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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much.
Good morning, Mr. Minister, or I guess good afternoon, depending on the time difference.
Earlier in your introductory remarks and since then, in some of the answers to questions that committee members have put, we've heard of the importance of some of the modifications that Bill C‑19 would allow in the context of a pandemic election. I wondered if in light of that and in light of the importance of the content of the bill, your government is prepared to commit to not calling an election unilaterally prior to the provisions of Bill C‑19 being in place.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
I am very well aware of the voting record, but I'm not hearing a commitment on your government's part not to call an election unilaterally.
I want to ask about the bill itself. In response to Monsieur Therrien's questions, you noted that the government is quite open to amendments. I'm wondering if you might give a bit more commentary as to the scope of the bill. I think sometimes the scope of a bill can be narrowly interpreted for procedural purposes to only pertain to things that are explicitly mentioned in it. However, of course, these are very exceptional circumstances and it's an exceptional bill.
There are things that the committee looked at in its study on preparing for a pandemic election that aren't reflected in the government's initial proposal, although I take your point that it was tabled as an initial proposal. I think of things such as ensuring that people aren't completely reliant on a broadband connection or Internet access, or on a photocopier or scanner, to apply for a special ballot. They should be able to do that in person. The suggestion has been made that Canada Post outlets might be used for that purpose. Because there will be so many more Canadians using special ballots, we've heard about widening a bit the ways they can indicate who they want to vote for. Currently they have to know the spelling of the full name of the local candidate. We've also heard about the challenges in the signature requirements and about the campus vote program possibly being discontinued. These are all things that might be subject to amendment but that aren't necessarily represented in the current text of the bill.
Could you give a little context in terms of the government's understanding of what the scope of this bill is and ought to be, to encourage multi-party collaboration and the opportunity to exploit the expertise of the committee in crafting this bill?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and thank you to the committee.
I think we all know that we're on quite a timeline from here to the end of June. Of course, that timeline wouldn't be as urgent if we had reassurances from the Prime Minister that he would not call an election during the summer, but we don't have that reassurance. I'd like to hear that from the minister today, but he declined to give it again earlier in this meeting.
I'm wondering how the government envisions the progress of this bill, not only through the House of Commons but also through the Senate, in time for the end of the session on June 23 or 24. Forgive me; I don't have the exact day, but it's coming soon either way.
I'm wondering if you have some sense of that, particularly in light of the administrative challenges that we have with limited broadband capability and staffing of virtual committees, particularly now in light of late sittings. The challenge is less about getting it through the House, although that's an aspect; it's also about finding time to make sure that committees can do their work, whether here in the House or at the Senate.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Mr. Plamondon, it seems to me we have a strange situation on our hands. The government claims it will never again open up breaches in the supply management system, but it nevertheless doesn't want to adopt an act that would prohibit it from doing so. In other words, it wants to keep all its options open. The Liberals are afraid it may be impossible to reach a free trade treaty with new partners if it can't open up breaches.
How should Canadians and Quebeckers who depend on the supply management system understand this tension within government, which claims it doesn't want to open up breaches but simultaneously wants to keep all options open?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Another argument we often hear is that we'll never be able to reach another free trade agreement if we have this kind of restriction in place. However, we have other well-established limits on national security and the cultural exemption, and that hasn't prevented us from signing free trade agreements.
Why do you think the Liberals and others think that this issue is different and that we can't hang onto this kind of exemption?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much.
At one point in Mr. Darling's testimony, I believe I heard him say that Bill C-216 would be in breach of or would violate some existing trade rules. It caught me by surprise only because I'm not aware of any rules that would prohibit a country from determining in advance what's on or off the table in terms of a trade negotiation.
Could you confirm whether I heard him right in that respect, and if so, could he highlight where that rule is? Is it at the WTO? Could you give us a little more clarity about that rule?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Is it a rule or a principle, and where would we find an enunciation of the principles that you're talking about?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
I think it's important to note that the current government has said that under no circumstances would they cede any further market share in dairy. Therefore, in this case, the law wouldn't be doing anything that the government hasn't said it's already going to do at the negotiating table.
Mr. Taillon, in the meantime, do you know of any rules that the bill might violate. Is there any rule according to which the government or Parliament cannot deem in advance that a specified industry or management system cannot be subject to negotiation in a free-trade agreement?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Yes, that's right.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
So, would it be fair to say—
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to ask Dr. Lucas some questions here.
The contract with Switch Health to oversee post-arrival coronavirus tests for travellers has been renewed, despite media reports that the company has bungled the process. I've raised this a number of times in our meetings in the past.
What communications did your department have with the Government of Ontario about an RFP for post-arrival testing?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Lucas, are you not in charge of that?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Yes, I've been in touch with them many times.
