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View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all of the witnesses for joining us today.
My question is for Nafisah Chowdhury.
You said in your statement that hate and racism is a disease that we we need to stop. A recent study found that more than 6,000 right-wing extremist channels, pages and accounts on social media are linked to Canadians. I have spoken to members of our local Peel Islamic Cultural Centre, other Muslim community groups, many ethnic groups, and they have expressed concerns about these right-wing groups.
Can you tell us if you believe that the toxic online environment contributes to the recent hate incidents? What are your recommendations to combat that?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
My next question is for the representative of Ahmadiyya community. We have an engaged and committed Ahmadiyya community here in Brampton. I commend their work across Canada in fighting hate. We have a vaccine clinic at Masjid Mubarak...raising funds for the community, and we are always grateful for their work.
However, Ms. Choudhry, another aspect of this study is focused on cyber-bullying, which is more frequently experienced by young Canadians. Are you aware of young members of your community being cyber-bullied for their religion?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I think this is a very important motion, and I hope the other members of the committee will support it.
As many of you know, my riding of Brampton South has been impacted by the pandemic. Grace Manor, one of the LTC homes in Ontario, required assistance from the armed forces early in this pandemic, and the report they wrote had some shocking stories. This is an issue that Canadians care about deeply.
Mr. Chair, I need to explain why, as a local MP, I had to sign this letter, and why I believe all members of this committee should support this motion. Due to the dedicated work by a group of long-term care families, multiple stories emerged from a long-term care home in my riding. First, there was a recent story that a staff member had been withholding medication to residents. Second, residents died of dehydration. In my riding, Mr. Chair, residents died of dehydration. This happened after the CAF report, Mr. Chair.
Last Friday there was a protest in my riding organized by families of long-term care residents worried about their loved ones, about their parents, about their grandparents. This is happening in June 2021, a year and a half into this pandemic.
Mr. Chair, I'm confident that any member of this committee would be ringing the alarm if this happened in their riding or in their province. Many of us have met with individual family members and organized communities leaders, such as the Canadians for long-term care group. In a response to this motion they said that they are beyond happy to see this. The Canadian Association for Long Term Care is ready to take part in this. People want the issue of long-term care taken seriously.
I want to share maybe the single most important reason that this committee needs to undertake this study as the next priority. According to the National Institute on Ageing's long-term care COVID-19 tracker, residents of long-term care homes accounted for only 4% of the positive cases in Ontario, but 42% of COVID-19 deaths in the province have been among the residents of long-term care homes. Nationwide, it is 59%, despite only counting as 6% of positive test cases. This is a shocking figure.
When the majority of deaths have a clear commonality, it is important that we investigate that as part of the COVID study. The seniors and other residents of these homes are among the most vulnerable Canadians, and the provincial government has a duty of care to them, which was grossly neglected during this pandemic.
Our seniors did not just build this country; they defended it too. Generations of brave Canadians from all walks of life have stepped forward to serve and sacrifice for our country. Hundreds of thousands have fought and many continue to serve, so we have a responsibility.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the virus have disproportionately affected them, particularly those living in long-term care facilities. Some seniors spent a prolonged period alone and separated from their families and communities. We heard stories, Mr. Chair, where seniors could not see their family members who spoke their language, and they were so vulnerable. Many sad stories are there. Public health measures meant many seniors needed to rely on friends, families or community services for access to groceries and medicine.
During the first wave of the pandemic more than one in three long-term care homes across Canada faced an outbreak situation. They simply were not prepared for a severe outbreak of a virus like this. There is an extent to which this is understandable. The COVID virus did not even exist two years ago, and it spreads more easily than other common viruses. Most of us did not see this coming, but we need to know how to be prepared for the future.
Most people would have expected family facilities, like long-term care homes, to have standards to enforce infection controls and prevention procedures that would have reduced the risk of this virus. This was clearly not the case. Much has been said about the labour practices of industry, with personal support workers having to combine part-time shifts at multiple homes, and working conditions that do not encourage them to stick around. I have met with many representatives of PSW professionals, and there have regularly been issues of morale and stability in the field.
They have also told me about the impact of the pandemic on staff. It has been widely acknowledged in Ontario that the problems in our long-term care go back decades. However, even shortly before the pandemic began, the provincial government in Ontario made cuts to long-term care and health care services in its budgets, which led to decreased facility inspections and issues with staffing across the province.
We can all hope that the pandemic has been the wake-up call that will finally lead to short- and long-term improvements in long-term care homes, but we need a road map. After the tragedies we have seen, Canadians want the federal government to be there to work with the provinces and territories on what is their jurisdiction.
I have received hundreds of emails from my constituents asking for that, and I'm getting many calls right now. There has been much discussion about public versus private and non-profit versus for-profit homes. In Ontario, for-profit homes had significantly more deaths than public ones, and some parties have proposed eliminating for-profit homes entirely. However, not all provinces have had this experience, and this discrepancy between death rates, between these models, is less significant. We should hear testimony on the pros and cons of each model. We need to study this.
I know there are people who may think the federal government has no role in this issue, particularly in Quebec. I mentioned earlier that 59% of Canada's COVID deaths were in long-term care homes, but 72% of those were in Quebec, by far the most of any province or territory. That is why, from the beginning, we have been working with all the provinces and territories, including Quebec and Ontario.
Today, my colleague, Ms. O'Connell, referred to an article on the CBC website about the results of the inquiry into Quebec's situation in long-term care during the first wave. I read it a few minutes ago, and I was shocked. This inquiry says that Quebec authorities believed there was no asymptomatic transmission for weeks, allowing it to spread undetected. As Ms. O'Connell mentioned the source of this report was a coroner's inquest.
Géhane Kamel, the coroner, said the goal of the inquest was not to determine guilt but to come up with recommendations to prevent future tragedies.
