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Results: 1 - 15 of 434
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
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
CPC (SK)
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 John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
My question is for either the Minister of Employment or the Minister of Finance. Can small business owners collect the emergency support benefit at the same time they need to run a business? Must they not be working to get the benefit or can they work to rescue their business while collecting the benefit?
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
Madam Chair, interest rates on BDC loans are too high. What is the plan to bring them down so that Ottawa does not cripple small businesses?
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
Madam Chair, unfortunately, rates as high as 17% are just too high when you add in that variable. Large businesses can see relief in this package, individuals can as well. What about small businesses? How are we going to help small businesses, micro businesses and mom-and-pop operations bridge this economic shock beyond the unemployment measures and other similar measures? What are we doing to help small businesses?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
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
CPC (SK)
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
CPC (SK)
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
CPC (SK)
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 Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-25 5:32 [p.2089]
Mr. Speaker, my first question was about guaranteed liveable income or a universal basic income, so I thank the member for responding to that. I am happy to see support in the House, and perhaps we could have further discussions about what that could look like in Canada moving forward.
I have a question about equality across regions and provinces in accessing materials and supplies for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. There are concerns in New Brunswick that we do not have the public purse to acquire supplies directly at some of the high costs for things we are going to need moving forward.
Can the member comment on reassurances for some of the smaller provinces that are dealing with this issue as well?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-25 5:34 [p.2089]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to speak here today on this important issue.
We certainly are in unprecedented times. It is remarkable for me to be here today representing my own riding while also carrying the weight of those living in the ridings of my Green Party colleagues, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands and Nanaimo—Ladysmith. I have also been asked to share these comments on behalf of the independent member for Vancouver Granville.
I would first like to acknowledge that we are on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people. It is essential that we remember the historical and ongoing implications of those words and the responsibilities we bear toward indigenous communities across the nation, especially as we face this unprecedented crisis.
I know I am not alone in having made this bizarre trek to Ottawa to be present here for these proceedings. I made the 10-hour trip by car with my husband and two boys.
We stopped only to get gas and take a break. We followed all the recommended hygiene measures.
Of course, we did our best to entertain a toddler and a seven-year-old for 10 hours in the car. I think of the many families and households across the nation who are answering difficult questions from their children and trying to keep them entertained. I feel that too. I want to let the children of Canada know we love them and we are here for them too. We know this is a difficult time.
I would like to take this opportunity to also humbly thank many, many people: the front-line workers staffing our hospitals, stocking our grocery stores and keeping our communities safe; the businesses and educational institutions that are answering the call and mobilizing in a warlike effort to provide and manufacture and supplies that we need; Dr. Tam and her team for coordinating our public health response, as well as Dr. Bonnie Henry of B.C. for her incredible work; the tireless efforts of our cabinet ministers and their staff to coordinate a response to COVID-19 across government departments; and my colleagues here in this House and those practising social distancing at home for proving that in the face of a national crisis, we can and will work together for the people of this country.
We gather in these extraordinary times to pass extraordinary legislation. It will allow the federal government to reach out and help Canadians directly with their personal finances. It will allow help to reach the self-employed, small and medium-sized businesses and large corporations. I am very relieved that a compromise was found that allows us to pass this legislation today, albeit a bit later than we had hoped.
It is a fundamental principle of Westminster parliamentary democracy that Parliament controls the public purse. We cannot, even in a public health emergency, convey unprecedented powers without any oversight and without any criteria limiting those powers to any government, no matter how well-intentioned.
This is a defining moment for our country. I am prouder than ever before to be Canadian and to see the expedited response to this crisis. I am also so proud to be from New Brunswick. I commend Premier Higgs and chief medical officer Jennifer Russell for declaring a state of emergency. To the decision-makers of the neighbouring Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland, I commend them all for making the difficult decision to close provincial borders to further protect citizens. I thank them for their leadership.
We have now seen more than a week of social distancing, of closures and restrictions. It is now the time for all Canadians to comply and do our part to get us through this together. Effective suppression would mean fewer cases of coronavirus, a fighting chance for our health care system and the humans who run it, a reduction in the number of total fatalities and a reduction in collateral damage. As well, it would give us the time for infected, isolated and quarantined health care workers to get better and return to work.
Canada has been quick to respond so far. Inevitably there are lessons to be learned to ensure that we are better prepared for this type of disaster in the future.
