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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-05-25 11:05 [p.2319]
moved:
That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House:
(a) following the adoption of this order, the House shall adjourn until Wednesday, June 17, 2020, provided that, for the purposes of any standing order, it shall be deemed adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28;
(b) during the period the House stands adjourned pursuant to this order, a minister of the Crown may transmit to the Speaker a message from Her Excellency the Governor General recommending Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, provided that
(i) the said message may be transmitted electronically,
(ii) the Speaker shall inform the House of the receipt of such message and the tabling of the estimates based thereon by causing them to be published in the Journals, and the said estimates shall be for all purposes deemed tabled before the House,
(iii) the votes therein shall be referred to a committee of the whole;
(c) on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the House shall meet at the conclusion of the proceedings of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic for the sole purpose of considering the business of supply, provided that
(i) notices may be filed with the clerk no later than 6:00 p.m. on Monday, June 15, 2020, and shall be printed in the Order Paper and Notice Paper to be published for that sitting,
(ii) the application of Standing Orders 15, 17, 36(8)(b), 39(5)(b) and 56.1 be suspended for the sitting,
(iii) the sitting shall not be considered as a sitting day for the purposes of Standing Orders 34(1), 37(3), 51(1) and 110 and subsection 28(12) of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons,
(iv) consideration of all votes in the Supplementary Estimates (A) shall be taken up by a committee of the whole at the opening of the sitting for a period not exceeding four hours, during which time no quorum calls or dilatory motions shall be received by the Chair, no member shall be recognized for more than 15 minutes at a time and the member shall not speak in debate for more than 10 minutes during that period, the 15 minutes may be used both for debate and for posing questions to a minister of the Crown or a parliamentary secretary acting on behalf of a minister, when the member is recognized, he or she shall indicate how the 15 minutes is to be apportioned and, at the conclusion of the time provided for the consideration of the business pursuant to this subparagraph, the committee shall rise and report the votes in the estimates to the House,
(v) when the committee of the whole rises, all questions necessary to dispose of the business of supply shall be put forthwith and successively, without debate or amendment, and, if a recorded division is requested, it shall not be deferred;
(d) at the conclusion of the consideration of the business of supply on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the House shall adjourn until Wednesday, July 8, 2020, provided that
(i) on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, the House shall meet at noon and the House shall resolve itself into a committee of the whole to allow members to question ministers for a period not exceeding 95 minutes on matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters provided that the rotation used for questions pursuant to this subparagraph be the one used by the Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesdays and Thursdays prior to the adoption of this order and, during the proceedings of the committee,
(A) the Speaker may preside,
(B) the Chair may preside from the Speaker’s chair,
(C) the Chair shall call members from all recognized parties and one member who does not belong to a recognized party in a fashion consistent with the proportions observed during Oral Questions,
(D) no member shall be recognized for more than five minutes at a time which may be used for posing questions to a minister of the Crown,
(E) members may be permitted to split their time with one or more members by so indicating to the Chair,
(F) members may participate in the proceedings either in person or by videoconference,
(ii) following the questioning of ministers, the committee shall consider a motion “That the House take note of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken by the government to respond to it” which shall be conducted pursuant to the terms of Standing Order 53.1 except that proceedings pursuant to this subparagraph shall last not longer than 2 hours and 20 minutes and members may participate in the proceedings either in person or by videoconference, when the committee rises, the motion shall be deemed withdrawn and the House shall adjourn until the next sitting day provided for in subparagraph (iii),
(iii) on Wednesday, July 22, August 12 and August 26, 2020, the House shall meet in the manner described in subparagraphs (i) and (ii), provided that, when the House adjourns on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 21, 2020,
(iv) notices may be filed with the clerk no later than 6:00 p.m. on the Monday preceding the sittings provided for in subparagraphs (i) and (iii), and shall be printed in the Order Paper and Notice Paper to be published for that sitting,
(v) the application of Standing Orders 15, 17, 36(8)(b), 39(5)(b) and 56.1 be suspended for the sittings provided for in subparagraphs (i) and (iii)
(vi) the days on which the House sits pursuant to this paragraph shall not be counted as sittings for the purposes of Standing Orders 34(1), 37(3), 51(1) and 110 and subsection 28(12) of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons,
(vii) during any period the House stands adjourned between Wednesday, June 17, 2020, and Monday, September 21, 2020, if the Speaker receives a notice from the House leaders of all four recognized parties indicating that it is in the public interest that the House remain adjourned until a future date or until future notice is given to the Speaker, the House will remain adjourned accordingly,
(viii) during any period the House stands adjourned between Wednesday, June 17, 2020, and Monday, September 21, 2020, for the purposes of any standing order, it shall be deemed adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28;
(e) until Monday, September 21, 2020, the Standing Committee on Health, the Standing Committee on Finance, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, and the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans may hold meetings related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters, provided that,
(i) committee members shall attend and witnesses shall participate in meetings via either videoconference or teleconference,
(ii) committee members attending by videoconference or teleconference shall be counted for the purposes of quorum,
