
     Like every year, the K-W Poppy Fund hosted the poppy campaign launch at branch 530 of the Legion in Waterloo. I joined veterans, cadets, executive members and volunteers from the K-W Naval Association, the Royal Canadian Air Force Association K-W Wing 404, the 31 Combat Engineer Regiment, known as the Elgin's, and the Royal Canadian Legion, among others.
     This year, for the first time, the Legion is distributing biodegradable poppies to reduce the environmental footprint. I encourage every Canadian to engage in Veterans Week to honour and learn of the sacrifices and efforts of veterans.
    I thank all in uniform for their service and commend the Royal Canadian Legion for this now biodegradable symbol of remembrance.
     We will remember them.

[Translation]

Inflation

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's inflationary policies are forcing Canadians to tighten their belts like never before.
    We have learned that 1.5 million Canadians had to turn to food banks last month alone. That represents a dramatic 35% increase since 2019. Rising interest rates on a $400,000 mortgage are increasing interest costs by over $15,000 a year for a Canadian family.
    We call on the Liberal government to reform our tax system in order to incentivize work, eliminate taxes and tariffs on fuel and fertilizer for farmers, cap spending with legislation requiring ministers to find a dollar of savings for every new dollar spent, cut wasteful spending like ArriveCAN, and work with all levels of government to increase production efficiency and produce more of the things Canadians buy.
    Those are all part of the next Conservative government's strategy.

[English]

The Economy

     Mr. Speaker, the burden on Canadians has never been heavier. The Prime Minister's tax-and-spend policies have driven a record number of Canadians to the food banks. Recently, 1.5 million Canadians used a food bank in one month. Nearly a third, or 500,000 of them, were children. This is unacceptable, and it is an increase of 35% from 2019.
     The government is raising taxes on gas, groceries and home heating, which has increased the cost of essentials that Canadians rely on. Its continued reckless spending has led to record inflation, causing it to get rich off the backs of Canadians. As a result of rising interest rates, Canadians who were already on the edge are being pushed over that edge. The Liberal government needs to stop working for itself and its friends and start working for Canadians.

Fundraising for Ukraine

     Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to highlight Matheson Phan, an exceptional grade 5 student in my riding of Vancouver Granville.
    Inspired by the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people, Matheson decided to raise funds for the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine humanitarian crisis appeal by making blue and yellow ribbons adorned with a Canadian flag pin. Since February, Matheson has worked with family and friends, and his younger brother Lincoln, to cut, sew and assemble these symbols of solidarity to be worn by members of our community.
    Matheson has sent me a pin for each member of the House, which I know we will all wear with pride. In his own words, Matheson said, “I hope for a future where everyone helps those in need.” I know every member of the House would agree. I thank Matheson for his leadership and his belief in a better world.
    Slava Ukraini.

[Translation]

Public Transit

    Mr. Speaker, economists say that increased demand will result in increased supply. However, the opposite is true for public transit. We need to increase the supply for there to be a demand. In short, we need effective and attractive public transit for people to get on board.
    Public transit is essential for improving urban mobility and reducing our carbon footprint, but it is also vital for intercity travel between our regions. Our transportation companies are struggling after two years of pandemic, so it is urgent that we reinvest to get our public transit back on track.
    We also need to electrify our transit systems. That will help to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels. Moving in that direction will help us to create good jobs here at home with the local expertise we already have.
    Frequent and reliable public transit service requires permanent and reliable federal funding. The NDP is focusing on good transit systems for everyone. We are asking the Liberal government to do the same.

  (1415)  

    Order.
    I would ask members to listen and show respect for the person who is speaking. There is a lot of noise right now and it is hard to hear what is being said.
    The hon. member for Saint‑Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Aerospace Industries Association of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, today marks the 60th anniversary of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, or AIAC. We should be glad to have such a vibrant association dedicated to ensuring that this strategic sector receives the support it deserves.
    The late Jean Lapierre said that the aerospace industry is to Quebec what the auto industry is to Ontario. Greater Montreal is one of the world's three leading aerospace hubs, alongside Seattle and Toulouse, and is one of the only regions where it is possible to find all the parts needed to assemble an entire aircraft.
    The aerospace industry comprises a research cluster and a network of thriving small and medium-sized businesses. This ecosystem deserves a robust policy. We cannot allow ourselves to neglect this strategic industry. The AIAC constantly gives us this much-needed reminder.
    Long live the AIAC. I wish it a happy anniversary.

[English]

Anti-Semitism

     Mr. Speaker, when the diversity minister was confronted with his department's funding of a notorious anti-Semite Laith Marouf, he swore that it was a mistake and that it would never happen again, even though he covered it up for a month.
    Now we know the minister's sincerest promise was nothing more than lip service to the House, his caucus and to Canadians. Yesterday we found out there is more funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage. Nearly $30,000 was given to two news outlets that call for the elimination of Israel and perpetuate the dangerous hate against Jews. This is freely available on the Internet. Either nobody bothered to check, or more likely, nobody cared.
    These are not unfortunate mistakes. They are not even incompetence. They are repeated actions by a government that is coming dangerously close to complicity with the worst anti-Semitism by spending Canadian tax dollars to proliferate it. We have a problem in this country. Canadians deserve to know about it. Conservatives are here to stop it. More members of the Liberal caucus need to stand up to it.

Order of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising to mark the accomplishment of my constituent, Morris Goodman, who has received his welcome into the Order of Canada.
    Morris is being recognized for his incredible achievements in business throughout his career, as well as his dedication to transformative philanthropy. Morris has been a pioneer of the Canadian generic pharmaceutical business for decades, including co-founding Canada's largest pharmaceutical company, Pharmascience, nearly 40 years ago.
    While his work in the business base has been remarkable, his dedication to giving back is also noteworthy. Charitable works are incredibly important to Morris, and through the Morris and Rosalind Goodman Family Foundation, he has made a significant difference in his home community in Montreal, and in helping countless others around the world.
    It is no surprise then that his positive impact to Canada is being recognized today. Morris and his wife Lillian Vineberg are pillars in my community, and I want to congratulate them both on this incredible achievement.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Finance

     Mr. Speaker, today we learn if the Liberal government truly cares about Canadians. The fall economic statement is the last chance to stop tax increases and out-of-control inflationary spending.
    Canadians are paying more in taxes today than ever before, and Liberal inflation has raised prices for gas, groceries and home heating to record highs. This Liberal inflation tax is levied off the growling stomachs of Canadians. Will the Prime Minister stop his inflationary spending to finally stop his inflationary tax?
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad that my colleague opposite is interested in the fall economic statement, and we will learn what is in that plan in just two short hours, but rest assured that he can rely on the Liberal government to do what is right, which is to support Canadians by providing dental and rental supports, doubling the GST tax credit, making sure that the child care benefits are in place and making sure that we have the backs of Canadians when they need it the most.
    They do not have a plan. We do. That is what Canadians have asked us to do.

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear to see from that answer that the Liberal government's greed knows no bounds.
    The government's solution to every problem is to make Canadians pay even more. Liberal inflation led to higher interest rates. A single mom who works as a youth worker reached out to me saying her variable mortgage payments just went up another $500 because of the Liberal inflation tax, and she is barely hanging on.
    Canadians are hurting, and cannot afford more spending and higher taxes. Will the Liberals just stop spending?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is asking us to do more on taxes, and we have reduced taxes on Canadians five times. How many times did the Conservatives vote against those measures? It was every single time.
    On this side of the House, we are supporting Canadians. They are voting against Canadians. We will see today just how much of a plan we have to support Canadians and grow the economy.
    Mr. Speaker, only Liberals would think that they can fight their own inflation with more inflation.
    Fifty-three percent of Canadians say that they are concerned with making mortgage payments when it comes time to renew. Over a third of them are already planning to cut back on spending and food. That comes at a time when grocery prices are too high and Canadians cannot afford their home heating bills anymore.
    Will the Liberals stop the spending spree and stop the record taxes, or should Canadians just prepare for a long, cold, hungry winter instead?
    Mr. Speaker, we have a plan to support Canadians. It is a plan that started in 2015. It has been bolstered by our affordability plan this spring and bolstered again by the work we have been doing recently.
    The other side has a plan, and it is typical Conservative austerity. They would cut employment insurance benefits, the Canadian pension plan, child care benefits and climate action cheques. They want to cut, and we want to support. That is our job.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Bank of Canada aims to keep inflation at 2% of the consumer price index.
    The bank has failed to do that, but the Prime Minister is in no hurry to see inflation go back to its normal level because that would reduce his government's revenues. That explains why he is continuing with his inflationary spending and trying to raise taxes. Canadians are suffering because this Prime Minister is taking advantage of the inflation he created to make more money.
    Today, will he commit to not increasing taxes on Canadians and to stop wasting public funds?
    Mr. Speaker, that argument is not only economically false, it is simply cruel.
    To say that supporting the most vulnerable Canadians in our country is causing inflation to rise is false, because we are in a global inflationary cycle. Countries around the world are dealing with inflation. We are doing what we can to support the most vulnerable.
    They are blaming Canadians. It is irresponsible, and it is cruel.
    Mr. Speaker, actually, we are blaming all the measures that have been put in place by the Liberals over the last seven years. Because of those measures, we are now experiencing inflation the likes of which we have not seen in 40 years.
    Mark Carney, who could potentially be the future leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, said that inflation in Canada is domestically generated. This government created the problems we have today. People are going hungry and 20% of Canadians are skipping one meal a week because of this government's actions and irresponsible spending. Will it commit to taking action that will help Canadians instead of hurting them?
    Mr. Speaker, the former governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, said very clearly that our investments during the pandemic prevented a period of irresponsible deflation.
    We took action and supported Canadians. The Conservatives want us to make cuts because the typical Conservative plan is to chop, chop, chop. On this side, we will support Canadians. That is what we are here to do, and we are going to meet the public's expectations.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, I am wearing the signature bow tie that reminds us of the importance of fighting prostate cancer and losing weight.
    The Prime Minister wants to increase immigration levels to 500,000 in 2025. For Quebec, that means something like 120,000 immigrants, in addition to the majority of the people who arrive via Roxham Road.
    Most of these people do not speak French. Quebec does not have the means to teach them French, house them, educate them or provide them with child care or health care.
    Does the government understand that Quebec cannot accommodate 150,000 immigrants—