I am here to work collaboratively with my colleagues in government, but I must also point out the ways we need to improve so that we can get this right for Canadians.
I am sure we are all in the same boat when it comes to the level of correspondence with our constituents over the past few weeks. We have been hearing a lot of concern. One thing the situation has made clear is the inequalities within our society. COVID-19 has amplified the challenges people are already facing.
I am thinking of the Canadians who are living in poverty, especially those who are homeless.
Working Canadians have been laid off or are facing reduced work hours, particularly at a time when they feel financially insecure. Older Canadians living on a fixed income are worried about their pensions and investments. Indigenous peoples are facing heightened challenges in their communities.
It is not easy for Canadians living in rural areas to access health care services.
Permanent residents and other newcomers worrying about family abroad are trying to get home amidst travel cancellations. Our charities and not-for-profit organizations are losing their donor base right now and really need our support. We must also stay vigilant against those who want to profit from this crisis, and they are out there.
We are facing this giant together, but from very different vantage points. Almost a million people have applied for employment insurance. Our Green Party has been proposing a guaranteed livable income for Canadians for years, and if we had a GLI in place now, we would easily be able to ramp up payments to people facing layoffs and reduced hours without clogging the phone lines of Service Canada and scaring people who are afraid in their unique situations, leaving them without support. The government measures announced are now taking time to roll out because we lack the infrastructure to quickly disseminate direct payments to Canadians. We need to have a closer look at this issue.
It is also clear to me that if we had already made much-needed improvements to our health care system in areas that have been advocated by professionals, such as improved infrastructure, preventive health care and pharmacare, we would be much better situated to address the needs of Canadians in this COVID-19 crisis.
Best estimates of what lies ahead vary widely. We can all agree that the more we are able to maintain social distancing among those who are asymptomatic and maintain isolation for those who have symptoms, the greater our chances are of getting through COVID-19 without overwhelming the system. The extent to which individual Canadians and businesses can follow the advice provided depends on the extent of their financial ability to do so. People have to be in a financially secure position in order to take the public health advice.
When we talk about the economic impacts, it seems we have left some things out.
We have discussed a few of them here today. Renters, both residential and commercial, need measures to protect them from landlords who are not passing along the goodwill of the banks or who do not have the goodwill of their bank. New Brunswick and a few other provinces have made it illegal to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent. These measures are good, but they need to be standardized across the country.
We must do more for the small and medium-sized businesses that keep our economy moving.
As Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says of the wage subsidies, “It's the right measure, but it's the wrong amount.”
Our assistance measures for businesses are being dwarfed by steps taken or being contemplated elsewhere. For example, in Denmark the government is offering up to 75% of wages, with the maximum payout per employee 10 times higher than the current offering in Canada. As well, there seems to be nothing for unincorporated businesses that have employees. This is a big concern.
New Brunswick is allowing small businesses to defer WorkSafe New Brunswick premiums for three months. The federal government could do the same for EI, CPP and HST.
These are trying times, but we do see examples of hope all across the country. I have seen jingle-dress dancers standing out in their yards dancing for all of our collective healing. I know that we have seen churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship adapting to a new reality and being steadfast in their support of spirituality and faith, which we need now more than ever.
These are emotional times for citizens as well, and we also must consider their mental health. We should get outside if we can, but we must maintain our social distancing. We can go for the online museum tours. Online zoo tours are happening. I have seen people making badminton nets out of tape. We can play Hide the Potato.
I have also seen people making Portugese-style or Quebec-style tortillas.
We are finding really creative examples to deal with this crisis. Let us keep it up. I urge us all to call neighbours, check in, do FaceTime with grandparents. We all have a responsibility here. Let us stay connected. Isolation can be a really difficult thing for each of us to face.
Many of us are setting an example by operating from home as well, and we can continue to play a leadership role here by exploring digital options for the work we do here in the House. Let us continue to have that conversation.
Today means passing this motion to ensure Canadians have the financial resources they need to make ends meet while we rigorously follow the advice of public health experts. We will get through this if we stick together, even if that means standing apart.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-25 5:44 [p.2091]
Mr. Speaker, I come from rural New Brunswick, where we have faced issues with high-speed Internet access for quite some time. I know that people are trying to work from home or trying to do Zoom conferencing and find ways to communicate in this new reality that we are facing, and it is creating difficulties. We have not been able to communicate through phone calls with our staff members or other colleagues in Parliament. We need to look at what these services can provide to our rural communities as well as all of Canada with this new reality that we face.