I agree with her that the goal of this study was not to blame provinces but to work with them hand in hand. That is why we should be doing our own study on this issue to make recommendations as to how the federal government responds.
Going back to the article, there were disturbing things found by this report. For Canadians watching this committee at home, if you are easily disturbed, I recommend you mute my speech for about a minute.
These are the facts found by this inquest. There was a shortage of oxygen equipment. The report says that dead bodies were left untouched for hours and that staff were working despite having symptoms of COVID-19. A patient attendant could not receive a COVID test, despite losing his sense of smell two days earlier and having flu-like symptoms. He was told he couldn't be tested because he had not travelled abroad. Finally, I would like to use one last quote from a nurse in this article: “It was a horror movie.” Another nurse spoke of the delay in funeral homes' receiving bodies.
Mr. Chair, I'm so sorry about this horrible report out of Quebec today. How can we not work with Quebec and all provinces and territories?
The National Institute on Ageing researchers also found that deaths in Canada's long-term care settings were three times higher compared with other OECD countries. Not surprisingly, Mr. Chair, most Canadians fear having to move into a long-term care setting as they age after seeing what happened during this pandemic.
The armed forces reported on the conditions at the LTC in my riding, and I would like to remind members of this committee what they found.
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces also assisted in long-term care facilities. The Canadian Red Cross is still helping. They did a crucial job helping with our parents, grandparents and elders. For that, we owe them our deepest thanks.
I mentioned it earlier in my remarks, but the details are important, Mr. Chair. Staff were found moving from COVID units to other units without changing contaminated PPE. They were not following basic infection-prevention policies like washing hands between patient interactions and were cleaning gloves with hand sanitizer instead of changing them. Wounds were not being treated in a sterile manner. Medications were not being properly documented. Staff were aggressive in repositioning the patients and were not assisting the residents during meals, documenting that they refused to eat rather than helping them. With regard to the last one, they were leaving food in the residents' mouths while they were sleeping. That was at the beginning of the pandemic. It was actually the most serious of the five homes within the report.
However, it was revealed that the Ministry of Long-Term Care continued to investigate the home. In March, it was found that the long-term care home's owner had failed to document the fluid intake of three residents. The result of this was that one of them died of dehydration. As a result of a separate investigation, a nurse who worked at the same home is now facing 11 charges of failing to provide the necessities of life for withholding medications from residents.
Mr. Chair, it is irresponsible. Not making substantial adjustments after the tragic first wave proved to be dangerously irresponsible. As it stands, Canada needs to be prepared to train higher and to fund more personal workers, even in the absence of a pandemic. We have an aging population and seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible, something that is even more true after the devastation that was seen in long-term care.
We need to bring improvements to this field, to the working conditions, to the pay and to the respect they are given. It is a field overwhelmingly dominated by women, often immigrants and people of colour. These workers need to be appreciated so that the best of them stay in the profession and the bad actors are no longer allowed to remain because we are desperate for workers.
Another home in the CAF report was the Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke. Some of the issues noted include COVID-positive patients not being isolated and continuing to room with ones who had tested negative. They were allowed to wander around, risking spread throughout the home.
There was a general culture to fail to use supplies, including basic PPE, because they cost money. The report also described severe understaffing during the day, leading to patients not having the proper support, and the morale and well-being of the staff being at risk. There were nearly a dozen fungal infections from improperly used catheters, and gross non-adherence to some recurring orders, such as regularly checking vital signs or turning patients, in some cases using the excuse that it may wake them.
They also noted abusive and aggressive behaviour, and degrading or inappropriate comments directed at residents, as well as inaccurate reporting to the patients' families regarding their status on things like feeding, pain levels and general conditions.
At Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York, there was little to no disinfection done prior to catheterizing, with significant gross fecal contamination being noted in numerous patients' rooms. There was a significant shortage of RNs, especially on weekends. There was a significant deterioration of cleanliness standards throughout long-term care. Staff reported that some residents had not been fed for several weeks. Forceful feeding and dehydration was observed, causing choking and aspiration. There was a noted incident of a catheter being in place three weeks beyond the scheduled change date.
We also need to examine different ways that provincial governments have responded to the crisis in these homes. In Ontario the people were promised hiring around long-term care homes after the devastation of the first wave, but no substantive improvement materialized. As the second wave began, these facilities were still unprepared for a full outbreak. Despite warnings that there was an immediate need to hire and train more infection prevention experts and thousands of personal support workers, the provincial government remained slow to act.
We need to work on this for the sake of residents in long-term care and their families. Let me be clear. It is never too late to study this. It is never too late to talk about these issues. These issues are not over. These tragedies are not behind us. They are still happening today, not in Vancouver, not in Calgary, but they are happening here in my riding of Brampton South. This is why my constituents sent me here to speak on their behalf. I am doing so now, proudly and with full responsibility. We all have a responsibility.
I would like now to speak about our government's record for the awareness of the members of this committee and Canadians who are watching. Our position is clear. Those living in long-term care deserve safe and quality care, and to be treated with dignity. The pandemic has shone a light on systemic issues affecting long-term care facilities across the country. In 2020's fall economic statement, our government committed $1 billion to the safe long-term care fund to ensure our seniors and their caretakers are well protected and supported. Not only that, but in budget 2021 we have invested $3 billion to ensure standards across the nation for long-term care.
For a sense of what budget 2021 includes for Canada's seniors, I will list a few things.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide $90 million over three years, starting in 2021-22 to Employment and Social Development Canada to launch the age well at home initiative. Age well at home would assist community-based organizations in providing practical support that helps low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors age in place, such as matching seniors with volunteers who can help with meal preparation, home maintenance, daily errands, yardwork and transportation.
