Committee
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 60 of 51261
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
I call this meeting to order.
Welcome, everyone, to meeting number 42 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health. The committee is meeting today to study the emergency situation facing Canadians in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I would like to welcome the witnesses. From the Canadian Association of Optometrists, we have Monsieur François Couillard, Dr. Michael Nelson and Laurèl Craib-Laurin. From the City of Windsor, we have Mayor Drew Dilkens. From the Region of Peel, we have Dr. Lawrence Loh, medical officer of health, public health, and Dr. Jennifer Loo, acting medical officer of health and chief executive officer, Algoma Public Health. Furthermore, we have Dr. Christopher Mackie, medical officer of health, Middlesex-London Health Unit. We also have, with UNITE HERE Canada, Michelle Travis, research director; Elisa Cardona, hospitality worker, Local 40; and Kiran Dhillon, hospitality worker, Local 40.
With that said, we will invite the witnesses to make a five-minute statement.
I will display a yellow card when your time is nearly up and a red card when your time is over. If you see the red card, you don't have to stop right away, but do try to wrap up quickly.
With that, I will invite the Canadian Association of Optometrists to begin. Go ahead, please, for five minutes.
Michael Nelson
View Michael Nelson Profile
Michael Nelson
2021-06-07 11:03
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good morning. Thank you to all the members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, in particular Luc Thériault, the member for Montcalm, for the opportunity to present on behalf of the Canadian Association of Optometrists.
My name is Dr. Michael Nelson and I'm the president of the association. I'm also a practising optometrist in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and I'm joined by François Couillard, our CEO, and Laurèl Craib-Laurin, our senior manager of government and stakeholder relations.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists represents over 5,400 optometrists who serve as Canada's primary eye care doctors. Our experience during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to have an increase in patients complaining of a variety of vision problems. Canadians are realizing the importance of their vision and that they should not be taking it for granted. Optometrists are seeing higher rates of eye fatigue, increased incidence of dry eye disease and a growing rate of myopia. Conditions like diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to vision loss, have worsened as some Canadians have chosen to delay their routine eye exams.
The growing myopia rate is especially alarming for optometrists and should raise a flag for government. Last year, the World Health Organization's inaugural world report on vision included some startling findings. Listen to this: The rate of myopia is expected to rise from 28% in 2010 to 50% by 2050. This is very alarming as myopia increases the risk of glaucoma, retinal detachment and vision loss in adults. While heredity plays a large part in myopia, it is further exacerbated by what we have seen through the COVID-19 pandemic with more and more near and close time and not enough outdoor time. This is especially worrisome for children because of the increased screen time for school and recreational activities.
For those living with diabetic retinopathy, a condition that is particularly predominant in indigenous populations, the problems of accessing care during the pandemic have resulted in worsening eye health.
François Couillard
View François Couillard Profile
François Couillard
2021-06-07 11:05
There are some high-level policy issues regarding eye health that deserve the attention of the federal government, as they have major implications not only for the health of Canadians, but also for the economy and productivity of our nation.
A Deloitte Access Economics research paper released last month estimates the total cost of vision loss in Canada was $15.6 billion in 2019. That was before the COVID‑19 pandemic.
The lack of a coordinated primary health care system for eye health was particularly evident during the COVID‑19 pandemic, which significantly reduced the ability of optometrists to provide care to Canadians. Vision problems affect the majority of Canadians, with six out of 10 Canadians reporting having had a vision problem. Every year, nearly one million Canadians miss work or school, or have their performance affected by vision problems.
We would like to encourage the Standing Committee on Health to conduct a study on vision, once this pandemic is over.
For whatever reason, Canada's many health care systems do not recognize that our eyes deserve the same level of care as other parts of the body. There is an urgent need to prioritize eye health and access to appropriate vision care for all populations.
We have the opportunity to make eye health and vision care an integral part of health care delivery from birth. Seventy-five per cent of vision loss can be treated or prevented, which means that early detection and treatment can improve population health and help avoid more costly future interventions and treatments.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:07
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and it is windy here from time to time today.
Thank you and members of the committee for the opportunity to appear today and make the case for border communities, not just Windsor but across the country, to gain access to surplus vaccines that have been offered by our neighbours in the United States.
In my community prior to the onset of the pandemic, the border between Windsor and Detroit was much like that between Ottawa and Gatineau, in the shadow of Parliament Hill.
Thousands of health care workers live in my community but cross to work every day in Detroit.
