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Results: 1 - 30 of 959
View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
Mr. Speaker, first nations in northern Manitoba are scared of the impact of COVID-19 on their communities. People in the Island Lake region are sounding the alarm. There is no running water, overcrowded housing, no hospital and nowhere to self-isolate and get treatment. Meanwhile, the government is talking conference calls, hand sanitizer and testing tents. These are first world responses to a third world reality.
The government needs to get real about what first nations are facing on the ground. These communities need urgent infrastructure now and before the winter road season shuts down. What will the government do to take COVID-19's impact on first nations seriously now?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we recognize that despite historic investments in housing, there are deeply concerning conditions of housing infrastructure that many indigenous communities face. We are continuing to work toward a long-term solution.
In light of COVID-19, we are exploring all options to address these challenges, including providing temporary isolation facilities and additional health staff for communities, as needed. These supports for indigenous communities are absolutely not limited by financial capacity.
We continue to work closely with communities to coordinate resources. They are and will be there.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-03-12 14:47 [p.2019]
Mr. Speaker, if PowerPoint decks could stop a pandemic, the government could be the world champion in preventive health. I am not saying that to be flippant, but two months into this crisis, isolated first nations are waiting for the basics, like hand sanitizer, gloves and masks, let alone ventilators.
If COVID-19 hits a community like Bearskin Lake or Kashechewan, we are in a nightmare scenario because how do people self-isolate in a home of 21 people full of mould? The minister's plan is to bring in tents. In James Bay in March? That is not going to cut it.
When are we going to see a sense of urgency to protect the lives of first nation people?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for attending the technical briefing this morning with my staff. The funding announced yesterday as part of the budget 2019 emergency investments is a start that enables us to take immediate action in communities to reduce the risk of spread as well as respond should cases arrive on reserve.
The reinforcement support for indigenous communities is not limited by financial capacities, and we are working closely to coordinate those resources with communities. We are providing supplies such as bottled water, hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment to communities as needed.
We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that indigenous communities are prepared to respond to COVID-19 and will continue to adapt our plan as needed.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2020-03-11 14:47 [p.1933]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the Minister of Indigenous Services when his government would stop breaking the law and honour the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling to immediately stop discriminating against first nations children. This was followed by 10 seconds of silence and then story time. The same silence was heard about a plan for COVID-19 on reserves.
When will the minister follow the rule of law, honour the tribunal ruling and stop discriminating against first nations children?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-03-11 14:48 [p.1933]
Mr. Speaker, we strongly agree that we must compensate indigenous children harmed by past government policies. It must be done in a way that is both fair and timely to further healing.
We have worked closely with the parties and found consensus on a number of key areas. We have demonstrated our commitment to addressing long-standing child and family service needs of first nations, Inuit and Métis children.
We will continue working with our partners to ensure indigenous children are supported and cared for in the right way, with connection to community and culture.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-03-11 14:49 [p.1933]
Really, Mr. Speaker. This past week a little child from Attawapiskat had to be flown to Kingston, because of the damage tap water is doing to her body, and a little boy in Kashechewan suffered horrific burns. The only thing the medical clinic could do was send him home. That is the face of third world health in the north.
Therefore, when the Prime Minister does not even bother to give a permanent seat to his indigenous services minister at his COVID-19 table, indigenous people know they are going to get a third world response.
Does the Prime Minister have any clue what COVID-19 is going to do when it hits the overcrowded reserves in northern Canada?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-03-11 14:49 [p.1933]
Mr. Speaker, the federal government is responsible for delivering health care to indigenous communities and to the Canadian Armed Forces.
I can assure the member that all necessary authorities are involved in all discussions about how to ensure we keep Canadians safe, including indigenous Canadians, who, as the member well pointed out, are in much more vulnerable situations quite often. That is why we are focusing very much on what we can do to make sure that the coronavirus and its potential impacts do not devastate indigenous communities.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join my colleagues today as we deal with Bill C-4, which is extremely important for us. We call it the CUSMA, or the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement.
I am pleased with the work we did at committee on this particular issue. My committee colleagues from all parties showed their dedication to their constituents and their country while we did this study. Every member made it clear to me that it was their sincerest intent to collaborate, co-operate and come together as a committee to make sure that we did the job we were elected to do and worked in a non-partisan way on something that is critically important to Canada.
With our intensified schedule, our committee analyzed this bill for a total of 38.5 hours. The hard work that took place at committee ensured that Bill C-4 was returned in a timely fashion. Over 117 witnesses were invited, and we heard from a large range of individuals, organizations and businesses.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the hard work of the staff of the House of Commons who were present during these extended meetings. None of this could have been possible without the work of our committee clerks, analysts, translators and the House of Commons staff, who carried out their duties with utmost professionalism. A huge thanks goes out to everyone involved.
This new agreement will help reinforce strong economic ties between Canada, the United States and Mexico. It will improve North America's ability to compete on the global stage. This agreement will also bring back predictability and stability to the economic relationship between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, which we heard a lot about from various businesses and presenters.
We have seen several actions from the U.S. on trade that had contributed to economic instability for Canadian businesses and their workers, and they were clearly concerned. Canada was confronted with the option of either renegotiating NAFTA or facing the possibility of the United States withdrawing from the agreement. I am pleased that we now have a modern trilateral agreement that turns the page and focuses on the three pillars that make our economic relationship so successful: stability, economic integration and clear, transparent and enforceable rules.
From the start of the negotiations, Canada set out to achieve key priority outcomes: preserve important NAFTA provisions and market access into the U.S. and Mexico, modernize and improve the agreement, and reinforce the security and stability of market access into the U.S. and Mexico for Canadian businesses. We are proud of the fact that we have achieved all three of those objectives.
It is particularly important to note that the preferential tariff treatment under NAFTA is preserved in this new agreement. Canada's preferential access to the U.S. and Mexican markets is vital to the continuing prosperity of Canadian workers whose livelihoods rely on this trade. During consultations with stakeholders, we heard repeatedly about the importance of preserving the benefits of NAFTA and the integrity of North American supply chains. We understand how vital they are to Canadian companies and exporters.
As an annual average from 2016 to 2018, Canada exported 412.2 billion dollars' worth of goods to the United States, Canada's top export market. Over the same period, Canada exported an annual average of 9.2 billion dollars' worth of goods to Mexico, Canada's fifth-largest trading partner. These are very significant numbers, and the new NAFTA ensures continued preferential access to these key export destinations.
The new agreement preserves the market access outcomes that were achieved in the original NAFTA. This means that NAFTA's duty-free access for all non-agricultural goods will be maintained. For agricultural goods, Canadian exports will also continue to benefit from duty-free access for nearly 89% of U.S. agricultural tariff lines and 91% of Mexican tariff lines. The new NAFTA will help farmers to be more competitive and will make it easier for them to export their products and continue to feed North America and the rest of the world.
Maintaining these tariff outcomes provides Canadians with an advantage over those in countries without a preferential trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. It also ensures predictability and continued secure market access for Canadian exporters to our largest trading partners. The preserved tariff-free environment also safeguards the integrity of the integrated North American supply chains. Other key elements of the original NAFTA have also been preserved, including the chapter 19 binational panel dispute settlement, a state-to-state dispute settlement, the cultural exception and temporary entry for business persons.