  (1425)  

    The hon. Minister of Immigration.
    Mr. Speaker, Canada needs a lot of people, but the member knows perfectly well that it is up to the Government of Quebec to set immigration levels in Quebec.
    We are working harder with the Government of Quebec and with my counterpart. This is an opportunity to grow the population and the economy and to work with our partner in Quebec.
    Mr. Speaker, the government and the Prime Minister want to bring in something like 150,000 immigrants a year. Those individuals will not have the services they need in areas like French language learning, child care, education and health care, nor will there even be enough good jobs.
    If we do not welcome them, Quebec's weight within the federation will shrink drastically, and if we do welcome them, we risk our language and identity. In both scenarios, the Quebec nation will be considerably weakened.
    Which do the Liberals prefer, weakening Quebec through language or through numbers?
    Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that, for the Bloc Québécois, immigrants are reduced to numbers, statistics and percentages. We are talking about men, women and children.
    I have said it before, and I will say it again: Quebec already has full authority to welcome as many immigrants as it wants, all of them francophone, if it wants.
    I have a question for the Bloc. If Quebec welcomes 70,000 people who speak French, 70,000 francophones, how many will require French language lessons?

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, according to a recent report, the government is letting $30 billion a year slip through its fingers because of tax evasion. Thirty billion dollars is a huge amount of money.
    While searching through the Paradise papers, the program Enquête found an example—
    I must interrupt the hon. member for a moment. We are having trouble hearing not only the answers but the questions too.
    I would ask everyone to show some respect for the person who is speaking, whether they are asking a question or answering one.
    The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie can begin his question again.
    Mr. Speaker, according to a recent report, the government is letting $30 billion a year slip through its fingers because of tax evasion. Thirty billion dollars is a huge amount of money.
    While searching through the Paradise papers, the program Enquête found a shameful example of these practices. For years, the Irving empire has systematically been using shell companies in Bermuda to avoid paying what it owes the government. While ordinary Canadians are struggling to pay the rent and buy groceries, the Liberals are turning a blind eye to this legalized theft.
    Is the government controlling the Irving empire, or does the Irving family own the Liberal Party of Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that my colleague shares my enthusiasm for combatting tax evasion.
    The Canada Revenue Agency continues to fight tax evasion both in Canada and abroad through a solid network of tax agreements and through investments. It is getting harder and harder to hide money abroad.
    I have a very simple message for those who want to commit tax evasion. The CRA will find them, no matter how long it takes.

[English]

Taxation

     Mr. Speaker, recent reports show that in the last year Loblaws made its biggest profits ever to the tune of an extra million dollars in profit for every day of the year. While families are turning to food banks or skipping meals to reduce their costs, Galen Weston and his shareholders are lining their pockets.
    The NDP has called on the government to make these chains pay what they owe to Canadians, so we can do things to help, like remove the GST on home heating. We want stronger consequences for price-fixing and we want a windfall profits tax. We have not seen it.
    Are the Liberals finally going to get going on this and tackle “greedflation”, which is making the rich richer while everyone else pays the price?
     Mr. Speaker, what we are doing as a government to make sure people and companies pay their fair share is limiting the ability of wealthy Canadians to use foreign shell companies to avoid taxes in Canada, examining a minimum 15% tax in Canada and around the world for multinational companies, implementing that minimum 15% tax and providing $1.2 billion to CRA, which has a five to one ratio for the money we put in it, to find the people who are not paying their taxes. That is responsible fiscal management.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have never been paying more in taxes, all because of the Prime Minister's reckless inflation spending.
     While Canadians are paying more for gas, groceries and heating their homes, the Liberal government is lining its pockets on the backs of Canadians' suffering. It is collecting record high taxes because of the inflation crisis it has created.
    Will the Prime Minister stop his inflationary spending and stop the inflation tax?
    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about what the government is spending on. We are spending on the Canada dental benefit, which is going to support hundreds of thousands of Canadian children access to dental care. We are spending on the Canada housing benefit, which is helping the lowest-income Canadians pay their rent. To suggest that is inflationary is absolutely absurd. Then we are spending on the Canada child benefit, which is helping nine out of 10 Canadian families, thousands of dollars a month, so they can pay for basic necessities.
    We know what the Conservatives would cut if they were in power.
    Mr. Speaker, when will the Liberals realize they cannot spend and print their way out of an inflation crisis, one that they created? The inflation tax punishes Canadians, while the Liberals collect more in taxes, and Canadian families are suffering because of it. In fact, over 1.5 million Canadian families had to visit a food bank in one month. That should not be happening in Canada.
    When will the Liberals end the inflationary tax?
    Mr. Speaker, helping low-income Canadians pay for basic necessities is not inflationary.
     We know that the Conservatives talk a big game, but they are not actually there, when the measures are on the floor, to vote in support. When it came to the Canada child benefit, what did they do? They voted against it. When it came to the income tax cut for middle-class Canadians, what did they do? They voted against it. When it came to child care for Canadians across the country, what did they do? They voted against it. What about the Canada dental benefit and the Canada housing benefit? They voted against those too.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are paying higher taxes than ever before under the Prime Minister. Inflation is at a 40-year high. People are getting further behind. People are paying more for basic necessities like food, gas and home heating. Higher taxes mean more money in the Liberal government's bank account, all on the backs of hard-working Canadians.
    Will the Prime Minister stop the inflationary spending and stop the inflation tax?
    Mr. Speaker, let us look at the Conservative record on reducing taxes for Canadians. In 2015, when we gave a tax break to middle-class Canadians and taxed the wealthy 1% more, who voted against it? The Conservatives did. When we gave workers a tax break, who voted against it? The Conservatives did. When we put in child care benefits, who voted against it? The Conservatives did. When we decided to help businesses, who voted against it? The Conservatives did.
    We have the backs of Canadians. We are supporting the most vulnerable. That is our job; we are doing our job.
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, it is the Liberal government that has forced Canadians to pay more taxes. It is taking money out of their bank accounts and putting it in the Liberal government's bank account. That is people on fixed incomes, it is seniors, people with disabilities, young adults trying to build a life and families that are struggling to get by. The Liberal government is lining the pockets of itself, while people are paying into it.
    Again, will the Prime Minister stop the inflationary spending and stop the inflation tax?
    Mr. Speaker, what the hon. colleague opposite is saying is simply untrue. It was this government that increased the GIS for seniors. It was this government that increased the OAS for seniors over 75. It was this government that brought in the Canada disability benefit. It was this government that brought in the Canada child benefit, affordable day care across the country; the Canada dental benefit; the Canada housing benefit; and I could go on. We have been there every step of the way to support Canadians. What have the Conservatives done? They have voted against every single one of those measures.