At the onset of the pandemic when Detroit was a hot spot for cases—in fact, among the worst in the United States—Canadian nurses crossed the border each day to support the health care system in southeast Michigan. It's no exaggeration to suggest that without Canadian health care workers, entire hospitals would have closed in Michigan, creating widespread problems. In fact, the United States State Department recognized this invaluable contribution, and the U.S. consul general came to Windsor. He and I handed out thank-you gift cards to doctors, nurses and pharmacists who were crossing at the Windsor-Detroit tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge.
That was April 2020.
When the vaccines began to be delivered, the City of Windsor stepped up to support all aspects of the process. Hundreds of city staff have been redeployed to support different mass vaccination clinics across Windsor. We set up a special call centre to help ensure the process was smooth and efficient.
It hasn't been without challenges, the largest of which relates to the mismatch between supply and demand.
In the beginning we had 12,000 seniors over 80 years old on our wait-list. Some had waited for six weeks for the phone call to book their first appointment.
I actually booked 180 of these appointments myself. When I called one 86-year-old, she broke down crying on the phone with joy. She hadn't left home for six weeks. She wouldn't even take out her recycling without bringing her phone for fear of missing the call that would set her on a path to, once again, hug her grandkids.
The problem is that the fear and uncertainty she felt in the beginning was only exacerbated after she received her first shot, because we told her to go home and wait for up to four months now for someone else to call and book the second appointment.
Members of the committee, we can and we must do better until everyone has been fully vaccinated. Today, multiple medical officials in Detroit and the State of Michigan have offered to provide us with surplus vaccines, many of which would otherwise expire and be thrown away because vaccine uptake is slowing just two kilometres away in Detroit.
Last week it was reported that the State of Michigan saw 35,000 doses hit the landfill, and I submit to this committee that those were doses that could have gone into the arms of Canadians.
I appreciate there are a host of issues that would need to be resolved in order to make this sort of international inoculation effort possible. I'm not here to minimize or trivialize the effort that's required to make this happen, but I am here to advocate for that effort to be sped up, because it would help get Canadians access to their second doses faster than would otherwise be the case.
The federal government's COVID-19 testing and screening expert advisory panel report released on May 28 specifically highlights that Canadians with only one dose are at a significant public health disadvantage. I appreciate that a pathway exists for Canadians to get fully vaccinated based on the supply procured at the national level, which is allocated to the province, but this process will take months to hit all eligible Canadians. Multiple offers for surplus vaccines have been made to Canadians from U.S. counterparts today.
An urgent dialogue is required with all respective parties on both sides of the border to find a way to make this happen.
Throughout this pandemic, governments at every level have found ways to move mountains to safeguard the health and safety of the public. Policy initiatives which would otherwise have taken years get resolved in a matter of days, and I commit to doing everything and anything in my power to create the conditions for success.
Last week the board of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Corporation voted to authorize the closure of the international tunnel for the purpose of hosting a vaccination clinic at the border line below the Detroit River. I established an online wait-list for Windsor-Essex residents who are ready to stand in line for U.S. surplus vaccines. As of today we have over 11,500 Canadians on that list.
Creative solutions have been found at the Carway crossing between Alberta and Montana, and I congratulate everyone involved on both sides of the border for the creativity employed to make the right thing happen there. Surplus vaccines from Montana are getting into the arms of waiting Canadians. I'm asking for that same type of creativity and effort to be [Technical difficulty—Editor] so that we can accomplish our shared binational goal to fully vaccinate our residents so that we can reunite families, reignite our economies, get people back to work, get businesses open, and reopen the world's longest undefended border.
But I need help and leadership from our federal government, and I'm here again asking for that today.
Thank you, and I look forward to the questions and discussions this morning.
Lawrence Loh
View Lawrence Loh Profile
Lawrence Loh
2021-06-07 11:12
Good morning. Thank you, members of the committee, for the opportunity to present today.
I will be focusing largely on my experience as a medical officer of health for the Region of Peel. I'm also honoured to be joined today by my colleagues, Dr. Chris Mackie, Middlesex-London Health Unit, and Dr. Jennifer Loo, medical officer of health for Algoma Public Health. They will be able to complement my observations with their own experiences from other areas of Ontario.