This initiative would also support regional and national projects that help expand services that have already demonstrated results in helping seniors stay in their homes.
For example, knowledge hub can help seniors access the local services available to them, or provide information, resources and training to community-based organizations in delivering practical support to seniors.
Our position is clear. Those living in long-term care deserve safe, quality care and to be treated with dignity. As I said before, the pandemic has shone a light. Budget 2021 also proposes to provide $41.3 million over six years, and $7.7 million ongoing, starting in 2021-22, for Stats Canada to improve data infrastructure and data collection on supportive care, primary care, and pharmaceuticals.
We have invested every step of the way, and regularly supported our seniors with the funds required to keep them safe. However, we need to keep taking action. We need to continue acting in support of Canadians and long-term care homes, and we can do this through the help of this motion. We can make recommendations.
We are all so lucky to be Canadian. We have had one of the best vaccine rollouts in this world, and we are now number one in the G7, G20 and the OECD for first doses administered and rapidly catching up on the second doses.
Canada isn't great because it is Canada. It is great because of the Canadians who live here and who, for generations after generations, have worked hard to make this one of the best places to live in the world. From all over the world, hard-working individuals who wanted only the best for themselves, their families and their communities made their way to Canada. They built this country to what is it today from coast to coast to coast. Canada's seniors have given their all to leave behind a country that will propel us forward in this world and allow us to thrive, to prosper and to be able to reflect Canadians' values in our dealings with other countries.
All of us should reflect on the immense contributions Canada's seniors have made in shaping our country. They are friends, family, neighbours, co-workers and role models. They have laid the foundation for a better life for millions of Canadians.
On the Liberal side, we recognize the contribution of Canada's seniors to our country. Not everyone in this industry is a bad actor, Mr. Chair. It is full of dedicated, caring people working in circumstances that are difficult and emotionally draining at the best of times, but there's an urgent need to reform. The federal government has a role to play in protecting the health and safety of all Canadians. The children and families of long-term care residents have been asking for this for over a year, and we owe it to them to give this study full consideration.
Now that we are building back our economy and starting our recovery, let us find strength in the legacy of resiliency, determination and compassion provided to us by seniors. We owe them our debt of gratitude. Now we need to be there for those who raised us and built this country.
That is why the Liberal members on this committee have brought forward this motion to say to Canada's seniors that, yes, absolutely, they deserve safe, quality care, and they deserve to be treated with dignity.
Let's hear from families. Let's hear from workers. Let us study this.
This is a very important issue. We need to study this. We need to give some recommendations. Our seniors are looking. Canadians are watching. Mr. Chair, this is our responsibility.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, on the point of order Ms. O'Connell just raised, I just delivered the rationale for a study. There is a protest that is ongoing in my riding. Other members are not thinking this is an important issue. I delivered the speech to give my own rationale. Long-term care in my riding is a very important issue, and events in long-term care in my riding happened and, as I said, are happening now. I know there is—
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
On a point of clarification, Mr. Chair, I don't know what happened. Ms. O'Connell moved a motion.
I want to ask the members whether this is not an important issue. I would like to know what happened to the motion we moved on long-term care. We all want to study long-term care to give recommendations. It's a burning issue in my riding.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for joining us with your officials. Thank you for all the hard work that you and your team are doing.
In my line of questioning, I intend to focus on matters that matter to Canadians. As we speak, families of long-term care residents are protesting the conditions of their parents and grandparents in long-term care in Ontario. This is happening right now in my riding. We can never see a repeat of the tragedies that occurred in these homes over the last year. We have been there for them in Ontario.
What work is being done to address these issues in the short term, and what is being done to ensure that these tragedies will never happen again?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Minister.
Research has been critical in the fight against COVID‑19. Canadians can be proud of the work our scientists have done in advancing our understanding of the disease's impacts, emerging treatments, testing technologies and vaccines.
Minister, or perhaps Dr. Strong, what research do you expect will be needed as we shift to a vaccinated world?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Dr. Strong. Thank you for mentioning that mental health has been impacted very much.
Minister, Brampton peaked at more than 1,000 new cases in a day during the third wave, but today it was 50. This is thanks to the vaccination effort made possible by the increase in vaccine deliveries, and the work being done by health care workers and volunteers on the ground.
Last week, I was at the Caledon East Community Complex in Brampton, which is one of the largest and most active vaccine clinics in the country, administering over 5,700 doses a day.
Minister, are you optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, and that Canadians will be able to return to normal fairly soon?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, I'm starting. Thank you, Madam Chair.
As we know, our Muslim community has not even had a chance to recover from the hateful act of terror in London, Ontario. Last week, a Muslim sister wearing her hijab was assaulted in Edmonton. Earlier this week, Baitul Hadi Mosque in Edmonton was vandalized. All these horrible incidents have no place in Canada, and my heart breaks for all victims of these recent attacks. I know that many Canadians are feeling the same.
To all our witnesses today, we know that our marginalized and racialized communities are looking for allies in government, and they are looking for a solution. You shouldn't feel unsafe on the streets in Canada if you are wearing a turban, kippah, hijab, indigenous regalia or any other religious cultural symbol. We need to stand up to reject racism and terror and work together.
The goal of this study in our committee is to find those solutions.
My question is for Ms. Mahdi. Anyone else who wants to can contribute.
I know that your organization advocates for peace, tolerance, love and understanding among followers of different faiths. It is important to understand the root causes of hate. What are some of the differences in experiences with hate crimes when it comes to socio-economic status? You talked about schoolkids. How can we empower them, educate them and give them awareness so that they are empowered to speak up?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Minister, and thank you to your team for being with us today.
I want to reflect on what you said in your opening statement on the attack in London.