  (1435)  

[Translation]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, the government is getting ready to triple the carbon tax that is going to add extra costs for all Canadians. That is the reality.
    This afternoon, we are going to hear the Minister of Finance tell us that never in the history of the country have Canadians paid so much in taxes. Simply put, inflation is increasing the cost of everything. Everything costs more and therefore the government is collecting more taxes. Inflation is punishing Canadians. The Liberals are lining their pockets.
    Will the Prime Minister be transparent and give workers a break this afternoon? Will he put an end to his inflationary spending on the backs of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, again, we are hearing that the Conservatives have no plan to help Canadians.
    In the United Kingdom, the government decided to cut services for the British people, and that was a complete failure.
    Here the Conservatives are proposing to lower employment insurance benefits, Canadians' pension plans and the Canada child benefit. It is the typical Conservative austerity, once again.
    We will invest in Canadians. It is our job and that is what we are doing.
    Mr. Speaker, everything the minister just said is pure rhetoric and completely out of touch with reality.
    The Liberal government can find all kinds of excuses. It is this government that is responsible for the current economic situation that is making Canadians poorer. Their wallets are empty. Consumer debt is skyrocketing. The Prime Minister's inflationary spending is pushing up interest rates. More interest means more debt means less money in Canadians' pockets. It is that simple.
    Will the Prime Minister show some compassion this afternoon and reduce—
    Order.
    The hon. Minister of Tourism.
    Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that when the Conservatives start hurling insults at me it is because they have no plan. They are not talking about what should be done for Canadians.
    On this side of the House, we are being very clear. We are investing in Canadians by providing dental care and housing assistance. We are investing in Canadians by doubling the GST credit. We are investing in Canadians with the Canada child benefit.
    The Conservatives want to make cuts, but we want to support Canadians. That is our agenda. That is our plan and it is the best plan.

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals and the NDP imposed a gag order in committee to shut down debate on modernizing the Official Languages Act.
    After 50 years of inaction on their part, it seems suspicious that this is suddenly so urgent. It is so urgent that they are limiting debate on the amendments to seven hours. Clearly, they want to avoid talking about the amendments that the Bloc Québécois wants to table. Obviously, these are not our amendments; they come from the Government of Quebec. The amendments from Quebec, which represents 90% of francophones, deserve to be debated.
    Why are they trying to avoid them?
    Mr. Speaker, what is suspicious today is that the Bloc Québécois and the Conservatives are playing political games to prevent the bill from being passed as soon as possible.
    We introduced a bill to counter the decline of French in Canada and to meet the needs of official language minority communities.
    I do not understand why the Bloc and the Conservatives do not want to see us pass a bill that will do exactly that.
    Mr. Speaker, we invited experts way back in February to talk to us about official languages. Together, the government and the NDP decided to cancel over 30 expert witnesses, including important groups such as the Maison de l'alphabétisation du Québec, a literacy advocacy group, and the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a group dedicated to protecting and promoting the French language, as well as francophone school boards in Ontario, British Columbia and Acadia, the Université de Moncton and the Association des juristes d'expression française du Nouveau-Brunswick, New Brunswick's association of French-speaking jurists.
    Why—
    Order. I have to interrupt the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.
    I do not know what is wrong with members today. Everyone is talking at the same time. I will ask members to whisper or leave the chamber if they want to have conversations.

  (1440)  

[English]

    If members are going to talk to each other, please get close to each other or go in the hallway, but do not talk at a distance of four or five benches away or across from one another.

[Translation]

    I will ask the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île to repeat his question so we can all hear it.
    Mr. Speaker, we invited experts way back in February to talk to us about official languages. Together, the government and the NDP decided to cancel over 30 expert witnesses, including important groups such as the Fondation pour l'alphabétisation, a literacy foundation, and the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a group dedicated to protecting and promoting the French language, as well as francophone school boards in Ontario, British Columbia and Acadia, the Université de Moncton and the Association des juristes d'expression française du Nouveau-Brunswick, New Brunswick's association of French-speaking jurists.
    Why is the voice of these people suddenly not important enough to warrant the attention of the Liberals and the NDP?
    Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. We have been listening closely to the stakeholders, and they have told us that it is time to take the next step.
    Stakeholders want to see Bill C-13 passed because they recognize that it will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians. We introduced an ambitious bill to ensure that we can do everything in our power to support our official language minority communities and reverse the decline of French. I do not understand why the Bloc Québécois and the Conservatives want to ultimately block this legislation.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals and the NDP are invoking closure on Bill C-13. They are limiting the debate, which includes amendments proposed by the Quebec government. To limit the debate, they are also prepared to withdraw their invitation to dozens of Quebec, Acadian and other French-Canadian experts. The NDP and the Liberals have a deal to end debate on the amendments and they have a deal to cancel the appearance of witnesses.
    Do they also have a deal to reject Quebec's amendments, such as applying Bill 101 to federally regulated businesses?
    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear: We are the first government to recognize the decline in French in this country. That is why we are implementing an ambitious bill.
    We want to ensure that our government does everything in its power to protect our official language minority communities, and we want to ensure that we reverse the decline of the French language. Again, we have heard from many stakeholders who want the bill passed as soon as possible. I do not understand why the Bloc Québécois and the Conservative Party of Canada are doing everything they can to kill this bill. It is unacceptable.

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals need to be honest with Canadians. They are benefiting from inflation. While record numbers of Canadians are using food banks, they are raking in record revenues. However, their greed knows no bounds. They want more and more of Canadians' dollars.
    When will the cold-hearted Liberals show some compassion, give Canadians a break and pull their tax hikes off the table?
    Mr. Speaker, do the Conservatives want to talk about compassion? They are the ones who blocked, for a number of days, the ability to pass dental benefits for low-income children. They are the ones who voted against supporting low-income renters in paying their rent. They voted against the Canada child benefit, which supports nine out of 10 Canadian families. They voted against affordable child care. They voted against tax cuts for middle-income Canadians.
    It is beyond comprehension that they would talk about compassion when they vote against supporting Canadians at every single instance.
    Mr. Speaker, under the current Liberal government, Canadians are paying record high taxes. Liberal inflation means Canadians are also paying record high prices for gas, groceries and home heating bills. Millions of Canadians are skipping meals or using food banks because they cannot afford to buy groceries, and millions more will have to choose between heating and eating this winter. Canadians are out of money and the government is out of touch.
    Why do the Liberals not stop making things worse, stop their out-of-control spending and stop the Liberal inflation taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, what is out of touch is blaming the most vulnerable Canadians and the government supporting them for somehow increasing inflation. It is hogwash. It is poppycock. It is simply not true and it is cruel.
    Our supports are one one-thousandth the size of our economy. It will not increase inflation. Misinformation and disinformation have no place in this chamber.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is unbelievable for the government to brag about a system and policies that have 1.5 million Canadians using food banks every month and that have one in five Canadians skipping meals because they cannot buy groceries. We will take no lessons from a government whose policies are creating higher interest rates, higher inflation and out-of-control spending that is driving up the cost of living to the worst record and the worst situation in decades.
    Why do the Liberals not stop making it worse, stop their out-of-control spending and stop their Liberal inflation tax?
    Mr. Speaker, it is a bit rich coming from the member opposite that he wants to talk about supporting Canadians when, with every single chance, he has voted against measures that support Canadians.
    When they talk about the spending that we have done, that is thousands of dollars that are helping Canadian families with the high cost of living. We know what would happen if the Conservatives were in power. They would abandon those most vulnerable Canadians who need that support. When they are talking about taxes, they are talking about things that pay for EI. They are talking about things that pay for CPP. The things—
    The hon. member for Nunavut.

Indigenous Affairs

    Uqaqtittiji, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples enshrines the right to housing for indigenous peoples, yet many struggle to find an adequate home. The Liberal government has failed to recognize these rights and invest in an indigenous housing strategy for people who are compelled to leave their home communities. As a result, many indigenous peoples end up in units in disrepair or homeless.
    When will the government acknowledge UNDRIP rights to safe, affordable housing across Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member opposite that the gap is astronomical in terms of housing on first nations. That is why the government, in budget 2022, invested over $4 billion to begin to close that gap. We also know that it is not the government that has the answer about what the best housing is. It is indigenous people themselves. That is why solutions are indigenous-led in design. We will continue to work with communities to make sure that people have the right to safe and affordable housing.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are failing to fix the urgent, unmet housing needs of urban, rural and northern indigenous communities. The money it allocated is not even enough to meet the needs of the Downtown Eastside, let alone for the rest of the country. It was a cruel joke when the Prime Minister said record investments are being made. Over 80% of indigenous people live away from their home communities. Indigenous peoples are dying on the street.
    Will the Minister of Finance make the necessary investments in the fall economic statement to address the urgent, unmet housing crisis of indigenous peoples?
    Mr. Speaker, I am puzzled by the hon. member's comment. We have doubled the investments to tackle homelessness, including in the hon. member's riding of Vancouver East.
    Coming to the issue of urban, rural and northern indigenous housing, we are committed to working with indigenous peoples to codevelop an urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy. Budget 2022 is investing over $4 billion in indigenous housing, including $300 million to codevelop an urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy following the for indigenous, by indigenous principle.

