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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-08-12 12:11 [p.2746]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, today, Statements by Ministers, pursuant to Standing Order 33, shall be taken up immediately following the adoption of this order; members may participate in this rubric either in person or by videoconference; a member of the Green Party be permitted to comment briefly on the statement; and, following Statements by Ministers, the House shall resolve itself in a committee of the whole, pursuant to the order adopted on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-08-12 14:49 [p.2772]
Mr. Chair, the way Canada has responded to the coronavirus has really been inspiring.
The different levels of government, the non-profit organizations, and Canadians in general, all responded. There is so much more to talk about with each those sectors. We could talk about the federal programs, whether it is the wage subsidy, the CERB program, or the billions of dollars being spent. We could also talk about the literally millions of Canadians who have been assisted and the tens of thousands of businesses that have been saved. So much has been done in a relatively short period of time as a result of a lot of hard work by Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
We are now in a better position to be able to deal with a second wave coming. We are in fact in a much better position. I am wondering if my colleague and friend could provide her thoughts on why it was so important that governments, non-profits and Canadians as a whole come together in order to minimize the negative impacts of the coronavirus.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-08-12 15:23 [p.2777]
Mr. Chair, I completely disagree with the leader of the Bloc party. We have a Prime Minister and a Minister of Finance who have done an exceptional job in the last number of months given everything that we have had to overcome in bringing forward a wide spectrum of programs, which have assisted millions of Canadians by providing them with money in their pockets and saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. This has put Canada in a good position to be able to recover from the pandemic. The leader of the Bloc is more concerned about his political future and that of the Bloc party itself.
The Bloc wants to outdo the Conservatives with character assassination, it seems. I would suggest that whether someone is a resident of the Province of Quebec, Manitoba or any other province, they want us to remain focused on Canada and to do what is in the best interests of Canada as a nation. That includes the people of Manitoba, Quebec and other jurisdictions.
Does the member not see that there is a strong, important role that Canada needs to play in co-operation with all of the different levels of government to make sure that we can get through this pandemic in a positive way?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-08-12 15:44 [p.2780]
Mr. Chair, we know the CERB program came into existence because it was generally felt that we needed to get money into the pockets of Canadians who found themselves out of work as a result of the coronavirus. The program was a huge success. Over eight million Canadians ultimately went on the CERB program. My question is related to that.
We had the employment insurance program, which would not have been able to achieve what the CERB program could. To try to make those modifications would not have worked, so we have the CERB. Now we are looking at transitioning the CERB program.
I am wondering if my colleague could provide his thoughts as to what he, or the NDP, would like to see in that transition from the CERB to employment insurance. Moving in that direction seems to be more of a long-term solution for not only many of his or my constituents, but in fact for all Canadians.
Would he agree?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-08-12 16:25 [p.2787]
Mr. Speaker, even though I respect that the member, as a member of Parliament, can express whatever she wants inside the House and attribute it to her constituents, her comments are somewhat upsetting to me, as I am someone who grew up on the Prairies. I have been in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. I spent my military days in Alberta. There are very strong nationalists who truly value and appreciate the contributions that come from being in a country with 10 provinces and three territories.
This member, probably more than most, will stand up with a story of a wolf in sheep's clothing to try to give an impression, a false impression, that the Government of Canada does not care about the Province of Alberta. This is absolutely false. It is a bunch of garbage. That is the reality of it. This government has given more money and more resources than Harper ever gave the Province of Alberta and indeed the Prairies.
She can speak the untruths all she wants, but they do not change the facts. At the end of the day, I see myself as a nationalist who is very proud to come from the Prairies. I stand up for the Prairies all the time, and I take exception to a member who tries to give the impression that Alberta is not being taken care of by the government in Ottawa.
When I was in the military, posted in Edmonton, I was very critical of the provincial government for not divesting Alberta's economy. There are all sorts of reasons that Alberta is being challenged to the degree it is being challenged today.
Would the member agree that not just Ottawa, but Alberta, municipalities and the different stakeholders, all of us, have an important role to play? That includes the fine work that I believe the federal government has done in investing in Alberta, just as it has in the Prairies.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-08-12 16:49 [p.2791]
Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the member's comments on teaching and on kids getting back to school. We often talk about essential workers, and the light is really starting to shine on our teachers.