The new NAFTA also helps open new market access opportunities in the U.S. for Canadian companies and improves existing market access. The new modernized agreement includes new customs and trade facilitation measures that will make it easier for companies to move goods across the border, including by eliminating paper processes and providing a single portal for traders to submit import documentation electronically. In particular, the new agreement moves away from the traditional certificate of origin to a new certificate of origin that allows companies to use existing documents in their business process to certify origin.
The new NAFTA includes a new stand-alone chapter on rules of origin and origin procedures for textiles and apparel goods that will support Canada's textile and apparel sector. The agreement preserves the existing market access that Canada has under NAFTA to the U.S. and Mexican markets in these sectors and ensures that the benefits of the agreement go primarily to producers located in North America. The new agreement provides greater flexibility for producers to use small amounts of materials from outside the region without losing their preference.
Furthermore, the agreement expands a provision from NAFTA to set out a special procedure to more easily establish the origin of the indigenous textiles and apparel. Under this provision, a textile or apparel item that the parties agree is an indigenous handcrafted good will be eligible for duty-free treatment, even if the good does not satisfy the applicable product-specific rule of origin.
Given the importance of predictability and transparency in international trade, the new NAFTA includes provisions that will provide added assurance for exporters that their goods will not be delayed by unjustified or unclear measures at the borders. Companies will have enough time to adjust to new regulations and other requirements. The agreement also ensures Canada's agricultural and processed food exports can rely on sanitary and phytosanitary measures that are risk-based and that increase predictability of market access so that products make it to market in a reasonable amount of time.
The section 232 side letter on autos and auto parts achieved as part of the overall outcome provides added security and stability for Canadian automotive and parts companies that export to the U.S. market. It will reaffirm Canada's attractiveness as an investment destination for this sector.
On trade and indigenous people, for the first time in a Canadian free trade agreement, the new NAFTA incorporates a general exception that clearly confirms that the government can adopt or maintain measures it deems necessary to fulfill its legal obligations to indigenous peoples. An indigenous working group was established to further the dialogue between the government and indigenous peoples, share ideas and work collaboratively on solutions.
We are pleased to have concluded an agreement that incorporates new and modernized provisions that seek to address 21st century trade issues and support opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers. This includes bringing obligations on labour and environment into the agreement and subjecting them to dispute settlement. It also includes important outcomes toward inclusive trade, including with respect to gender and the interests of indigenous peoples.
In particular, the new labour chapter includes commitments to protect and promote internationally recognized labour rights and principles in North America. It also includes unprecedented protections against violence and against gender-based discrimination with regard to sexual orientation, sexual harassment, gender identity, caregiving responsibilities and wage discrimination.
View Patricia Lattanzio Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Surrey Centre.
I am pleased to rise in the House today in support of Bill C-4.
Over the generations, Canada, Mexico and the United States have established an economic relationship that is a model for the entire world. Since 1993, trade between Canada, the United States and Mexico has more than quadrupled and was valued at $1.2 billion U.S. in 2018.
In 1994, NAFTA created the largest free trade zone in the world. The continental North American economy, which is currently estimated to be worth $23 billion U.S., encompasses a regional market of nearly 490 million consumers.
Under this proven, rules-based free trade system, key sectors of the North American economy have developed into integrated production platforms that strengthen the innovative and competitive economic backbone of North America.
The new agreement will enhance the strong economic ties between the three countries and improve North America's ability to remain competitive globally. This agreement also restores the predictability and stability of economic relations between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
The U.S. took several trade actions that contributed to economic instability for Canadian businesses and their workers. Canada had to choose between either renegotiating NAFTA or seeing the United States withdraw from the agreement. I am pleased that we now have a modern trilateral agreement that turns the page and focuses on the three pillars that make our economic relationship so successful: stability, economic integration, and clear, transparent and enforceable rules.
From the start of the negotiations, Canada set out to achieve key priority outcomes: preserve important NAFTA provisions and market access into the U.S. and Mexico, modernize and improve the agreement as much as possible, and reinforce the security and stability of market access into the U.S. and Mexico for Canadian businesses. We are proud that we achieved those objectives.
It is particularly important to note that the preferential tariff treatment under NAFTA is preserved in CUSMA, which helps consolidate our most important trade relationship. Canada's preferential access to the U.S. and Mexican markets is vital to the continuing prosperity of Canadian workers whose livelihoods rely on this trade.
During consultations with stakeholders, we heard repeatedly about the importance of preserving the benefits of NAFTA and the integrity of North American supply chains. We understand how vital it is to Canadian companies and exporters.
As an annual average from 2016 to 2018, Canada exported $412.2 billion worth of goods to the United States, our top export market. Over the same period, Canada exported an annual average of $9.2 billion worth of goods to Mexico, our fifth-largest trading partner. The new NAFTA ensures continued preferential access to these key export destinations.
Maintaining these tariff outcomes provides Canadians with an advantage over countries without a preferential trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. The agreement ensures predictability and continued secure market access for Canadian exporters to our largest trading partner.
The preserved tariff-free environment also safeguards the integrity of integrated North American supply chains. Other key elements of the original NAFTA have been preserved, including the chapter 19 binational panel dispute settlement mechanism, the state-to-state dispute settlement process, the cultural exemption and temporary entry for business persons.
The new NAFTA also helps open new market access opportunities in the United States for Canadian companies and improves access to existing markets. The new modernized agreement includes new customs measures and will also make it easier for companies to move goods across the border by reducing paper processes and providing a single portal for submitting import documentation electronically.
In particular, the new agreement moves away from the traditional certificate of origin to a new certificate of origin that allows companies to use existing documents in their business process, such as an invoice, to certify origin.
The new NAFTA also includes a new stand-alone chapter on rules of origin and origin procedures for textiles and apparel goods that will support Canada's textile and apparel sector. The agreement preserves the existing market access that Canada has under NAFTA to the U.S. and Mexican markets in these sectors and ensures that the benefits of the agreement go primarily to producers located in North America.
Furthermore, the agreement expands a provision from NAFTA to set out a special procedure to more easily establish the origin of indigenous textiles and apparel. Under this provision, a textile or apparel item that the parties agree is an indigenous handcrafted good will be eligible for duty-free treatment, even if the good does not satisfy the applicable product-specific rule of origin.
The new NAFTA includes provisions that will provide added assurance for exporters that their goods will not be delayed by unjustified or unclear measures at the borders. The section 232 side letter provides added security and stability for Canadian automotive and parts companies that export to the U.S. market and will reaffirm Canada's attractiveness as an investment destination for this sector.
With respect to trade and indigenous peoples, and for the first time in a Canadian free trade agreement, the new NAFTA includes a general exception that clearly confirms that the government can adopt or maintain measures it deems necessary to fulfill its legal obligations to indigenous people. An indigenous working group was established to further the dialogue between the government and indigenous people, to share ideas and work collaboratively on solutions.
We are pleased to have concluded an agreement that incorporates new and modernized provisions that seek to address 21st century trade issues and support opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers. This includes bringing obligations on labour and environment into the agreement and subjecting them to dispute settlement.
It also includes important outcomes for inclusive trade, including with respect to gender equality and the interests of indigenous people. In particular, the new labour chapter includes commitments to protect and promote internationally-recognized labour rights and principles in North America.
This chapter also includes unprecedented protections against violence and gender-based discrimination with regard to sexual orientation, sexual harassment, gender identity, caregiving responsibilities and wage discrimination. It is worth noting that the new chapter also includes a non-derogation clause that prevents the parties from weakening their labour laws to encourage trade or investment.
To address labour violations related to collective bargaining and freedom of association in a timely manner, the agreement also includes new mechanisms for rapid response between Canada and Mexico and between the United States and Mexico.