(iii) all motions shall be decided by a recorded vote,
(iv) notwithstanding any deadlines established by a committee, any request or any order for the production of documents be responded to when possible, given the constraints that exist as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
(v) public proceedings shall be made available to the public via the House of Commons website,
(vi) in camera proceedings may be conducted, for the purpose of considering draft reports or the selection of witnesses, in a manner that takes into account the potential risks to confidentiality inherent in meetings with remote participants,
(vii) notices of membership substitutions pursuant to Standing Order 114(2) may be filed with the clerk of each committee by email,
(viii) in relation to their study of matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, these committees may each receive evidence which may otherwise exceed the committee’s mandate under Standing Order 108,
(ix) these committees shall meet within 48 hours of the receipt by email, by the clerk of the committee, of a request signed by any four members of the committee;
(f) the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be instructed to review and make recommendations on how to modify the Standing Orders for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic as part of an incremental approach beginning with hybrid sittings of the House as outlined by the report provided to the committee by the Speaker on Monday, May 11, 2020, including how to enact remote voting, provided that (i) the provisions applying to committees enumerated in paragraph (e) shall also apply to the committee, (ii) the committee be instructed to present a report no later than Tuesday, June 23, 2020, (iii) any report which is adopted pursuant to this paragraph may be submitted electronically at any time with the Clerk of the House, and shall be deemed to have been duly presented to the House on that date, (iv) following the presentation of any report pursuant to this paragraph, the House leaders of all four recognized parties may indicate to the Speaker that there is an agreement among the parties to implement one or several of the recommendations of the committee and the Speaker shall give effect to that agreement;
(g) the following provisions remain in effect until Friday, June 19, 2020:
(i) paragraphs (m) to (o) of the order adopted on Friday, March 13, 2020,
(ii) paragraphs (i), (j) and (m) of the order adopted on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, provided that in paragraph (i), the words “until April 20, 2020, or any date to which the adjournment period is extended pursuant to paragraph (f)” shall be deemed to refer to June 19, 2020,
(iii) paragraph (k) of the order adopted on Saturday, April 11, 2020,
(iv) paragraphs (g), (i) and (j) of the order adopted on Monday, April 20, 2020, provided that, in paragraph (j), the reference to paragraph (l) of the order adopted on Saturday, April 11, 2020 be deemed to refer to paragraph (e) of this order,
(h) the Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic, composed of all members of the House, be continued provided that the committee meet for the purposes of
(i) considering ministerial announcements,
(ii) allowing members to present petitions,
(iii) allowing members to make statements,
(iv) questioning ministers of the Crown, including the Prime Minister, in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters, and provided that
(v) during the period the House stands adjourned pursuant to this order at noon every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, provided that the committee shall not meet on a day referred to in Standing Order 28(1),
(vi) the committee shall meet in the chamber and members may participate either in person or by videoconference,
(vii) the Speaker shall continue to be the chair of the committee,
(viii) seven members shall constitute a quorum,
(ix) ministerial announcements shall be considered at the opening of the meeting and the proceedings shall be conducted in the same manner as Statements by Ministers under Standing Order 33(1), provided that a member of the Green Party also be permitted to reply to the statement,
(x) after any ministerial announcements, any member desiring to present a petition may do so during a period not exceeding 15 minutes, provided that the provisions of Standing Order 36 shall apply, except for Standing Order 36(5), and any petition presented shall be deemed for all purposes to have been presented to the House,
(xi) after the presentation of petitions, members may make statements in a manner similar to those made pursuant to Standing Order 31 for a period not exceeding 15 minutes,
(xii) after members’ statements, proceedings on questioning ministers shall be conducted, for not more than 95 minutes, in the same manner as provided for in paragraph (d) of the order adopted on Monday, April 20, 2020, provided that the rotation used for questions pursuant to this subparagraph be the one used by the committee on Tuesdays and Thursdays prior to the adoption of this order and that questions shall be answered by ministers,
(xiii) upon the conclusion of proceedings on questioning ministers the committee shall adjourn to the next day provided for in subparagraph (v),
(xiv) if the Speaker receives a notice from the House leaders of all four recognized parties indicating that it is in the public interest that the committee remain adjourned until a future date or until future notice is given to the Speaker, the committee will remain adjourned accordingly,
(xv) meetings of the committee shall continue to be televised, following the usual practices observed for sittings of the House,
(xvi) any document may be presented by a minister of the Crown, or a parliamentary secretary acting on behalf of a minister, at any time during a meeting of the committee and shall be deemed for all purposes to have been presented to or laid before the House,
(xvii) the committee shall have the power to sit while the House stands adjourned and to print, from day to day, such papers and evidence as may be ordered by them,
(xviii) the committee shall cease to exist upon its adjournment on Thursday, June 18, 2020;
(i) until Monday, September 21, 2020, documents deposited pursuant to Standing Order 32(1) shall be deposited with the Clerk of the House electronically.
He said: Mr. Speaker, we are gathered here today at a time of great uncertainty and anxiety. We live in a world that is gripped by the greatest public health care crisis of our lifetime. Canadians are worried about their own health and the health of the people they love. They are anxious about the economic fallout from this crisis, whether they will keep their jobs and what will happen to them if they should lose their jobs. Quite simply, Canadians are worried about how they will pay the bills and feed their families in the months ahead.