  (1450)  

    I would ask hon. members, when they ask a question, to have the common courtesy to listen and not shout down the person answering the very question they asked.
    The hon. member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, in my riding and the entire province of Newfoundland and Labrador, seal predation is an important topic for local harvesters. Can the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans inform the House what our government is doing on this important topic?
     Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the great work he does for his constituents.
    I received a report from the Atlantic seal science task force just this spring and the government is already taking action on it.
    I am happy to share with the House that, on November 8 and 9, I will be hosting a seal summit in St. John's, and we will be exploring opportunities for indigenous and rural communities.
    I do look forward to working with indigenous people, industry, scientists and others on this very important goal.

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, 20% of Canadians are skipping at least one meal a week to save money, and 1.5 million Canadians used food banks in just one month.
    How did things get so bad? It is because of this government's mismanagement, which created inflationary deficits year after year. After all, it is not surprising, given that monetary policy is not part of the Prime Minister's vocabulary.
    Can the Prime Minister at least assure the House that he will not increase taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we have been here every day for the past seven years to support Canadians, whether through the Canada child benefit, tax cuts for the middle class, the dental care benefit or housing assistance.
    During the pandemic, our government was there and continues to be there for Canadians. It is too bad that, at every opportunity, the Conservatives vote against these important initiatives that help Canadians in need.

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have never paid more taxes than they do now under the Prime Minister. The inflation rate is the highest in 40 years, which means that Canadians pay more for gasoline, groceries and home heating.
    Some say that it is just inflation, but inflation means higher prices for Canadians and more money in the Liberal government's pocket. It is the inflation tax. It is the cruellest tax of all.
    When will the Prime Minister stop the inflation tax and stop his inflationary spending?
    Mr. Speaker, if pandemic spending and investments in Canadians that got us through the worst pandemic in a century were inflationary, then we would be on our own in the world. We would have the highest inflation in the world. Guess what. Germany is at 10%. The U.K. is at 10.1%. The U.S. is at 8.2%. The EU is at 9.9%. Australia is at 7.3%. We are at 6.9%.
    That does not make a difference to the people at home. What makes a difference are dental supports, rental supports and doubling the GST tax credit, not the proposed cuts by the Conservatives. We have the backs of Canadians. They have bluff and bluster.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are out of money and this spend, spend, spend Liberal government is out of touch. People are losing confidence, faith and patience. Simply put, people cannot afford these record-high taxes and inflation any longer. They are sinking in debt. Families, business owners, seniors, students, all Canadians expect more from the government.
    When will the Prime Minister commit to no new spending and no new taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, do we know what Canadians cannot afford? They cannot afford an official opposition that is proposing cuts to the things they rely upon, like employment insurance, the Canada pension plan, the Canada child benefit, affordable day care, Canada dental benefits and housing supports.
    What Canadians cannot afford right now when they are feeling the economic pinch are the cruel spending cuts that the Conservatives are suggesting.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, what Canadians cannot afford are new taxes.
    The Liberal government and its NDP backers have routinely made their intentions to Canadians very clear. They are going to implement a punitive tax on financially broken Canadians to pay for their higher spending agenda.
    How can Canadians trust a government that has openly shown disrespect to them?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives, at every opportunity over the last seven years, have voted against measures that have supported Canadians, whether it is Canadian children, families, seniors, people who are in need of housing or Canadians with disabilities.
    We have brought forward important measures that add thousands of dollars into the pockets of the most vulnerable of middle-class Canadians who are spending it on basic necessities.
    What Canadians do not trust is an official opposition that is not there for them in their time of need.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Governor General's unnecessary week-long trip to the Middle East cost $1.3 million. That is the amount the Canadian Taxpayers Federation came up with by adding up the invoices sent to the Office of the Governor General and also to Global Affairs Canada, National Defence and the RCMP.
    It seems the monarchy costs more than we thought.
    In addition to the $70 million it costs us every year, we have to add up the expenses paid by various departments for the King's representative and her entourage to travel first class.
    Seriously, when are we going to stop paying for that?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Governor General undertakes important work representing Canada at home and abroad. Costs are a product of a number of factors, including the size of delegations, destination and local fees.
     As always, our government makes ever effort to ensure that spending on official trips is responsible and transparent.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the monarchy is very costly, but not just financially.
    I would like to go back to 2019, to the case of the two Michaels who were unjustly imprisoned in China.
    Last Thursday, the Wall Street Journal revealed that, in that case, the Prime Minister was unable to negotiate with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Why? It is simple. The Chinese president refused to speak to the Prime Minister and instead demanded to speak to Canada's true head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.
    Does the government not find it embarrassing that the real leader of Canada is actually a foreign monarch?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the world is facing a more assertive China. At all times, Canada's foreign policy will be able to defend our national interests and our values. In this context, Canadians expect us to navigate strategically through this complex reality. We will do so with eyes wide open.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the more the Liberals tax and spend, the more expensive life gets for struggling Canadians. The Prime Minister racked up more debt than all other primer ministers before him combined, and he claimed it was so Canadians would not have to. However, today, Canadians cannot make ends meet, while government contracts are up 74%, $14.6 billion a year, going to insiders, former Liberal MPs, anti-Semites and foreign consultants, and hundreds of millions of dollars the Liberals will not account for at all.
    When will the NDP-Liberal costly coalition stop its tax hikes and wasteful spending?
    Mr. Speaker, later today, we are going to learn more about our fall economic statement. However, the Conservative economic action plan 2022 is in: cut employment insurance benefits, cut the Canadian pension plan, cut child care benefits and cut climate action cheques. That is typical Conservative austerity in the face of Canadians in need.
     We have the backs of Canadians. We are investing in them. That is our plan and that is what we are going to do.
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, Canadians' paycheques and savings go up in flames as the Liberals fuel the inflation fire that they set.
     The Bank of Canada says that inflation is due to what is happening in Canada. BMO says that sending cheques as inflation support is inflationary. Even Liberal Mark Carney says that inflation is “a domestic story”. Canadians are using food banks at record levels, half are almost bankrupt and a million cannot afford home heating.
    The Liberals are fine with spending the average Canadians' yearly rent on a single hotel room, but will they actually give Canadians a break, cut taxes and cap spending?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, Stephen Poloz, the former Bank of Canada governor, was very clear that our investments in Canadians during the pandemic prevented a deflation in our economy.
    What do the Conservatives say on taxes? When we lowered taxes on the middle class in 2015, how did the Conservatives vote? They voted against it. When we lowered taxes on Canadians in 2019, the Conservatives voted against it. In 2021, when we lowered taxes on workers, how did the Conservatives vote? They voted against it. When we lowered taxes on small businesses this year, the Conservatives voted, once again, against it. How did they vote on dental and rental supports? Members know the answer. They voted against it.
    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about the real effect of Liberal economic policy. The original Trudeau spending legacy was 14 deficits in 15 years, an inflation, housing and energy crisis for Canadians at the time, and, as a result of the crippling debt, devastating cuts to health and education transfers a generation later by another Liberal government. It is the classic Liberal economic one-two punch: short-term pain and long-term pain.
    Would somebody please have the courage to stand up over there and his or her Prime Minister to just stop making the problem worse?
    Mr. Speaker, it is a bit strange to hear from members opposite about economic records, because when they were in power, that prime minister, Stephen Harper, had the worst economic record since R. B. Bennett in the Great Depression. Whereas, under our government, we have had record low unemployment. We are supporting vulnerable and low-income Canadians. We are making sure we are setting up our country for success for future generations.
     The history books are clear. There is one party on this side of the House that has a good economic record. I cannot say the same for my colleagues opposite.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, immigration drives Canada's economy. Newcomers help businesses find the workers they need and enrich our communities, including beautiful Yukon. No matter where they come from or why they are here, Canada has always warmly welcomed newcomers.
    Can the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship update us on our government's immigration plan?
    Mr. Speaker, there is no question that Canada needs more people. We need to look at immigration as a strategy to increase Canada's workforce, reunite more families and fulfill our humanitarian commitments. That is why I have introduced Canada's next immigration levels plan. It is an ambitious plan that brings an increased focus on attracting newcomers to different regions of the country.
    Canada is a country that was built on immigration. It is at the heart of who we are as Canadians.

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal-NDP coalition's policies and resulting higher interest rates have fanned the flames for this cost of living wildfire. Given the debt that the Prime Minister has accumulated, how can Canadians now trust him to control spending? After all, does one trust the arsonist to put out the fire? We cannot inflate our way out of this mess, out of debt either, because that just erodes the purchasing power of Canadians. The only positive action is to unlock investment from the private sector.
    Will the Prime Minister stop his new spending, and no more taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, the other side rising in the House today talking about being compassionate for Canadians is a bit rich, given the history of that government. When it had a $13-billion surplus in 2006, it frittered it away. Then, to try to get some sort of fiscal semblance of responsibility, it cut veterans services, closed embassies, raided EI, forced working Canadians to work for two more years and had a systematic destruction of social services.
     That is not the future Canadians want. They want our supports. They want us to have their backs. That is what we have.