In the event that, in a state-to-state dispute settlement, one party is found to have violated its obligations with regard to child labour, the other party could trigger the rapid response mechanism to remedy the violation of the child labour obligations.
The full environment chapter, which is subject to the dispute settlement mechanism, includes measures for implementing the parties' obligations under multilateral environmental agreements and responding to global environmental problems, such as illegal wildlife trade, illegal fishing, conservation of species at risk, protection of biodiversity, ozone-depleting substances and marine pollution.
This modernized agreement is good for Canadians because it provides the predictability and stability that businesses and workers sorely need.
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Randeep Sarai Profile
2020-03-10 13:19 [p.1872]
Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I am here to discuss the benefits that the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement will bring to Canadians.
Over the last few weeks, my colleagues and I on the international trade committee had the opportunity to hear from over 100 witnesses from across industries and from across the country as part of our study on Bill C-4. We presented the report back to the House on February 27 without amendments.
The new NAFTA, or CUSMA as it is also called, marks a new milestone in the mutually beneficial trade relationship between Canada, the United States and Mexico. We understood from the start that this achievement would not have been possible without the support, contribution and dedication of Canadians across the country.
Before the negotiations started, we began speaking with Canadians across the country. We listened to their views on the original agreement's benefits and challenges, and what could be done to improve Canada's trading relationship with the United States and Mexico.
Guided by Canada's inclusive approach to trade, we worked very hard from the beginning of the negotiations to secure outcomes that would advance the interests of provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, business and business associations, labour organizations, civil society organizations, women and youth, among others.
From February 2017 to December 2019, the government engaged with over 1,300 stakeholders through nearly 1,100 interactions on NAFTA modernization. Over the same period, we received over 47,000 submissions from Canadians on NAFTA modernization. Canadian stakeholders have been largely supportive of the new agreement and have underlined the importance of securing stability and predictability in our commercial relationship with the United States and Mexico. Their views informed Canada's negotiating positions in this modernization process.
From the outset, the government worked closely with the provincial and territorial governments. Their representatives were invited to travel to the location of each negotiation round and received daily debriefs from the chief negotiator and the members of the negotiating team. We also worked very closely with representatives of indigenous people. In fact, an indigenous working group was formed to work collaboratively on elements of importance to indigenous people in the NAFTA modernization process. In total, the Government of Canada met with representatives of 49 different indigenous groups, including self-governing nations, tribal organizations, national organizations, development corporations, business and lending organizations, legal advisers and policy experts.
We sought and received input and insight from across party lines. We reached out to current and former politicians, premiers, mayors, and community and indigenous leaders for help not only in shaping Canada's priorities, but in championing them. We created a NAFTA advisory council that included representatives of other political parties, as well as business, labour and indigenous leaders. All contributions and advice helped guide our way forward.
Since early 2017, fellow federal, provincial and territorial ministerial colleagues and their teams have cumulatively undertaken over 530 visits to the United States, including parliamentarians here who engaged on similar bilaterals with congressmen and governors in the United States. Others, including many members, have contributed to these efforts. Together, team Canada has collectively engaged with over 750 influencers and decision-makers across the United States.
The new agreement was made possible because we acted together and we acted with resolve at the negotiating table to uphold the interests and values of Canadians in seeking a workable and progressive trade agreement. We sought and obtained consensus on the key issues at home. That helped us prioritize Canada's interests and develop Canada's negotiating positions. In spite of the many hurdles, we worked tirelessly and remained steadfast in our principles and objectives in reaching agreement with the United States and Mexico.
The benefits of the new agreement for Canadians are concrete and considerable. They reflect Canadians' views expressed in the engagement process. Most Canadians viewed the modernization process as an opportunity to preserve key elements of the original NAFTA, modernize and improve the agreement where possible, and ensure the stability and predictability of the North American market. We delivered on these key priorities.
The new agreement preserves key elements of the original NAFTA, allowing for our continued regional prosperity and stability. It reinforces the strong economic ties between Canada, Mexico and the United States, while also recognizing the importance of progressive and inclusive trade by including key components in areas such as labour and environment, as well as language on gender and the rights of indigenous peoples.
In particular, Canada was successful in preserving the NAFTA chapter 19 binational panel dispute settlement mechanism for anti-dumping and countervailing duties, the cultural exemption, NAFTA duty-free access into the U.S. and Mexican markets, and the provision of temporary entry of business persons.
We preserved Canada's system of supply management, despite U.S. attempts to dismantle it.
We modernized and improved the agreement to address the modern-day trade realities and enhanced business opportunities in North America.
CUSMA has nine chapters, including chapters on digital trade, anti-corruption, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
We eliminated the investor-state dispute settlement and the energy proportionality clause. We brought the labour and environmental chapters into the agreement and subjected them to a more effective and efficient dispute settlement procedure.
CUSMA improves the dispute settlement mechanism in a manner that strengthens enforcement, including the areas of labour and environment. This is an outstanding achievement for Canada.
The agreement streamlines customs procedures to facilitate trade, reduce red tape and lessen the administrative burden for Canadian exporters and investors. It also includes outcomes that advance the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises, women and indigenous peoples in line with Canada's inclusive approach to trade.
Overall, CUSMA provides key outcomes for Canadian workers, businesses, communities and families.
In the new agreement, Canada was successful in achieving priority outcomes with respect to indigenous peoples, in line with the government's efforts to advance indigenous rights, prosperity and sustainable development in Canada and around the world.
There are also outcomes that reflect the important role of indigenous peoples regarding the environment, including the conservation of biodiversity.
Canada has made gender equality and women's economic empowerment a key priority in recent trade negotiations, including playing a leadership role to integrate gender-related provisions in the agreement. This is the first international trade deal to recognize the discrimination of gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination. This includes labour obligations regarding the elimination of employment discrimination based on gender, as well as other provisions related to corporate social responsibility and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The inclusion of language on indigenous peoples and gender rights is an important step in our government's commitment to reconciliation and gender equality. What we learned throughout the consultation and negotiation period of this agreement will be beneficial to apply to negotiations for future trade agreements.
With the stability CUSMA brings to Canadian producers and industries, we hope it will help Canada take advantage of our unique position of having free trade agreements with so many other regions around the world, including CETA with Europe and CPTPP with Asia and the Pacific. While the United States is our largest trading partner, Canada has the opportunity to become a hub for trade, being the only North American nation with free trade agreements in so many regions that reach over 1.5 billion people around the world.
It is amusing to hear members from across the aisle critique Prime Minister Trudeau or our government's handling of CUSMA and NAFTA, but what the most experienced expert on this issue said is in stark contrast. To quote someone who is considered the architect or originator of the first free trade deal and the second one with the U.S., former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney said this about our government, “I told Trudeau he did a really good job with this renegotiation—”
View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
Mr. Speaker, today when I called on the Liberals to address the potential crisis of coronavirus on first nations, they tried to shut me down. The government does not get it.
The Liberals advised regular hand washing. How does one do that without running water? They advised self-isolation. That is impossible with a housing crisis of 12 to 20 people living in a home. In places like the Island Lake or Cross Lake regions, there are thousands of people and no hospital in sight. People are worried.
Can a regular member of the Prime Minister's coronavirus committee please stand up and tell us what they are doing to ensure first nations and Inuit communities are supported now?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I will remind the member opposite that in budget 2019, way before the coronavirus broke out, we invested $79 million over five years to improve and prepare support for health emergencies and health-related impacts of natural disasters and health disasters on reserves. This includes dedicated support for one health emergency management coordinator in every region and two coordinators in Ontario and Manitoba.