There is a huge issue before all of us in our communities, as children look at going back to school. We sometimes take that for granted. Throughout this whole process there have been some outstanding Canadians in all different sectors. I can think of the long-haul truck driver, the health care worker or the person who works in a grocery store. Those people are really stepping up and assisting us in getting through the pandemic. Now we are going into a different phase where we are reopening the economy and schools are looking to reopen. Teachers are going to play a very important role in this.
Could the member provide her thoughts on the role of the teacher for the student? Imagine students walking into a classroom where the environment has really changed from the last time they were there. Could she provide her thoughts on that issue and maybe, as I have done, recognize the important work that all Canadians are doing to get us through this?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 10:13 [p.2652]
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 10:13 [p.2652]
Mr. Speaker, I am rising to address the question of privilege raised yesterday by the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. I would note that this matter was previously raised in a meeting of the committee of the whole on July 8.
The member raised concerns about the Prime Minister's response to a question in the committee of the whole on July 8. The exchange concerned the Ethics Commissioner's investigation on a matter last year. The member argued that the Prime Minister misled the House when he stated that the government took the unprecedented step of waiving cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client confidentiality so that the Ethics Commissioner could fully investigate the matter at hand. The member argued that the matter was not fully investigated, because the Ethics Commissioner reported that he did not have access to additional cabinet confidences.
The Prime Minister's response is not being taken into proper context. It is clear that the Prime Minister was speaking about the government's rationale for taking an unprecedented step to co-operate with the Ethics Commissioner. Furthermore, fully investigating a matter does not mean that the Ethics Commissioner must have full access to all cabinet confidences and to all solicitor-client privileged information. It means that the commissioner has the information he needs to fulfill his duties under the Conflict of Interest Act. This means that the commissioner is able to examine a matter and to produce a report that sets out the facts in question and provides the commissioner's analysis and conclusions.
As a result, the issue raised by the member is, at best, a dispute as to the facts and does not meet the threshold of constituting a prima facie question of privilege.
The Conflict of Interest Act does not provide the Ethics Commissioner authority to access cabinet confidences or solicitor-client privileged information for an investigation. Parliament did not grant this authority to the commissioner when it passed the act in 2006. Authority to disclose cabinet confidence or waive solicitor-client privilege rests with the executive branch of government.
This government is committed to transparency and accountability. This government has co-operated with the Ethics Commissioner to ensure that the commissioner is able to examine matters and produce reports.
Regarding the matter at hand, the government recognized that certain cabinet confidence and certain solicitor-client privileged information could be important to the commissioner's investigation. The Prime Minister's response on July 8 explains the basis for the government's decision to take an unprecedented step of issuing an order in council to authorize the disclosure of cabinet confidences to the Ethics Commissioner and to waive solicitor-client privilege.
The government wanted to co-operate with the Ethics Commissioner so that he could fully investigate the matter on the merits and produce a report, and this is what the Ethics Commissioner was able to do.
The commissioner stated as much in his report when he wrote, “In the present examination, I have gathered sufficient factual information to properly determine the matter on its merits.” The member himself quoted this statement when he raised this issue on July 8.
Accordingly, I submit that the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle has raised a matter that is a dispute as to the facts and does not constitute a prima facie question of privilege.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 10:56 [p.2659]
Mr. Speaker, the member has not responded to my colleague in a fully accurate way.
The Bloc, the New Democrats and the Conservatives were provided an opportunity not that long ago to give their unanimous consent. Unanimous consent is often given for a wide variety of bills, not only with this administration, but also previous administrations, so it is not as though it is unprecedented. There was an opportunity for us to see this legislation, or a form of it, pass.
It was not necessarily the Bloc as much as the Conservatives, but to try to imply that the government did not attempt to bring forward legislation that would have seen money in the pockets of individuals with a disability gives the wrong impression.
Would the member not acknowledge that there was a genuine attempt to make that happen?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 11:06 [p.2660]
Mr. Speaker, this is a substantial piece of legislation that would bring in new support for individuals with disabilities. It makes significant changes to the wage subsidy program, a program that has, I would argue, saved millions of jobs. It has allowed employers to continue to employ their employees.
One of the concerns I have is the misinformation that has been put on the record in regard to the legislation itself. We have already had a couple of people speak about the disability aspect of the legislation, saying that it is taxable when, in fact, it is not taxable. The Bloc should be aware of that. If the members believe that it is taxable, they need to show me precisely what it is in the legislation that is giving them the impression that it is taxable. Not only is it not taxable, but it is also not reportable.
