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View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
moved that Bill C-11, An Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to discuss Bill C-11, the digital charter implementation act, 2020.
As members know, data and digital transformation is completely changing the way we access information, buy goods and services, connect with each other and live in our communities and cities. This digital transformation has been accelerated by the pandemic, and we are seeing more Canadians moving their activities online. Canadians are using more digital services and sharing more data online than ever before. They want to know that their personal information will be safe and that they are protected.
Recently, the Privacy Commissioner surveyed Canadians and found that the vast majority of Canadians, 92% of them, are concerned about the protection of their privacy, so this is an important issue to many Canadians. That is one of the reasons why last year I launched the digital charter, a set of 10 principles that lay down the foundation that will allow us to build an innovative, digital economy that is inclusive, people-centric and built on trust.
The principles of Canada's digital charter give Canadians more control over their data while helping Canadian companies innovate, grow and create quality jobs for middle-class Canadians across the country.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind members that the principles of the digital charter were very clear, and they focused on control and consent. Canadians will have control over what data they are sharing and who is using their personal data and for what purposes, and will know that their privacy is protected. This is one of the key principles we laid out in the digital charter.
Transparency, portability and interoperability will enable Canadians to easily manage access to their personal data and to transfer it without undue burden.
Data and digital for good is another principle that was laid out in the digital charter. The Government of Canada will ensure the ethical use of data to create value, promote openness and improve the lives of people at home and around the world. How can we harness data to solve problems?
Another key element was strong enforcement and real accountability. There will be clear, meaningful penalties for violations of the law and regulations that support these principles so that Canadians can rest assured that their privacy will be protected.
As members will see, the principles of the digital charter are firmly embedded in the legislation before us today. On top of this foundation sits three pillars: consumer control, responsible innovation and a strong enforcement and oversight mechanism.
Let me begin with outlining how Bill C-11 would give Canadians more control and greater transparency in the manner in which companies handle their information. It would do this by introducing important rules for consent, the right to delete information, data mobility and algorithmic transparency.
With regard to consent, Bill C-11 would enhance consumer control by requiring organizations to get meaningful consent from Canadians. This means individuals would get specific information in plain, simple language, not the 30-page legal document that no one reads. This, in turn, would allow individuals to make meaningful choices about the use of their personal information.
To make consent more meaningful and move away from lengthy agreements that, as I said, no one reads, we are introducing a new exception to consent for the collection and use of information for standard business activities that would be reasonably anticipated by individuals.
Here is an example in plain language. When a customer buys something from a company and gives that company their address, the company can give that address to a delivery company so the customer can get the product they paid for.
Under the law, that company would need to be transparent about how it uses personal information so that consumers are made aware of this and that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner can review these practices.
The second element I want to talk about is the right to delete information. Bill C-11 would allow Canadians to withdraw their consent and demand that data be deleted. When individuals no longer want to do business with an organization, that organization must stop using their information and must delete it permanently if it is asked by individuals. This would, for example, allow a Canadian to demand that a social media site delete their profile. It is very simple, but very powerful.
The next area the bill highlights is data mobility. To improve their control further, individuals would also have the right to direct and transfer their data and information from one organization or entity to another organization or entity in a very secure manner. Bill C-11 would do this by enabling regulations that establish frameworks for secure transfer and interoperability. This approach would support innovation in areas like open banking, where a common technical approach could allow Canadians to take advantage of the consumer-directed financial marketplace in a more secure way.
Another area the bill touches on, which was highlighted through extensive consultations, is algorithmic transparency. In the area of consumer control, Bill C-11 would improve transparency around the use of automated decision-making systems, such as algorithms and AI technologies, which are becoming more pervasive in the digital economy.
Under Bill C-11, organizations must be transparent that they are using automated systems to make significant decisions or predictions about someone. It would also give individuals the right to an explanation of a prediction or decision made by these systems: How is the data collected and how is the data used?
This is a brief summary of what is found in the first pillar of this legislation under more consumer control.
The second pillar of Bill C-11 is enabling responsible innovation.
The digital economy creates significant opportunities for Canadian businesses. Digital activity accounts for 4.8% of Canada's GDP, and when it comes to research and development in this country, no other private sector industry outperforms Canada's information and communications technology sector.