It is a spring that we will never forget, a season in which COVID-19 completely changed our lives. Canadians acted responsibly. They listened to the advice of our public health experts. They stayed home as much as possible. They learned the importance of physical distancing to protect themselves, as well as their families, relatives, friends and community. In other words, Canadians did what they needed to do and continue to do so. As they grapple with the unknown aspects of this pandemic and all of its effects, they are asking us, as parliamentarians, to also do what we need to do.
As parliamentarians, this spring, we had to adapt our practices. Both the government and the opposition parties had to adapt to everything that is happening. We have a role to play, and I think that we played that role together. Despite all of the challenges associated with these unprecedented times, I believe that we proved to our voters that we can find ways to adapt, to give voice to their concerns, worries, questions and needs and to take action.
Our government has been transparent about everything we have done. We have taken responsibility for our decisions. It might not have been perfect, but the government and the opposition parties have done some good work together. As a member of the House of Commons, I can say that we have done and are continuing to do our job. We can and we must keep doing our job on behalf of all Canadians.
Our government firmly believes in this institution's central and fundamental role and in the fundamental role of democracy in our society. That is why the motion we are moving today is reasonable, ensures accountability and transparency, and follows public health guidelines. This motion strikes a good balance. Finding that balance is essential, especially at a time when Canadians are turning toward us with the expectation that their government and their elected representatives provide non-partisan, constructive, accountable leadership. That is exactly what our government is committed to doing.
For many weeks, we have been working day and night to respond to the concerns of Canadians who have been impacted by this pandemic. We have worked closely with our public health officials to develop and put into action the many responses needed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
We have worked hand in hand with provinces, territories and municipalities as they battle the virus on the front lines of their communities. We have worked with the opposition parties and our colleagues from everywhere in this country, and we have come forward with economic and financial assistance measures that are unprecedented in this country's history. Simply put, we recognized that Canadian employees and businesses were in jeopardy. They needed the government to provide help quickly, and that is exactly what we have done. That is exactly what we have delivered.
We chose to stand by Canadians in their time of need. That meant support for Canadians who are not working because of COVID-19, for students who cannot find jobs and for seniors who are concerned about the impact of the crisis on their fixed incomes. It also meant support for employers who want to retain their employees, as the economic shutdown has created great uncertainty. It meant support for businesses to help them through the unsteady waters of this storm so they can emerge into a brighter economy.
These are the actions of a government that cares deeply about its citizens. The Prime Minister has shown strong leadership throughout this crisis. He has never forgotten our top priority, which is to look after the people of this country, in every region and every province.
It was crucial, and it remains crucial, that we be there for every Canadian. My government colleagues and I have been working very hard to come up with the answers Canadians need as this pandemic changes their lives. We have often reached out to the opposition parties and have been working closely with them. Often, they have even improved upon the solutions proposed by the government, and I thank them for that.
In hundreds of ridings across the country, members from all parties and political stripes continue to do their jobs, despite the limitations of physical distancing. One only has to look at all the questions members have to answer regarding the various programs. There are many programs, because our main priority was to help Canadians and businesses and not leave anyone behind. It has presented a challenge for all members, but they have risen to it brilliantly. Fundamentally, regardless of their political stripes, members from across the country work here, but they also work in their constituencies.
I want to take a second to express my sincere gratitude to the public servants who have done amazing work day and night, seven days a week, so the government can provide these programs and services to the people. I thank them for their dedication and their hard work. None of this would have been possible without them.
Ever since March 13, the House of Commons has, for the most part, not held the normal sittings we were used to pre-crisis. We were not here for the usual five days a week. The 338 men and women from across the country who are usually here were not. Unfortunately, because of that, some people said Parliament was shut down. That is completely false. It could not be further from the truth. The truth is that parliamentarians have been doing their work this whole time. Members on both sides of the House have been doing their work, and they are doing it well.
In these extraordinary times of physical distancing, the House has now met six days since the middle of March to discuss the priorities of the country, and that has included time to debate and pass important legislation to quickly provide financial assistance to Canadians who need it. Also during this period, dozens of members on eight standing committees have been holding public hearings virtually. They have called cabinet ministers to testify at their hearings to explain and justify their decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The numbers tell the story. Since mid-March, those committees have held 74 meetings and heard from 580 witnesses. There have been 23 appearances by ministers to answer questions. Clearly our committees are working hard, and I thank them. I thank all MPs on those committees for the work they are doing for Parliament and all Canadians.
Of course, we have seen the unprecedented work of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic, which has met 11 times. All MPs are members of this committee, whatever region they come from. It has been a success. It is not perfect, but it has been a success.
The committee has made history by holding virtual meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays that have seen participation by hundreds of members through video conferences. In seven of those meetings, ministers had to answer many questions. There have also been four in-person meetings of the committee on the floor of this chamber, on Wednesdays, and many questions were asked and answered.
Again, the numbers tell the story. In a typical week, when the House sits five days, members ask 190 questions in 45 minutes. Recently, when the special committee met Tuesday through Thursday, there were, on average, more than 300 questions asked over three days. We can see that the committee has been a very good place for accountability, with hundreds of questions. The motion we have put forward proposes to continue the work of this committee and strengthen the work of the House.
