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View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I wanted to say the same thing as Ms. Dabrusin. We, the representatives of the four political parties, met to combine our four motions. We reached a consensus. The resulting motion was tabled by Mr. Champoux on behalf of all of us.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, before you listed the six motions, I had raised my hand.
I have two questions.
The first concerns what will happen when we unanimously adopt the motion regarding the study on culture, sports and so on. We don't have much time. Can we propose witnesses before we talk about the other motions or at some other point in the meeting, so that the clerk and his team can quickly call the witnesses?
Second, when we last met, we unanimously adopted all the old motions that you listed.
Mr. Clerk, I believe that a member of my party asked you whether it was appropriate for the motions to have been adopted all at once rather than one at a time. I don't know whether you have any information to give us, but I think that we should have adopted the motions one by one. That way, we would have known which motions we wanted to prioritize.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
There's no specific reason, but I know that some members were concerned about it. I just want to know what decision was made before we establish how we want to prioritize each of the six motions that were grouped together.
We were told that we couldn't adopt the motions all at once, and some people were concerned about this. That said, it's now up to you to decide.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I completely agree with the two people who spoke before me.
I also suggest that we focus on officials next week. That way, it would be easier for the clerk to organize everything.
I also suggest, as we did during the discussion among the four party representatives last week, that each party set a deadline of next Wednesday for sending the clerk a list of potential witnesses who could appear before the committee and answer our questions. We could take a few minutes to discuss this next Friday, but only if necessary.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Sorry, I have a motion to put forward.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I agree. I think we should do the same thing we're doing for the other motions, meaning, wait until we have a hard copy so we can read them and see whether there's any overlap, and perhaps even consolidate certain motions to produce a final version. That way, we could also propose amendments.
I have two motions, as well. I'd like to read them and make sure the clerk can send them out afterwards.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
It's all right.
I have two motions to put forward, but I'd like to say something first.
I want to be sure we discuss the motions before establishing the list of priorities, once we have them all, by the next meeting.
My first motion is similar to Mrs. Bessette's. We all seem to share the same interests, regardless of political stripe. My motion reads as follows:
That the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage conduct a general study of at least 4 meetings on the socio-economic impacts of stakeholders under the Department of Canadian Heritage or benefiting, in one way or another, from the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage and the organizations therein being subject to:
a) draw up a clear picture of the impacts of the pandemic on their activities;
b) better identify their needs during the current crisis; c) identify gaps in federal aid programs; d) identify more effective support measures better suited to their reality. This study should be completed before the Christmas Break.
My second motion reads as follows:
That the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage to appear before the committee, along with Department of Canadian Heritage officials, to discuss the department's main estimates and spending priorities, and that this meeting be held before November 24, 2020.
Those are my two motions, which we will send to you, Mr. Chair.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes, exactly. I'd like you to have copies in both official languages, as with the other motions.
As is the case for Mr. Champoux's and Mrs. Bessette's motions—and perhaps other motions we'll be receiving this afternoon—I'd like us to have the opportunity to examine and discuss them with our fellow members and to propose amendments or roll certain motions into one so they can be put on notice together.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I'm glad Ms. Dabrusin is in favour of doing that. We can at least vote on the motion to get the ball rolling and have the clerk follow up with the minister's office.
I'll read it a second time so it's clear for everyone.
That the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage to appear before the committee, along with Department of Canadian Heritage officials, to discuss the department's main estimates and spending priorities, and that this meeting be held before November 24, 2020.
I can read it in English as well, if you like, but I think everyone has access to interpretation.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you.
I'm not sure whether Mr. Champoux is still comfortable with the motion, but if not, I would be happy to amend the end as follows:
that this meeting be held as soon as possible and no later than November 24, 2020.
That is usually how it's done. That would show how important it is to the committee to hold the meeting as soon as possible. With your consent, I propose amending my own motion to hold the meeting as soon as possible and no later than November 24, 2020.