Investment and data has climbed as high as $40 billion. Across the economy, Canadian companies' data is worth as much as all other intangible assets, such as software, research and development, and mineral exploration rights combined. Therefore, we can see the potential of data not only today, but going forward.
Globally, we are seeing unprecedented growth in the technology sector, growth that is only going to pick up as artificial intelligence continues to grow and have a more meaningful impact in our lives. According to some estimates, AI is going to contribute an additional $13.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.
The government also understands the importance of giving companies clear rules that enable them to innovate while still protecting Canadians' privacy.
Trust is the cornerstone of economic growth and innovation. When Canadians are assured that their data and privacy are safe and protected, it creates space for the kind of innovation that benefits everyone.
Our government believes that greater trust and certainty in the digital marketplace will empower small businesses and entrepreneurs to create news jobs and opportunities, expand their operations and better access the global marketplace.
It is also important to note that the new legislation would help small businesses prosper as well by ensuring that rules for data and privacy are fair, clear, enforced and flexible enough to meet the needs of smaller organizations.
One area that does that is the codes of practice and certification systems. To enable responsible innovation, Bill C-11 would create a framework to recognize the use of codes of practice and certification systems. This would help organizations both comply with the law and demonstrate their compliance, which, in turn, would support innovation and provide an important balance to a strengthened enforcement regime.
Organizations would be able to apply to the Privacy Commissioner to approve a code of practice outlining how the act's general requirements apply in a particular sector or activity. This would give businesses some certainty that if they are following the code they are in compliance.
I also want to highlight de-identified information. Bill C-11 would also clarify how organizations are to handle de-identified personal information. This would enable an important mechanism for both privacy protection and innovative uses of data, which would benefit many small businesses.
Lastly is data for good. In this area, it is important to note that under the second pillar of enabling responsible innovation, Bill C-11 would recognize an exception to consent for socially beneficial purposes in order to clearly allow organizations to support innovative data initiatives such as data trust, which is pursued by a range of public institutions, including hospitals, universities and libraries. There is so much potential with data trust because it can enable us to unlock some of the opportunities that exist to solve some problems across our society.
The next element I want to talk about is strong enforcement. Perhaps more importantly, the proposal would significantly strengthen the enforcement and oversight regime. This is critical.
With this proposal, we will have some of the toughest financial penalties in the world for violating our laws.
Currently, the Privacy Commissioner has little ability to enforce his recommendations on organizations that are non-compliant, other than seeking a hearing by the federal court. Under Bill C-11 this would change. The legislation would introduce a strengthened privacy regime that would be overseen by a more powerful Privacy Commissioner, with appropriate checks and balances in place.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner would have broad order-making power, including the power to force an organization to stop collecting or using information and delete it. If the Office of the Privacy Commissioner found out that data was collected without appropriate consent, he would have the ability to do this.
As well, the Privacy Commissioner would make sure there is strong and meaningful consequences for organizations that do not comply with the law. The Privacy Commissioner would have the power to recommend administrative monetary penalties of up to $10 million, or 3% of global revenues, whichever is higher. The range of serious criminal offences would also be expanded, with a new maximum fine of up to $25 million, or 5% of global revenues, whichever is higher.
The legislation would introduce the new personal information and data protection tribunal, which would review appeals of the commissioner's orders and levy penalties.
This new administrative tribunal will help ensure procedural fairness in how the commissioner applies the new and enhanced enforcement powers. It will provide individuals and organizations with easier access to justice through a less formal mechanism for appealing decisions.
This enforcement regime would recognize that early compliance with the act remains critical and that is the key part. Early compliance will remain critical for the protection of Canadian privacy. We need to build on the commissioner's existing abilities to secure early resolution through compliance agreements. We want to make sure that Canadian companies actually comply with the legislation.
This new regime would see stronger collaboration between the Privacy Commissioner, stakeholders and implicated institutions, including federal organizations. When the commissioner is developing that guidance, it is important to have that level of collaboration. This will ensure there is a strong alignment between the law and how it is explained and enforced, and help avoid confusion for those trying to follow it. Again, this will provide further clarity.