Peel Region is one of 34 public health units in Ontario. It serves 1.5 million people in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and in the Town of Caledon. As many of you on the committee likely know, Peel Region has been one of the regions most impacted by COVID-19 in Canada, due to population factors such as a large proportion of essential workplaces as well as socio-demographic and economic diversity. We are also home to the country's busiest international airport, which has been a source for introduction of variants of concern into our community.
Throughout the pandemic, local public health efforts are supported through ongoing collaboration with federal and provincial partners, our local municipalities and community partners. Some specific examples of the support we have received in Peel from the federal government include $6.5 million in funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada to support voluntary isolation housing for residents who cannot self-isolate at home; $13.1 million in funding received through the reaching home program to make a meaningful impact on supporting some of our most vulnerable residents; and federal support for long-term care outbreak management from the Canadian Armed Forces to protect some of the most vulnerable seniors in our community.
We've greatly appreciated these and other supports we've received. We recognize there are other areas where collaboration can be strengthened.
In the short term, financial support from both the provincial and federal governments have aided our immediate pandemic efforts. In Peel, those efforts have entailed the redeployment of most of our staff, new hiring and suspension of most of our public health programs. We're grateful for this support.
However, looking to the longer term, the federal government could further assist Peel Public Health and public health units in Ontario by allocating public-health-specific funding in provincial transfers, as most health funding is traditionally used for health care provision. In addition, it could enhance the resources and governance of the Public Health Agency of Canada to better support a national response to infectious diseases, which would include the chief public health officer having the autonomy and authority to direct public health measures, including maintenance of international surveillance programs. It could also provide additional resources to address pre-existing, non-COVID public health crises such as the opioid epidemic, as well as those that will arise due to the delayed provision of public health services. We would be happy to expand upon key COVID issues faced by the public health sector during the question and answer session, as needed.
Another area for review would be outbreak management for first nations communities. My colleagues from Middlesex-London and Algoma who are with me on this call today have reported taking on a primary role at the local level in responding to what is a defined federal mandate. This may require supplementary support and resourcing.
The federal government can also support our pandemic response by enhancing travel and border control measures to further decrease the influx of variants of concern or interest from interprovincial and international destinations.
We support federal and provincial measures to restrict non-essential travel. To emphasize our level of concern, Peel regional council recently called for the suspension of all non-essential travel from interprovincial and international destinations to Toronto Pearson International Airport. As the international situation changes, prompt adjustments to travel restrictions should be implemented.
Dr. Loo will also speak to an additional point, regarding Algoma's experience with the land border. Their experience has underlined a desire for local input into any proposed restrictions that have an impact on our communities.
Parallel to this, it is also important to protect those who are vulnerable and impacted by restrictions. In Peel, this includes international students who arrive in Canada. Many of these individuals are targeted with marketing by unscrupulous landlords and are charged very high amounts to share inadequate living spaces during and after isolation. Support from the federal government could assist in providing arriving students with better information about their isolation options.
We also need to ensure that our workforce is protected. In Peel, an analysis of our large essential work sector found that 25% of work place outbreak cases had reported employees going to work even after symptom onset. Without proper sick leave, essential workers are often unable to isolate or stay home when ill or access vaccination in a timely manner. The previous enhancements to the Canada recovery sickness benefit and Ontario's new worker income protection benefit are steps in the right direction. However, further improvements could include minimizing interruption of individuals' income flow with timely release of funding and removing the the requirement to demonstrate a 50% loss of income prior to application. These changes would remove barriers and help to ensure that our workers can follow public health guidance when they're sick.
In Canada, public health is a shared responsibility between all levels of government. Coordination and collaboration are essential. Ensuring flexibility to meet local challenges is equally important. Moving forward support from multiple levels of government with local action is essential as we move out of the response and into recovery.
My colleagues and I are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Michelle Travis
View Michelle Travis Profile
Michelle Travis
2021-06-07 11:18
Hello. I would like to thank the committee for inviting us here today.
My name is Michelle Travis, and I'm the research director for UNITE HERE Local 40, the hospitality workers' union.
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the hotel workers who were put out of work by the pandemic. Nowhere is this more true than at the Pacific Gateway Hotel, which was taken over by the federal government under the Quarantine Act last year.
Shortly, you will hear from two workers who have been directly impacted by the takeover and are calling for government action.
The government is spending untold amounts of public money on a hotel that recently fired over 140 long-term workers, mostly women. There is no transparency on the terms of the federal takeover or how long it will last.. We have asked for a copy of the agreement between the government and the hotel, but the hotel says there is no contract.