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, a recent survey from the CFIB indicated that 60% of small businesses would increase the paycheques of workers if the government reduced its tax burden. Instead, on January 1, this costly coalition is planning to increase payroll taxes for workers and employees.
    My question is simple. Will the Liberal-NDP coalition government rescind its plan to increase payroll taxes on January 1 and give small business owners and their employees the break they need?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is on this side of the House that we have supported small businesses and entrepreneurs every single day. It is those contributions that are made by both the employer and the employee that are going to provide for those very workers these small businesses employ.
     It is on this side of the House that we work for small businesses. We stand for small businesses. We are the ones cutting taxes for small businesses and helping them thrive in communities from coast to coast to coast.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are struggling to pay their bills. They are lying in bed at night wondering how they are going to survive the devastating effects of the Liberal government's inflationary spending. Canadians simply cannot afford anymore of this costly coalition. Today, the Liberal government is presenting its economic update.
    The Conservatives have a very clear demand. Will the Liberals commit to no wasteful spending and no new taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, what this side is committed to is being there for Canadians in their time of need, just as we were throughout the pandemic, where we supported nine million Canadians with the Canada emergency response benefit. We supported hundreds of thousands of Canadian businesses and organizations and ensured that we were there for them the whole time and—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I will have the minister start over. What I am getting from people way in the back is that they are having a hard time hearing because of some noises in the forefront. I will ask everyone to listen quietly, although I think everyone is quiet already so there is no need for more instruction.
    The hon. minister from the, top please.
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we are committed to being there for Canadians in their time of need. Whether that was through the pandemic, when we were there with income supports and business supports for both individuals and organizations that needed to get through those dark times, we were there; or whether it is for ensuring that we are there for families that are struggling with the high cost of living, be it through the Canada child benefit, the Canada dental benefit, the Canada housing benefit for low-income renters as well as affordable housing.
     We are going to continue to do that and we are not going to take lessons from the Conservatives, whose whole objective right now is to cut and cut important social services and supports for Canadians.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, a Scarborough—Agincourt constituent recently emailed me because he was distressed after reading about alleged illegal Chinese police stations in Scarborough and Markham. These alleged police stations or administrative centres are used to exert pressure on Chinese nationals located in Canada. How can we reassure Canadians who feel intimidated or coerced?
     Could the Minister of Public Safety provide an update on what actions are being taken?
    Mr. Speaker, protecting the public from the threat of foreign interference is precisely what Canadians have mandated our government to do. I want to assure her and all members of this chamber that the RCMP are actively investigating these alleged so-called Chinese police stations. I also want to assure members that any harassment, intimidation or coercion by a foreign power will be investigated and appropriate charges will be pressed independently by police.
    Finally, Canadians can rest assured that we will continue to make investments in our national security apparatus, which the Conservatives cut the last time, because we have—
    The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

Passports

    Mr. Speaker, 300,000 people live in northern B.C., yet there is not a single passport office. Residents are having to drive up to 17 hours to pick up their passports in Vancouver. One person had to spend $2,000 to fly all the way to Victoria to pick up his family's passports. It is not acceptable.
    The government has added passport pickup services at 13 locations across the country, yet nothing in our region. Therefore, my question for the minister is a simple one. When will the government finally add a passport office in northern B.C.?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the fact that over the summer we added 13 passport pickup locations across the country, including, for the very first time, in Canada's north, in Whitehorse in Yukon, which is really important.
     We are continuing to ensure that we are delivering passport services for Canadians in a timely manner. I can assure my colleague that we are looking across the country to make sure those services are available and accessible to all Canadians.

  (1510)  

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, an independent analysis of the Liberals' second carbon tax, the clean fuel standard, has found that it will actually increase net international greenhouse gas emissions. Canadians are struggling to make ends meet and are trying to heat their homes and put food on the table. Why does the government want to add $1,277 to annual household energy costs?
     What is being cleaned here are the pocketbooks of Canadians, without any environmental benefit. If the government insists on proceeding with this high-cost hypocrisy, will it at least delay the clean fuel standard by six months?
    Mr. Speaker, we are working on many fronts to reduce oil and gas emissions. We, of course, are going to be capping emissions from the oil and gas sector. We are going to be investing in carbon capture. Yes, we are going to be implementing a clean fuel standard. We are also going to be phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2023, two years ahead of schedule. We have already got a good start. We are phasing out eight.
    That is all the time we have for Oral Questions today.
    The hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski.
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, there have been discussions among the parties and, if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion: That, given that billionaire companies like Irving have been using captive insurance scams for almost 50 years; the CRA recently identified more than $76 billion in unpaid taxes in the Panama and paradise papers, including from Irving; out-of-control inflation is making it hard for Canadians to afford basic—
    I am going to interrupt. We have a whole side here who is saying that they were not consulted and will not be giving unanimous consent, so I am going to have to stop it there. I am sorry.

  (1515)  

[Translation]

Points of Order

Alleged Unparliamentary Language from a Member—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
     The Chair would like to address the point of order raised yesterday by the member for La Prairie concerning alleged unparliamentary language heard from the sidelines during Oral Questions yesterday.
    Since the alleged events, the Chair has confirmed what was said. The Chair is of the view that these were indeed disrespectful comments.

[English]

    Exchanges between members of the House are sometimes heated and intense, but the Chair expects everyone to conduct themselves in a dignified manner and to choose their words carefully.

[Translation]

    As I explained in my decision of March 29, 2022, found on page 3739 of the Debates, and I quote: “We are all here as elected representatives and each of us is entitled to respect. Personal inflammatory language has no place in our debates.”
    We have been duly elected to fulfill our mandate and represent our constituents. Our presence in this chamber is legitimate and appropriate.
    I thank the members for their attention.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act

    The House resumed from November 2 consideration of the motion that Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to make related amendments to the Food and Drugs Act and to repeal the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill S-5.

[Translation]

    Call in the members.

  (1525)  

[English]

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 210)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Allison
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arnold
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Baldinelli
Barrett
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Benzen
Bergen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney
Block
Blois
Boissonnault
Boulerice
Bradford
Bragdon
Brassard
Brière
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Cannings
Caputo
Carr
Carrie
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Chahal
Chambers
Champagne
Champoux
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cooper
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Dalton
Damoff
Dancho
Davidson
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desbiens
Desilets
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Doherty
Dong
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Epp
Erskine-Smith
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Fergus
Ferreri
Fillmore
Findlay
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Fry
Gaheer
Gallant
Garneau
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Généreux
Genuis
Gerretsen
Gill
Gladu
Goodridge
Gould
Gourde
Gray
Green
Hajdu
Hallan
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Hoback
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Kelly
Khalid
Khera
Kitchen
Kmiec
Koutrakis
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lake
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lantsman
Lapointe
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
Lawrence
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lightbound
Lloyd
Lobb
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKenzie
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Martel
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLean
McLeod
McPherson
Melillo
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Michaud
Miller
Moore
Morantz
Morrice
Morrison
Morrissey
Motz
Murray
Muys
Naqvi
Nater
Ng
Noormohamed
Normandin
O'Connell
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Poilievre
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rood
Ruff
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schiefke
Schmale
Seeback
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Shields
Shipley
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Small
Sorbara
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
St-Onge
Strahl
Stubbs
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thériault
Therrien
Thompson
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudeau
Trudel
Turnbull
Uppal
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Van Popta
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vecchio
Vidal
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Virani
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Weiler
Wilkinson
Williams
Williamson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zimmer
Zuberi

Total: -- 320


NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.
    Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

    (Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)


Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1530)  

[English]

Committees of the House

Veterans Affairs  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the first report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.