Minister, last night I joined the vigil in my community in Brampton. I saw many women from all communities looking for allies in the government. I know you're working very hard for them, and you have been working throughout the pandemic. This pandemic has highlighted some inequities in society. I want to ask you about how these are being addressed in budget 2021.
Minister, since the last time you appeared at committee, budget 2021 has been tabled. Can you expand on how that investment from budget 2021 will directly respond to the needs of women or gender-diverse folks and equality?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Minister.
Budget 2021 has set aside specific funding allocation towards programming for men and boys. I believe this is the first time we are prioritizing this group in the work of preventing and addressing gender-based violence.
Could you speak to why this grew to be such a significant priority in the work you do?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to our witnesses for joining us today.
My question is for Dr. Tunis.
As of this morning, most Peel residents and residents across Ontario hot spots can book their second dose of vaccine, thanks to the increased supply. At our last meeting, Dr. Loh was here and told us about the importance of getting second doses to protect us from variants.
What can you tell us about the effectiveness against the delta variant of any of the vaccines authorized in Canada?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
As a follow-up question to that, Dr. Tam, although the vaccine rollout is going very well, as Dr. Tunis said, the delta variant is present in Canada.
What should residents in the community know about how this variant differs from the other ones?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Dr. Tam.
The next question Dr. Lucas or Mr. Stewart can answer.
Public health officials, doctors and scientists have said that vaccines are the best way to protect people from severe COVID-19 outcomes and death from illness, a key part of the post-pandemic return to normal.
For anyone listening who might still be hesitant to get their first dose, what would you say to them directly?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
General Brodie, I believe that, as of today, roughly 73.6% of eligible Canadians have received at least a first dose, which means, based on anticipated vaccine deliveries, what is the latest that every Canadian who wants to be could be vaccinated?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, General Brodie.
The next question is for the deputy minister of Public Safety.
Throughout the pandemic, Public Safety has approved 85 requests for assistance from the provinces and territories. Can you speak to the process and collaboration that exists between your portfolio and those of your counterparts?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
Did someone else say it was sent to the committee not to the law clerk?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
These contracts were not requested to the October order.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I just want to clarify....
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Before my time starts, I have a point of clarification. We need to clarify that there's never been a contract between CanSino and the Government of Canada. I believe it was suggested earlier that there was one. This is not correct.
My question is for the witnesses from Dan's Legacy.
As many young people are going back to school, or will be going back in the fall, we know that all levels of government are looking at how to support our return to normal. Where do you think the federal government can be most effective in supporting youth as we reopen, particularly youth in similar circumstances to those your organization supports?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Van Bynen, thank you for sharing your time. I also have a question for Mr. Ahmed.
We can all agree that one of the great tragedies of the pandemic has been the situation in long-term care homes across the country. My caucus colleagues, including my fellow committee member Ms. O'Connell, rang the alarm during the terrible tragedies in long-term care in Ontario.
We know that delivering these services falls to the provinces and territories, but there is a role for the federal government to play in ensuring consistent quality of standards across the different provinces and territories. Would you agree that a national standard for long-term care would be an important step to ensure the safety and dignity of those living in long-term care?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all of the witnesses who are joining us today.
I'll be directing my questions to Dr. Loh, but I would first like to thank him and his team for all of the hard work they have done in our community during this pandemic.
Dr. Loh, the new delta variant has been found in our community. On June 2 you said that we need to move quickly with second doses in Peel and other hot-spot zones for maximum protection. I agree with you on this need for prioritization.
Have you heard any feedback from the provincial government on prioritizing hot spots for the second dose?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
On April 20 you made the courageous decision to shut down workplaces that see outbreaks of five or more employees in order to avoid workplaces spreading COVID-19 in our community. Do you think there's anything additional that the province could have done to prevent workplace transmission during the height of the third wave in Ontario?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Brampton is one of the most racialized communities in the entire country. I'm concerned that many of the policies of the Ontario government are disproportionately affecting essential workers who cannot access sick leave, and those who are living in multi-generational households and workplaces that may not be considered truly essential. Do you think the Ontario government has sufficiently examined the impacts of its policies on the community in Brampton?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Dr. Loh.
You said in your statement that the most impacted region, Brampton, has been the hardest hit in the entire province of Ontario. We have seen the horrible impacts of the virus on our community's workers and families. Have you provided any advice to the Ontario government that could have prevented the severity of the tragedy, and did they they really want to hear your advice and take it into account?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Peel was one of the first communities to have a federally funded voluntary isolation centre to help quarantine people who were not able to safely do so at home.
Could you speak to the effectiveness of the service?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
In your opinion, has the Ontario government done enough to curb community transmission in the first, second or third waves?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
[Technical difficulty—Editor] encourage witnesses to complete a conflict of interest disclosure form. I understand that some witnesses today may have already done so. For anyone who may not have done so yet, I would ask them to do so as soon as possible with the clerk of the committee.
This has to do with whether a witness has an economic interest or acts as an officer or a director of any outside entity whose financial interest would reasonably appear to be affected by the addition of the witness's testimony in any report that may be written by the committee on that matter. Witnesses should also disclose any personal, business or volunteer affiliation that may give rise to a real or apparent conflict of interest.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank all of our witnesses for being here today.
I will start my questions with Dr. Morgan.
Dr. Morgan, I know you have written about different models for pricing drugs and how they can better serve patients. Can you speak to how, with models based on fixed costs, a patient's ability to pay might apply in Canada? Is there room for such a system in the PMPRB's proposed model?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Affordability is an important concern for everyone. An issue that regularly comes up when I speak to my residents, Bramptonians, is how increasing drug costs and insurance premiums impact their budget. As we all know, the government is working to move forward to establish the fundamental elements of Canada's pharmacare.