This is a direct benefit for individuals with disabilities, and this is something that we have previously attempted to get through the House of Commons. It is some members of the opposition who have caused the delay. This government has been aggressively trying to get it done as quickly as possible.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 11:48 [p.2666]
Mr. Speaker, when we talk about substance versus style, I am afraid you would not provide me the amount of time that would be required for me to address the member's statement, especially if we want to compare this government to the previous government. The substance has been plenty on this side since we have been in government, and I sat in opposition benches when it was all style. It was called the Harper bubble.
Having said that, the member makes reference to the legislation, trying to give the impression that when it comes to the issue of disabilities, maybe we could have done it earlier. The member needs to be a bit more forthright with members and those who are following the debate. The Conservative Party did have the opportunity to support the passage, as did other political parties in the chamber. We could have had support for people with disabilities weeks ago had it not been for the tactics of the Conservatives.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 12:07 [p.2668]
Madam Speaker, the government has, in fact, been investing in Canada's small businesses, whether it is through working with financial institutions for loans or through the wage subsidy program. The legislation that we are debating today would assist in making some of the changes to modify the program so that, again, even more businesses will benefit from it.
Would the member, as a general thought, agree that the government is in fact putting the right amount of resources into supporting Canada's small businesses and our communities through the CERB program?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 12:48 [p.2674]
Madam Speaker, we continue to work with different levels of government. Whether it is the New Democratic government in B.C., Conservative or Liberal governments in Atlantic Canada or the governments in the Territories, we continue to work with stakeholders in municipalities: indigenous people and the many different stakeholders out there. We develop programs such as CERB and the wage loss program. We identify individuals in society such as our seniors, in particular, and those who are in poverty.
Today, we deal with individuals who have disabilities. It is not our first attempt. We cannot just click our heels and give everyone in society a million dollars. It does not work that way. We have to work within the reality of the situation. This government, with the support of other levels of government, has been very successful at meeting the needs of Canadian society so that we will be in a better position on the road to recovery.
To what degree, for example, would my New Democratic friend have gone further than a $600 one-time payment for people with a disability, a $500 one-time payment to our poorest seniors in Canada, $2,000 for CERB recipients for their paycheques or the millions of dollars being spent in support of small businesses?
What more would he have done?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 13:17 [p.2679]
Madam Speaker, the reality is that the wage subsidy program has assisted in wage subsidies for close to three million Canadians. That has literally saved hundreds of thousands of jobs and has provided the opportunity for many employers to keep the employees they had, as opposed to having to let them go. That would have potentially put their businesses in jeopardy.
By working with financial institutions, the government has also provided the opportunity to have more access to capital dollars, which is also important for small businesses. I am sure the member would recognize that Canada's business community is as diversified, if not more diversified, as most economies in the G7. As a direct result of that, even though our target is to hit 100% in terms of supporting small businesses, there are going to be situations that are truly unique and there are going to be situations in which it will be more challenging for the government to provide assistance.
Would the member not agree that, through our small businesses, we have great diversity, which has allowed our economy to grow during these difficult times and which will help in the recovery ahead?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 13:10 [p.2591]
Madam Speaker, it was tough listening to the member opposite. I think of the Fraser Institute and the Conservative Party coming together.
On the one hand, the member talked about why the government needed to do more for businesses, why it needed to do more for individuals. The greatest expenditure of the government today is related to supporting Canadians from coast to coast to coast, in part doing it through programs like the CERB, which the member referenced, and by supporting businesses through wage subsidies. All of that will no doubt cost a considerable amount of money, as the member knows full well. Then the member concluded his comments with regard to fear of the debt.
Does the member support the government spending the money to support Canadians through programs like the CERB and supporting small businesses?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 13:30 [p.2593]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the leader's comments. I want to pick up a bit on the wage subsidy program. It has been of huge benefit for workers not only in the province of Quebec but indeed throughout Canada. I understand that well over two million jobs have been saved because of this program.