To summarize, the third pillar of Bill C-11, strong enforcement and oversight, would introduce an escalating model that provides incentives for organizations to comply early. The focus is on compliance. Strong penalties will exist if they do not follow through. There will be a new tribunal to ensure the process will be fair, transparent and accessible for businesses of all sizes.
The three pillars of Bill C-11 work together to provide what Canadians need to engage in the digital economy: strong and enforceable protections for personal information, along with clear rules for businesses to follow as they innovate and deliver new products and services.
It is also important to note that the legislation would help protect the privacy of Canadians, while strengthening the ability of Canadian businesses to compete globally. This positions Canada to succeed internationally.
When PIPEDA was introduced in 2000, it was considered a global leader among data protection laws. In 2002, the European Commission found that PIPEDA provided adequate protection relative to EU law. The finding of adequacy gave us an international edge by allowing us to have free flow of data between Canadian and EU companies.
More recently in 2018, the EU brought into force its GDPR, the general data protection regulation. Since then, the EU has been reviewing Canada's adequacy against the GDPR. They have made it clear that we must reform our privacy regimes in order to maintain our advantage when it comes to this status. I believe the legislation would achieve GDPR adequacy while maintaining the made in Canada approach.
Lastly, I want to conclude by mentioning stakeholder reactions. This approach reflects years of public study, consultations and collaboration. It builds upon the fundamental work of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, as well as important deliberations in the other place.
I can tell members the legislation has gained support from a wide range of stakeholders. Goldy Hyder, the president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, spoke positively about this. Michael Geist, who is well recognized in this area of expertise, said this is “Canada's Biggest Privacy Overhaul in Decades”. OpenMedia calls Bill C-11 “a big win for privacy in Canada.”
We know that Canadians will continue to use digital services that require the use of their personal data, and we know there is no turning back.
I will conclude with this last remark.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase our reliance on the digital economy, Bill C-11 will help Canadians embrace this new world, knowing that their personal information is protected and safe.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2020-11-24 10:36 [p.2290]
Madam Speaker, I saw from the stakeholders that big business certainly likes the bill, but I want to talk about small businesses, like insurance companies, for example. The minister talked about data portability and open banking. Currently, in Canada the insurance arms of banking companies are not allowed to share that information with their mother company, the bank. This creates a competitive playing field for small and medium-sized insurance companies.
I wonder if he can address the concerns of small and medium-sized insurance companies that their business will be severely disadvantaged by the legislation and tell us what efforts the government will take to help those companies.
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, as I highlighted in my remarks, the legislation is good for small businesses. It would provide them the ability to work with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to create codes of conduct to enable them to be compliant with the act. The tribunal process is also less expensive and onerous for small businesses, particularly when we compare it with the lengthy processes they may have had to pursue in the past in the courts.
More importantly, I think the legislation gives control to Canadians, particularly in the area of portability, as the member opposite highlighted, by enabling small businesses to be able to take advantage of the fact that Canadians can now move their personal data from one organization to another. That creates more competition and more choice, which will have a positive impact on small businesses.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2020-11-24 10:46 [p.2291]
Madam Speaker, today I am rising on Bill C-11, an act to implement a digital charter for government. This is an auspicious moment for Canada, because we are well under way in the digital age, and the need for clarity and concrete action to protect Canadians' privacy is a paramount need. While it is critically important, we also have to remember the need to protect small and medium-sized enterprises and to ensure that Canada can remain globally competitive as a jurisdiction for technology, data and innovation. I am concerned by some of the trends we have seen over the past few years, with Canada falling behind our global competitors, and I am concerned that some parts of this legislation could put us behind.
I am also concerned that we are falling behind when it comes to security. It is great to talk about protecting Canadians' privacy and putting in consent-based rules, but in an age of quantum decryption and computers that can break 120-bit encryption, if our security cannot be protected, then all the consent laws and privacy protections in the world are not going to mean much.
I want to break down this bill into simple terms. They talk about plain language in the bill, and so I am going to try to speak in as plain a language as I can, when dealing with a matter of this technical nature. I want to talk about some of the challenges and, I will grant the government, some of the opportunities that we foresee with this legislation. I want to also thank and recognize the work of the ethics and privacy committee in the previous Parliament, under the able chairmanship of my colleague from Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies. Many of the recommendations we have seen in this legislation come from the committee's report, so I think that shows Canadians that committees really do matter in the House, and that they can make a positive impact.