We know that first nations and Inuit are susceptible and more vulnerable to coronavirus. We are prepared as a ministry to engage in surge activities should they be required. Let me say that we are ready to act and we are working closely with those communities in order to augment their capacity.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-10 18:30 [p.1919]
Mr. Speaker, when I rose to ask the Prime Minister about the failures of his national housing strategy, including the glaring absence of a housing strategy that would be led by indigenous people for rural, urban and northern indigenous people, I received the usual meaningless talking points, despite the Liberals pledge in 2017 with the introduction of the national housing strategy to address the housing crisis for Inuit, Métis and first nations people.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development even said on the public record that the Liberals were committed to a separate national urban indigenous housing strategy by and for urban indigenous people. However, years later there is still no action.
Aboriginal people in Canada are 10 times more likely than non-aboriginal people to become homeless. When I pointed out that 40% of the homeless population in Vancouver was indigenous people, the Prime Minister was busy patting himself on the back with self-congratulatory rhetoric that I do not even think he realized how severe the housing crisis was and how grossly disproportionate it was effecting urban, rural and northern indigenous communities.
Across the country, indigenous peoples are experiencing the highest levels of poverty, with a shocking 25% of indigenous people living in poverty, despite making up only 5% of Canada's population. High poverty rates for indigenous people are part of the continued legacy of colonization. Ignoring the housing crisis they are facing will only result in having these numbers increase and further perpetuate the impact of colonization.
With a staggering 87% of indigenous households not living on reserve lands, we need to have an affordable housing strategy to address the needs of indigenous people living in the rural, urban and northern parts of Canada. It is a matter of urgency requiring immediate action that is consistent with international human rights law.
This strategic approach must be founded upon cultural-based practice and action, led by indigenous people for indigenous people. No more kicking the can down the road. Canadians need to see the allocation of the necessary funds to support the national housing strategy in budget 2020 and action for a urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy led by and for indigenous peoples. The government promised to do better, Canadians expected better and the government must do better.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2020-03-10 18:33 [p.1920]
Mr. Speaker, we all agree. I am very proud to have helped move the motions at committee to start the process of driving forward an urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy to make sure that people that are governed outside the Indian Act, close to 87% in my province but 80% across the country who live outside of the national indigenous organizations governance structures, have their housing needs met. They need to be met now. They needed to have been met years ago.
I am proud to be part of a government that not only passed the national housing strategy, which incorporates the move towards self-directed, self-designed and self-delivered indigenous housing programs in this area but also has started to make profound investments in that very same space.
Our 2016 budget included $564.7 million in new funding over the next three years to address pressing needs in 464 first nations communities. We have also, as part of the 10-year housing strategy and part of the reaching home strategy, for the first time carved out an indigenous stream, which is indigenous-led, indigenous-designed and indigenous-delivered in communities right across this country.
We did something else which is profoundly important. In areas where homelessness is high and the point-in-time counts show a strong indigenous population unfortunately is being over-represented, we have started to convert even the designated communities to indigenous leadership so that indigenous housing providers can provide support for those communities right across the country from coast to coast to coast.
In Vancouver, in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, the community entity that manages the funds for that part of the country and the community advisory board is now being led by indigenous leadership and indigenous housing providers precisely because we recognize their expertise but also their cultural capacity to deliver better services for people that are homeless.
As I said, the government committed in mandate letters to the Minister of Northern Affairs, to the minister that I work for, and also to the minister of indigenous infrastructure to deliver an indigenous-led urban, rural and northen housing strategy. Those dollars will be building upon investments that we have made already as part of the national housing strategy. In fact, $225 million over the last three years has been invested specifically here.
We did one other thing that I am also very proud of and that is we made sure that CMHC stops its practice which it has been conducting over the previous decades of disqualifying indigenous applications as they came forward by saying that the applicant has to go to INAC, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, to get money. All applications, indigenous and non-indigenous, that come forward to serve indigenous communities are now incorporated into the national housing strategy under all of the $55-billion program. We are having real success with that.
We also negotiated accords with the provinces and territories across this country a responsibility for those provincial accords to address indigenous housing in off-reserve areas, including supports to sustain the existing program and existing rental supports that are needed to make and sustain affordable communities for indigenous people. We also made sure that capital dollars were allocated in that area.
The member is correct. This is an area that is going to require this Parliament to act with great deliberation and to make substantial investments.
It is unfortunate that the NDP platform does not mention indigenous housing in urban spaces at all. It also is unfortunate that the three different letters that have been posted by the leader never once mention indigenous housing, not specifically and not intentionally.
I am glad that the member opposite has raised this issue and has driven this issue forward to make sure that her party takes this issue seriously. I look forward to her support at committee and her support of the federal budget and support of the findings that our government will produce to show the way forward.
We can solve this crisis. If we do not solve the crisis of urban, rural and northern homelessness, if we do not have a self-directed fourth pillar in the indigenous housing programs of this country, we will never solve homelessness and we will never achieve reconciliation and we will never achieve the dreams of decolonization that the member talked about.
Our government is committed to achieving this. I am committed to achieving this. I look forward to working with members opposite to make sure the dollars flow, the housing is built and people are cared for.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-10 18:37 [p.1920]
Mr. Speaker, "There is a specific kind of hypocrisy when government over-promises but continues to under-deliver, which serves nothing more than to damage an already fraught relationship. In the emerging political momentum on tackling the indigenous housing crisis and homelessness, urban and rural indigenous stakeholders cannot be an afterthought in the process." That is a direct quote from Marc Maracle, the Gignul Non-Profit Housing Corporation representative.
The comments from the parliamentary secretary, while political, do not serve the work that needs to be done. The fact remains the government ignored and did not even see the need to address the urban, rural and northern indigenous communities' homelessness crisis. Now it is talking about it but that talk has gone on for years and years and it is now time to act.
The NDP is always ready to see action become reality. We will be at the table at every turn, pushing the government until indigenous communities in urban, rural and northern communities are housed.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2020-03-10 18:38 [p.1921]
Mr. Speaker, let me be crystal clear. The $2.2 billion reaching home program has a specific indigenous-led homelessness component to it that specifically addresses the needs, goals and aspirations of indigenous housing providers fighting homelessness right across the country.
Additionally, we have put $55 billion into housing. Those housing dollars are available to all indigenous housing providers across this country on an equal terms basis.
That is a foreshadowing to the important work we have to do to set up a fourth, distinct and deliberately intentional funding formula that builds on the $225 million we have already invested, without the help of the New Democrats, who never promised a penny of this in their platform and have never asked for a penny of this in any of their budget submissions. We have put those dollars into play, which are building properties right now. I was in Vernon, B.C., where I opened an indigenous elders' seniors residence. I have worked in Sturgeon Falls, where we have produced new housing. I have been here in Ottawa with the Inuit community. We have also delivered new housing as a direct result of the investments to the national housing strategy.
There is no hypocrisy here. There was action, an investment and a commitment to work for even better results in this Parliament.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2020-03-09 11:36 [p.1773]
Madam Speaker, as always it is a pleasure to rise in the chamber and, in this instance, to contribute to the debate that largely revolves around the fiscal and economic health of our nation in uncertain and challenging times globally.
