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Results: 1 - 15 of 1068
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Chair, I want to thank my colleagues in the official opposition for all their hard work throughout the day. I want to thank the members of other parties as well as we tried to find a resolution to a problem that was created when the government decided to add additional measures to its financial assistance package.
We recognize that many Canadians are going to face a great deal of difficulty in the days and weeks ahead, and we are ready to help find solutions.
We recognize that Canadians are going to face a great deal of difficulty in the days and weeks ahead and we are here ready to help find solutions. That is what we were expecting to do. The Liberals have now agreed to our grave concerns about the types of sweeping power they were going to give themselves, we do find that we are in a position where we are able to support this going ahead.
That being said, I do have a number of questions for my colleagues across the aisle. As they will well know, many businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy. Many businesses have been told that they must close their doors. Restaurants and other types of businesses in the service industry are facing a great deal of hardship. The government's original proposal was to provide a 10% wage subsidy. I believe the ministers would acknowledge that the situation has changed from those early days and in many cases that will not be sufficient to help individuals stay employed.
Will the government consider other additional measures that would keep small businesses afloat during this difficult time? We have called for not only the raising of that wage subsidy, but also to have GST rebated to the small businesses that have collected that GST over the past few months. That would provide them with a great deal of cash flow that would be able to assist.
Will the government be willing to entertain that type of measure?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Chair, I will acknowledge that we are in agreement with much of what the finance minister has said. I think we are heading into some uncharted territory. There will be many Canadians who have never looked to government before for assistance who will now be looking to government. We must make sure that we find a way to provide that support to them, and help to keep people in their apartments and homes and able to put food on the table.
One way to ensure that the effects of this downturn last even longer is if the government or our central bank were to consider a quantitative easing measure. That is a guaranteed way to make sure that the lingering effects of this downturn will last years and years beyond what it needs to.
Will the finance minister commit to assuring the House that quantitative easing, printing money, is not something the government would support and certainly not something that the government would request the Bank of Canada to consider?
View Tim Uppal Profile
View Tim Uppal Profile
2020-03-25 4:00 [p.2074]
Madam Chair, Albertans have been struggling for years. The unemployment rate of young men has been approaching 20%. Nearly $200 billion in oil and gas projects have been cancelled or stalled, and 200,000 Canadian oil and gas workers have lost their jobs in just the last five years, and this is all before COVID-19. Albertans need help.
What is the government doing to help Albertans during these unprecedented times?
View Tim Uppal Profile
View Tim Uppal Profile
2020-03-25 4:01 [p.2074]
Madam Chair, Albertans need a plan to receive the money the government is laying out, and not have to play a game of wait and see. Similarly, there is $21 billion worth in energy projects in the queue for regulatory review, with at least one waiting for cabinet approval. The government can direct regulators to speed up the reviews while maintaining the evidence and science-based approach with the highest standards, which Canada is renowned for.
Will this government fast-track major energy projects to get Alberta's energy sector back on its feet to get people working again and the Canadian economy going now and in the future?
View Tim Uppal Profile
View Tim Uppal Profile
2020-03-25 4:03 [p.2074]
Madam Chair, hopefully we will hear that sooner than later.
We already know that unemployment is at unprecedented levels and that people are struggling to pay their bills. The carbon tax makes these bills even larger at a time when every dollar saved is crucial for Canadians to be able to provide for their families. Will the government postpone the 50% increase in the carbon tax scheduled for April 1?
View Tim Uppal Profile
View Tim Uppal Profile
2020-03-25 4:04 [p.2075]
Madam Chair, on Monday the Minister of Agriculture announced additional funds for Farm Credit Canada, but producers need cash flow now to pay for spring inputs like seed, fertilizer and fuel. How will the funds for Farm Credit Canada be allocated and how quickly? Will these be interest-free loans and will all commodity groups qualify?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Chair, Canada must look at international comparisons and copy strategies used by countries that have been successful in controlling COVID-19. South Korea provides one such example. Its approach emphasizes widely available testing and tracking of the spread of the virus, making people aware of specific places where they might have been exposed and providing them with the test results as quickly as possible. This targeted testing and tracking approach has helped South Korea turn the corner. Taiwan's approach has been similar and similarly effective.
Has the government studied, and is the government preparing to adopt, the very successful containment model used by Asian democracies which also have more experience at pandemic control?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Chair, to emulate these models we need to have widely available testing and that just is not the case right now. Compared to the South Korean model, we have had very restrictive testing protocols in Canada. One front-line physician told me that he has to tell patients that they probably have COVID and should self-isolate, but there is not the capacity to test them in certain situations.
What is the government's plan to massively ramp up our testing capacity?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Chair, those numbers are not enough and the U.S. comparisons are not enough.
I have a quick question for the finance minister.
We know that the charitable sector is going to be struggling. Groups have proposed matching programs as well as an increase to the charitable tax rate in order to stimulate the charitable tax sector. What measures are being contemplated to support the charitable sector?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I know that I speak for all parliamentarians when I say that those Canadians who are affected by the COVID-19 virus are in our thoughts and prayers at this time. I know that our actions, whether on the government side of the House or on opposition benches, must continue to be guided by our shared desire to protect the health and safety of all Canadians and to support them through the global pandemic.