To what degree do you believe that lower drug prices will result in an overall saving for Canadians, and on their insurance premiums, if the new guidelines are introduced?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
First of all, I'm extremely disappointed with this motion. I have some important questions for the witnesses from New Zealand. I strongly believe it is important to have their perspective studied. I'm very disappointed that my turn was next and the opportunity has been taken away from me. Mr. Davies just said that questions should be offered equally, but this motion personally took my time away today.
We agreed to a subcommittee meeting, following the NDP topic in our work plan as agreed by all members. Letting the witnesses go despite the agreement on the scheduled subcommittee meeting has been disappointing. Is this what we are showing our friends in New Zealand? They woke up at 5 a.m. and have spent hours preparing their testimony, and we are doing this. It's unbelievable.
As I said, you had mentioned that a subcommittee meeting would be held next week after we completed Mr. Davies' study. We had also adopted an earlier subcommittee report in March that said we would have two more PMPRB meetings and proceed to report writing.
This motion is worded in a very confusing way. I'm very concerned about how much time the fourth section of the motion has asked for public officials, these high-ranking public servants, to be on standby for an hour on two different days every week, in the middle of the day, while they are in the middle of managing our response to a global pandemic. It is just asking for two hours. Like everyone, they need to prepare for these meetings. They need to defer other meetings. They're accountable to us, but it is not their job to be grilled with unnecessary questions for multiple hours a week so that an opposition member can get clips for social media.
More than any of that, I'm concerned at this point about the lack of respect that this motion shows for this committee. We have repeatedly said that we should be discussing these things as they grow. As Mr. Van Bynen said, we had the same discussion about the last Standing Order 106(4) meeting, and the quote from Mr. Davies pretty much sums up how this committee should be functioning.
This motion would be in complete contradiction to the spirit of co-operation that Mr. Davies spoke about. This motion by the Conservatives is designed to render the subcommittee meaningless. How is it respectful of this committee if its intention can force the cancellation of a subcommittee meeting where the parties could all work together, off the record, to plot a good way to move forward?
I'm reminded of when they claimed that Canadians were at the back of the lineup to receive vaccines and would not get doses until 2030, but just today NACI recommended the earliest administration of the second dose due to an increased availability of the vaccines. If I may remind, this plan had been made available to the entire country very early on, last year, in 2020. On a recent podcast, Mr. Davies spoke about how inconsistent the Conservatives had been in their criticism of the government. He said they remembered how critical they had been of the government for being too slow to close the borders, and now they criticize the government for hotel quarantine rules and border control measures. They think we should reopen the economy. I cannot really tell what their positions are.
We should not be rewarding this behaviour by wasting public servants' time and inviting them for no reason in particular. If the opposition members would like to take the weekend to think about the topics they would like to discuss with these officials and the most efficient schedule to do that, I'm sure the subcommittee could come to an agreement.
This motion should not pass. The subcommittee should meet on Monday as planned, at which point you and the co-chair, along with Mr. Davies and Mr. Kelloway, can settle the agenda for the remaining meetings.
Thank you.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As a committee member, I'm always in favour of listening to experts. We're here to do the real work for Canadians. We need to go about that in an organized way.
I would like to speak to the information about our work plan proposed in this motion. I also want to respond to the measure of the pandemic response and the role of our committee.
First, we did work collaboratively in the beginning, and Mr. Davies's plan to study one topic per party set the tone for the entire study. The subcommittee meeting would have been the right place to discuss the next steps.
Mr. Chair, for a year we have been listening to expert testimony, and we are always willing to do that. It is important for us to help the government serve Canadians. That means amplifying the voices of doctors and other researchers and experts who can help us through this, and inform future pandemics, or inform us of any other relevant information. That includes outside experts, people who are both supportive and critical of the government's response; government officials who have been working day and night to protect Canadians; and decision-makers within cabinet. That is where the committee could add the most value.
A report reflects the best advice on how to handle a situation like this when it happens again. Even if it is not for another hundred years, we need to get around to writing a report at some point. This is why we need to have a subcommittee meeting, so that members can discuss how all of the testimony can best serve the country, and we can take the next steps. If that report were to be written today, it would reflect how well the government has handled this pandemic.
My community of Brampton was hit very hard by the pandemic. Members of this committee know this. We also received the first doses of the vaccine before September. Now, more than half of the residents of Peel, almost 70% of adults, have received their first dose. At the peak of the third wave we reported over 11,000 new cases. On a single day yesterday it was 271. Things are improving.
The federal government was able to do this by securing a larger portfolio of vaccine candidates per capita than any other country. We now rank number three in the G20 on doses administered per capita. To date, we have delivered more than 26 million vaccines to provinces and territories, with many more on the way across the country. Over 60% of Canadian adults are vaccinated.
The vaccines are also working very effectively, better than expected since we started these meetings. It was reported that only 0.15% of vaccinated Canadians have become infected by the virus 14 days or more after their first dose. Dr. Tam adds that “Compared to unvaccinated cases in these jurisdictions, these people were more likely to report no symptoms and less likely to experience severe illness requiring hospitalization.”
When provinces ask for help, we are there for them. We gave over $284 billion to the provinces to help them increase their vaccine rollout capacity. In Peel, the federal government provided many additional supports, including on-the-ground support from the armed forces in long-term care facilities in the tragic first wave, the public health outbreak response from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and a volunteer isolation site for the region.
Across Ontario, there are over 300 federal contact tracers performing 2,500 to 3,000 calls a day. The government has provided 11 million rapid tests, support to deploy tests to workplaces, additional voluntary isolation sites across the province and, of course, the $5 billion to Ontario through the safe restart agreement.
We also know that virtual care is more important than ever. That is why $46 million has been provided to the province to help expand these services, allowing Ontarians to still access care while hospitals are dealing with the crisis.