  (1540)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 211)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Allison
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arnold
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Baldinelli
Barrett
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Benzen
Bergen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney
Block
Blois
Boissonnault
Boulerice
Bradford
Bragdon
Brassard
Brière
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Cannings
Caputo
Carr
Carrie
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Chahal
Chambers
Champagne
Champoux
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cooper
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Dalton
Damoff
Dancho
Davidson
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desbiens
Desilets
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Doherty
Dong
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Epp
Erskine-Smith
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Fergus
Ferreri
Fillmore
Findlay
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Fry
Gaheer
Gallant
Garneau
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Généreux
Genuis
Gerretsen
Gill
Gladu
Goodridge
Gould
Gourde
Gray
Green
Hajdu
Hallan
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Hoback
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Kelly
Khalid
Khera
Kitchen
Kmiec
Koutrakis
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lake
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lantsman
Lapointe
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
Lawrence
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lightbound
Lloyd
Lobb
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKenzie
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Martel
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLean
McLeod
McPherson
Melillo
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Michaud
Miller
Moore
Morantz
Morrice
Morrison
Morrissey
Motz
Murray
Muys
Naqvi
Nater
Ng
Noormohamed
Normandin
O'Connell
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Poilievre
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rood
Ruff
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Shields
Shipley
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Small
Sorbara
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
St-Onge
Strahl
Stubbs
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thériault
Therrien
Thompson
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudeau
Trudel
Turnbull
Uppal
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Van Popta
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vecchio
Vidal
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Virani
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Weiler
Wilkinson
Williams
Williamson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zimmer
Zuberi

Total: -- 318


NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for your ruling on the point of order I raised yesterday regarding unparliamentary language uttered by the member for Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation.
    However, I had also asked for an apology from the member who made the unparliamentary comments. I would like to take this opportunity to ask him to withdraw his remarks and apologize to Parliament.
    Does the hon. member for Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation have anything to say? He has nothing to say.
    The hon. member for La Prairie.
    Mr. Speaker, we heard comments that were clearly unparliamentary. You agreed that his remarks were unparliamentary. If he were a gentleman, the member would stand up in the House and apologize for making those unparliamentary remarks.
    I cannot force him to do so.
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask the government the traditional Thursday question.
    We are all preparing to return to our ridings for this very important week, when most of our colleagues will be marking Remembrance Day to honour the veterans who have served our country, and especially to honour the memory of those who have given their lives for the freedom we enjoy in Canada today.
    We still have one day tomorrow, prior to that week, as well as the week following Veterans' Week. I would like to ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader to give us the details of the upcoming schedule.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, indeed, we will all be returning to our ridings next week to pay tribute to those who fought for our freedoms and the values we hold so dear in Canada.
    Before that, today we will be hearing the fall economic statement shortly. Tomorrow, the first order of business will be a vote on the ways and means motion regarding the fall economic statement. We will then return to second reading of Bill C-27, the digital charter act.
    When we come back after the break, our intention will be to immediately return to the fall economic update. We want to give the Conservatives as many opportunities as possible to speak to it so that hopefully we can vote on it in the fall and not the spring, which we did last year.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1545)  

[Translation]

Public Complaints and Review Commission Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-20, An Act establishing the Public Complaints and Review Commission and amending certain Acts and statutory instruments, be read a second time and referred to a committee.
     Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to debate Bill C‑20. We could call this take three, because the government has wanted to pass legislation for this matter for some years, but neither Bill C‑3, which was introduced in the 43rd Parliament, nor Bill C-98, which was introduced in the 42nd Parliament, were prioritized.
    Those two bills unfortunately died on the Order Paper. However, what is encouraging is that all parties seemed to agree. They supported the principle of these two bills, which is relatively the same as what we find today in Bill C‑20. All things come in threes, as they say. I hope the bill will pass this time.
    However, it is unfortunate that it was not made a priority earlier. It was more than 18 years ago that Justice O'Connor recommended the creation of an independent process to handle public complaints against the Canada Border Services Agency, or the CBSA. That decision was handed down in 2004, but it was not until 2022 that the government finally decided to act.
    As the Minister of Public Safety explained earlier, Bill C-20 seeks to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act to change the public complaints process.
     This bill would establish the public complaints and review commission, which would replace the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It would make it possible to investigate complaints concerning the conduct and level of service of RCMP and CBSA personnel and review specified activities of these two organizations.
    It is true that we currently have an independent oversight mechanism, but its mandate covers only matters affecting national security. It is therefore rather surprising that the CBSA is the only public safety agency in Canada that does not have a body that gives citizens recourse against an organization that can sometimes abuse its authority—
    I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but a lot of people in the House are talking. Do they not realize that there is a debate happening right now?
    I would ask them, out of respect for the person who is speaking, to continue their conversations in the lobby.
    The hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate that.
    I was saying that it is rather surprising that the CBSA is the only public safety agency in Canada that does not have a body that gives citizens recourse against an organization that can sometimes abuse its authority. That is unfortunate. My goal here is not to put CBSA officers on trial, but the fact is that, as in many organizations, sometimes abuse happens. The people who experience that abuse need a space to speak out against it and to have the results of the investigations reviewed if the results are unsatisfactory.
    At the same time, we all know that allowing an organization to investigate itself never produces great results. Therefore, it is very important to have an external oversight body. The fact that complaints are currently handled internally means that if a complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of an investigation, there is nowhere for them to turn to have those findings reviewed. This has been the case since the CBSA was created.
    Also, when complaints are dealt with internally, access to information requests must be made to obtain more details. We know what happens with access to information requests. As my colleague from Trois-Rivières said, the government is so transparent that we can see right through the pages it provides. He was referring to the 225 blank pages sent by Health Canada in response to an access to information request.
    I was talking about Justice O'Connor earlier, but the Privacy Commissioner of Canada also found major deficiencies in January 2020, particularly when it comes to searches of travellers' electronic devices.
    I am pleased that the government finally introduced Bill C‑20, and it can count on the Bloc Québécois's support for the bill to be studied quickly. I want to emphasize the importance of hearing from the different groups concerned, groups such as the Customs and Immigration Union, whose president has already expressed some reservations about the bill. Obviously we know that the CBSA is dealing with a major staff shortage. According to the president, this may contribute to causing delays and creating tension between officers and travellers.
    The government needs to ensure that customs officers have enough resources to do their job properly. There is no excuse for abuse, I just want that to be clear, but I also want to ensure that the border officers' union is involved in the process leading up to the passage of this bill.

  (1550)  

[English]

    Maybe members did not understand me when I spoke in French, so I will speak in English. There is quite a buzz of discussion in the House right now. I would ask members to please take their discussions to the lobbies out of respect for the member of Parliament recognized to speak at the moment.
    The hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia has the floor.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank you once again for your intervention. I really appreciate it.
    As I was saying, there is a serious labour shortage at the Canada Border Services Agency right now. I am sure everyone will agree that this is true pretty much everywhere. According to the union president, this could be contributing to some of the problems that exist at the moment. The president would like the new body that deals with complaints, the infamous commission we are talking about, to also deal with misconduct on the part of managers, not just employees. He noted that if a complaint points to a systemic problem in the organization, the commission should address that problem rather than directing everything to the one person with whom the traveller interacted. He also noted that CBSA staff are often forced to work mandatory overtime and sometimes deal with hundreds of people a day, which can also contribute to the tension.
    The bill amends the Canada Border Services Agency Act to provide for the investigation of serious accidents that involve not only employees but also CBSA officers. I think this is positive enough to address the concerns of Mr. Weber, the union president, about systemic problems that may exist within the agency.
    Bill C‑20 would also allow the new commission to recommend disciplinary processes or the imposition of disciplinary measures in relation to individuals who have been the subject of complaints. In my opinion, this is a clear step forward that can help restore the CBSA's image and public confidence in the agency. It also provides for the investigation of serious accidents involving officers and employees of the CBSA.
    One thing that seems particularly important to me is the opportunity to review the activities of the Canada Border Services Agency in general. The commission will be able to present its findings and make recommendations to which the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency must respond in writing. This commission will be made up of civilians, not former members of the CBSA or the RCMP, which will ensure that the commission's decisions are not tainted or biased.
     The bill also requires the RCMP commissioner and the president of the Canada Border Services Agency to submit an annual report to the Minister of Public Safety about what their organizations have done that year to implement the new review commission's recommendations. The minister must table the report in the House of Commons and the Senate within 15 days.
    The bill would also provide for an awareness campaign to inform travellers of their rights, which I think is great. I think that the best way to inform people of their rights is through this type of campaign. I applaud the fact that this is in the bill.
    It is important to implement a clear process because, unfortunately, there has been a lot of abuse in the past. However, the process also needs to be accessible and easy to use. Bill C‑20 proposes a process that seems a bit long and complicated. There is a good chance that most people would drop it before reaching the end of the process. Take for example an officer who makes a sexist or racist remark to a traveller. For most travellers, it might be more complicated to file a complaint with the Canada Border Services Agency, wait for a response and refer the complaint to the review board than to simply let it go.
    We will have to see in committee whether the approach set out in Bill C-20 is appropriate or whether changes need to be made. However, we agree that the process itself is necessary. In 2019, Mary Foster, from Solidarity Across Borders said, and I quote, “We have enough experience to know that making a complaint to the CBSA about the CBSA doesn't really lead anywhere”. Having the option of challenging the findings of an investigation is therefore essential to maintaining public trust.
    It is important to remember that the CBSA has a lot of power, including the power to detain Canadians, search them and even to deport people. In its legislative summary of the bill, the Library of Parliament mentions the case of Maher Arar, a dual Syrian Canadian citizen who was detained by American authorities in 2002 during a layover in New York as he was returning to Canada from a trip to Tunisia. They deported him, and he was then detained and even tortured in a Syrian prison for nearly a year.
    He was questioned by the FBI and the New York police without being allowed to contact a lawyer or even make a telephone call. That is what led Justice O'Connor, who I mentioned earlier, to propose the creation of a new civilian agency to oversee the activities of both the RCMP and the CBSA.