These are unprecedented times, warranting an unprecedented response both from governments and the Canadian people.
We know that this crisis is affecting Canadians across the country.
Almost a million workers have already been laid off, stores and restaurants have been told to close their doors and Canadians have been asked to stay at home.
We also know that our economy is taking a hit in this crisis and that the coming months will be very difficult.
While we are all aware that more needs to be done, and we have all heard of isolated incidents of people not following public health advice, overwhelmingly Canadians have risen to the challenge and have shown the care and compassion for which we, as a country, are so well known.
In these trying times, now more than ever, we see the strength of our communities and appreciate our true Canadian heroes: truck drivers, farmers and factory workers keeping our supply chains running at all times; companies stepping up, ensuring workers get paid, even if their doors are closed; grocery stores, pharmacies and cleaning staff working to keep shelves full and doors open; and restaurants offering takeout and delivery to those who need a hot meal.
Perhaps most importantly as we consider the health crisis, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the doctors, nurses, hospital staff, public health officials and first responders working around the clock to keep us all healthy and safe.
I had an opportunity to speak with the president of the Ontario Medical Association last week about what doctors urgently need from the government in fighting this pandemic. Those needs must be met.
The president mentioned the need for greater information-sharing tools so that tracking of cases can be done more quickly, so that when someone has a positive test result, the medical and health agencies can work backward and find out who that person was in contact with and do it through a much faster response mechanism. He also spoke to the need for equipment that must be procured now, before the number of cases escalates. I hope the government takes those concerns very seriously.
Our researchers in the scientific community will also play an essential role in fighting this pandemic and ultimately developing a vaccine.
I also want to acknowledge the leadership shown by provincial and municipal elected officials across the country. While the federal government took its time, the provinces acted quickly, taking advantage of their constitutional powers on health and education, particularly through the police and local services. Each province has tackled its own challenges and proposed new, innovative approaches.
Canadians are worried. They are worried for their health and the health of their loved ones, for their jobs and for their futures, and they are looking to us for action.
Conservatives have been flexible in our approach, while also continuing to ensure government oversight. When we agreed to the extraordinary suspension of Parliament, Conservatives insisted that the government be subject to substantial accountability measures, including the condition that the Auditor General would audit any new spending and that parliamentary committees would be able to review all of that spending when Parliament resumes.
We also agreed to bring back the House of Commons this week with only a small number of members present. We were prepared to quickly pass the measures that the Prime Minister had announced to date.
What we were not prepared for was the government's attempted undemocratic power grab. The Liberals shamefully tried to use a public health crisis to give themselves the powers to raises taxes, debt and spending without parliamentary oversight. However, after hours of negotiation, the government now has backed down from that position, and Conservatives have secured the following concessions.
We demanded that the government remove the section that would have allowed it to raise taxes without parliamentary approval, and the Liberals have agreed.
We demanded that the government walk back its unlimited spending powers and that special warrants expire on June 23, 2020, instead of September 30, 2020. The Liberals agreed.
We demanded that the government include explicit reference to putting taxpayers' rights first, and the Liberals agreed.
We demanded that the government must put sunset clauses in its legislation, a point that only the Conservative Party raised.
We demanded a sunset clause to ensure that the new powers will not remain in place for several more years.
We demanded that the government be accountable to Parliament through regular reports to the House of Commons health and finance committees, and that the finance committee have the right to recall Parliament if we identify any abuses, and the Liberals agreed.
Our effective opposition has also gotten the government to reverse course on other policies.
Let us remember that it was just a short while ago in this House that Conservatives were calling for stronger action to protect our borders. We were the ones who were asking tough questions as to why flights coming into Canada from hot spots around the world were continuing to be allowed. We proposed the idea of restricting travel much earlier. The government's initial response was that closing borders and restricting travel was not an effective way to fight this virus. It turns out that this was exactly what the Liberals were forced to do, just a short while after making those statements.
We asked about the impact of the border closure on the temporary foreign worker and seasonal agricultural worker programs, and the government made exemptions.
We demanded that the government put an end to illegal border crossings, in particular Roxham Road, and it is only thanks to us that the government has listened.
We have also called on the federal government to increase support for small businesses and workers, and I remain hopeful that the government will implement our suggestions.
Conservatives are focused on putting forward constructive solutions to ensure that no one falls through the cracks. We will also continue to ask questions on behalf of Canadians and ensure that the government's response includes clear timelines so that Canadians know when they can expect to start receiving support.
Many of us are looking at models around the world, and we hope that the government can look to countries that had effective measures at the front end and were then able to relax some of their restrictions on the economy much more quickly. I know one of my hon. colleagues has already raised the examples that we can look to in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, where there were a large number of tests being done, as well as rapid information sharing and rapid tracking of individuals who had tested positive so that they could identify who in the community was exposed. Those are some of the measure that we needed to see implemented much more quickly so we could quickly get to the point where our economy can get back on its feet.