I will go over a few elements of this motion.
The Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic would meet more often. We would be here four days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in a hybrid format. It is a genius solution that would allow several MPs who are unable to be here to participate in the democratic process and be a part of it. They could participate via video conference and ask the government all questions they want.
This guarantees that all MPs can participate regardless of where they live and without the restrictions associated with travelling and having to quarantine. During these meetings, MPs will have a host of opportunities to ask their questions. In fact, out of the four days that we are proposing, there will be the equivalent of eight question periods. I do not know why anyone would be against that.
We are talking about eight question periods instead of five, which means more time to ask questions. This motion would provide more hours for that than if the House were having normal sittings, to allow MPs to ask all the questions they want. It adds up to more than six hours of questions, when in a regular week we would have just about 3.75 hours of questions.
This hybrid model, therefore, allows much more time for question period, for those who want to participate here in the House and also for our Conservative colleagues from the west and our Bloc and NDP colleagues from across Canada. This is a tremendous expression of democracy that will enable parliamentarians from all corners of the country to ask questions because they were elected, not just because they live near Ottawa. That is fundamental.
Furthermore, this motion would have the House hold summer sittings so that members could question ministers about all issues, as well as the possibility of debating the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, when we come back here this summer, we will obviously be open to answering any and all questions about the pandemic, but we will also debate other issues and answer other questions that are important to the opposition parties.
We are going to continue the virtual committee meetings with committees that will be free to study any topic in accordance with their normal powers. The committees will get to conduct their business as they see fit, to do their job of examining important policy matters and any other matters that the committee members consider to be important and necessary to debate. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs would study potential changes that could be made to the rules of the House to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as hybrid House sittings and electronic voting. This study would build on the critical work that the committee accomplished this spring on the subject of a virtual Parliament.
We believe that this motion strikes the right balance between ensuring that MPs can hold the government to account and protecting the health and safety of everyone during this pandemic. I would ask my colleagues, all members, to consider the many merits of this motion and support it.
Canadians are watching us and want us to work for them. I pledge to work in collaboration with all my colleagues in the House. Once again, I am reaching out to them.
We will all face this challenge together, and we will all get through this together.
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View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-05-13 16:16 [p.2295]
Mr. Speaker, before I speak to the bill, I have sad news to announce to the House.
During National Nursing Week in London, my hometown and a town that I represent, Brian Beattie, a registered nurse who worked in a retirement village, died of COVID-19. He was the first registered nurse in Ontario to die of COVID-19. Brian is remembered as a dedicated nurse who loved his job and considered the residents in his care like his other family. My thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Brian's family and friends.
I want to sincerely thank front-line health care workers, who literally put their lives on the line to take care of others and take care of our families.
It is often hard to switch gears in these circumstances, but today I am pleased to speak to Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Dairy Commission Act. The New Democrats are relieved to see this legislation finally come forward and are happy to support it.
I want to acknowledge the great work done by my colleague, the MP for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, the NDP's agricultural critic. He could not be here today, as he lives fairly far away, but his work on behalf of farmers across the country is greatly appreciated, despite his absence.
The New Democrats believe that increasing the buyback limit that dairy processors have with the Canadian Dairy Commission from $300 million to $500 million, allowing this Crown corporation to purchase more surplus butter and cheese and helping processors with cash flow issues until the market stabilizes again will provide some help to dairy farmers and processors so they can weather the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions are ones we have pushed for. We know they will start to help the sector at this unprecedented time of need.
Because of the losses in liquid milk sales to restaurants and other retail sectors due to COVID-19 shutdowns in the sector, producers and processors need assistance. Of course, this help is late. I have heard from a lot of farming families in the area that surrounds my riding who have been worried for months. The uncertainty and stress caused by this pandemic have had a detrimental impact on everyone, especially farmers, so I am glad that we are here today to support this plan.
Before I get into truly addressing some details regarding this legislation and the supports that are much needed for our agricultural sector and dairy sector, I will speak to some of the key issues that women working in the agricultural sector sometimes face, issues that have been long-standing but exacerbated by this pandemic.
According to the United Nations, “With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, even the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back.” The Canadian Human Rights Commission has echoed this statement, saying, “These disproportionate impacts could have long-term and far reaching consequences.” As the Canadian Women's Foundation notes, “The pandemic circumstances intensify inequalities related to gender, and other factors, such as economic status, race, culture, language, and other intersecting elements of our identities.”
The lack of access to services is felt by women nationwide, but rural women or women living in smaller towns are especially hit hard by the issue of the provision of services, simply because of their location or gender. Rural women have to travel long distances to get the help they need. We know women have felt the impact of this pandemic at disproportionate rates, and when they work in the agricultural sector, they often live in rural and remote areas. Their access to services is therefore dramatically reduced.
This is why the announcement last week that Greyhound is suspending its bus service operations has raised many flags with women's organizations, as the ridership of these services is 60% women and Greyhound is used by many trying to get to work. I will continue to call on the government to help people in my riding of London—Fanshawe and others across southwestern Ontario who rely on the inner-city bus industry. Travel, of course, is a necessity of life in rural Canada, and every community in Canada should be able to count on reliable transit to connect people to their jobs, health care services, schools and family members.