  (1555)  

    Some will say that it is a rather extreme case, but the number of investigations of misconduct by border officers increased significantly in 2020 despite the dramatic reduction in international travel due to the pandemic.
    A Radio-Canada article reported the following:
    The misconduct consisted mainly of preferential treatment...or lack of respect for clients, among other things.
    The Canada Border Services Agency says it conducted 215 "founded" investigations of its officers in 2020, compared to 171 in 2019....The 200-plus investigations pursued last year resulted in 170 officers being reprimanded, largely with temporary suspensions. Just eight officers have been fired since 2018.
    One officer [for example] was let go for interfering in the immigration process. The internal investigation found that the officer tried to help an immigration lawyer by illegally removing flags from a client's file and issuing a temporary residency permit.
    These are rather serious allegations.
    Other officers were dismissed for belittling clients, making inappropriate comments toward co-workers, abusing their authority or sharing private CBSA information.
    Complaints with allegations of harassment and sexual assault have also been filed. Again, these are rather serious complaints made to the CBSA. This shows once again the importance of having an independent and external oversight body for the CBSA.
    I spoke earlier about searching travellers' electronic devices. There have also been cases where some travellers have had their privacy invaded. Customs officials obviously have the right to search the content on digital devices, but they must put the devices in airplane mode.
    On this point, Commissioner Daniel Therrien said, “The agency and its customs officers did not follow acceptable practices for handling the personal information of Canadian citizens re-entering the country”. According to the commissioner, “Officials must provide written reasons for searching devices.” In one reported case, an officer shredded handwritten notes three days after the commissioner's investigator called. In another case, a customs officer allegedly photographed the contents of a digital device, which is prohibited, while another looked at a traveller's bank statements, after she was forced to open her banking institution's app.
    I could go on and on, but I think I am running out of time. I am pleased that the Minister of Public Safety heard me say that he will be able to count on the Bloc Québécois's support to move this bill forward. I look forward to studying it in parliamentary committee.
    The hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia will have seven minutes remaining when the House resumes debate on this matter.
    It being 4 p.m., pursuant to order made Friday, October 28, I now invite the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to make a statement.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1600)  

[English]

Ways and Means

Notice of Motion 

    Pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I would like to table, in both official languages, a notice of a ways and means motion to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 3, and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 83(2), I would ask that an order of the day be designated for the consideration of this motion.

Fall Economic Statement

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the fall economic statement 2022.

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, for the past several months, I have been travelling across Canada—to more than two dozen cities and towns—to meet with Canadian workers and Canadian businesses.
    I visited an auto parts manufacturer in Etobicoke, a potash mine outside Saskatoon, and the women and men in Sherbrooke who make the boots our armed forces wear around the world.

[English]

    I visited the port of Saint John in New Brunswick, and a family farm in Olds, Alberta, and in Dartmouth, Brampton and Calgary, I spent time with some of the truckers who keep our economy humming. The Canadians I spoke to were all so proud of our country. They were proud of the hard work they do every day to feed Canada and the world, build our cars, send our goods to global markets and raise their children, but they were also anxious about whether our future will be as prosperous as our past, and anxious about paying the bills today.
    That is where I want to start, with the high cost of living so many of us, along with so many Canadians, are concerned about.
    I know it has felt like just one thing after another since COVID first reached our shores. We turned the economy off, and then we turned it back on again. Vladimir Putin illegally invaded Ukraine, and now we are dealing with inflation. These are related, of course. Global inflation is not created by the decisions of any one government alone, but by the combined aftershocks of two and a half years of historic turmoil.

[Translation]

    Inflation was 6.9% in September, after falling for the third month in a row. That is lower than in the U.S., the U.K., and the eurozone.
    For Canadians feeling the pinch at the checkout counter, or when they fill their tanks with gas, it is still too high. This is a challenging time for so many of us—for our friends, for our families, for our neighbours.

[English]

    It is important, as both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, that I am honest with Canadians about the challenges that still lie ahead.
    Interest rates are rising as the Bank of Canada steps in to tackle inflation, and that means our economy is slowing down. It means there are people whose mortgage payments are rising. It means business is no longer booming in the same way it was since we left our homes after the COVID lockdowns and went back out into the world. That is the case in Canada. That is the case in the United States, and that is the case in economies, big and small, around the world.
    Canada cannot avoid the global slowdown any more than we could have avoided COVID once it had begun infecting the world, but we will be ready. Indeed, we are ready. That is because, for the past seven years, our government has been reinforcing Canada's social safety net. We have improved many important programs and added some new ones too.

  (1605)  

[Translation]

     These investments in Canadians are like a well-built house with a solid roof—needed in all seasons and in all weather, but most essential when the temperature drops.
    That is why, as fall turns to winter, we will continue to stand up to those who would cut the EI and the pensions Canadians have been contributing to for their entire working lives, and need today more than ever. It is why we created the Canada child benefit and why we are making child care more affordable. It is why we enhanced the benefits that those who served with our flag on their shoulder depend on. It is why we doubled the Canada student grant, to make it a little easier for all young people to go to college or university or to pursue an apprenticeship. It is why we enhanced the Canada workers benefit, and why we increased both old age security and the guaranteed income supplement.

[English]

    That is why it is so important that the Canada pension plan and our most important benefits are all indexed to inflation. In today's fall economic statement, that is why we are delivering on a plan that millions of Canadians voted for just over a year ago and why we are delivering new measures to enhance the social safety net that is there to support all Canadians.
    We are working to deliver lower credit card fees, so that small businesses do not have to choose between cutting into their already narrow margins and passing fees on to their customers. We are taxing share buybacks to make sure large corporations pay their fair share and to encourage them to reinvest their profits in Canadian workers and in Canada.
    We are delivering a multi-generational home renovation tax credit, which will help families across Canada afford to have a grandparent or a family member with a disability move back in if they want to. We are tackling housing speculation and making sure that homes are for Canadians to live in, not a frequently flipped investment asset.
    We are delivering on our commitment to make home ownership more affordable for young people and new Canadians with a new tax-free first home savings account that will make it so much easier to save for a down payment. We are also delivering with a doubling of the first-time homebuyers' tax credit, to help cover the closing costs that come with buying that first home of one's own.
    We are permanently eliminating interest on the federal portion of Canada student loans and Canada apprentice loans.
    We are working to make sure families do not need to choose between taking their child to the dentist and putting food on the table. We are creating a new quarterly Canada workers benefit to deliver advance payments and put more money, sooner, into the pockets of our lowest-paid and often most essential workers. This means the Canada workers benefit will now support 4.2 million Canadians.
    We are providing hundreds of dollars in new targeted support to low-income renters. For the Canadians who need it the most, we are doubling the GST credit for the next six months.
    I have some very good news about that. For the 11 million Canadian households who need help the most, those GST cheques will start arriving in bank accounts and mailboxes tomorrow.

  (1610)  

[Translation]

     We are providing targeted inflation relief, because that is the right thing to do.
    As the Bank of Canada fights inflation, we will not make its job harder. We are compassionate and we are also responsible.

[English]

    Canada has the lowest deficit and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. In our April budget, with inflation in Canada and around the world elevated and still rising, we knew we had to chart a fiscally responsible course, and we did. In April we committed to bringing the deficit down to just 2% of GDP this year. Today, we forecast it will be just 1.3% of our $2.8-trillion economy.
    We can bring the deficit down today because our pandemic spending worked. Thanks to the historic support we provided and thanks to the incredible resilience of Canadians, Canada is entering this time of a slowing global economy from a position of fundamental economic strength.
    There are 400,000 more Canadians working today than before the pandemic. Our economy is now 103% the size it was before COVID hit. So far this year, Canada's economic growth has been the strongest in the G7, stronger than in the United States, stronger than in the United Kingdom, stronger than in Germany, stronger than in France and stronger than in Italy or Japan.
    Thanks to that enviable economic performance, we are able to provide targeted support to the most vulnerable while still shrinking our deficit. In the months to come we will be able to invest in the Canadian economy and to be there for the Canadians who need it the most, because we were responsible in April and because we are keeping our powder dry today.
    Canadians are tough, and the Canadian economy is resilient. That is why we can all be confident we will get through this, just as we have gotten through so much over the past two and a half years. In fact, there is no country in the world better placed than Canada to get through the coming global slowdown.