As I said, one of my chief concerns with this bill is its impact on small and medium-sized enterprises. It has been said for a number of years that data is the new oil. For many emerging enterprises, access to data and the ability to use this data will be the determining factor in whether they are successful or not. I do not need to say, but I will, that small and medium-sized enterprises are the lifeblood of our communities, and increasingly we are seeing how vulnerable they are, especially during the pandemic.
We have to consider the context of this legislation within the economy and the economic structures that the Liberal government has created over the past five years. We have seen an unrelenting attack on small and medium-sized enterprises, starting with hikes to Canada pension plan premiums. These hikes will continue even this January, in the midst of a pandemic. When companies are closing their doors and laying off workers, the government is looking at increasing costs even further for employers and employees. It is just not acceptable.
The Liberals in the past accused business people of being tax cheats when they utilized exemptions under the tax code. They decided to take it one step further by hiking taxes and removing these exemptions for many family-owned businesses, including for a lot of businesses and farm families in my riding. With this legislation, they are adding yet another layer of red tape that will force many onerous requirements on small businesses. I recognize that many of these requirements will be very helpful when we are talking about large businesses, and they have the resources to maintain these privacy requirements. I found it interesting that the minister was talking about the right to delete oneself. On many social media platforms that has been the case for a number of years, so it feels like with this legislation the government is trying to catch up to what businesses are already largely doing. However, we see that small enterprises are increasingly reliant on technology and data.
In this legislation, there are a number of new requirements. There is a certification requirement and a requirement for businesses to designate somebody in their business to be the privacy watchdog. Businesses have to maintain databases and be ready to respond to customer requests or investigations. When we talk about very small businesses, which could have only two or three staff or maybe a sole proprietor, to add this new layer of red tape is really going to create a lot of challenges for them.
Ironically, it would actually benefit big businesses because when small businesses have more red tape, they might decide to no longer stay in business. Therefore, we will see even more consolidation among the big players: the Amazons, the Walmarts and companies that are large collectors of personal data. Our thriving, innovative start-up economy will start to be strangled under this legislation.
I hope that when the government is considering amendments at committee, it consults with small businesses. I encourage it to consult with the CFIB to look at the challenges small businesses are going to face, and to try to come up with some sort of threshold to ensure that small businesses are not unduly burdened.
I appreciate that this bill is largely targeted at major corporations and tech giants that use massive amounts of personal data for everyday business. We know that these companies have the capacity to do better in protecting our privacy. I hope that this legislation can spur further commitments to protect Canadians' privacy. However, as I said, it concerns me that these large corporations largely have already implemented a lot of the things that the government is talking about. They have the human resources, legal departments and the endless ability to tap debt markets, bond markets and stock markets to finance these changes. Frankly, small businesses do not.
I asked the minister a question, which he really did not answer, about data portability and the impact on small and medium-sized enterprises. The minister couches it in terms of consumers having the right to ask for their data to be moved from one organization to another. It seems like a really great thing, but I cannot think of too many situations in which a regular Canadian would be the person initiating that conversation. However, I can see where a bank would, for example, when dealing with its insurance arm. Many large Canadian banks also have insurance companies.
There has been a fence put around these companies to ensure they do not become too big and anti-competitive. Information cannot currently be shared between insurance companies and banks owned by the same company, but through this legislation, the insurance company just needs to provide a plain-language document asking clients if they want their information to be shared with its banking arm. With the massive amount of data that insurance companies and banks have on Canadians, we can see how quickly they could possibly use this as a predatory practice to increase, consolidate and suck customers away from small and medium-sized insurance companies.
When I drive through my riding of Sturgeon River—Parkland, I am proud to see about a dozen small and medium-sized insurance businesses for auto, home and life insurance. There are tens of thousands of Canadians employed in this important industry, and they are not all working for the big banks. I really am concerned that this legislation could make our marketplace much less competitive, so I hope the government considers that impact as well.
My next point is about enforcement. I am really skeptical about the government's ability to deliver for Canadians. We see, in spam legislation and other legislation, that a lot of words are not being put into action and there are consequences for actions that are not being followed through on.