Mr. Stewart, go ahead.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
I just asked what communications your department had with the Ontario government about the post-arrival testing.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Thanks. What communications did your department have then, Mr. Matthews, with the Government of Ontario prior to the RFP being given to Switch Health?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Did Switch Health ask anyone in your department to change the day-10 test to a day-8 test?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
On the contract we were talking about earlier with Switch Health, are they currently legally obligated to ensure that samples collected via the online portal are collected under the supervision of a nurse?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
I know this. I'm assuming it's the same in all provinces in Canada. The situation, which I've raised two or three times, with the incompetence being seen in the way these COVID tests are being picked up in rural Canada continues unabated at this point.
PHAC is very quick to call. There is a case that I had in one of my communities as of yesterday that you're familiar with, Mr. Stewart. PHAC was quite ready to call someone to make sure that they were still in quarantine as late as yesterday from that person's May 15 crossing back into Canada, when that young individual concerned had already been vaccinated twice—was fully vaccinated—coming from college in the U.S.
He's had two very negative tests in the last five days, again here in Canada, and he's still in quarantine. He doesn't know what he has to do. He's never been told. He doesn't want an apology that you've offered in response to this situation, and it's not yet been resolved for the future. Can someone contact him? How do you get a hold of regular people who are stuck in this dilemma? He needs to be contacted so that he knows how to get out of quarantine so he can go to work.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
He did his day-1 test, and it sat for six days. It was finally picked up after his constantly phoning every day. His day-8 test sat for another week before it was picked up. In fact, it never was picked up. He had to drive it 100 kilometres to Brandon to the COVID testing site. These are the kinds of things that people are faced with in rural Canada, and it's completely against the contract.
That's why I'm asking for information on these contracts, because this is incompetence. The major courier couldn't even find a local address in a small town in my area. Uber, which was put up as an alternative, doesn't exist in rural Canada. What are these people supposed to do with regard regard to the viability of those tests after they've been sitting for six to eight days?
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Believe me, they phone Switch Health every day.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
Okay, I appreciate that, because it has been a huge dilemma in rural Canada, and particularly for many families in my area in southwest Manitoba.
I want to bring that to your attention again and I trust that someone will contact them today, these people in the past, to make sure that they know what to do to get out of quarantine.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much, Chair.
My first questions are for Madam Dupuis-Blanchard.
On ageism, seniors have paid the cost of poor planning and policy with their lives and well-being during this pandemic. I believe the pandemic very clearly exposed the role of ageism in Canada and how elders in our communities—not in all communities—are really quite devalued. It's very sad.
Can you tell us more about the role of ageism during the pandemic?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
I totally agree with that analysis.
In response to that, do you have recommendations on how to create societies and systems that aren't ageist and to put those systems in place?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Because I have a limited amount of time, I will ask about Canada Post and one of the programs that they wanted to offer needing to be supported by the federal government in regard to social isolation of seniors [Technical difficulty—Editor] while they're doing their postal routes.
I'm wondering, Mr. Kuperman, if you could speak to that.
Maybe you can add to it as well, Madam Dupuis-Blanchard.
I think it's a great idea. It's an idea that I certainly support. I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on it.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much.
Madam Dupuis-Blanchard, do you have anything to add about Canada Post?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much, Chair.
My last question is for Madam Dupuis-Blanchard, and perhaps Mr. Kuperman could respond to this one as well.
I'm wondering how you feel the government is doing in terms of mandating Canada's commitment to the implementation in Canada of healthy aging policies as set out by the World Health Organization. How are we doing in Canada with that?
I'll start with you, Madam Dupuis-Blanchard, and then follow up with Mr. Kuperman.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
How critical do you think it is for us to move quickly on this, especially in light of COVID and what we found out during COVID, or what we already knew but was highlighted during COVID?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much, Chair.
My first questions are for Réseau.
In response to the Liberal government's announcement about increasing the payment to seniors over the age of 74 and excluding seniors age 65 to 74, you joined forces with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons and the National Association of Federal Retirees, collectively representing more than one million seniors, to call out the federal government on this.
You called for raising the old age security benefit by 10% for all eligible seniors. Can you tell us why you called for this change and how you arrived at this number?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
When you say the most needed, can you expand on that?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
I agree with both of you, and I have deep concerns about the level of poverty in which seniors in this country, including women, live. We often talk about seniors working their whole lives. Many women worked at home and don't benefit from pension plans, and many women, particularly seniors, live in poverty. There are certainly heightened rates of poverty among certain groups, such as Black and indigenous people and people of colour.
In saying that, one of the things I put forward in this past session was a motion in support of a guaranteed livable basic income in addition to programs and support. This means taking the current guaranteed income and making it livable, in addition to providing other programs and support. Unfortunately, our bill in support of universal pharmacare was voted down.
Do you think that putting in place a guaranteed livable basic income, in addition to current and future government programs and supports, would be a game-changer for seniors in this country?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll follow up with Réseau FADOQ.