The bandwidth just cannot handle what we are currently seeing. There is a surge of people binge-watching Netflix or whatever for entertainment purposes, and then there is certainly our work at home that we will need to be doing for who knows how long. We also need to ensure that everyone has access to those crucial connections to the people they love. I hope that we will continue to have these conversations in the House.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-25 5:46 [p.2091]
Mr. Speaker, as a mom of a seven-year-old, I have seen that the seven-year-old understands more than the two-year-old about what is happening. He chats with his friends on his headset when he is playing video games to entertain himself during this time, and I have heard him ask his friends if they are worried about the coronavirus and if they are scared. I wait to hear what the response is and how he might handle that question, and I hear him reassuring his friends and saying that it is okay, that we are going to get through this and that there are people trying to help.
That would be my message. It is that even the kids know how hard everyone is working toward this common goal of fighting COVID-19 as a nation. That is what it is going to take to really get us over that peak: staying together, understanding how important it is to heed the warnings of public health and ensuring that we do stay connected.
My other message would be to change the narrative a bit about the social distancing. Let us focus on the physical distancing with social connection, because that is so crucial right now. We really need to protect that.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-25 5:48 [p.2092]
Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question.
I have been asked by the media and some of my constituents about some of the comments that are floating around about perhaps bailing out the oil and gas industry or other corporations that are involved in different sectors.
My response is that we should first look after the individual Canadians, the workers. They certainly do need jobs to go back to. We just need to be really careful about the future that we are planning.
My hon. colleague from the Bloc mentioned that an economic crisis sets the stage for what is to come, so this is the time for us to make really bold changes to what we want to see in our future here in Canada. I think those bold changes include looking at expanding other sectors.
Of course, I am very supportive of things like renewable energy and other ways that we can maximize our energy output and still have Canadians feel that we have a great role to play on the global stage, but I feel we need to be careful about where we place our investments, understand how the markets are fluctuating and understand what that looks like moving forward in response to COVID-19.
We need to be cautious, but we need to focus first and foremost on the workers and the individual Canadians who need money in their pockets now.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-12 10:27 [p.1979]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for the privilege of speaking today. I would like to thank the minister for her words and powerful statement and my colleagues for their words.
Ladies, life-givers, we make miracles and we are miracles. Today we celebrate sisterhood, the matriarchs, the clan mothers. We all have our own journeys. For me, I felt the most connected to my womanhood when I became a mother. I am a mom of two little boys, who see their mom working hard for Canada and giving a lot of time and attention to our citizens.
From the moment I announced my candidacy to taking my seat here in the House of Commons, the number one question I was asked is how I do it. What is it like balancing the demands of parliamentary life with the responsibilities of motherhood? The answer, as one might expect, is that it is difficult.
I know that seeing strong women in important positions makes them stronger, more balanced individuals with respect for all people of all genders. Even in saying this, I know it will not be that easy for us to set an example every day to be consistent and innovative in our approach to supporting women and creating opportunities for them all over the world.
While we celebrate women who are in decision-making positions and we acknowledge that a lot of progress has been made in reducing the wage gap, the fact remains that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Despite women's increased participation in the workforce, they continue to spend much of their time doing unpaid labour. On average, women continue to be the predominant providers of care to children and to family members with mental or physical limitations related to age or chronic health conditions. This mostly invisible unpaid labour means that working Canadian women spend an additional 3.9 hours per day performing household chores and caring for children, among other things.
While women are fighting against inequality in the workplace, they are also dealing with social expectations surrounding gender.
On top of it all, feeling like imperfect mothers and imperfect workers, women blame themselves for not being able to manage it all. Mom guilt is real. However, we sitting in the House know that good public policy and structural supports play an important role in shaping the experience of working mothers. We in the House need to pay particular attention to how achieving this balance becomes all the more difficult for low-income women, trans women, women struggling with mental illness, women with disabilities and women of colour.
When we invest in social services like long-term care, health care, pharmacare, mental health care, universal affordable child care and in protecting reproductive rights, we also invest in women. We normalize women's issues and interests, we level the playing field and we bring women closer to gender parity. I see the women of Canada, and they are spectacular.
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