I'm not sure whether I can do that, Mr. Chair. I'm trying to find a compromise that works for everyone.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, Canada experienced a major failure at the UN yesterday by not winning a seat on the Security Council.
After five years, the Prime Minister, who made a promise, used all his resources and put his reputation on the line, failed to win the seat. Even worse, we've lost face in the eyes of the world. This is all the result of the Prime Minister's escapades around the world. We need only think of his trip to India to see that the Prime Minister's main concern is his image.
My question for the Prime Minister is simple. What was the cost of this campaign to try to win a seat at the United Nations, which has set us back in the eyes of the world?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I'll repeat my question for the minister. I hope that she'll provide a shorter answer.
What was the cost of this campaign, which has set us back in the eyes of the public as a result of the failure of the Prime Minister, who wants to promote his image instead of Canadian values?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
As usual, we won't get an answer. This seems to be the custom with these Liberals. We'll move on to another subject.
Let's talk about the CERB and its impact, while the economy is recovering and the lockdown is being lifted everywhere. We learned today that the very popular Cosmos restaurant in the Quebec City area will be closing its doors.
The owner says that the factor that influenced his decision to close the Cosmos on Grande Allée is the difficulty in finding staff. He thinks that the CERB is really competition. He says that few employees showed interest in returning to work when he put out feelers.
When will this government change the CERB to enable people to return to the labour market?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I hope that Minister Duclos will visit the owner and explain this. Right now, businesses and stores are closing their doors because the government is implementing measures that hamper economic recovery.
A movie theatre owner, who was quite happy to receive the government's permission to reopen, told us that 35 of his 40 employees are refusing to return to work for the reopening because they have access to the CERB and they don't want to work.
The minister even sent a directive to public servants telling them that, if employees don't want to return to work voluntarily, even though the health conditions are fine and everything is safe, they have the right to stay home and they'll be sent a cheque for $2,000 a month.
Why isn't the CERB suited to the economic recovery?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, the Conservative Party has been asking for an economic update for weeks. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, Yves Giroux, is also asking for one. It is clear that the information the government provides to us every day through the Prime Minister himself, outside his residence, is too incomplete for us to be able to interpret it properly. The former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, also said so.
This morning we learned from the Prime Minister himself that there would be no economic and fiscal update, but an “economic snapshot”, a new term he invented. What we have just learned today is quite incredible.
Why wait until July, when all parliamentarians will be at home with their constituents, when Canadians and Quebeckers will be on vacation and journalists will be taking a well-deserved break? The Prime Minister is waiting for that date to provide us with information. This shows a lack of respect for all parliamentarians here and for Canadians who want the truth about the expenditures related to the measures taken by the government. Why wait?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I'm not making this up. Just this week, the Prime Minister said that an economic update would simply be an exercise in invention and imagination. We can understand why the Prime Minister would say such things, given that, for him, deficits are not a serious problem and budgets balance themselves. However, we don't understand how the Minister of Finance, who comes from the financial sector, would support that.
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador provided an official economic update on June 4, 2020. Saskatchewan even tabled a budget on June 15. Quebec will do the same on Friday, June 19. On the other hand, our Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance are unable to provide us with an economic update. If this is an invention, as he says, how is it that the provinces are able to give us the facts so that all parliamentarians here in the House can make the appropriate decisions?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
We are going to find out right now whether our Minister of Finance knows the figures.
What is the level of the deficit since the beginning of the pandemic?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, now that we know that the CERB will be extended, I would like to know how much it has cost over the last three months.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, we will be voting on supply today. We have been told that the CERB will be extended, but the Minister of Finance cannot even tell us how much it has cost over the last three months. That is unacceptable. It is disrespectful to the general public, who are paying through their taxes for these announcements that the Prime Minister makes every day from the steps of his house.