Similarly, this legislation packs a lot of firepower. It talks about threatening $10 million in fines, or up to 3% of global revenues. It is the toughest in the G7, as the government has said, but I wonder what power the government really has to compel payment. When we talk about potential serial abusers of our private data, we are talking about massive multinational corporations with billions in revenues.
I wonder if we can anticipate similar challenges as those faced by France when it attempted to collect taxes on digital giants from the United States. These included a challenge at the World Trade Organization and retaliatory tariffs on French products.
I wonder if the Liberals have given any thought to the potential consequences of trying to collect large fines from these companies. Does the government anticipate that our trade competitors are going to let these challenges go unanswered when we try to collect? Have the Liberals considered the consequences that this could have on the Canadian economy, and are they ready to be open about this very real threat? I am not saying that this is not something they should pursue, but we need to know what the potential consequences are before moving too quickly on this.
Canadian innovators are at the forefront of technological advancement, and I think that is something we can all be proud of. However, a concern that has been brought to my attention is the protection of proprietary algorithms by start-up tech companies that rely on data. Some of the provisions in the bill would enforce algorithmic transparency, which sounds great for consumers, but I see that it could be used by business competitors to expose sensitive, confidential and proprietary information.
Has the government considered the consequence of what these actions would do to our start-up companies that want to keep their algorithms proprietary and confidential? A company may be in a situation where it is looking for a buyout at a later date and needs to build up to the point where it can really get the value it believes the company is worth, but if this algorithmic transparency could be used by its competitors to investigate the use of its algorithms, it could possibly be used to steal things that are patent-pending or as leverage in a negotiation for a buyout. I would like to see more stringent protections for our nascent technological sector, to prevent their algorithms from being exposed.
Next, in the bill, the minister sort of alluded to the exemption for socially beneficial purposes. We need to drill down and explore the idea. The minister provided some examples: government, health care agencies and education. I do not think many Canadians could really object to these organizations being exempted, but one point named organizations that exist to promote environmental protection.
We believe in strong environmental protection, but are we possibly talking about environmental charities that may have a political arm or an agenda in an election? Are they going to be exempted to use Canadians' data in any way they see fit? What potential consequences could this have on keeping our elections free from foreign influence or ensuring transparency in political communications? I would really like to get a clearer idea of what the government means when it is talking about socially beneficial purposes, because we are living in an age, as the member for Timmins—James Bay said, when there are data wars. If organizations are misappropriating this data, using it to influence our elections and our democratic process and being provided an exemption, we really need to explore that.
Next I want to talk about the 10 pillars of the digital charter that the government has brought forward. We know that a charter, as any statement of values, is really only as good as the resources and enforcement behind it, so I want to highlight a few of these pillars and address some concerns that I have.
Pillar 1 talks about universal access: “All Canadians will have equal opportunity to participate in the digital world and the necessary tools to do so, including access, connectivity, literacy and skills.” As my colleague for Haldimand—Norfolk was saying, too many Canadians, the fourth coast as some would say, even in relatively urban areas, say that we are far from accessing high-speed and reliable broadband services.
For years, successive governments have pocketed billions and billions of dollars from spectrum auctions. They have been announcing and reannouncing, and in some cases reannouncing a reannouncement, on enhanced rural broadband. The Liberals have promised the universal broadband fund as their solution. They even claimed that they topped it up by another $750 million a few weeks ago, but communities in my riding who recently applied for the universal broadband fund were told that they did not qualify.
I come from a fairly rural riding, and people were basically told that, according to the data, the Internet in their communities is fast enough. That is not acceptable. They should try explaining that to farming families in Sturgeon or Parkland County, or try telling that to people living in Stony Plain, Gibbons and Morinville.
We still have movie rental stores in my riding. I asked somebody how these movie rental stores stay in business, and the fact is, the Internet is so bad, the only way for people to watch movies is to go to their local movie store because they cannot access Netflix and all these other great things.
We are talking about a pandemic right now, and increasingly parents are wanting to supplement their children's education at home. They cannot access their education. A principal of my local high school, Onoway Junior/Senior High School, lives less than one mile away from the high school. The high school has high-speed Internet that is connected by the Alberta SuperNet, but less than a mile away the principal cannot get any Internet services.