Connectivity in person during this time is obviously limited, which for so many has put a great deal of emphasis on virtual connectivity. Again, this pandemic has exacerbated many of the failures within our infrastructure for farmers and people living in rural and remote areas across this country. There are issues that consecutive governments have ignored for far too long.
Women, and in particular women living in rural Canada, too often feel isolated, and this is compounded by their inability to access or afford a stable Internet connection or cellphone service. It is so important to physically distance right now, but social isolation must be avoided. I have heard from so many women who say they miss their families and their grandkids, the hugs and support they provide.
In particular, I want to address the needs of women who need access to supports from government programs for mental health support and domestic violence hotlines. Those are just some examples. If they do not have that connectivity to online supports, they are left in further, more devastating isolation.
The New Democrats' vision of Canada is one of equality, balance and fairness, a country where women's organizations have stable funding so that women can access the support and advocacy they need, and where women have the tools that they need to access those services in their communities, whether urban, suburban, rural or remote.
Shelters across Canada have faced large expenses trying to adapt themselves to meet public health physical distancing requirements and to alter programs to deal with the new reality of a COVID-impacted world. However, without the necessary core funding that many shelters and organizations need, these supports cannot exist. Core funding has not been provided by the federal government for too many years, and these organizations cannot use the project-based funding to deal with this crisis situation. Too many fundraising events have been cancelled due to COVID, so another source of income for community-based support services that women need has been cut.
This, of course, is a serious financial crisis for the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. This crisis began long before COVID-19, and if things do not change it is one that will continue well past this pandemic.
I want to specifically highlight some of the stresses that are put on rural women and women who work in Canada's agricultural industry. Women are leaders in this sector, but I do not believe the government has done a good enough job of closing the pay equity gap and ensuring that women have access to affordable child care and to education. I know that although the number of women is slowly growing in the agricultural sector, many barriers still exist. A significant barrier to most people farming, especially to women, is the large costs associated: the cost of farmland, the cost of equipment, the labour challenges. This pandemic, again, has only exacerbated the difficulties that farmers in the dairy industry face.
Before I became an MP, I was a parliamentary staffer and had the great honour of working with the past international trade critic, Tracey Ramsey. Because of this incredible work, I was able to meet and work with amazing people in our agricultural sector, including in the dairy sector. Many people know that in the renegotiated NAFTA, Canada threw our dairy farmers under the bus to appease the U.S. The U.S. has now gained 3.59% access to our dairy market on top of the concessions that were in the other two Conservative-negotiated, Liberal-signed trade deals, the CPTPP and CETA, that bring the total loss to 8.4% of market share. That translates into 800 million litres of milk that will be permanently removed from our farms. I cannot imagine any other sector from which any government would dare cut almost 10% of our market share.
These are hard-working families across the country who take so much pride in producing top-quality milk for our communities. I do not know how much more dairy farmers can bear. Once again, I come to the point that because of decisions by consecutive Conservative and Liberal governments that have hurt our supply-managed dairy industry, this sector has been weakened. It is less resilient from the effects of this pandemic. Like so many other systems that I mentioned before that women, farmers and all Canadians rely upon, we need to reinforce social programs and these market protections, which protect people and protect Canadians.
Canadian farmers have benefited from the supply-managed system since the early 1970s. The system sets the prices and creates stability for dairy, egg and poultry producers. Supply management has proven to be an effective model that equalizes the benefits of dairy production across consumers, farmers and processors, and it stabilizes the industry against price shocks or over supply. During the negotiations of CUSMA, the Liberal government, every day, repeated its rhetoric that it would preserve and protect our supply-managed sectors, but protecting it meant not allowing pieces of it to be negotiated away.
There are three pillars of supply management: import control, pricing mechanisms, and production. In production, we have the quota system in Canada. We make sure that we are only making as much as the market demands. What is being thrown away in every single trade agreement signed by the current government is the pillar of import control.
Another key concern in allowing American milk into the Canadian market is that this product contains bovine growth hormone, created by Monsanto and used by American dairy farmers to increase milk production. There are no studies on the effect of this hormone on human health. I am so relieved when I buy milk and I see the little blue cow on the package, knowing that I am supporting Canadian dairy farmers and knowing that my milk is healthy and safe. I know what is in it, and therein lies the extraordinary value of our dairy sector and why we need to fight to protect it.
To add even more insult to injury, after selling out our dairy farmers in CUSMA, the government still has not provided the financial compensation it promised to support those same farmers. Ironically, this would not be necessary if the Liberals had actually protected supply management like they said they would, and we would not have had a surplus of American milk flooding Canadian borders, leading to the current Canadian supply glut, necessitating the recent dumping of 30 million litres of liquid milk.
Also causing harm to dairy farmers is the Canada Day start for the new NAFTA, which is only a few more weeks away, when those market concessions will hit our sector hard. This is another reason it was so vital that the NDP and my colleague, the MP for Elmwood—Transcona, negotiated with this government on future trade deals being negotiated in a far more consultative and transparent way. We pushed for Parliament to be able, for the first time ever, to view future trade deals in advance of ratification, instead of merely voting yea or nay after the deal is done. That is needed to preserve our food sovereignty and systems like supply management. It is to protect our farmers for future generations and to ensure that should we have these crises or emergencies in the future, we would be able and stable enough to withstand it.