The sponsor of the motion went to great lengths to talk down the Canadian economy in an effort to score political points. I disagree with the vast majority of the points that he raised during his debate, so it is somewhat ironic that I plan on supporting the motion because the documents that may exist are not documents that we have any interest in keeping from the opposition nor the Canadian public.
Over the course of my remarks there are a few key themes that I hope to touch on, in order to provide an overview of the current economic and fiscal context in which we find ourselves; to highlight some of the emerging challenges that face the Canadian economy; and to introduce some of the measures that we have put forward in the past few years, which have yielded results far beyond what I thought possible when I was a candidate in the 2015 federal election campaign.
By way of background, it would be helpful to describe the context within which we find ourselves.
Canada is in a very healthy fiscal position compared to other developed economies in the global community. We are well positioned to respond to the kinds of challenges that are now making themselves present.
The narrative that somehow overspending has put us in a position where we cannot afford to deal with the challenges we are now facing is based on false pretenses. I honestly believe that it is designed purely to score political points based on misinformation, rather than making substantive points that contribute to the health of our democratic discourse in Canada.
The fundamentals of our economy are strong. We have seen extraordinary job growth in the past few years. We have seen, as importantly, that growth translate into benefits for middle-class and low-income Canadians. We have seen certain measures improve the competitiveness of our nation's economy and we have seen an overall improvement to the fiscal health of our economy.
Responsible management of the economy is at the forefront of our government. The mandate letter to the finance minister from the Prime Minister specifically mandates him to continue to see our national debt shrink as a function of our economy and to ensure that we preserve enough economic firepower to respond, in the event that an economic downturn does come to pass.
We have been planning to invest in Canadians to create growth but also making sure that we have enough fiscal room to operate, should the circumstances demand any kind of a change in course. Sometimes, the fiscally prudent thing to do is to take advantage of opportunities to invest that may exist.
If I look at the status of Canada's economy right now, what I see is a debt-to-GDP ratio that has actually been shrinking and is projected to continue to go down. What I see is the healthiest debt-to-GDP ratio of any G7 economy. Canada is one of only two countries within the G7 to have a AAA credit rating, the highest possible rating with all of the major credit agencies. Canada is one of only about 10 countries on the planet today that have a credit rating of this strength.
In addition, in our federal budgets that we table, we prepare for contingencies to deal with events that we may not have been able to foresee at the time of their crafting, specifically to deal with challenges that may present themselves that may not be apparent on the day a budget is tabled. Having that contingency in place is precisely the kind of thing we do to deal with emerging challenges, and I will deal with a few of them now.
Of course, the spread of COVID-19, or as most Canadian households would refer to it, coronavirus, in recent weeks may not have been something that could have been apparent months ago. When we became aware that this was an issue that needed to be dealt with, we responded professionally every step of the way.
When it comes to something like the coronavirus, I want to make clear that while it is also an economic issue, our number one priority is protecting the health of Canadians. I have been blown away by the leadership of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the level of co-operation with our international partners, whether it is the G7 or IMF on the economic side, or the World Health Organization on the public health side. I have also been blown away with the level of coordination between federal departments through the government operations centre, which was triggered by public safety in recent weeks, as well as the Public Health Agency's coordination of the efforts between the provinces and territories with federal measures that have been put in place.
To those front-line workers who are diligently protecting the health of Canadians, so that my family and I can sleep soundly knowing that we are in good hands, I want to thank them for their professionalism and excellence throughout.
I want to recognize that despite the fact that it is primarily a public health issue, there are also economic challenges that obviously arise when we see threats of this nature. We do not have to have a crystal ball to see that there is an impact on commodity prices when a particular region of the world has such a dramatic drop in demand that it suddenly has an impact on the countries that produce those commodities. This is having a particular impact on the metals and oil and gas sectors that Canada's economy has depended on for a very long time.
We also see that the travel and tourism sectors can be significantly impacted whenever there are affected regions of the world that have travel advisories. It also can have an economic impact at home. My home province of Nova Scotia was set to host the international women's hockey championship in the coming months. Unfortunately, out of concern of public health and safety, that event had to be cancelled. That will have an unfortunate economic impact on the communities that were so looking forward to hosting that tournament.
There is also an economic impact on global supply chains. Canadian businesses that may not be able to secure the products they rely on for the manufacturing process, for example, may not be able to provide their products to their typical end customers or they may have to pay a higher price. It is not lost on us that the events that are global in nature can have a very serious impact on us at home and they can also impact the general business and consumer sentiments. They can cause them to change course in the spending decisions they otherwise would have made.
One of the things we are doing to monitor the economic impact of this outbreak is to make sure that we have the resources in place so that Canada can maintain a world-class public health response. We also want to continue to monitor the impact on businesses and workers and ensure the measures that we are putting in place are going to serve the interests of keeping the Canadian economy operating at capacity.
We have a plan to increase our risk adjustment in the upcoming federal budget to make sure that we are planning for the potential impact that this illness could have on our nation's economy. We can look recently at the blockades that were canvassed in a number of debates in the House in response to the protests tied to the land rights issue in the Wet'suwet'en territory in western Canada.
We have also taken measures to address the economic impacts of the rail blockades. If there is a lesson to be learned from the past few weeks, it is that there is no straight path to reconciliation with indigenous peoples. Reconciliation requires dedication and hard work, and we have to recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done. This is a healing process that will involve good days and not-so-good days. We need to continue to show our determination.
Canada is a trading nation and we ship a lot of our goods to world markets by rail. Although it is too early to know the full impact of the blockades, we know that they were extremely challenging and frustrating for businesses and individuals. We have to keep in mind that many Canadians rely on rail transit networks to obtain basic necessities like food, to commute to and from work every day and to earn a living.
Thousands of workers were laid off, and many are still having problems. The situation is having real and immediate effects. Our government is working 24 hours a day to mitigate the economic risks of the rail blockades and to find a lasting solution.
From day one, we knew that we could not take shortcuts and that, no matter how difficult, dialogue was the best approach. Many people have criticized our approach, but it is working. For the most part, trains are running again. The people who were laid off are being rehired. Most of the blockades have been dismantled. In my opinion, the Prime Minister took the right approach even though other politicians proposed simple solutions to a very complex problem.
There is another emerging challenge for the Canadian economy. I do not know if I can even call it that, we have known about it for so long. I would be remiss if I did not raise the threat posed by climate change not only to our environment, but to our nation's economy.
The fact that we still have debates over whether human industrial activity is the primary driver of climate change is beyond me, and the fact that in the Canadian political context we still have debates on whether Canada can play a meaningful role in the fight against climate change is something that, as a representative who cares about this, I simply cannot accept. We cannot address challenges to our economy if we do not deal with the threats posed by climate change.
Canadians are feeling the effects today. We have seen storm surges in Nova Scotia, floods in New Brunswick, heat waves in Quebec and Ontario, droughts in the prairies, forest fires in the west and a glacial melt in the north. They are having a real impact on the traditional way of life of Canadians and on our economies.
Of course, there is also a direct economic impact. When representatives of the Insurance Bureau of Canada testified before the finance committee as part of our pre-budget consultations, they highlighted that in 1990, the losses associated with severe weather events was in the ballpark of $100 million. That number last year was in the ballpark of $2 billion, a twentyfold increase. I do not doubt that their motivations are pure, but I think they are motivated not only by the desire to do social good for our planet and environment, but also, as they represent the insurance industry, by the bottom line. If we follow the money, we can see that it costs more because life on planet earth has changed. We can address these challenges. They also testified that for every dollar in insured losses, three dollars in uninsured losses were being picked up by taxpayers today, whether municipal, provincial or federal. It is the same group of people who are now out of pocket far too much to deal with climate inaction over decades.