How much has the CERB cost in the last three months? Providing us with that figure is simple. Clearly, the minister knows what it is.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, can the Prime Minister tell us whether we will have an economic update by the end of June?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, most of the provinces in Canada are working on tabling economic updates by the end of June. Why is the Liberal government unable to do so as well?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
The Liberal government announced hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending during the pandemic, but it still refuses to provide an economic update in order to be transparent with Canadians.
In times of crisis, monitoring the situation is more important than ever. I repeat my question: why does this government not want to table an economic update by the end of June, when the provinces are doing so?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
The Parliamentary Budget Officer himself does not understand why the federal government cannot deliver an economic update when the provinces can.
Why are the government and the minister defying the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is an independent officer and is requesting an economic update?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
That is incredible. When we listen to the minister and the Prime Minister talk, you would think we were in the pesky “terrible twos” phase that children go through, when they keep saying no, no, no.
I find it funny that the provinces are able to table an economic update in a crisis situation. The opposition parties are asking for it, as are experts and officials. When the time comes for the government to listen to the scientists, it has no problem doing so. However, if people do not think like the government, it ignores them.
The provinces are doing it, the opposition parties are calling for it and the Parliamentary Budget Officer is calling for it. Why will the Minister of Finance not table an economic update so that all members of Parliament can do their verification work?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, one month ago, the Prime Minister announced with great fanfare that the eligibility criteria for the $40,000 emergency loans for businesses would be more flexible to help self-employed entrepreneurs and businesses that pay themselves dividends to have access to them.
However, as of today—it has been four weeks since that announcement—businesses are still banging their heads on the doors of their financial institutions. They do not have access to the information because it is not available on official websites. In addition, even senior officials confirmed to me during a technical call on June 2, last Tuesday, that this information would not be available for several weeks.
Can the Minister of Finance, who says he wants to act quickly to help our businesses, explain why, after four weeks, it is still not possible to get the information the Prime Minister promised us from his doorstep?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, I want to pay tribute to a great man who represented the public here, in the House, for close to 15 years: Michel Gauthier.
Michel, in life, we meet a lot of people, but some of them leave their mark on us forever. From the first time I spoke with you two years ago, I immediately understood that I was talking with a man with heart, a passionate man, a man who had Quebec imprinted on his heart.
Because of your decision to join the Conservative Party of Canada, I got to know you personally, and I am most grateful. I will remember our discussions on the best ways to communicate our Conservative vision to Quebeckers. I will remember our heated discussions on Quebec-Canada relations. I will remember all the passion and energy you had in the lead-up to a speech to our supporters.
Michel, Canadians, Quebeckers and I will remember you forever, the great man you were, the outstanding speaker, a formidable parliamentarian, with integrity, passion, commitment and love for Quebec.
I offer my sincere condolences to Anne, and to your family and friends.
Rest in peace.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, why is it that employers from industry, businesses and community organizations that have been approved in the Canada summer jobs program still haven't received the money they're entitled to?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Every day, the Prime Minister makes announcements in front of his residence.
I'll repeat my question.
Given the importance of the program for our youth who are looking to work, how is it that the organizations haven't yet received the money they need to hire students? As we know, there have been some problems with the CESB.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
The minister can say whatever he wants. Last year, there was no crisis and, as of April, all employers who had been admitted to the program had received the money. We are currently in a crisis. The government is trying to respond quickly to the needs. Right now, community organizations are not receiving the money to which they are entitled to hire students, to put them to work and to give them an employment opportunity.
Why?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
The young people and employers listening to us must be very surprised by what the minister is saying. He mentioned that the rules are now more flexible. However, it is taking a month and a half longer than last year. The money has not yet been given out.
I have done my homework. I went to see what was happening in my riding and in about 10 other ridings. Last year, in my riding, all the money had been deposited before April. Right now, there is a $240,000 shortfall for about 60 student jobs, and the minister has the nerve to tell us that the government has provided more flexibility.