The government is saying their Internet is fast enough, and that they do not qualify for the universal broadband fund, but, if we do not qualify, then I do not know who qualifies. This is unacceptable. It is time for the Liberals to put real funds behind real action to deliver broadband access to Canadians in rural and remote areas.
Pillar two of the digital charter is safety and security. It reads, “Canadians will be able to rely on the integrity, authenticity and security of the services they use and should feel safe online”. This is yet another great promise that the Liberals have failed to deliver upon.
I remember over the summer, when scammers used Canadians' personal information on the Canada Revenue Agency website to access CERB payments. These were not foreign actors we were talking about. These were private actors using information that they could get their hands on to breach Canadians' accounts, and this breach was so bad that it even forced the CRA and the Service Canada websites to shut down.
Thousands of Canadians who wanted to were unable to access the CERB, and all the useful services on those websites, because the government has not put security as a priority. Security must be central to digital government and to our digital economy. I appreciate that the government wanted to get those programs out quickly, but we are increasingly seeing the consequences of not building in security from the foundation up.
It was not just the CERB program that was hacked. In February, news broke that the National Research Council systems were hacked, mainly the health research databases. This cyber-attack was caused by ransomware. The hackers used the ransomware to try to extract payment from the government. Every year the National Research Council collects information on more than 25 million health care consumers across the U.S. and Canada. The National Research Council was also hacked in 2017 by state actors.
This continues to be quite a substantial threat. Hospitals and other information technology services are increasingly being targeted by these kinds of crimes. Since 2016, according to a cyber-threat assessment, there have been 172 attacks on individual health care organizations with costs topping $160 million. Those are just the attacks that are known about. It causes one to wonder how many attacks have not even been discovered yet.
It gets worse. Despite the multiple data breaches, the protection on critical infrastructure plan has not been updated in this country since 2009, despite major technological advancements. I alluded earlier to the Manhattan project of data decryption and quantum computing, which we are seeing out of countries like China. They threaten to blow open all of our current encryption technologies. It shows us that the plan is even more critical.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-11-24 11:06 [p.2294]
Madam Speaker, I object to a number of the comments the member made at the beginning of his speech. He tried to give a false impression that the government has not been there for small businesses, which is really quite inaccurate.
We can see the many ways that this government, virtually from day one back in 2015, has recognized the importance of small businesses as the backbone of our economy through tax cuts. Today we continue to provide wage subsidies, rent subsidies and so forth during this very difficult time.
Having said all of that, my question is with respect to the bill. We recognize that it is going to allow for additional regulation. The member seems to be in opposition to the need for regulation. I am not 100% clear whether the Conservative Party recognizes that there is a need for government regulation to protect the interests of our businesses and consumers.
Could the member just provide his thoughts on whether the Conservative Party will be voting in favour of recommending the legislation to committee?
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2020-11-24 11:07 [p.2294]
Madam Speaker, the hon. member sort of reminds me of the character of Cam Brady in the movie The Campaign when he talks about small businesses being the backbone of our economy. They are, but the Liberal government does not seem to recognize that the policies it has put in place have really undermined small businesses. However, I will get to the question.
There a necessity for regulation, but we need to recognize that one-size-fits-all regulations, which are mostly targeted at large corporations while still applying to small businesses, really put small businesses at a significant disadvantage. We are not saying no to regulation. We are saying that we need to put exemptions in, and we need to look at what the consequences really are for small businesses and address their concerns.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-11-24 11:10 [p.2295]
Madam Speaker, the member's comments are very enlightening. He talked a little bit about his concerns for small businesses and the red tape that would be associated with them. Can he discuss a little bit, in detail, the provisions in particular that he thinks would put too much of a burden on small businesses?
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2020-11-24 11:10 [p.2295]
Madam Speaker, there is a provision in the bill that says a small business has to designate a specific person responsible for maintaining these privacy databases. When we are talking about a small business with just a few employees, oftentimes a sole proprietor may be running the books, sales or the website, and they are now being told that they have to also be the designated privacy CO of their company. That is adding red tape for a small business. For a big business, it is not that big, as it probably already has those positions laid out.