Overall, the other measures announced for farmers by this government are not enough to offset the losses Canadian farmers collectively have suffered, nor will they ensure a strong food security system for Canadians. No one in Canada should be worried about where their next meal will come from. Canada's national food policy needs to improve food security by linking producers to the communities worried about having enough affordable food.
I live in an incredible area rich in agricultural land. However, farmers are facing significant challenges in southwestern Ontario. As the farm belt gears up for the growing season, the landscape has been radically changed by the COVID-19 virus and the lockdowns and security precautions that it has brought. The closure of the food service industries, with dine-in restaurant doors shut, has forced food producers and processors to adjust to a high demand for retail and direct-to-consumer products. The processing of food is incredibly different for home consumption than from food service, which is causing some significant challenges in our system. Again, although they have been delayed, I am glad we are passing these supports today.
With businesses and restaurants closed during the pandemic, the government has finally accepted the NDP's call for the government to buy surplus food to support food producers and help local organizations enhance food security for people in our communities. Canada is a privileged country because of its agricultural diversity, but it still faces many challenges concerning food. In 1976, Canada signed onto the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which includes a right to food. Yet, more than 40 years later, too many Canadians are still having difficulty putting food on their tables. It is well past time for the federal government to live up to its obligations and ensure access to safe, affordable and healthy food.
Farmers have been waiting for weeks for this emergency support, and while New Democrats welcome the bill in front us today that would increase the Dairy Commission's credit line, this should have been done weeks ago, and there is still a great amount to do. Instead of investing more to help our agricultural producers during this crisis, the government again has let farmers fall through the cracks. So many are not eligible for support programs. After everything this government has done to dairy farmers, this is the least it can do to support them during this pandemic. Instead of investing more to help our agricultural producers during this crisis, the government is letting them down. Many are still not eligible for support programs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many failings in our systems and social programs. Cracks have been created over many years, and people are falling through those cracks because of the government's consistent cutting and gutting. The undermining of the supports provided by these programs has cost us a great deal now.
The question remains, will we continue down a road where we are shortsighted? Will we look only to what will benefit a small group in a short term, or will we now repair the damage done by the cutbacks and decide to further build and strengthen the programs we have? Will we ensure fairness, balance and equality within sectors, including our agricultural sector? Will we value the work of farmers in every sector? Will we value the sourcing of local food? Will we fall back from the belief that globalization and a neoliberal agenda are inevitable or supreme and realize that it is actually through social stability, the strengthening of people and the foundations they stand upon, that will make us thrive?
Now is a good time to start to ask these hard questions and to talk about our lives post-COVID. I know what my answer is, and I am willing to do the work involved to achieve something better for everyone.
Before I officially conclude, I want to briefly take this opportunity to recognize a very important anniversary.
Fifty years ago, almost to the day, members of the Vancouver Women's Caucus travelled to Ottawa with the Abortion Caravan. In 1970, members of the Abortion Caravan marched on Parliament Hill in opposition to the 1969 amendments to the Criminal Code. However, this women's organization knew then that a lack of fair and equal access to proper reproductive rights was putting women's health in danger.
The Abortion Caravan arrived in Ottawa on Mother's Day weekend in 1970, a convoy of Canadian women, over 500 strong, arrived here with coat hangers and a black coffin in tow to demand the legalization of unrestricted access to abortion services for all Canadian women.
On May 11, 1970, approximately three dozen women entered the House of Commons, taking their seats in the various galleries circling the chamber. Once seated, the women quietly chained themselves to their seats, listening intently as NDP MP Andrew Brewin asked Minister of Justice John Turner if he would consider reviewing the abortion law. Turner tried to dismiss the matter, but just before 3 p.m., one of the women rose from her seat in the gallery and began reciting the Abortion Caravan's prepared speech, interrupting debate on the floor of the House of Commons. As parliamentary guards approached the woman, a second woman stood up in another area of the gallery and continued to give the speech. One by one, the women rose from their seats, adding their voices to the call for safe and equal access to reproductive rights.
The Abortion Caravan brought national attention to this issue. Sadly, women today are still forced to fight for access to health care options. Specifically on this 50th anniversary, I think about those brave women who were part of that caravan and built that movement to ensure that women of my generation have the freedom of choice.
I also think of the women in Fredericton today and the fact that the so-called feminist federal government still has done nothing to ensure that the women's clinic in Fredericton is properly and fairly funded to do what is needed to protect the rights women are supposed to have under the Canada Health Act.
Like those women 50 years ago, and like MP Brewin, New Democrats will continue to fight for safe and fair reproductive rights. In recognition of this 50th anniversary, I believe that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: “That the House recognize this week marks the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Caravan, commemorates the caravan's important contribution to modernizing Canada's reproductive rights laws and calls upon the government to take further action to increase access to abortion services, including by enforcing the Canada Health Act and ensuring that Clinic 554 in Fredericton is properly and fairly funded.”