Everything we have heard, Mr. Chair, needs to be properly documented—the highs and the lows. We, in committee, need to be working towards a report, at the very least an interim one, that can better inform future leaders. The motion under discussion continues to delay this important work.
The government has had to make difficult but necessary decisions, such as how to manage the border. Canada has some of the strictest travel and border measures in the world. We have restricted non-essential entry into the country. We have banned flights from countries experiencing surges of the variants. We have required all air travellers to quarantine under PHAC supervision and have implemented rigorous quarantine and testing protocols for all travellers.
Earlier this afternoon, Dr. Tam said, “Things have taken a great turn for the better”. She also said, “Our efforts have got us well and truly over the peak of the third wave nationally and heading for a much better summer, if we can stay the course.”
While the situation may be improving in Brampton and across Ontario, other provinces, such as Manitoba, are still experiencing outbreaks, so we must be cautious and responsible. She said, “While this forecast is very encouraging, it reaffirms that now is not the time to relax our measures. If measures are relaxed, increasing the number of community-wide in-persons contacts, resurgence is likely”. As she said, we must “stay the course”, one that our government has charted.
Mr. Chair, we need to work collaboratively. These are my thoughts.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, can you clarify with the clerk if the member can livestream when the committee meeting is happening?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for joining us today.
Ms. Blais, you spoke of how you would like to see more resources put towards indigenous midwifery training. What are some of the ways you've been able to incorporate indigenous medical practices with western ones?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Ms. Blais.
Madam Chair, I want to give my time to my colleague Marc Serré.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all of the witnesses for being here today and for all of the hard work you are doing on the front line.
My first question is for Dr. Lucas.
Dr. Lucas, while PCR tests are the gold standard, rapid tests are important tools in our arsenal and so far the federal government has provided millions of rapid tests to provinces and territories. How many rapid tests have been procured for the provinces and territories? How many have been procured for Ontario?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
What role can rapid tests play in certain high-mobility settings? How can provinces and territories use them effectively?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
The next question is for Dr. Tam.
Dr. Tam, you talked about community-based approaches. I'm from Brampton in the Peel region, and about 60% of the adult population have received a first dose. It's now being made available to anyone over the age of 12. The vaccine has been made available through alternative clinics, such as those targeting specific culture groups for people working high-risk workplaces.
Can you speak to the importance of these alternative clinics in the efforts to reach all the population?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
The next question is for Mr. Matthews. The government said back in December that every Canadian who wanted a vaccine would be fully vaccinated by September. How many doses have been administered so far, and how many people have been vaccinated? Do you believe that we are on track to meet this goal?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
To Dr. Lucas, how does Canada compare with the United States and comparable countries in the G7 and G20 in terms of vaccination rates?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Mr. Stewart or Dr. Tam.
There's a concern among Canadians about the effectiveness of vaccines against the variants of concern, based on real world data.
Can you tell us about the effectiveness of vaccines against the variants of concern?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Dr. Tam, you talked about communication being the key. You mentioned some of the initiatives you are working on to increase vaccine updates, such as connecting to Canadians through social media. The federal government recently launched an advertising campaign on vaccinations and their benefits called the “Ripple Effect” campaign.
What can you tell us about the message this campaign hopes to share with Canadians across the country?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
We heard that approximately 58% of adults have received at least one dose, with that number continuing to climb.
My question is to Mr. Matthews.
How does our vaccine procurement portfolio ensure that we are able to provide so many vaccines in such a short amount of time?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
It is important for me to speak today. As a member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I know how serious the issue we are discussing here is.
Here's the main point: I believe we have to go above politics here and focus on survivors. I'm disappointed to see the politicization of this issue. It's so hurtful, Madam Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair, for giving me the opportunity.
It is so important for me to speak today. As a member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I know how serious this issue is that we're discussing here today.
Here's the main point: I believe we have to go above politics here and focus on survivors. I'm disappointed to see the politicization of this issue. It is so hurtful, Madam Chair.
Since March we have been conducting our own study on the same issue, following up on another study that we conducted in 2019. So far we have had eight meetings and heard from 36 witnesses, including the Minister of National Defence, Justice Deschamps, senior CF officials, law enforcement and over a dozen survivors of sexual assault in the military.
These stories have been difficult to listen to, and I heartily commend all the survivors for coming forward. Having heard from the witnesses in FEWO, I agree that we need to work with the witnesses and work with the survivors, not play politics. Madam Chair, let me be clear: The survivors need solutions, not politics.
First I want to focus on the solution, Madam Chair. I have been encouraged by the amount of political will shown by the government, including the Prime Minister, the Minister of National Defence, and my friend the parliamentary secretary, who joined us in these meetings in FEWO in their sincere commitment to reform the culture of the armed forces and to better support survivors.
When the minister appeared on March 23, he acknowledged that a great deal of work needs to be done. He said:
Sexual misconduct, harassment and inappropriate behaviour are not acceptable. We must call them out for what they are: an abuse of power. Such behaviour is contrary to our values as Canadians and harmful to the Canadian Forces operational effectiveness. We want to prevent it. We want to be there for survivors and their support networks. We want to ensure that those who come forward feel safe, supported and confident that they will be heard when they report sexual misconduct and harassment.
There is obviously more work to be done, but the government has taken several key steps to ending sexual misconduct in the armed forces as part of Operation Honour. We have passed a declaration of victims' rights, created the sexual misconduct response centre, and the government is implementing the Path to Dignity and Respect, a strategy for long-term culture change to eliminate sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces.
Following this, the Government of Canada initiated an independent external comprehensive review led by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour. This review will look into harassment and sexual misconduct in the CF and will examine policies, procedures, programs, practices and culture within national defence and make recommendations for improvement.