Why is the money not available if the government wants to act quickly, to help the economy recover and to help young people?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Here is the reality. Last week, the owner of a hardware store in a village in my riding had to close his business because he was unable to hire students and had no one to work.
This morning, an employer called me to tell me that his request to hire a student had been accepted, but that the delay meant that he could not proceed with the hiring. This means that one more young person will not have a job. That young person will therefore have to receive the CESB. There is the reality.
When is the government going to release the money required for young people to be able to work?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer expressed concern about the lack of a budget plan from the government.
Does the government plan to table an economic update or a budget by the end of June, yes or no?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, I hope that the time taken to choose the person who would answer me will be taken into account in the calculation of my speaking time.
I'll repeat my question for the minister. If he can't table a full budget, what's stopping him from providing an economic update?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I'll ask a simple question. Will we have an economic update by the end of June, yes or no?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
The government announces billions of dollars in spending every day without any accountability. I want to point this out.
Can the Prime Minister tell us when we can return to the House of Commons in a small group and in accordance with the guidelines of the Public Health Agency of Canada so that democracy can be properly exercised?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I want to point out to the Leader of the Government in the House, the government and the Prime Minister that, at this time, lockdown measures are being eased everywhere. Businesses are opening, almost without exception.
What's stopping the House from sitting in accordance with public health guidelines?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I want to tell the Leader of the Government in the House that he had better avoid demagoguery. I specifically stated in my question that a small group would sit in accordance with public health guidelines. This isn't about asking 338 members to return to the House.
My question is for the Minister of Finance.
We know that the CESB has just been sent out. The money sent to people is retroactive to May 10. Some students contacted us to say that, after three weeks, they had the opportunity to return to work full time. They're wondering whether they need to pay back the CESB.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I'll simply repeat my question.
Take the example of a student who has been receiving the CESB for three weeks because they're unemployed. However, they manage to find full-time employment. Therefore, they'll earn over $1,000 this month.
Does the student need to pay back $1,250 or $312.50 for each week of unemployment?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, the Conservatives required that students be matched with available jobs before they could receive financial assistance, as stated in the bill passed.
Why hasn't the matching program already been implemented?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for the Prime Minister.
Is it true that Canada Revenue Agency employees who process applications for the Canada emergency response benefit, or CERB, have been asked to send the payment even if fraud had been detected, as was pointed out in a national media report today?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I repeat my question, which is extremely simple: Is it true that the Canada Revenue Agency sent a memo to its employees asking them to ignore the fraudsters and still send the CERB payments??
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes or no: Did the Canada Revenue Agency send a memo to its employees—who are doing an exceptional job, I'd like to point out—so that they would ignore the 200,000 potential cases of fraud that they detected?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
The CERB has been distributed since March 25, so for seven weeks now. The federal government website clearly states that if an employee returns to work, the employee must pay back the CERB. Can the Prime Minister tell us whether employees who decide to return to work have to pay back the full $2,000 per month, or only $500 for week of the month?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, the extremely simple question I am asking the Minister comes from companies and workers. None of the officials dares to answer it when we call on technical matters, even though they are supposed to give us information that we can pass on to the public with complete transparency.
So let me repeat my question; I don't think there can be a simpler one. The answer will benefit the workers and the companies that want access to the Canada emergency wage subsidy.
If an employee is called back to work—which is perfectly fine—agrees to do so and wants to reimburse the CERB, must he reimburse $500 for each week he works during the month, or the entire $2,000?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
That announcement was made seven weeks ago. The workers want to know how much they have to reimburse. The companies want to know the situation so that they can make decisions on salary assistance. It seems to me that my question is not complicated: do people have to reimburse $500 for each week they work in a month, or the full monthly amount of $2,000?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
The answers that we are getting today are incredible. This is unacceptable, in my view.
If an employer complies with the hygiene conditions, can employees still refuse to return to work, and therefore continue to receive the CERB?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Since this crisis started, we have been sensing some friction between the federal government and the provinces, more particularly Quebec.