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
2020-04-29 14:40 [p.2243]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-15, An Act respecting Canada emergency student benefits (coronavirus disease 2019).
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-04-29 14:40 [p.2243]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
I move:
That, notwithstanding the order of Monday, April 20, 2020:
(a) the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food be added to the list of committees in paragraph (l) of the order adopted on Saturday, April 11, 2020;
(b) the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities be instructed to undertake a review of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act and that the Committee report its findings and recommendations to the House no later than June 30, 2021;
(c) the time provided for questioning ministers in the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic be extended to 95 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to provide an additional five-minute round of questioning for the New Democratic Party caucus;
(d) the government implement new financial incentives and support measures to connect Canadians, particularly students and Canadian youth, to the various jobs available, for example, in the agriculture and agri-food sector, in order to ensure regional economic stability and food production during this crisis;
(e) the government ensure that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) are offered in a manner that meets their objective while encouraging employment in all circumstances;
(f) the government define the final parameters of CESB in regulations in the short term and that an additional support of $250 be provided for students with dependents or with disabilities, in addition to the $1750 that has already been announced; and
(g) the government implement measures without delay to provide additional support for seniors and persons with disabilities in order to assist with extraordinary expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19, and examine the best way to do this, including looking at Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement as potential mechanisms.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-04-29 14:44 [p.2244]
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to a motion adopted on Monday, April 20, 2020, I wish to state that there is an agreement among the representatives of all recognized parties to govern the proceedings in relation to Bill C-15.
Therefore, I move:
That, pursuant to the order adopted on April 20, 2020, Bill C-15, An Act respecting Canada emergency student benefits (coronavirus disease 2019), be disposed of as follows:
(a) the bill be ordered for consideration at second reading later this day;
(b) when the House begins debate on the motion for second reading of the bill, two members of each recognized party and a member of the Green Party may each speak to the said motion for not more than 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for questions and comments, provided that members may be permitted to split their time with another member; and, at the conclusion of the time provided for the debate or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, all questions necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill shall be put without further debate or amendment, provided that, if a recorded division is requested, it shall not be deferred; and
(c) if the bill is adopted at second reading, it shall be referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage on division, and deemed read a third time and passed on division.
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
2020-04-29 14:48 [p.2244]
moved that Bill C-15, An Act respecting Canada emergency student benefits (coronavirus disease 2019), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
2020-04-29 14:48 [p.2244]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the Deputy Prime Minister.
I am pleased to participate today in this debate on Bill C-15, an act respecting Canada emergency student benefits. We are here to discuss how we can best support Canada's students.
For over six weeks, Canadians have been adapting to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting our country and the entire world.
In order to support Canadians during this crisis, our government has taken significant action and implemented Canada's COVID-19 economic response plan, which provides $146 billion in support.
A key element of this plan is the Canada emergency response benefit, created to support Canadian workers facing unemployment due to COVID-19. The benefit is now providing eligible workers with temporary income support of $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.
When we launched the benefit on April 6, some Canadian workers expressed concerns about eligibility. We listened, and on April 15 we made it more inclusive. Now workers, including the self-employed, can earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the benefit. The benefit also applies to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefit payments and are unable to start working again because of COVID-19.
To give the House a sense of the scope of this effort, public servants have now processed over 10.15 million applications to date under the Canada emergency response benefit. This figure is a reflection of the real need of Canadians during this time and of our public service's dedication to our country.
We know that more support is needed for Canadians. Young people are facing a serious set of challenges in this difficult time, be it interrupted studies, reduced work opportunities or disruptions to summer co-op or internship plans.
Many Canadian post-secondary students are wondering how they will be able to pay their tuition, buy groceries and cover their rent if they cannot find a summer job.
It is estimated that over a million post-secondary students may not be eligible for the Canada emergency response benefit.
Students are a valuable part of our communities and are ready to bring innovative solutions and a helping hand to our workforce in response to COVID-19.
Last week the Prime Minister mentioned Felix, a recent engineering grad from Carleton University. Felix has experience working on communication satellites, and a few weeks ago he talked to a local manufacturer about what they could do in the fight against COVID-19. Now they have started designing and creating reusable face shields for front-line workers.
Felix is not the only one stepping up. Young people from all over Canada are pitching in and doing their part.
This proposed legislation before us is how we are supporting them in turn. If approved, this framework would provide financial relief to students during the important summer months through a temporary income support benefit worth approximately $5.2 billion. I will focus on the largest piece of this framework, which is the Canada emergency student benefit.
Last week our government announced a four-month Canada emergency student benefit. Students who are not receiving the CERB and meet the criteria for this new benefit will be able to apply to receive $1,250 per month between May and August. Students with permanent disabilities and students with dependants would receive an additional $750 per month, for a total of $2,000 a month.
Students will be able to work part time and still receive the benefit, which is part of our effort to keep Canadians connected with the labour market.
Like the Canada emergency response benefit, the Canada emergency student benefit will not have to be repaid.
The CESB would be available to students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program leading to a degree, diploma or certificate, or who ended their studies no earlier than December 2019. This means that students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program or who just recently ended their post-secondary studies would be eligible. It would also be available to high school graduates who will be joining post-secondary education programs in the coming months.