Hard-hit workers deserve to know why the government repeatedly extends its time at, and subsidizes, a hotel that takes advantage of the pandemic to fire much of its staff. Workers should be allowed to return to their jobs as travel restrictions ease. Every day the government subsidizes this hotel more workers risk losing their jobs.
We are urging the government to state its end date at Pacific Gateway, share a copy of their agreement and to please move to another site.
Now I would like for you to hear from Elisa and Kiran.
Elisa.
Elisa Cardona
View Elisa Cardona Profile
Elisa Cardona
2021-06-07 11:19
Good morning. Thank you so much for your time.
My name is Elisa Cardona, and I worked full time for seven years as a hostess and server at the Pacific Gateway Hotel near Vancouver Airport.
When the government took over the hotel, they brought in the Red Cross. Some of us were displaced from restaurants, kitchen and housekeeping jobs.
The government has repeatedly extended its takeover of our hotel. We were told they would be out last May, then August, then November, then it got extended to March 30, 2020, and now it's been extended to the end of the summer of this year.
The hotel has used a federal takeover as an excuse to terminate me and 142 of my co-workers. That's over 70% of our staff.
Many of us were fired in the last two months and are women. I'm a single mom raising two children ages 12 and 14, and I have been worrying about my finances and money this past year. It has been incredibly stressful for me and my family. I expected to go back to my job when it was time.
We asked the hotel to allow us to return to our jobs after COVID-19 had passed and when the work becomes available again. They have refused the whole time.
The federal government is subsidizing a hotel using a temporary pandemic to fire and replace us for less. These have been good, family-supporting jobs. Why is the government allowing this to happen?
Prime Minister Trudeau promised us a feminist recovery, yet women are bearing the brunt of firings at Pacific Gateway on the government's watch. A human rights complaint has been filed against the hotel for sex and racial discrimination against women because their jobs have been disproportionately impacted.
How much has the government spent on this hotel while women like me are treated like we're disposable? After the latest round of mass hirings, we went on strike and remain on the picket line. What's happening at our hotel is not acceptable. The government can and should act. That's why we're asking the government to stop subsidizing the Pacific Gateway Hotel.
Thank you.
Kiran Dhillon
View Kiran Dhillon Profile
Kiran Dhillon
2021-06-07 11:21
Good morning, everyone.
My name is Kiran Dhillon. I worked as a room attendant cleaning hotel rooms at Pacific Gateway for 17 years until the pandemic hit.
I raised my children on this job. When the government took over our hotel as a quarantine site, they brought in the Red Cross. Other people were trained to do our jobs.
I was terminated last month along with many of my co-workers. The hotel fired 90% of housekeeping staff. Most of us are women who have been working there for decades. Women at Pacific Gateway are taking the brunt of job losses while the men's jobs are more likely to be protected.
We filed a human rights complaint on the basis of sex and racial discrimination because of how we have been treated. The hotel terminated 74% of its female staff. More of my co-workers could lose their jobs this summer if the government continues to use our hotel.
My co-workers and I want to know when will the government stop using Pacific Gateway and how will the government help women like me return to our jobs so that we aren't treated like we are second class.
People want to travel again. There's no reason why we should lose our jobs during a temporary pandemic.
Thank you so much.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll be directing my questions to Mayor Dilkens.
Before I do, I just want to say to Ms. Cardona and Ms. Dhillon that your testimony was shocking and should wake every member of this committee up. I can't believe you had to go through that. I reiterate calls for the government to scrap the non-scientific and discriminatory hotel quarantine program.
I am so sorry you have had to go through that. I'm in shock. It's ridiculous.
Mayor Dilkens, it's my understanding that prior to this meeting—about three minutes before the meeting—you got some correspondence from PHAC that said that if a U.S. pharmacist reached her hand across the border line to give a Canadian a dose that would otherwise go in the garbage, it would be considered importing the drug for sale and would need Health Canada approval. Is this correct?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:24
That's correct.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Has the federal government offered you any assistance in getting these doses into Canada?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:24
No, none whatsoever.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Would you say that they have been more focused on providing roadblocks to getting these doses into Canada?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:24
Every effort to find creative solutions to make this work has been thwarted.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Would you characterize the Canadian federal government as being, in fact, comfortable with 35,000 doses going in the garbage?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:25
It would appear that way.