Small businesses trying to maintain those databases and having the ability to keep all the data they are collecting, so as to be ready to comply with requests from the consumer and Privacy Commissioner to hand over the data at any time, creates a ton of paperwork for small businesses. We need to look at a better way to do this to ensure that we can protect the privacy of Canadians, but not put too many onerous requirements on small businesses.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-11-24 11:11 [p.2295]
Madam Speaker, my hon. friend mentioned the dynamics of rural Canada and the challenges it faces with access to something as simple as the Internet. These increase the challenges of small and medium-sized enterprises, whether it is a farmer trying to access the most up-to-date equipment for their farm operation and the increasing data requirements surrounding that, the local insurance companies the member mentioned, or the many other small and medium-sized businesses that exist across rural Canada. It is important that a rural lens is applied to something as important as this legislation.
I am wondering if my hon. friend would be able to provide further comments on the impact this would have on rural Canada.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2020-11-24 11:12 [p.2295]
Madam Speaker, it is already hard enough for rural Canadian business people to access the growing digital economy, as I alluded to in my speech when I spoke about the lack of access to high-speed Internet. The hon. member who asked the question is a farmer, and we know agriculture is undergoing a massive shift to data.
I do not think there is anything in this bill that would necessarily impact the farmers themselves, but when we are talking about relations between fertilizer companies, suppliers and transportation logistics, we could be talking about a number of new requirements. The farmers I know just want to farm. They do not want to haggle over data and be purveyors of data, so yes, we have to consider those challenges as well.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-11-24 18:46 [p.2362]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and privilege to rise again, after over 40 times now, to stand up for small businesses, the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed their doors to protect public health.
We were glad to see the government finally fix its flawed, broken commercial rent program that was landlord-driven to make it tenant-driven, but we are extremely disappointed that the government will not backdate it to April 1. Many of these businesses are in arrears with their landlords or riddled with debt, yet the government refuses to go backward, even though it knows that most of the businesses are in deep trouble, especially with the second wave. The Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister said the government is moving forward, but that debt is moving forward with small business owners, who did not get any help.
I want to talk about the businesses that were completely left out: start-ups. There is a whole subset of businesses that did their part, started up and closed their doors for public health. However, any of them that opened after March 1 or later and closed their doors for public health, or were ready to open after March 15, were prevented from getting any of the programs. This is totally unacceptable, and I want to talk about a couple of them.
Graham Hafey opened V2V Black Hops Brewing, down in Langford. He is a veteran. He served in the Canadian military and used his life savings to open a for-profit social venture where part of the profits go to helping veterans with PTSD. He has already donated $6,500, but he has not gotten any help through the commercial rent program or the wage subsidy, and has not been able to access the loan program. His business is looking at going bankrupt. We are in the middle of the second wave and it has closed its doors, because of the health order from Dr. Bonnie Henry, to protect public health. He is getting no help.
Another constituent of mine, Lisa Jaster from Courtenay, owns The Lost Faucet sauna house. She opened in February 2020. She cannot get the CEBA loan and has paid thousands of dollars to contractors. She does not have a fighting chance without any support. She has been completely abandoned by the government.
I am thinking about my colleague from Victoria, who has been fighting really hard for Peter Wood, who owns Bear & Joey Cafe in Victoria. He put his life savings into developing this business. He opened in March and has been doing takeout. He has 30 staff members. Now B.C. is in the second phase of the lockdown and he is paying $11,500 a month in rent. He cannot get any help from the government. His business has been abandoned, like many businesses across this country.
These businesses actually have the ability to demonstrate that they are genuine and have invested in small business through presenting one or more of the following: proof of loans and financing, proof of long-term leases and contracts for building and construction. They often demonstrate that they are going to be impacted by the second wave by comparing revenue from one period to another, because some of them have been open for several months now. However, with the winter months ahead, they have had to reduce capacity or close their doors. They are demonstrating, post-2020, that they are operating at a loss and are not going to be able to keep their staff.
The sense of urgency for these businesses could not be greater. Why is the government abandoning them? It is unfair. These businesses have invested in our communities in our country and they are job creators. The government need to step up to the plate. We have solutions and we want to work with the government. We hope it will do something to support these small businesses.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2020-11-24 18:53 [p.2363]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his intervention on behalf of small businesses in Canada.
To break from my prepared remarks for a moment, let me first extend my empathy to the business owners he mentioned who are struggling in his own community. He can rest assured that I am having similar conversations with businesses and have been having them from the outset of this pandemic.