I wonder if the member would concur on how important it was that we got a program out there as quickly as possible at that point in time, recognizing that there would be some need for modifications. When we introduce a new program from virtually nothing, there is going to be a need to make changes. Working with opposition members, such as the leader of the Bloc, and Canadians as a whole, is really what in essence is captured in this bill with respect to the wage program. Could he provide his further thoughts on the issue?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 15:04 [p.2610]
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 78 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 15:11 [p.2611]
Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I table a petition signed by residents of Winnipeg North who want the House of Commons to give special attention to seniors, particularly the poorest seniors in our country. This has actually been addressed in the last few months, as we have seen some increases to the OAS and the GIS. However, these petitioners just want to see members of Parliament support our seniors in all regions of our country.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 15:11 [p.2611]
Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 425 to 471 and 475 to 484 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 15:12 [p.2618]
Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 15:29 [p.2621]
Mr. Speaker, I was in opposition for 20 years, which I often make reference to in the House. The statements made by the leader of the NDP and some of the Conservatives bring the word “balderdash” to my mind, as they have absolutely zero merit. That program was all about students. The Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and others say that there was an unfortunate oversight that took place and it is being rectified.
To try to give a false impression that it was not about students is completely wrong. From day one, this government has been there to support Canadians in all regions of our country, whether it is through the CERB program, the wage loss program or the many other programs that we have provided to support Canadians in a very real and tangible way.
Would the member not agree that today's legislation is about improving some of those programs that we have brought forward, and that will continue to support Canadians in every region of the country?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 16:17 [p.2628]
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite encapsulates what the Conservative approach to being in the official opposition has really been about over the last number of years. It has been the character assassination of the Prime Minister, or the Minister of Finance or others. It has been fairly clear. All one needs to do is review what has happened over the last number of years. While the Conservatives are so determined to continue that character assassination, we as a government will continue to work day in and day out to serve Canadians in all regions of our country.
The very issue we are debating today is Bill C-20. It is about supporting people with disabilities. It is about making changes to the wage subsidy program. Canadians want and expect the House to deal with these things. Could the member provide any comments whatsoever with respect to Bill C-20, something Canadians want to see passed?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 17:23 [p.2638]
Madam Speaker, toward the end of her speech, the member made reference to the issue of employment. I cannot help but reflect on how well, prior to the pandemic, the Canadian economy was doing. In five years, well over a million jobs were created. If we compare that with the tenure of the Harper government, during which the member opposite was a minister, at least for part of those years, we outperformed the previous government in job creation by virtually 2:1 per capita, based on number of years.
Would the member agree that this government is in a far better position to deal with unemployment than the previous Conservative administration was? I think history will show that we were far more successful.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 17:29 [p.2638]
Madam Speaker, there are a number of things I could speak about. It will be a challenge to keep my comments within 20 minutes, but I will give it my best shot.
A bit of misinformation has come up over the last few hours of debate. There is one item in particular that I have to address, because the member opposite just made reference to it, and that is the issue of when we could have had the relief for individuals with disabilities in Canada. Just so the record is very clear for my friend across the way and my Conservative colleagues in particular, the opportunity to implement this was there weeks ago when the government, the New Democrats, the Green Party and the Bloc Party were all prepared to allow the legislation to pass. There was only one political entity in the House of Commons that said “no”, and that was the Conservative Party.
I know the Conservatives like at times to rewrite history, but this was really not that long ago. Thinking of individuals living with disabilities and how serious of an issue that is, I am very pleased that we finally have the Conservatives onside to allow this bill to move forward, so those with disabilities will be able to receive the much-needed support we wanted to provide to them.
When I say “we”, I am talking about members on all sides of the House—
An hon. member: Spin at its finest. We see that a lot these days.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 17:31 [p.2639]
Madam Speaker, that was one comment. My other comment is based on a question that I had posed and that the Conservatives also posed. It is the question of how the economy is doing today compared to the way it was. It is a fair question.
We can look at the pre-pandemic economy, from prior to coronavirus. Coronavirus has had a very profound impact not only on Canada's economy but also on the economy around the world. This is something that is affecting every country, and some countries are doing a better job than others in terms of managing and providing for their citizens. Generally speaking, prior to the pandemic, Canada's economy was doing exceptionally well. When we compare it to the Stephen Harper days, members will find that it was doing exceptionally well, especially in terms of job creation.
There will always be a different approach from a Conservative administration than there will be from a Liberal administration. A Liberal government understands and appreciates the role a national government can play in providing the incentives necessary to support the economy and to move us forward in terms of creating jobs, opportunities and hope. We provide individuals who do not have much, through tax incentives and directed grants, the ability to become that much better off. We have demonstrated that very clearly.
What I want to say to Canadians today is that when the pandemic started and it was necessary for the government to engage, the government, without hesitation, made it very clear that it did not want Canadians to have to worry about paying bills. We wanted to ensure that Canadians knew we were going to be there for them in a very real and tangible way.