We have 35,000 doses that hit the trash in the State of Michigan, two kilometres away from where I'm sitting at this very moment. These were doses that had been offered to us by pharmacists living in my community who work over there. They are just beside themselves thinking that this stuff is going into the landfill when there's such a demand here on our side of the border.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Would you characterize that as sort of the height of privilege, in terms of watching vaccine inequity around the world, with the Canadian federal government being content to let doses of Pfizer vaccine go in the garbage?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:25
I just think we can do better.
We have a pathway to do better. It's not like [Technical difficulty—Editor] the U.S. side, in every situation at all times. This is being offered to us and for some reason, our government is finding every way to say no to making this happen.
I'm looking for someone who will find one way to say yes. This is a sensible pathway. It's Pfizer vaccine that's manufactured at the same plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Let's just find a way to make this happen.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
In front of this committee, the head of PHAC said that every Canadian currently has a pathway to a vaccine and then made this sort of glib comment about the Twitter account, Vaccine Hunters.
Would you characterize that as correct in your community right now? Does every resident in your community have a current pathway to, let's say, even a second dose of vaccine? Could anybody in your community go and get a second dose today in Windsor?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:26
No. If they could, I wouldn't be here. That's the problem. There's a supply and demand mismatch. This is a pathway to help make our situation better on this side of the border.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Do you think Health Canada and PHAC are just being obstinate? I don't understand why they're not helping you.
Could you shed some light on that? Are they just being obstructionist for the sake of being obstructionist, in their privilege?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:26
The part that's difficult for me to understand is that pathways have been found. I'm not asking for something unique here. Pathways have been found at the Carway crossing between Alberta and Montana. In fact, tomorrow and Wednesday, there will be further Canadians crossing at that port of entry to get their vaccine and return to Canada.
I'm trying to facilitate the same type of thing here in my community because the vaccines are being offered. People who live here who are calling me and telling me that this stuff is being thrown in the garbage. They're asking how we can get it into our supply chain so that we can help vaccinate our population.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Have you had any push-back from anybody on the American side, be it officials or health care providers? Is anyone signalling to you that they don't want to do this?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:27
I've spoken with the head of U.S. Customs—the one responsible for the port in Detroit. They have concerns with the vaccination on the U.S. side at the port of entry. They said they don't deem that to be essential travel into the United States. That's why we've had to work on other creative ways to try to make this happen. That is why we painted the line in middle of the Detroit tunnel.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Would you speculate that this is due to the fact that the Canadian federal government really doesn't have any plans or benchmarks for reopening the U.S. border, in spite of people like Republican congresswoman Elise Stefanik saying that they might have to unilaterally open the border?
I'll close with this, since we have you here.
If the Americans unilaterally open the border, as Elise Stefanik has sort of alluded to today, do you think PHAC or anybody would have the resources to follow up with the tens of thousands of Canadians who would almost certainly cross the border to get vaccinated?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:28
I am the mayor of the closest city to the United States, a major urban area on the other side of the border. When the border opens, if it opens later this month, there will be 10,000 people crossing it in the first couple of hours to get their second vaccine, to pick up packages and, most importantly, to visit loved ones they haven't seen in 15 months. Our system will be absolutely overrun. If the thought is that you have to be fully vaccinated plus a two-week window after your second vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated, the system will be completely overloaded at this point of entry very quickly.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
I have 30 seconds left.
Do you think any member of this committee should be comfortable with 35,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine being thrown in the garbage?
Drew Dilkens
View Drew Dilkens Profile
Drew Dilkens
2021-06-07 11:29
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?
Lawrence Loh
View Lawrence Loh Profile
Lawrence Loh
2021-06-07 11:30
I'll preface my answer by saying that there may be a difference of opinion, at least amongst the three of us medical officers of health here, in respect of that. My recommendation is not my own professional opinion. It is simply reporting a recommendation made to me by the Ontario science table, which indicates that the delta variant is increasing rapidly throughout the province of Ontario and that the Region of Peel is the furthest ahead in terms the alpha variant being replaced by the delta variant, thus necessitating, potentially, consideration of prioritizing second doses for protection.
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?
Lawrence Loh
View Lawrence Loh Profile
Lawrence Loh
2021-06-07 11:31
Workplace transmission has been a significant issue throughout the course of the pandemic. In the Region of Peel, we've always talked about the need for investigations, inspections and protections. In respect of investigations, that really speaks to making sure that workplace outbreak investigations are conducted in a timely manner, and where they cannot be, they'll be brought in under a section 22 order.