While the government is looking for ways to do exactly that, I again want to urge it to do everything that it can.
I know that the Minister of Finance said earlier that the Bank of Canada is independent of government. While that is true to many degrees, there are ways that the government can take steps to ensure that quantitative easing is not an option that the government is looking at. Every time that has been tried in the past, it has led to many negative consequences for years longer than the economic crisis that justified those moves. We know that there is a huge crunch right now in the credit markets and we know the government will be looking to ways to address that, but simply printing more money is not the way to do it. I hope the Liberals take that into account.
We are here to be co-operative as they look to provide support to individuals and to help people pay their mortgages, pay their rent, pay their utilities and put food on the table.
We will be there to help and to propose solutions to ensure that Canadians can keep their homes. We will work with the measures that provide direct assistance to the Canadians affected by this crisis.
I want to thank all my colleagues for being here throughout the day.
I again remind the government that the assistance part of this legislation could have been passed 12 hours ago, but we will acknowledge the progress that has been made and the spirit of co-operation that I see in the hon. government House leader. I want to thank him for all his efforts throughout the day. It has been a lot of hard work and there have been a lot of moving pieces in a lot of ways. Those of us who have been here since the start of the day are grateful that this assistance will be able to flow into the hands of Canadians.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify something. It is not the fact that the Conservatives had issues with what the government proposed, grabbing for itself unprecedented powers: it is that Canadians had a massive problem with what the government proposed.
While we may be thankful that we have arrived at a place where we can allow this legislation to go through, I would suggest to the hon. member to do everything he can with his colleagues to point out that there was a tremendous amount of goodwill throughout the last few weeks. If the government had proposals and ideas of how it would like to have greater flexibility to address this crisis as it unfolds, to do so through the normal channels of conversation that had already been established would be far preferable to surprising the opposition in the short amount of time that we had before the House was coming back.
I just leave that with the hon. member. I hope he can take that message back to the rest.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has it all wrong.
His leader left the negotiations. He gave the government free rein. Maybe he decided to go out for a meal instead of representing his caucus and his constituents.
We made a different choice. We decided to stay here to ensure that we have a better bill for Canadians.
There are a lot of differences between—
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, we certainly agree with the objective of what the hon. member is talking about. In the best course of action now, I believe we are talking about an unprecedented involvement in many aspects of the economy that the government has never tried before. Even the most ambitious previous Liberal governments that would have loved more control over the economy did not try it.
In the situation we are facing, there very well may need to be short-term solutions to keep people in their homes. We agree with the objective, and I think now is the time to have our colleagues on the finance committee look at some of the tools that can provide a short-term benefit to allow the government to get in to help people through this crisis and then to get out so that we can return to a normally functioning economy.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2020-03-12 11:00 [p.1983]
Mr. Speaker, I was listening carefully to my colleague's speech. He knows I have an interest in this particular file, and I have more of a comment than a question.
When the member talked about single-payer, streamlining and efficiency when referring to national pharmacare, I hope he does not envision it from the same people who ran Phoenix or the F-35 procurement and who run most of the government. The CRA typically fails at delivering the needed services for taxpayers.
I will give a specific example, because the only time the member mentioned rare diseases was when he was quoting from the Hoskins report. I have an example from my riding where the public health care system failed in my province.
Sharon Lim and Joshua Wong are users of the public health care system. There is a drug approved through CADTH, and there are approved drugs in Canada, but this one is not approved for reimbursement through a public insurer, which I think the national pharmacare system would make even worse. In their particular case, they cannot even get access through the special access program to a competing drug. This is a perfect example of a problem that is unique to the public insurance system, which will be made worse.
I heard the member talk about cost effectiveness and value for money, but those are decisions that should be made by patients and their doctors, not by bureaucrats in these towers here in Ottawa. This will affect patients with rare diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Alport syndrome and every single rare disease out there.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2020-03-12 11:30 [p.1988]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the parliamentary secretary for laying out the government's position on this motion.
Many members know I have a lot of problems with the way we currently have our system designed. I am worried that a national pharmacare system will compound all those problems.
The parliamentary secretary did not address the fact that a lot of medications today are a substitute for surgeries and things that would have required a hospital stay in the past. He did mention CADTH and the Canadian drug agency. Therefore, I have a two-part question.
First, will the Canadian drug agency be subject to the Auditor General, to parliamentary oversight and to the Access to Information Act, the way CADTH is not today? CADTH is not subject to any type of parliamentary oversight, which was discussed once at the Standing Committee on Health.
Second, with respect to the $1 billion that has been set aside in future budgets for rare diseases, there are no details on that. I have a lot of patients in my riding with different rare diseases, such as cystic fibrosis. Cambia has been refused twice now, on October 2018 and November 2017, by CADTH, a government agency, and Trikafta is not coming to Canada. The Prime Minister even got the name of the medication wrong yesterday when he called it “trifacta”. When will cystic fibrosis patients get the medications they need? Also, will any of these agencies be subject to parliamentary oversight?
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