The minister said:
Eliminating all forms of misconduct and abuse of power and creating a safe work environment for everyone in the defence team has always been a top priority for me as Minister of National Defence. However, recent media reports show that many members of the Canadian Armed Forces still do not feel safe to come forward. We know we must do more to make sure that every Canadian Armed Forces member feels safe to come forward and that we will be ready to support them when they do.
He went on to say:
Beyond the SMRC, members can also reach out to chaplain services, military family resource centres, the employee assistance program and the family information line....
and continued:
These resources are critical to supporting those affected by sexual misconduct, but they are just part of our larger efforts to build a safe and inclusive workplace for all members of our defence team. We're working to eliminate the toxic masculinity that forms part of our military culture and keeps us from moving forward, the outdated and toxic traditions that valorize toughness and aggression over emotional intelligence and co-operation, and any part of our culture that contributes to bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviours.
In our committee we made a conscious choice to keep the study survivor-centric. We recognized that we are not investigators, and it is not our place to risk interfering in investigations. The goal was not to look backward and find out who knew what and when, although all of those questions have been repeatedly and clearly answered in this committee. As a legislative committee, the goal was to make recommendations that would improve conditions for women in the Canadian Armed Forces going forward.
It was encouraging to hear that work has already begun on this issue. When I asked Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, he said he had spoken directly to survivors in the short time since he became the acting chief of the defence staff. He said that many had reached out to him and that he had carefully listened to their stories. He said the following:
One thing that is apparent to me is that we need to bring in some mechanism whereby survivors can achieve closure, perhaps where they don't necessarily want to follow a legal process. I am very keen to learn more and to see the wider restorative engagement efforts as part of a final settlement coming and perhaps as a learning opportunity to bring in some form of reconciliation process. There's much more to learn here.
Madam Chair, once again, the issue we're discussing is heartbreaking. We have to be asking questions. How can we help the survivors? As I've heard from my colleagues today, these questions are being asked by some members on the committee. I encourage everyone to focus on survivors and culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here.
I believe that our study needs to be focused on the survivor's perspective, so, Dr. West, thank you for your sensitive testimony.
My question is for Dr. West.
What gaps presently exist throughout the reporting process, and what do you think could be done better to close them?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Dr. West. Your input is very valuable to us.
The next question is for General Carignan.
What is your vision for your new role as the chief of professional conduct and culture?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
To follow up, General Carignan, what are the immediate and long-term steps that you will be taking to ensure meaningful and long-lasting culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for being with us, and thank you for your testimony.
My question is for Ms. Campbell.
What is presently being done to support the retention of midwives across Canada?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
How do you think the two levels of government can better collaborate when it comes to the midwifery program? Do you have examples from other federated countries?
I would ask both of you to speak on that.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Ms. Bacon, you were talking about the impact of midwifery on rural communities.
Are there any international policy approaches to midwifery that are better serving rural families?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
As a quick follow-up, Ms. Bacon, each year, 40,000 women in Canada travel outside of their communities to give birth, due to a lack of services in rural Canada.
How are different provinces across Canada addressing this gap?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all the witnesses for joining us today.
My question is for Dr. Schwartz.
I come from Brampton, a community that has been the hardest hit in the entire province. We have seen the terrible impacts of the virus on our communities, workers, families, neighbours and residents. Have you provided any advice to the Ontario government that could have prevented the third wave?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Dr. Schwartz, did you give advice to them? Have they taken your advice?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
On a point of order, Madam Chair, the staff did not receive good sound quality. Can you check with the clerk?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a point of order, Madam Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, the French translation is coming in on the English channel.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, I want to do a amendment to Ms. Sahota's motion. I think it's unnecessary to call witnesses who have already been called, so I would like to remove the named witnesses. If we are extending the study, all parties should be able to submit names.
The clerk can schedule anyone who is available based on their availability. Anyone who is not available can submit a written submission.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think the meeting should be as Ms. Sahota said.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
No. They always can submit their written submissions because we have to make the reports too, Madam Chair. We have three reports to finish and possibly another study. We have to remember our role is to make recommendations so that the government is better able to prevent and respond to assault.
We owe it to these women to complete a report and get our report out as soon as possible.
I would like to remove the list of witnesses and the parties can submit theirs.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, yes, I will add that line, too.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, Madam Chair, I will do that.
Should I move it now?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think it's unnecessary to call witnesses who have already been called, so I would like to remove the named witnesses and keep the chaplain.
If we are extending this study, all parties should be able to submit names. The clerk can schedule anyone who's available based on their availability. Anyone who's not available can submit a written submission, and the study would end at the end of these meetings.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, it's one and a half meetings. Is that right?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair; and thank you, minister, to you and your team for appearing today.
My question is to Dr. Tam.
Dr. Tam, there's a false belief out there that young adults and children do not need to worry about COVID. Tragically, a 13-year-old girl from Brampton passed away from the virus last week, and many of the individuals filling our hospitals are under the age of 40.
What message would you like to send to Canadians about the threat posed by COVID-19 to young people?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
The next question is for Mr. Stewart.
Just to clarify, earlier you spoke about the number of people who tested positive at the border. I wanted to confirm that the number was at arrival and not after three days.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for the clarification.
Minister, as you know, Brampton is a hot-spot zone for COVID-19. The region is home to so many essential workers who live in multi-generational homes. With a positivity rate of 22%, Peel needs support. Unfortunately, the province did not direct sufficient resources to Peel early enough.
Minister, what support has the federal government already provided directly to Peel?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a point of order, Madam Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for being here.
I know that Punjabi Community Health Services is providing important services to Bramptonians. Thank you for that.
I would like to direct my question to Ms. Dhillon.