It is not just the cost of mitigating disasters or responding to floods that we need to deal with. There are also missed economic opportunities. When we look a the forest fires out west, we see that the impact they had on production, even in the energy sector, was immense.
Something that I am deeply concerned about, as I represent Nova Scotia, is what happened to the lobster fishery in Maine a few years ago because of high ocean temperatures. I fear that a similar kind of consequence will befall the lobster harvesters in Nova Scotia if we do not take action soon. I hope it is not already too late.
We also need to turn our mind to other things, not just the challenge facing our economy when we are dealing with climate change. There is a massive economic opportunity, according to Marc Carney, who is the former governor of the Bank of Canada and current governor of the Bank of England. He said there is a $26-trillion global opportunity.
The world is changing and we have to decide whether we want to change with it. If we choose to change and be a part of this transition, we will be at the front of a wave of economic growth that we perhaps cannot contemplate now.
In fact, we are seeing it already today. In my own community, the Trinity group of companies is helping with energy efficiency initiatives. It grew from a shop of about two people to dozens and dozens of employees. It helps homeowners reduce their power bills and emissions at the same time.
We are seeing investments in green infrastructure that are able to create jobs, put people to work and prevent the worst consequences of climate change for future generations. We are also seeing investments in research at St. Francis Xavier University, a university in my own backyard, to the Flux Lab, where Dr. David Risk has helped to discover a new gas leak detection technology that is helping energy companies reduce their emissions. It has put people to work not just in his lab, but at some of Canada's largest energy producers, which have now adopted this technology.
We have put forward the first national climate action plan, and we have introduced more than 50 measures. We expect to see growth in the green economy as a result.
However, while it is one thing to experience economic growth, it is another thing to make sure that it actually benefits everyday, ordinary Canadians. To grow the economy, we have made investments in infrastructure, which put people to work and strengthen communities, and in innovation through our universities, as I just cited. We have also triggered private sector investment.
We have changed rules around immigration to ensure that employers are not missing out on growth opportunities because they cannot find people in their communities to do the work. We have invested in trade to help grow the economy and are now the only G7 economy with free trade access to every other G7 economy.
We have cut the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%, making it the lowest rate of small business tax in the G7. We have also put new rules forward to accelerate the capital cost allowance right now for companies that are investing in ways to increase their production and put more people to work.
What is the result of these investments? There are more than 1.2 million new jobs in our nation's economy, including more than 30,000 last month. We are seeing record low unemployment, with more Canadians working now than at more or less any other point in our nation's history since we started keeping track of those statistics. However, it is cold comfort for someone living in poverty or who cannot afford the cost of raising a family to hear that there are a number of new jobs across Canada or that our GDP has, in fact, gone up.
That is why we have introduced policies like the Canada child benefit, which ended the practice of sending child care cheques to millionaires and puts more money directly into the pockets of nine out of 10 Canadian families. It is why the first thing we did when we came here after 2015 was advance a tax cut for nine million middle-class Canadians and raise taxes on the wealthiest 1% of income earners. It is why the first thing we did when we got here in 2019 was put forward a measure to reduce taxes for 20 million Canadians and eliminate federal income tax altogether for more than one million low-income Canadians. It is why we have advanced OAS benefits, reducing the age of eligibility for old age security from 67 to 65. It is why we have increased the guaranteed income supplement by 10% for low-income single seniors. It is why we made enhancements to the Canada pension plan, which I am learning the Conservative party now opposes, to ensure our seniors can have a more dignified and secure retirement. It is why we are tackling the cost of education by improving the Canada student grants program, changing the timeline under which students have to repay debt they may have built up while studying, and why we doubled the Canada summer jobs program to put more young people to work.
What we are actually seeing, despite the clever use of statistics by some of the members opposite, is that the typical Canadian household, when we consider the totality of our body of work, is about $2,000 better off today than it was before we took office. More importantly, as we have seen recently, is that more than one million Canadians have been lifted out of poverty in the past few years. We have achieved the single greatest reduction in poverty over a three-year period in the history of Canada. About 334,000 of the people no longer living in poverty, who were living in poverty just four and a half years ago, are Canadian children. This is the kind of policy development that we should be shouting from the rooftops and sharing with the world to demonstrate how to successfully manage the benefits of economic growth to support Canadians.
The Conservatives' attack on the Canadian economy is not, in and of itself, an economic plan. What we have, when we look at the facts, is a rate of job growth that most would not have thought possible when the Liberals were coming into power at the end of 2015. More importantly, we have seen that Canadians writ large are sharing in the benefit of that growth, rather than it being concentrated among the wealthiest 1% of income earners. We have also seen more Canadians lifted out of poverty than almost any member of the House could have imagined four and a half years ago.
All of this has taken place while we have maintained a healthy fiscal framework that allows us to respond to the changing dynamics of the global economy. If members do not want to accept my word on this, I would invite them to read the report of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who confirmed this to be the case just a few short weeks ago.
Yes, the world is changing and yes, there are challenges. However, Canada is up to them now and will be as long as the we remain in government.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-03-09 12:51 [p.1784]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today on this motion before the House.
As members have heard, New Democrats are supporting this motion, which calls on the government to ensure that the House receives tabled documents when there are warnings about economic downturns or potential impacts on the fiscal framework of the government, or when it gets advice or recommendations on how to deal with them.
The timing of this motion could not be more appropriate. Today we have seen the biggest drop in the TSX since 1987, and oil prices have dropped about 30%. We are seeing the impact on Canada of concerns about COVID-19, the coronavirus that is spreading globally, and the uncertainty that it is bringing. We know, when we see oil prices plummet like this, that the result will be the loss of thousands of jobs in the energy sector. It is going to impact families and communities in Alberta and across this country, because people commute to the oil sands to work there. This is going to have an impact on those who are vulnerable right now and struggling to get by. We know that household debt is skyrocketing, that 50% of Canadians are within $200 of becoming insolvent. This will quickly have an impact on those people.
In my riding alone, 10,000 jobs are reliant on tourism. As we can imagine, people are very concerned about travel and tourism being affected by this global crisis.
I am deeply concerned about the most vulnerable, such as those who cannot afford a place to live. The government has made a commitment to house 50% of the homeless in the next 10 years. Clearly, that is not good enough. There are people who cannot afford medicine and have to make a choice between whether they will pay rent or eat or fill their prescriptions. There are people who cannot get jobs because they are missing teeth or living in chronic pain because of dental work they require, and the government still has not delivered on a plan to help these very vulnerable people, as well as everyday Canadians who are working hard to make ends meet.
We are seeing housing costs skyrocket. It is impacting people in our communities and it is impacting the business community. There are six chambers of commerce in my riding, and the number one concern of every one of those chambers is affordable housing. It is limiting growth and making it difficult for even small business owners to find places to live. The government has not delivered on these very important concerns that people have been bringing forward and that we have been relaying here to Ottawa.
We have a climate crisis. The IPCC has called on all governments across this incredible planet that we share to reduce global emissions by 40% by 2030, and the government still does not have a plan to meet that important threshold. We have 12 years to do it, but we have not seen action.