I spoke to you about a guaranteed livable income. Part of the reason I discussed that is I really believe that a lot of seniors in the country don't live in dignity. They're not given what they need to live in dignity.
I'm wondering if you could provide some further thoughts and speak a little bit about what you believe is creating age-friendly care environments. What are your thoughts about aging in place?
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you very much for the information you've given so far. I also want to thank you for pointing out that when it comes to UN resolutions, Israel is unfairly singled out compared to human rights issues with many other nations. I appreciate that you're making that point.
It's kind of a complicated situation when it comes to the aid that we're providing. I know the government's announced $25 million. We're providing aid into a region.... We all know we need to help Palestinian citizens in the aftermath of this latest conflict, but we're dealing with a region that is controlled, as you said, by a terrorist organization that has not had an election for 17 years.
How does Canada make sure that the aid that goes into the region isn't falling into the hands of the wrong people and isn't winding up somehow with Hamas to build more rockets, rather than getting to the Palestinian people who so desperately need this assistance?
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
I really appreciate the answer, but I have limited time, of course.
Would you be able to table that list of aid recipients with the committee?
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you. I appreciate it.
That's for the $25 million. Is that correct?
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
All right. Please provide it to the extent that you know them.
Now, I want to ask a question.
It came to light last fall that anti-Semitic materials were being distributed through UNRWA to Palestinian students in Palestinian schools. At the time, I was encouraged when Minister Gould issued a statement saying that she instructed Canadian officials to investigate the references in school materials, in the West Bank and Gaza, that violate UN values of human rights.
I did an OPQ question and the response I got didn't mention anything about an investigation. I asked what the status of the investigation was and who the Canadian officials were who were involved in this investigation, and there was no information with respect to that. I'm wondering if maybe they left it out and that you could enlighten us as to what the nature and status of the investigation is.
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
Will a report be issued on the investigation?
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:11
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have a further question on cost recovery on FINTRAC reporting requirements. I was president of a very large credit union for 17 years. I know that FINTRAC compliance was a very significant part of the day-to-day activities of the credit union. It came at significant cost, as regards labour and dedicated staff.
I'm wondering what further implications this would have for credit unions across Canada.
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:12
Yes, I understood that they would be required to be compliant and implicated, but what, in essence, will that mean? They're already paying all kinds of staffing costs and incurring significant cost just to be compliant, but what do you mean by cost recovery? Are you going to be offloading or downloading the department's expenses onto credit unions?
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:19
My question is very similar to Ms. Jansen's. Having been around the board table of a credit union for many years, I know, for example, that they're required to be compliant with a very stringent set of FINTRAC requirements. If all of a sudden those requirements aren't met or if they're contravened, whether it's intentionally or inadvertently, who goes to jail? Is it the CEO, the board member? Do you lock up the credit union, bring in the paddy wagons and take them all away? What do you do? What are you envisioning?
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:50
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I find it a bit curious that Liberals need to continually put things on the record. I thought this was more a time and an opportunity to ask questions.
I have questions. Isn't the Bank of Canada the current regulatory body that oversees the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act?
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:51
I'm laying the foundation for my question. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It is, then, going to be the same regulatory body that's currently overseeing the payment services we have in place in Canada now that will also be doing the retail payment activities act?
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:52
Okay, but there are some exceptions when it comes to things such as gift cards, ATM cash withdrawals and things such as that.
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:52
Very good.
You don't see, then, any conflict, in the legislation being presented here now, with the current Payment Clearing and Settlement Act?
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:53
Have you done a cost analysis at all for the Bank of Canada, of what it's going to take to ramp up to fulfill the additional duties that are going to be given to it once this budget implementation act has been passed? How much of a staffing increase and how much of a budget increase will the bank require?
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:54
Are you saying that the Bank of Canada would contribute this to the Government of Canada? If we're giving it $130 million to ramp up to accommodate these responsibilities and to regulate the industry, but it's going to do it on a cost-recovery basis and recover that $130 million—it's going to take it into income—is it actually receiving a loan from the Government of Canada, in essence, that will be repayable at some time?
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 16:56
Okay. Thank you.
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 17:05
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This may come up with regard to a later clause, but Ms. O'Brien, can you talk a little about the relationship between the centre and the Bank of Canada, and how exactly they'll operate? Are they operating at arm's length or not at arm's length? I know there's a relationship. I'm not quite clear as to what that will look like and how it will flesh itself out.
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 17:06
I'm skipping around the act here so much. It has here that the centre may, at its discretion, report to the bank on certain issues.
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2021-06-01 17:07
You know, I am trying to get back there. I was trying to cross-reference it with what is referred to as the centre. The centre is defined right at the beginning of clause 178 there, in the definitions. It seems like it's actually a division of the Bank of Canada, and that's why I'm a little fuzzy as to exactly how it's going to operate. It's going to be the one involved in this section of the act.
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