It's not just that in and of itself. We know that paid sick days and things like proactive workplace safety inspections are all things that we've had dialogues about with our provincial partners and have seen some movement on, and we certainly would be desirous of continuing to work to really address spread in workplaces in our community. It has really been part of the reason that Peel region's transmission rates have looked the way that they do.
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?
Lawrence Loh
View Lawrence Loh Profile
Lawrence Loh
2021-06-07 11:32
Thank you, Member Sidhu.
I know we've had numerous productive dialogues with our provincial counterparts. They understand and have expressed support for the unique challenges we face in the Region of Peel. Certainly things like paid sick days, proactive workplace inspections, etc., are all things that are needed.
I would also highlight that many of the challenges faced in Peel have also been the result of disparities that existed prior to the arrival of the pandemic in our community, reflecting the socioeconomic and ethnocultural diversity in our community.
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?
Lawrence Loh
View Lawrence Loh Profile
Lawrence Loh
2021-06-07 11:33
As I've mentioned, Member Sidhu, we've regularly provided input to the chief medical officer of health and the ministry on measures that could be used in workplaces in terms of testing and vaccination strategies, etc. To the extent that some of those are taken up in part or in whole, I'd be hard-pressed to remember exactly which and where those policies have landed.
What I do know, like I said, is that the story of Peel has been a story of disparity and ultimately really reflects the socioeconomic and diversity challenges we have faced throughout this response, which have existed long before COVID-19 arrived.
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?
Lawrence Loh
View Lawrence Loh Profile
Lawrence Loh
2021-06-07 11:34
This isolation program has been extremely supportive in the course of our pandemic response. We've had over 2,500 individuals stay in our isolation housing locations, including locations that have been both provincially and federally funded. We are continuing to evaluate the [Technical difficulty—Editor].
We certainly believe in improved coordination of funding between provincial and federal levels for isolation housing. This could help to mitigate the administrative burdens on our staff and partners. We are certain that the having had the facility in our region has been helpful in addressing potential spread within households, which has also been another significant driver in our community.
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?
Lawrence Loh
View Lawrence Loh Profile
Lawrence Loh
2021-06-07 11:35
We've had numerous opportunities with the provincial government and discussions continue. I'm hopeful, looking forward, that we'll be able to do the right thing with the rise of the delta variant, and our ongoing vaccination program.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My questions are for either representative of the Canadian Association of Optometrists, Mr. Couillard or Mr. Nelson.
First of all, can you tell me what optometry research is being conducted in Canada, in general?
François Couillard
View François Couillard Profile
François Couillard
2021-06-07 11:36
Thank you for your question, Mr. Trudel.
I would like to start by saying that there is very little research done in optometry, in Canada. Between 0.5% and 1% of the overall research budgets in Canada are devoted to vision care.
When you look at the work that is being done in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or CIHR, there is no entity within these institutes dedicated to vision care. By comparison, the National Institutes of Health in the United States includes an institute specifically dedicated to vision care, but there is nothing like that in Canada.
Much of the research is done by and funded by the provinces. The Quebec government, among others, devotes a lot of funds to it. Private Quebec foundations also do research.
There is some basic research and research into advanced therapies for certain health problems that can lead to vision loss. Clinical trials are also being conducted on new drugs that may help slow the progression of vision loss.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
I can't remember if it was you or Mr. Nelson who spoke earlier about the need for increased funding.
If you had this additional funding, in what areas of expertise would you want to see research done at the moment?
François Couillard
View François Couillard Profile
François Couillard
2021-06-07 11:37
It would really be necessary to determine what the priorities are in Canada. The research would probably be on diseases leading to blindness. As I mentioned, there are new drugs that slow down the onset of blindness. It could also be on vision rehabilitation. These are methods that allow people to regain some of their vision after experiencing health problems.
There also needs to be basic research. We have good institutes in Canada, including the Montreal Clinical Research Institute, where Dr. Cayouette is doing excellent research.
We have two universities that teach optometry: the University of Waterloo and the University of Montreal. Both of these centres do their own research as well. So it's likely that the research would be concentrated in those institutions.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
The issue of screen time during the pandemic was addressed earlier, either by you or by Mr. Nelson.
I have quite young children, who are 12 and 17, and I've seen this problem amplified during the pandemic. We know it's one of the factors that creates attention deficit, for example.