  (1615)  

[Translation]

    When we do, with our fundamental economic strengths preserved, and the pandemic recession behind us, there is no country in the world better placed than Canada to thrive in a post-COVID global economy.
    We grow food to feed the world, and we mine the potash that farmers here and elsewhere need to grow their own. We have the critical minerals and metals that are essential for everything from cellphones to batteries to appliances to electric cars.
    We have the natural resources to power the global net-zero transition and to support our allies with their energy security as that transition continues to pick up speed.
    Critically, Canada is the democracy that has all of these resources in abundance.

[English]

    The global economy is at a turning point. We are entering an era of friend-shoring, a time when our democratic partners and their most important companies are seeking to shift their dependence from dictatorships to democracies. That is why the Prime Minister and Chancellor Scholz signed an agreement in Newfoundland for Germany to buy Canadian hydrogen. That is why the United States has moved from a buy America to a buy North America policy on critical minerals and electric vehicles.

[Translation]

     That is why our Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry has been signing agreements with global car manufacturers and battery makers—a new one almost every day, it seems to me.

[English]

    That is why our Minister of Natural Resources is pitching Canada's critical minerals to the world and working hard with provinces and territories to get them out of the ground and to global markets. The world knows that Canada can build the electric vehicles of today and tomorrow. Canadians can mine and process the critical minerals that those vehicles, our phones and our computers are all made of, and Canadian energy workers, the very best in the world, can make Canada the leading provider of energy as the global economy moves to net zero.
    Our allies are counting on us, and our government believes that this ongoing shift is the most significant opportunity for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses in a generation.

[Translation]

    Seizing this opportunity is what our April budget invested in, and it is what this fall economic statement invests in, too.
    With major investment tax credits for clean technology and clean hydrogen, we will make it more attractive for businesses to invest in Canada to produce the energy that will power a net-zero global economy.

[English]

    We are launching a new Canada growth fund that will help attract the billions of dollars in new private capital required to fight climate change and to create good jobs in Canada at the same time. From critical minerals to ports to energy, we will continue to make it easier for businesses to invest in major projects in Canada, projects with meaningful indigenous participation, projects that meet the highest environmental standards, projects that will create good jobs and projects that will allow Canadian workers to drive our economy forward.
    We will continue to invest in tackling the productivity challenge that is Canada's economic Achilles heel. We will continue to invest in making sure Canadians have the skills they need to get good-paying jobs, and we will continue to bring to Canada more of the skilled workers that our growing economy requires. However, we know these investments represent only a down payment on the work that lies ahead, so, in the months to come, we will continue to work hard to ensure that Canada is the best place in the world for businesses to invest and create good-paying jobs from coast to coast to coast.
    Now, the investments we are making today and the ones we will continue to make will be crucial to the future of the Canadian economy. They will help make Canada a leader in the industries of tomorrow, and they will help to build an economy that is more sustainable and more prosperous for generations to come. However, what matters most is what these investments mean for Canadians. For energy workers in Alberta, investments in clean energy mean there will continue to be good-paying jobs for them and their children. For a young couple in Vancouver, more workers in the building trades mean more affordable homes for their new family. For auto workers in Windsor, Canadian leadership on electric vehicles means they will build the next generation of cars that have powered our economy for more than a century.
    Canadian workers know how important our social safety net is, and that is why our government will never deplete the contributions that keep Canada's employment insurance and pensions strong.

  (1620)  

[Translation]

    Canadians know how important training is to equip them for valuable, good-paying jobs, so we are investing in that, too.
    Canadian workers also know that the single most important thing—the difference between managing to pay their mortgage and fearing they could lose their home; the difference between paying the bills at the end of the month and falling behind—is a well-paid, stable job, doing work they are proud of with people who respect them and their skills.
    That is why our overriding economic objective during COVID was to preserve Canadians' jobs, and that is why today, what Canadian workers need is a government with a real, robust industrial policy, a government committed to investing in the net-zero transition, to bringing in new private investment, and to helping create good-paying jobs from coast to coast to coast. That is what we have been doing, and that is what we are continuing to do today.

[English]

    In 1903, Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier stood in this House and said:
    No, this is not a time for deliberation, this is a time for action.... We cannot wait because time does not wait; we cannot wait, because in these days of wonderful development, time lost is doubly lost; we cannot wait, because at this moment there is a transformation going on in the conditions of our national life which it would a be folly to ignore and a crime to overlook;...
    He was speaking then about the transcontinental railway, one that connected Canada and the Canadian economy from east to west, and which helped usher in a new era of prosperity for the people of our growing country. That project, like Laurier himself, was imperfect. The prosperity and opportunity it brought were not shared equally with indigenous peoples, with women, with new Canadians, but his message then is one we should heed today, that we must heed today.
    At the turn of the last century, Laurier and a generation of Canadian statesmen understood that Canada was at a turning point and that we could seize it or risk being swept aside by the manifest destiny of more ambitious leaders. Today, we are likewise at a pivotal moment.
     The global green transition calls for an industrial transformation comparable in scale only to the Industrial Revolution itself, and Canada is blessed with the talented people, the natural resources and the manufacturing base needed to drive that transformation. At the same time, Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine has upended geopolitics, reinforcing for our allies the value of turning to each other, to us, for the critical elements of their supply chains and for their energy security.
     Together, these two great shifts represent a generational opportunity to build a thriving and sustainable Canadian economy. We can lead the world in a way that far exceeds our footprint as a country of just 39 million people.

  (1625)  

[Translation]

     We can lead the fight against climate change, and we can do it in a way that creates good jobs and new businesses for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We can build affordable homes and deliver affordable child care, helping our economy grow and making life more affordable for middle-class Canadian families. We can ensure that everyone in this country can enjoy the prosperity we are investing in together.
    That is the future that we can create for ourselves and for our children. However, we cannot wait, because time truly does not wait. We cannot wait, because in these days of wonderful development, time lost is doubly lost.
    I know that times feel tough right now, and they are, but we have a well-built house with a solid roof, and we have survived far colder winters before. Just as fall turns to winter, so, too, does winter turn to spring.

[English]

    There are warmer days ahead. We will reach them together by building a country where everyone can earn a good living for a hard day's work, by building an economy that works for everyone, by investing in the Canada we are all so proud of today so that we can be even prouder of our amazing country tomorrow because, of all the countries in the world, the 21st century will surely belong to Canada.

  (1630)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's policies have caused 40-year highs in inflation, leading to massive interest rate hikes on Canadians, which will cost Canadian families $3,000 a year.
    Today the Prime Minister had a chance to give Canadians some relief by cancelling the carbon tax on home heating, but he refused. The Liberals refused despite the fact that home heating bills will increase by 50% to 100% this winter. They refused despite billions in new tax revenue on the growling stomachs of Canadians.
    Will the Prime Minister stop punishing Canadians and cancel the plan to triple, triple, triple the carbon tax on home heating?
    Mr. Speaker, we absolutely understand that times are tough for so many Canadians today. That is why I was so glad to share some great news, which is that the GST credit will start arriving in the bank accounts and in the mailboxes of 11 million Canadian households tomorrow. That is much-needed support. It is going to provide such valuable inflation relief to the Canadians who need it the most.
    That is not all. We are moving forward with $500 to support Canadians who are struggling to pay their rent. Again, it is much-needed support for the people who need it the most.
    That is not all. We are moving forward to ensure that never again in Canada will a mother have to choose between buying groceries and taking her kid to the dentist. That is not right in Canada, and we are going to change that.
    There is a lot more we are going to do and we will talk about it in a minute.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her speech.
    Her speech sounded nice enough, but take a look at the concrete measures in the economic statement and try to see what is new compared to last spring's budget. It is disappointing. The minister just gave two examples of measures that were adopted before this statement was presented.
    What I liked about her speech is that she recognized that there is an inflationary crisis at the moment, and she acknowledged the risk of an imminent recession. However, I find it unfortunate that there are no new concrete measures that would show Canadians how this crisis will be dealt with, how they will be helped and supported.
    For example, we know the employment insurance system is not working. It is broken. Now is the time to fix it, before the country goes into recession. However, that was not announced in the speech.
    As prices go up, we worry about seniors, especially those from 65 to 75 years of age whose payments did not go up. There are no new measures for these people, who can no longer make ends meet and whose incomes are really limited, nor are there any fiscal measures that would give them an incentive to work if they want to work a few days a week. I think that would have been easy to do, and we expected to see something like that here.
    My last comment is about health care. We know that health care systems in all the provinces and Quebec are underfunded and in crisis. There are problems. Provincial health ministers will be meeting with the government in a few days. What will they talk about? We expected the government to solve the problem by transferring the $28 billion and committing to increasing health transfers by 6% per year. With the ministers' meeting just days away, there is no money on the table. What is going on?
    If the government knows there are problems, why did it announce so few measures—really, hardly any new measures—in this statement?