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Results: 1 - 15 of 187
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)
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, 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)
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?
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