A Conservative member was being somewhat critical and said that the Liberals spent a lot of money. Yes, we have spent a lot of money. However, I believe that money has been well spent. If we listen to Conservatives, we do not hear any of them saying to cut back on any of the specific program dollars we have allocated. Conservatives recognize that programs like CERB are helping more than eight million people. Over eight million people are being helped by CERB.
We must remember that the CERB program started from nothing. Previously, there was no CERB program. It came into its very existence because of the coronavirus. That process, from the creation of the program to its getting money into the pockets of Canadians, happened relatively quickly. The program was not that complicated. It was more important that we put money in the pockets of Canadians so they could buy groceries, pay their bills and stay in their homes. That was the priority of this government, and we have seen the results.
The impact the coronavirus has had is second to no other. We would have to go back generations and generations to find this type of economical and social impact. There are people who have had to go through a great deal of hardship. I send my condolences to the families and friends of those who have passed from the coronavirus, to those who have been infected and to the individuals going through some very difficult times.
I recognize, appreciate and value the work of essential workers. We often talk about health care workers or first responders, as we should, and recognize the important role they have played. What about the long haul truck drivers who are ensuring groceries get to the supermarkets we are so dependent upon? What about the taxi drivers who are driving individuals to health care facilities?
Many essential workers have stepped up to ensure that we are able to continue to provide the types of services that are absolutely critical for us as a society. I express my appreciation, and the government's appreciation, to all those individuals who continue to contribute to the lives of individuals in a very real way.
There comes a point when we recognize that it is not just the government's cabinet ministers who sit around the table. The leader of the New Democrat Party said the NDP forced the Liberals to do this or that. If we listen to the leader of the NDP, everything we have ever done is because the NDP forced us to. The reality is that this government listens to what Canadians are saying. We introduce the programs. I was on virtual phone calls every day to the cabinet indirectly providing input, as many of my colleagues were. There were technical briefings provided for all members of the House. It did not matter which political party members were part of.
With regard to the coronavirus, our Prime Minister challenged us to consult and work with our constituents and report what we needed to do to ensure that Canada comes out okay. There should be no surprise that when we generate programs from nothing that there is going to be a need for modification of those programs. One would expect that.
I made reference to the Canada emergency response benefit allotment of $2,000. It was very simple so that we could get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. I remember the former government House leader would say that small business is the backbone of Canada's economy. Other members have said likewise. We understand that if we want to see the economy grow, or minimize the negative impact on the economy, we have to recognize the important role that small businesses play and support them. This government is doing just that.
We see that through loans and from dialogue created with financial institutions, in terms of their important obligations to businesses and directing money through wage subsidies. That is what this legislation is changing. It is taking into consideration many changes that are necessary. These things are having a very real impact. They are not necessarily all coming from the mind of the leader of the New Democratic Party. These are flowing from ideas from constituencies and from Canadians in every region of our country. This is a government that is committed to working with other levels of government. It is brilliant. We just committed $19 billion to help restart the economy working with the provinces.
From the get-go, we have understood how important it was to work with the different levels of government because we each have a very important role to play in serving our constituents and Canadians. The Minister of Employment embodies a great deal of what many of us hope to achieve, and she shared that in some of her comments, if not directly, then indirectly. I will be a little more direct. The minister is very passionate about disabilities. We saw that with the historic disability accessibility legislation we brought in last year. It was quite a moment. I was not only happy for Canadians, but I felt good that a minister who felt so strongly about that issue was able to see it come to light.
Today, she was talking about the importance of somehow fixing the disability system and the way we allocate money out, whether it is tax credits or direct cash. What provides me comfort is that we have ministers like that, who are so committed to trying to make a difference, who share that personal story and are prepared to fight for those individuals with disabilities. It is individuals such as her, and I would suggest that she does not have a monopoly on it, because many, if not all of us in our own way, either directly or indirectly, try to influence government policy.
For myself, I can think of a wide spectrum of things that I would like to kindly gesture the government to move toward. There is no end to the things that I would like to see happen, but I recognize that it takes time. I think one of the issues that will come out of the coronavirus is that we will see a number of future modifications to programs that will be in the long-term best interest of a wide spectrum of people. I am anxious to see those types of changes take place in the coming years.
I want to highlight the impact at the grassroots level, and what is happening at the grassroots level today, compared to January or the beginning of February. For example, I have many constituents who travelled to India, particularly Punjab, and to the Phillippines, on holidays. They were enjoying their holiday, but unfortunately, with the coronavirus and the shutdown of airports and all sorts of issues, thousands of individuals were trapped abroad, hundreds from my own riding. For many, it has taken weeks, if not months, to ultimately be able to return, but we do not really hear about those examples.