We have not built the resiliency to diversify our economy, to protect us when commodity prices crash in the way we are seeing today. Here we are, at a time when the wealthy, CEOs and big corporations get bailouts. Loblaws received $12 million in its bailout and Mastercard received $50 million. In the meantime, Mastercard is still charging small business people some of the highest merchant fees in the world. The government has proposed a 1.4% voluntary rate for interchange fees, whereas in Europe it is 0.5% and in Australia it is 0.3%. The government is constantly protecting big corporations, maintaining the CEO stock option loophole and supporting tax havens, which is an economic leakage of $26 billion a year that could pay for an affordable dental care plan for Canadians.
We know the government has maintained the same health care transfers that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives put forward, which is leading to chronic underfunding of our health care system. There is overcrowding in our hospitals. Rural communities are unable to attract doctors or invest in primary health networks, things that are absolutely critical to make our health care system more efficient and to serve Canadians.
As we see the government fail to deliver on these transfers, it really does affect the most vulnerable, especially seniors or people with compromised health. Now we have a crisis upon us. With the coronavirus fast approaching our country, our health care system is not prepared to deal with it in the way we should be able to. This is something that could have been mitigated had we not been doing corporate giveaways and helping the wealthy move their money out of this country.
We know that the Conservatives continue to cut services, so we are concerned. When we talk about an economic plan, what does that economic plan look like for maintaining services and helping those who are struggling to make ends meet? New Democrats are looking for a plan with real transition. We are talking about the health care system, and this is the government's opportunity to beef up transfers to the provinces so that we can be better prepared when a crisis like the coronavirus hits our country.
We need a pharmacare plan. New Democrats put forward the costing of our pharmacare plan and showed how it would actually save money in the end and ensure that people would not have to make those difficult choices.
We also put forward a proposal in the House for a dental care plan, which the Liberals defeated. The plan would have limited the middle-class tax break for those who earn over $90,000 so that anyone earning less than $90,000 would receive the dental care they need. What an opportunity this would have been. It would have been good for the GDP. It would have taken the pressure off the small business community that is buying private insurance for its employees and is unable to afford it. It would have ensured that there would be fewer lost days in the workplace and that employers were taking care of their number one asset, their employees. We know that these are critical opportunities for investment.
We hear a lot about the housing crisis. Yesterday, on my way to Ottawa, I was at the gas bar and ran into my good friend Thomas. Thomas has been homeless for almost a year. He has told me that there is just nowhere to live and that he is unable to get a good job. Thomas is indigenous, and the government still does not have an indigenous urban housing strategy or a rural housing strategy for indigenous people.
Everyday people in my riding who are working two or three jobs cannot find a place to live. Single parents are especially vulnerable. The government talks about its housing plan, but it is being delayed. The housing plan should be front-ended, not back-ended. New Democrats are calling on the government to speed up its investments when it comes to helping the most vulnerable.
As for clean energy, right now is the opportunity for the government to come out with an emergency package for Canadians to deal with the drop in commodity prices and invest in a future for Canadians by investing in clean energy and a climate bank, as we proposed in our campaign. The government could invest into a climate bank and into clean energy across the country, especially in areas that will be hit the hardest by the drop in oil prices.
In my riding, constituents are desperate for salmon restoration funds. The government needs to invest in the future and ensure we bring our salmon back to abundance, which is key to our economy and food security. It is also key to our ecosystem and culture. Port Alberni, which is the only deep sea port on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is looking for a floating dry dock. An investment like this would help alleviate the pressure on floating dry dock space, which is clearly needed between Oregon and Alaska. It is an opportunity to create jobs.
My colleague from New Westminster—Burnaby talked about indigenous communities that are bringing diesel into their communities. There is a community called Hesquiath that has been working with the government, but the process has been dragged out. This is the time to invest in communities like Hesquiath so they can get off diesel and operate on clean energy. These communities are waiting for these important strategic investments.
With regard to firefighting capacity, we know that firefighting season is coming upon us. We need to invest in firefighting capacity so that we can attack these issues when fires come up across our country. We need a strategic plan. There is a great company in my riding called Coulson Aviation, and the government has done some great work with it, but this is an opportunity for us to expand that work.
We need a plan right now to deal with the crisis at hand. New Democrats are calling on the government to do the right thing and come out with an emergency aid package that is going to benefit Canadians.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-03-09 14:03 [p.1795]
Mr. Speaker, after 29 days, the rail blockade in Kahnawake has finally been removed.
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the extraordinary resilience of the people of La Prairie, Saint-Philippe, Saint-Mathieu, Candiac, Delson, Saint-Constant and Sainte-Catherine. Over 3,000 people were deprived of access to their means of transportation every day.
I would also like to commend the Régie intermunicipale de police Roussillon, under the direction of Marc Rodier, for its outstanding co-operation, as well as the mayors of my riding.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the great work accomplished by Exo, a company that provides commuter train services. Thanks to its creative emergency measures, the Exo team was able to provide daily bus transportation, despite the many challenges.
I hope that the Prime Minister will now recognize the true value of Exo's efforts and compensate the company for the additional $1.2 million it had to spend to keep services running during this unfortunate crisis for which he is primarily responsible.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-03-09 14:25 [p.1799]
Mr. Speaker, a month later, the blockade at Kahnawake has finally been lifted, but that does not mean that the rail crisis is over.
Today, the government must take responsibility for its lack of leadership on this file. For example, in my riding, Exo spent more than $1 million to try to replace commuter trains. Manufacturers and exporters in Quebec lost between $20,000 and $50,000 a day. This was quite costly to our businesses.
Will the government present a compensation plan to the victims of the collateral damage of its inaction on the rail crisis?
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we know that the blockades had some very real consequences for Canadians, including Quebeckers.
We needed to find a peaceful and lasting resolution. I want to point out that by engaging in dialogue, we have reached a tentative agreement with the Wet'suwet'en. This is a good thing for all Canadians. All blockades have been removed and rail service has resumed. This is also a good thing.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the rail crisis has had a huge impact on the economy in eastern Quebec. The Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie is still taking stock, but we already know that losses exceed half a million dollars.
The Baie-des-Chaleurs chamber of commerce has sounded the alarm and is worried that it will take months for the economy to recover. The chamber asked the federal government for assistance last Thursday. The lack of federal leadership is what caused the rail crisis to drag on.
Will the government compensate companies for their losses?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, in this government, we believe it is important to follow a process for reconciliation. That is what we have done. The rail blockades were unfortunate, but we worked very hard, around the clock, to resolve the crisis. I am pleased to see that trains are moving again on rail lines across the country.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2020-03-09 14:46 [p.1803]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals keep saying they care about a nation-to-nation relationship, but as we face a potential coronavirus outbreak, they have turned their backs on first nations and Inuit again.
When the H1N1 crisis hit, indigenous nations asked for help, but the government sent body bags instead.
Lives are at risk.
Will the Prime Minister admit he was wrong and reverse his decision to exclude the Minister of Indigenous Services from the COVID-19 committee?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Indigenous Services, I can confirm that I am on the committee.
I will reassure the member opposite that regional offices are working with first nations leadership and communities on awareness. To assure that necessary resources are in place, we are actively engaged with the Public Health Agency of Canada, other departments and provincial and territorial counterparts to protect the health and safety of first nations and Inuit people.
View Philip Lawrence Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his excellent comments and his bid at comedy.
I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia.
In all seriousness, we are facing an economic crisis. The TSX dropped over 1,600 points today. It is serious. What is more, the TSX dropped 31% more than the Dow. Across the border to the south, their economy has been roaring. The Dow has been outperforming the TSX. They are a natural comparison in the United States. Our stock exchange, the TSX dropped 30% more. Why is that?