However, the suggestion, implicitly or explicitly, that we have abandoned small businesses is disingenuous in the extreme. The hon. member knows that to help keep Canadians safe, we decided to make it more affordable for businesses to do the right thing and shut down or reduce traffic through their premises.
We did through Bill C-9, which just received royal assent a few days ago. It extends the wage subsidy to next summer and, importantly, creates the new Canada emergency rent subsidy. This is going to provide a subsidy of up to 65% to businesses that have lost revenue as a result of this pandemic and up to 90%, with the additional lockdown support, to those that have been ordered to close as a result of a public health order.
With respect to the wage subsidy, it is contributing directly to help 3.8 million Canadian workers stay on the payroll. It does not just help them keep getting paid. It also helps their employers retain and rehire them if they had to furlough them to make ends meet throughout this pandemic.
We have advanced the Canada emergency response benefit, which self-employed people were eligible for. It has helped keep food on the table for nine million Canadians. We have advanced the Canada emergency business account to provide interest-free loans, partially forgivable loans, and we are now increasing them from $40,000 to $60,000, up to $20,000 of which will be forgivable.
The reality is that we have done what we can to meet many needs of many businesses. We have even established the regional relief and recovery fund for businesses that did not qualify for some of the supports I mentioned.
While I appreciate fully that the hon. member has the best of intentions in trying to defend the small businesses in his community, I do not believe it is appropriate, and in fact I think it is ludicrous, to suggest our government has abandoned small businesses, as we have launched more support for them than any other government in the history of our country.
Small businesses should know they have a friend in our government. We have been there for them from day one of this pandemic and we will be there for them until it is over.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-11-24 18:53 [p.2363]
Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for the parliamentary secretary, but clearly the government is tone deaf. He did not hear what I had to say. Small businesses that started after March 15 have been abandoned. They have not been able to access the wage subsidy. They have not been able to access the loan program. They have not been able to access the commercial rent program, even the new one. Even Bill C-9 does not help those businesses. They have been completely abandoned. He needs to address what the Liberals are going to do for them.
We kicked and screamed so the wage subsidy would go from 10% to 75% and so the Liberals would fix the commercial rent program and expand the CEBA program. The member can count on me to be kicking and screaming until they fix their programs to help support the start-ups that have been completely abandoned by the government. I will be back here tomorrow and will be back here the week after. Until the government helps them, the New Democrats will be in their corner.
The Liberals need to stop patting themselves on the back and start doing things to fix these broken programs so the people who need the help the most get it.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2020-11-24 18:55 [p.2364]
Mr. Speaker, we have been listening to feedback from Canadians from the very beginning. The hon. member drew attention to the fact that when we listened to stakeholders we increased the wage subsidy from 10% to 75%.
With respect to the emergency business account, we have increased the threshold from $40,000 to $60,000, and widely expanded eligibility. With respect to the Canada emergency rent subsidy, we have now changed the program to make it tenant-oriented, with a direct application to make it more accessible.
We are going to continue to listen to how these programs can be improved. In fact, we have made adjustments to some of them to help new businesses that initially did not qualify on the basis of a year-to-year comparison so they could compare their revenue with that from earlier months, pre-pandemic, in the same year.
It is a challenging thing to help businesses through the pandemic, but we are going to continue to listen to small business stakeholders so we can implement policies that will save as many businesses as possible and allow many workers to remain on the payroll so they can put food on the table for their families.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, recently, I was pleased to join Coquitlam small business owners Zabrina, Justin and Phil on a special video call with our Prime Minister. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many challenges for small businesses, and Zabrina, Justin and Phil's Ninja Bubble Tea is no exception.
When the pandemic first hit, Ninja Bubble Tea had to shut down operations from March to May. Since reopening, it has shifted its operations to meet the evolving challenges of COVID-19. I was happy to see Ninja Bubble Tea taking full advantage of our government's COVID-19 support programs, including the Canada emergency wage subsidy, Canada emergency commercial rent assistance and the Canada emergency business account.
Ninja Bubble Tea's story is one of hometown success. There are countless stories like this behind every small business: stories of entrepreneurship, perseverance and everyday Canadian resilience. I am proud to highlight yet another Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam story in the House.
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