Can you tell us how screen time can lead to eye health problems?
Michael Nelson
View Michael Nelson Profile
Michael Nelson
2021-06-07 11:39
Thank you very much.
The pandemic has shown that all of us—kids, adults and everyone—are using our screens much, much more and has highlighted the importance of vision to us. We're having more people coming in with symptoms related to screen use. That's highlighted to us that our vision is important, and Canadians are feeling that this is a valuable area for the federal government to have some leadership on.
If we talk specifically about kids—I talked about myopia—we know there are some studies that are linking increased screen use and screen time with increased myopia or nearsightedness, which can result in vision problems down the road and an increased risk of eye disease and pathology later on.
What this pandemic has been reminding Canadians is not to take their vision for granted. Our vision is important, and we need the federal government to take leadership on this.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
Earlier, you also talked about the need for funding to support eye health education programs.
Firstly, have there ever been any such programs?
Next, I'd like you to tell us about the ones the Canadian Association of Optometrists would itself like to set up.
François Couillard
View François Couillard Profile
François Couillard
2021-06-07 11:40
Thank you.
As far as I know, there has never been any such campaign. Anything to do with vision care has really been neglected in the past, if you compare it to dental care, or mental health care, now. For a very long time, mental health was a taboo subject, but now there are a lot of campaigns about it.
We envisage a campaign a bit like the one done in the past to stop smoking. We really need to educate the public and make them aware that some things are good for the eyes and others are not. You need to make frequent appointments with eye specialists to make sure that you are following up on your visual health and to be able to detect problems early on so that they don't become much more serious problems that can cause blindness.
There hasn't been a campaign like this in the past, and that's why we and many of our partners nationwide are trying to develop one.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will be sharing my time with my honourable colleague from Windsor, Mr. Masse.
Ms. Travis, how many workers are currently affected by job action in the hotel industry in British Columbia?
Michelle Travis
View Michelle Travis Profile
Michelle Travis
2021-06-07 11:42
I'd say thousands of workers are impacted by.... Are you talking about in particular the Pacific Gateway Hotel?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
No, I mean totally.
I understand that a lockout notice was served by the hotel association. How many workers does that affect?
Michelle Travis
View Michelle Travis Profile
Michelle Travis
2021-06-07 11:42
About 2,000, and that includes hotels that are being bargained by the same sort of entity.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
To my understanding—if I can summarize this—the hotels essentially are using the pandemic to lay off workers, let their recall rates expire, and then when the recall rates have expired, they're terminating hundreds of workers, 70% of whom are women and many of whom are people of colour.
Is that correct?
Michelle Travis
View Michelle Travis Profile
Michelle Travis
2021-06-07 11:43
That's correct.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
This government says that it is a feminist government. It claims it wants a feminist recovery.
To Ms. Cardona and Ms. Dhillon, what is the impact on the morale of your sisters when you see the federal government continue to use a hotel that has terminated, laid off and locked out so many women?
Elisa Cardona
View Elisa Cardona Profile
Elisa Cardona
2021-06-07 11:43
It's a very disheartening feeling to be treated that way when we're in the 21st century and things are supposed to be moving forward for women.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Ms. Dhillon, do you want to add anything?
Kiran Dhillon
View Kiran Dhillon Profile
Kiran Dhillon
2021-06-07 11:44
We think this is sexual and racial discrimination, because out of 142 workers, 90% are women. More workers, again mostly women, could be terminated over the summer too.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
I have one more question before I turn it over to Mr. Masse.
The federal government is using a hotel behind picket lines, operated by an employer who has fired and locked out hundreds of workers—mostly women. They are sending tax dollars—your tax dollars—to that very hotel right now, behind picket lines, a hotel that is operated by an employer who is facing a human rights complaint for sex and race discrimination.
Can you tell us, UNITE HERE members, what advice you would give this federal government in those circumstances?
Elisa Cardona
View Elisa Cardona Profile
Elisa Cardona
2021-06-07 11:45
Yes, I can take that. Thank you, Michelle.
I would like the federal government to stop subsidizing hotels that treat women and employees in that manner: with no respect, no dignity and making them feel like they're disposable when our jobs are not disposable and we're some of the most trained people, with high skills.
I don't understand why this specific hotel is getting all this subsidizing from my tax dollars as well as yours, letting people get fired and then getting them replaced by minimum-wage employees.
Results: 1 - 60 of 51261 | Page: 1 of 855

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data