Ms. Dhillon, we live in the same community. We see the impact of the pandemic every day in Brampton. We have heard in this committee how racialized communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. How can we ensure that they have access to health services and are supported as we recover economically?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
You raised an important point on access to child care. One of the long-term consequences of establishing a national early learning and child care system as proposed in Budget 2021 is the opportunity for more women to take on full-time careers, as opposed to part-time work, in addition to looking after children. How do you believe this will impact women's careers once the system is implemented?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
You know quite well that many seniors in the South Asian communities have real language barriers. Do you believe they are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing any services, such as health care services or vaccination services? What is your advice on that? How can all levels of government bridge the barrier?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
With the increased use of telehealth and virtual patient care, what kinds of challenges have you witnessed diverse communities facing, from your line of work?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
My first question is to Mr. Grant.
As you know, this pandemic highlighted the issue of early learning and child care. The budget announced last week the national child care plan.
What long-term benefits do you see for implementing such a system for both parents and children?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We know that our communities and our medical professionals are under increased stress in the third wave. My community is a hot spot of COVID-19. I want to thank all frontline medical workers, nurses and doctors who are saving Canadians every day.
My question is for Dr. Collins. We know that our government announced new supports for Ontario, including sending federal health care staff and equipment to the front lines and more. In your testimony, you referred to an additional $4 billion from the federal government going towards the Canada health transfer to help provinces get through this pandemic. What are some immediate needs that you think the provinces should be targeting?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
My next question if for Dr. Bloch.
Dr. Bloch, my mother is presently undergoing treatment for cancer. She's fortunate to have family members supporting her. Can you speak to how patients with a serious illness, especially those with COVID-19, are able to cope when they do not have a support network? What issues do you see among low-income and racialized communities, and what solution do you propose?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to both of the witnesses for joining us this evening, and for their many years of service to this country. Thank you for your courage.
I know this is a difficult and sensitive subject, so I want to tell the witnesses that if there are questions that they feel uncomfortable about, they can choose not to answer.
My first questions are to General Whitecross. Can you discuss your experience at RMC? Do you have any recommendations for CAF and DND to prevent sexual misconduct and harassment?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
What type of training, including in the cadet curriculum, especially on the mental health perspective or any other training...?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Were there any recommendations from the response team on sexual misconduct, which you led, that have not been implemented?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
What recommendation would you like to make now?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Yesterday, in the federal budget, we saw an investment of over $236 million with the goals of eliminating misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and supporting survivors. This includes peer-to-peer support, independent legal advice, support for community-based organizations, support for military justice systems and oversight. This will go a long way, Madam Chair.
I want to begin by thanking all of our witnesses today for coming forward and sharing their stories with this committee as we work to end sexual violence in our armed forces.
Ms. Batek, my questions are for you. Within your line of work with the Survivor Perspectives Consulting Group, what have you recognized as a recurring support need for survivors?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
What do you hope to see in terms of specialized training for officers or policy changes in the CAF?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
In the previous meeting, Ms. Batek, we heard from witnesses that the option to submit their complaints online would make it easier for witnesses to come forward.
Do you agree that online tools would make it easier for witnesses to come forward?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you to all the witnesses for being here with us today.
Minister, you and your officials have been working non-stop for well over a year to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.
My first question is to Minister Anand. Can you tell the committee about the update we just received from Pfizer? How will this impact the government's vaccine procurement and distribution plans to provinces and territories?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
My next question is for Minister Hajdu.
Peel now has more than 5,000 active cases. We keep hearing local concern that Peel region is not getting a sufficient supply from the provincial distribution stage for the number of cases.
Yesterday, the mayor of Brampton had a discussion with the Prime Minister, sharing these concerns. Today, the Prime Minister said that the government is ready 24-7 to help Ontario, if such help is requested.
Minister Hajdu, the Peel chief medical officer has a similar concern. Who can he call about the supply to Peel? How does this system work? Is there sufficient supply from the provincial distribution stage? What steps is our government taking to assist hot spots like my home community in Brampton?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Dr. Tam, earlier this week, your deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Njoo, provided a clear answer to a Conservative colleague's questions. Can you clarify what other tools, such as masks and physical distancing, are necessary while we vaccinate Canadians? Can you clarify why wearing masks continues to be necessary?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Can you also speak to what you are doing to increase uptake among multicultural communities for those who may experience issues with the registration because of a language barrier?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to our witnesses for appearing before our committee. We appreciate the work that you both do within your respective departments.
My first question is for you, Dr. Preston. Can you elaborate on the mandate of the SMRC and the necessity of its services?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Where can CAF members access your services? Is there one central base or are there multiple centres across Canada?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
How have the services provided since 2015 informed the growth and development of the centre?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Can you address how the centre addresses military sexual trauma, both as support services and as research for policy change. What was the impact of the pandemic during this time?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Dr. Preston.
Like women and male members of the LGBTQ community, visible minorities and indigenous members of the armed forces also experience sexual misconduct and other forms of harassment. Can you speak to how the armed forces are able to address these issues from the intersectional point of view?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Dr. Preston, if you could give the answer, and then if the general could add to that, that would be good.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you for joining us today, General.
I hope the testimony we hear in this committee will guide us and the government as it works to reform the armed forces response to reports of assault.
General, your office began a review of cases that were initially deemed unfounded. What are some of the important recommendations that have been highlighted by the external review team so far?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
As a follow-up, General, can you clarify what type of training is given to the officers so that they are able to appropriately handle reports of sexual assault and survivors of this trauma?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
In addition to having representatives from the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, the external review team also includes a survivor advocate and a victim services representative from the sexual misconduct response centre. What are some of the benefits of having victim advocacy experts on the review team? What feedback have they provided?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
How do agencies under your supervision collaborate with the sexual misconduct response centre?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
General, do you have any other recommendations that you want to give this committee?
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