I ask every member, in all seriousness, to consider that. Why is our stock market bleeding a third more than the market to the south?
To carve through the demagoguery and clarify the economic reality that the other side is desperately trying to obscure and obfuscate against, including the finance minister, who will not comment on whether we are heading into a recession or on the finances of our country, is a problem.
In order to go there, I think we have to start at the beginning. Any capitalist economy is cyclical, it is true. It goes through a series of expansions and contractions. There are various economic theories. There is the Keynesian theory that says when times are good, we should save more money, we should raise taxes and decrease spending. In bad times, we should spend more and cut taxes to give stimulus to the economy. However, there is a more free market, laissez-faire theory that says to keep spending low, keep taxes low and the private sector will overcome and come to equilibrium.
The last five years have not borne a resemblance to any economic theory known. It has just been spend, spend, tax more and spend in the good times. The Liberal government's attack on businesses, the institution of the carbon tax, its weak leadership, failure to address Canada's productivity gap and reckless spending have left our country without many of the resources that are required to counteract the effects of a recession.
Small business is the very heart of our country. Nearly 70% of private sector employees come from small business. These individuals have had to deal with increasing regulations, increasing taxation, and, worst of all in my opinion, the finance minister had the chutzpah to call these individuals, who are some of the most honourable, hard-working people I have ever met, tax cheats. In my mind, that is utterly reprehensible.
In my local riding, we have seen the impact of the Liberal government's policy of taxation, which has meant the closure of the Weston bakery and of Saputo in the riding next door to me. It is costing us real jobs, and it is having a real impact on the people in my riding.
Another detrimental impact, a self-inflicted wound, is the carbon tax. The carbon tax has been an unmitigated economic disaster. It has increased the cost of inputs into our businesses, making our businesses less competitive. Many of our foreign competitors do not have to pay a carbon tax, so they have a competitive advantage, most notably those in the United States. I repeat, the TSX dropped 30% more than the Dow.
Could the carbon tax have something to do with it? I think so. The carbon tax has a negative, insidious multiplier effect. We have more and more carbon tax, which makes our products more and more expensive, and our economy less competitive.
In my riding of Northumberland—Peterborough South, which I think is the greatest riding in Canada, the agricultural sector is incredibly important. In the agricultural sector, we have seen farmers lose 12% of their net income because of the carbon tax. Once again, the TSX is down 30% more. Why is that?
It is self-evident that a more productive economy is a more stable economy, so we need to pursue an economy that is more competitive and more productive.
As we have seen over the last five years, businesses have invested 20% less. We have seen Warren Buffett pull out of Canada. Teck Frontier has decided not to go ahead with its tar sands expansion. Over and over again, we see less capital being invested in Canada. Could that have something to do with why the Dow Jones is ahead of the TSX by 30% today?
At the heart of many of our economic problems is a serious structural competitive issue. In Canada, we measure productivity globally by the amount each worker contributes to GDP per hour. In Canada it is a low $50; in the United States it is $60; in Switzerland it is $65; and in Ireland it is $84. Why does productivity matter? Is this just the Conservatives talking about numbers? No. This has a real impact on human beings. It is for the people of Canada that productivity matters. The average wage earner in Canada earns $19 an hour. The average wage earner in the United States earns $23. In Switzerland, the average wage earner earns $33. Are these related? I think so.
When we look at the impact of government on the economy, the productivity gap, the loss in our stock markets today and the broader picture, we see that Canada is falling behind. Could that also be related to the fact that the average Canadian now spends more on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined? The idea is to save for a rainy day, but the government has not done that itself and has also made it impossible for Canadians. The average Canadian is $200 away from insolvency every month, 50% of them.
The other major issue is the weak leadership we have seen from the Prime Minister. Our weak economy is a direct result of the Prime Minister's weak leadership. His dithering and dialogue failed to effectively lead our country through the blockades and trade disputes. The economic impact of the blockades has yet to be determined, but it will no doubt be in the millions of dollars.
In my riding, I have had a lot of conversations with business owners and individuals alike who have struggled with the impact of the blockades. They cannot get their goods to make other goods and they cannot ship their goods. This is impacting all Canadians, and the folks in my riding are hurting. Some of the businesses will not be able to make payroll this month because of the blockades. If the Prime Minister had stood up 19 days before with the vast majority of the Wet'suwet'en people and the vast majority of hard-working Canadians and shut the blockades down, all of this hardship would have been avoided.
When we look at the overall picture, there is no question that today is a bad day for the global economy. We are looking straight down the barrel of a downturn. The government did not act with the due diligence that it should have.
As a key device, according to Keynesian economics, a government can counteract an economic downturn with deficit spending. However, when we spend the cupboard bare, there is nothing else to grab from there.
The Prime Minister talked repeatedly, during his 2015 campaign, about the importance of maintaining a balanced budget. He was on record saying that we needed to have a balanced budget. Indeed, as he famously said, “the budget will balance itself.” Of course, budgets do not balance themselves and we are left with a $30-billion structural deficit, in addition to over $100 billion of deficit spending.
My friends across the aisle like to say that Stephen Harper had billions of dollars in deficit. We were going through the worst global recession in the last 50 years and he balanced the budget so we could outperform the rest of the G7. The Conservatives took the necessary steps. I stand by Prime Minister Harper's record. Now we see the opposite. When times are good globally and economically, what do we do? We sing, dance, spend and tax, over and over again, leaving our cupboard bare.
I feel as though we are watching the economy go over the edge and the Conservative Party is yelling for us to stop, hit the brakes and change direction, but you refuse. We will go over the cliff. For goodness' sake, we need to change direction. We need to go forward with a more productive and efficient economy, and not slide into a further—
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from La Prairie for his comments about the disaster the government is creating. He mentioned how the Liberals promised they would only run a $10-billion deficit in 2015 and that by 2019 they would balance the budget and yet they have not. That continues to skyrocket.
Another thing the member talked about very briefly was the rail blockades. In Quebec, people have had big challenges with the rail blockades. There is a reduced amount of propane that has been able to get to farmers to help them in drying their grain. That is having a big impact on Quebec farmers. I would be interested to hear how the member sees that piling up for further and further deficits.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-03-09 18:06 [p.1833]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments and his question.
He is right. It is unbelievable that some members on the other side boasted about how the rail crisis was managed. They found a way to brag about it.
People will say that they were patient. They were not patient. They let the issue drag on. That is not the same thing. It took them 20 days to wake up. During the first 10 days, the Prime Minister was on vacation and did not want to be bothered. During the following 10 days they did not really know what to do, so they passed it off to the provinces. In the last 10 days, they realized that the Bloc Québécois's proposals actually made sense and decided to try those solutions 20 days too late.
View Laurel Collins Profile
NDP (BC)
View Laurel Collins Profile
2020-02-28 11:04 [p.1737]
Madam Speaker, my riding of Victoria is facing a serious housing and homelessness crisis. Too many people are living in precarious housing, or worse, finding themselves sleeping on the street. We need to take urgent action to invest in affordable, social and co-operative housing.
We should be taking the lead from community organizations like the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness in adopting a Housing First approach. The role of the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness is particularly critical, because we know that indigenous peoples are eight times more likely to end up homeless. Their work is centred on the lived experience and perspectives of indigenous peoples.
We need a housing strategy by indigenous people for indigenous people. Housing is a human right. In a country as wealthy as Canada, no one should have to go without a safe place to call home.
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