The Canada emergency student benefit will also be accessible to both current CEGEP students and those who recently completed their CEGEP studies and plan to go back to school in the fall.
Our government has also committed over $75 million to enhance the assistance offered to first nations, Inuit and Métis students.
Students would be able to begin applying for the CESB in May via a simple online form on the CRA website under My Account.
Finally, I would like to highlight what our government is doing to address the concerns of students with disabilities during this pandemic. We recognize that some groups are significantly and disproportionately impacted by this crisis. For some Canadians with disabilities, underlying medical conditions put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19. Others face discrimination and barriers in accessing information, social services and health care.
We know that students with disabilities as well as students with dependants could have additional expenses during this public health crisis. As such, Canadian students with disabilities and students with dependants would be eligible to receive an extra $750 per month on top of the basic CESB benefit.
The uncertainty may feel overwhelming for many students, but in Canada we look out for each other. We value education, service and hard work. These measures will help Canadian students get through these difficult times so they can build their career and future they have been working so hard for.
Putting forward this legislation is a key step in our delivery of support for students. I thank all the members of Parliament who are providing feedback and bringing forth the thoughts and concerns of their constituents.
The passage of this bill is a key step in the government's offer of assistance to students. I thank all members who gave feedback and shared their constituents' ideas and concerns.
May is fast approaching and students are counting on us to help them get through these trying times.
Together, as members of Parliament, we have the opportunity to support Canada's students in a way that will be felt for years to come. On the other side, when the economy comes back, they will define our path forward, a path toward a better, more equal society.
View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2020-04-29 14:56 [p.2245]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for acknowledging that students are hurting right now.
People think of my community of Oshawa as an automotive town, but it is quickly becoming a student town, with three post-secondary institutions: Ontario Tech University, Durham College and Trent University.
As we work through this as a Parliament, Conservatives are putting forward some ideas to improve the government programs. I was wondering if the minister could comment on the idea we brought forward of expanding a program, doubling the Canada summer jobs program and positioning it so that students be be matched, through a job bank, with jobs in our agriculture sector, especially now when there are super concerns about disruptions in our supply chain. Employers need the labour and students can be available. Is the minister open to considering our positive enhancement for supporting students?
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
2020-04-29 14:57 [p.2246]
Mr. Speaker, the short answer is yes, absolutely. I look forward to working with all members to enhance our opportunities for young people to work, including adding additional jobs to our existing programs.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-04-29 14:57 [p.2246]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for the good work she has been doing. Part of the problem we are seeing with students, though, is that we have a patchwork of programs that is not quite working. I love the Canada summer jobs program, but it is very often taken up by high school students.
The minister is aware that a northern Ontario medical school has offered to put medical students on the front lines in northern hospitals, yet the only option we have is to take the Canada summer jobs program and to try to fit them into it, when it would be a game-changer for all of our northern communities if the minister would agree to get northern Ontario medical students into hospitals in northern communities to help in those rural regions. This would give them the employment they need. It would also ensure that the Canada summer jobs program does the job it is supposed to be doing. This would be a game-changer for our front-line medical services in the north.
Is the hon. minister willing to work with us on this?
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
2020-04-29 14:58 [p.2246]
Mr. Speaker, I was very excited when the member put forth his proposal to me in recent days. In fact, just this morning I met with my officials to move that proposal forward so we can indeed respond to the needs of northern Ontario through the use of medical students and not in any way encroach upon the Canada summer jobs program.
Absolutely is my answer. I believe I will have a solution for him within hours, if not within the next days. I am very excited about this proposal.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-04-29 14:58 [p.2246]
Mr. Speaker, I want to highlight what a great exchange that just was. It was a great idea from the member for Timmins—James Bay and a great response by the minister. Let us see that happen.
My concern is a gap that we are seeing that affects tens of thousands of international students in Canada. We know that an international student can apply for the CERB, but if that international student did not earn $5,000 last year, they cannot apply, so we have a gap. For anyone watching and wondering why we are worrying about international students, thinking they can go home, many of them cannot go home right now for quarantine reasons. Moreover, they bring over $20 billion to our economy every year. The international students program employs over 170,000 Canadians as a result of our having international students. Therefore, I am looking for a solution here.
One solution would be to change the definition under the Canada jobs program to make it open to those who are not Canadian citizens. Another would be to change Bill C-15 to say that an international student is included. Yes, international students can apply for CERB, but they are really not being taken care of in a comprehensive way.
Will the minister have any proposals for us in the coming days?
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
2020-04-29 15:00 [p.2246]
Mr. Speaker, that again is another example of our collaboration as we have been going back and forth on the issue of international students.
One of the things we made sure of when we created the CERB was that the criteria would include the requirement that someone had to be resident in Canada, so international students as well as temporary foreign workers could apply. When we embarked upon our process of thinking of how we could support students, we looked at our existing student policy, which focuses on Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Mirroring our existing policy around Canada student loans and Canada summer jobs, the current Canada student benefit is focused on Canadian citizens and residents of Canada.
What we have done for international students is to relax the restriction on the number of hours they can work, which is particularly important for international students studying in medical fields right now.
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