The examples we typically hear about are of small businesses having a difficult time being able to keep their doors open, and it does become an issue of cash flow. When we look at the wage subsidy program, I believe it is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2.5 million jobs that have been subsidized to date. I believe this is the minimum; it is probably quite a bit more than that, but I am not 100% sure. I can tell members that many of those jobs would have completely disappeared without the wage subsidy program. When an employer might have just as well laid someone off indefinitely, that program provided the employer an option instead. As a direct result, two million to three million Canadians were able to continue with the jobs they had.
I make reference to the eight million people in the CERB program. I am very much interested to see how that shakes out in the riding of Winnipeg North, but I do know there are tens of thousands of people in my home province of Manitoba. I hate to imagine what the economic plight of many of those individuals who have collected the CERB would have been like had it not been for that program. I have a family member who was dependent on that program. We all have friends and know of others who needed that sort of general program to be there as a backstop to support Canadians. I am very proud of that particular program.
When we think of other ways in which we can support Canadians, the Canada child benefit program allows for a direct deposit of cash into the accounts of families. Some of those families, because of COVID-19, are that much more challenged. The government brought through a top-up for the Canada child benefit program, helping thousands of people in virtually every province. I know I often refer to the Canada child benefit program. Under a normal situation, just over $9 million every month goes into the riding of Winnipeg North. That was topped up because it is easily identified and it is a good way to get money into the pockets of Canadians.
The GST affects us all. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 12 million people benefited from the GST one-time payment also.
One of the things I am very proud of is that many of us have been wanting to support seniors. I tabled a petition earlier today about how we can support seniors. I am very grateful that the current Minister of Seniors, through an email, said she would love to be able to speak to the group at a meeting of my committee on seniors. It was wonderful. Seniors are important to all of us. It was so nice to see that we were able to create one-time payments for individuals on OAS. For the poorest seniors in Canada, we gave a separate increase to the GIS, which totalled about $500 for individuals who qualified for the GIS and OAS increase.
The point of this is to recognize that the coronavirus changed things profoundly. This government worked with everyone it could to ensure it could provide programming to make sure that Canadians would get out of this coronavirus situation and be well served when it comes time to restart the economy. We are starting to see that today. We are in a better position today to deal with a second wave, if it occurs, because of the hard work of legislators in the House of Commons and because of the fine work being done by the provinces, city councils, non-profits and private individuals.
With that, I will leave myself open for questions.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 17:50 [p.2641]
Madam Speaker, speaking of channel changers, the Conservatives since day one have always been on the same channel of character assassination. It does not matter what issue is facing Canadians, the Conservatives really do not care. They are more focused on character assassination.
I did not comment on the WE charity because we have spent billions and billions of dollars. We have brought in new programs. We have been trying to minimize the negative impact of the coronavirus on Canadians as a whole. We are getting our country in a position where we will be stronger and healthier going forward. We are remaining focused on doing work for Canadians. That is our priority.
We will let the Conservatives dwell at the bottom of the cellar and figure out the crisis, or how they can attack what character next on the agenda.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 17:53 [p.2641]
Madam Speaker, that is not reconciliation. The Conservatives say we have shut down the oil industry. The member opposite just said that we have opened up a whole new area. I guess the difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives and New Democrats, and possibly even the Bloc, is that Liberals recognize that the environment and the economy can in fact go hand in hand.
If we do the proper environmental work and consultations with different levels of government, indigenous people and stakeholders, we can develop the economy and protect the environment. I guess that is where Liberals differ from what I would qualify as the unholy alliance of the Conservatives and New Democrats. I will leave the Bloc out, for now.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 17:55 [p.2641]
Madam Speaker, the last thing I would want to do is to give the impression I know everything about all things.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: I do not know the details the member is referencing, but what I can tell the House is that as a government, we have been developing programs that have been to the benefit of Canadians as a whole. There has been special targeting of seniors, and now individuals with disabilities.
There are opportunities going forward, no doubt, as we see in this legislation, for modifications or changes. There are ongoing discussions that take place with provinces. I made reference to the $19 billion restart program that incorporates health. I do not know all of the details, but where it is valid for us to make some changes or to ensure that we have the support necessary to do that, I am glad we have a government in Ottawa that is open to listening.
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