On April 23, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Health hinted that seniors' residences could become a "national project in the long term”, even making reference to the Canada Health Act. Then, on April 25, the Prime Minister tried to clarify his remarks by saying that he had no intention of becoming involved in areas of provincial jurisdiction. Given the current pandemic, I feel that the last thing we need is a constitutional crisis and a federal government trying to interfere in provincial responsibilities.
I would therefore like to allow the Prime Minister to tell us clearly that he has no intention of becoming involved in matters of provincial jurisdiction such as the health care system. I am specifically thinking about seniors. I am also thinking about the issue of residences and long-term care facilities, the CHSLDs, which is already complex enough to manage for the Government of Quebec.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, like a lot of other provinces, Quebec decided yesterday to progressively end the lockdown in order to support an economic recovery, while still complying with public health rules, great though that challenge may be.
However, for several days in his news conferences, the Prime Minister has seemed to question the decisions made by the Government of Quebec about the current lockdown.
Can he tell us today whether he agrees or does not agree with the plan proposed by the Government of Quebec?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Great. I will ask my question once more, very simply.
I would like to know whether the federal government, or the Prime Minister himself, who speaks for it every day, agrees with the plan to end the lockdown that the Government of Quebec has put in place. Very simply, yes or no.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The government has launched many measures in the past few weeks to support Canadians. The Canada emergency response benefit and the Canada emergency student benefit coming down the pike are two examples. Businesses and farmers have raised questions about both measures. Some provincial governments feel that, in some cases, the measures are at odds with incentives they have put in place to encourage people to work when labour is needed.
I am not questioning the government's desire to help all Canadians, but this is what I would like to ask the Prime Minister. Before introducing these measures, did the government consult the provinces to make sure its measures did not go against provincial measures already in place? After all, the provinces are the ones responsible for getting their own economies going again.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, during our 4:30 p.m. calls, one of the things we ask officials, especially those from the finance department, about is workers who have lost their jobs because their employer couldn't continue to operate in light of COVID-19. Those workers qualify for the Canada emergency response benefit and receive $2,000 a month. When their employer resumes operations, however, and calls to ask them to come back to work, according to what officials have told us, those workers can refuse even if they have no valid reason.
This is my question. If the goal is to help stimulate the economy, how is it that people are allowed to refuse to return to work without a valid reason once their employer is ready to resume operations?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, in order for companies and businesses to reopen, they are required to follow very clear health guidelines. There's no reason to question what they are doing; the various governments have already deemed it valid.
My question is simple. Public servants are telling us that we can tell Canadians who don't want to go back to work that they are allowed to keep collecting $2,000 a month unchecked. That's exactly how the officials who answer our questions every day at 4:30 p.m. put it.
Is the government okay with an employee whose employer is asking them to return to work in healthy and safe conditions to say no and continue to collect their $2,000, yes or no?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, many restaurateurs, bar owners, hairdressers, barbers and estheticians don't qualify for program support for various technical reasons. This is April 29. Can the government tell us today when those people will hear, yes, they are going to receive assistance as part of the economic recovery, which is already under way in Quebec and other provinces?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes. A number of ministers have spoken, and many of them did not have a microphone or headphones. Given the situation, they should be the first to have the best possible equipment, so that we can do our work properly. I want to emphasize that.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, at 2:23 p.m., I lost the audio connection. I tried to let you know. However, at 2:26 p.m., I was completely cut off from the virtual meeting. I've just been reconnected by the people from technical services. They quickly helped me, and I want to commend them for their prompt action.
I want to know the plan for this type of situation to ensure access to the discussions, in particular to the answers to questions. I and the other 276 members are here because we're interested in this matter. We want to take part in this experience and to access all the information, particularly the ministers' answers to the relevant questions asked by my colleagues from all the opposition parties.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to ask you to pass on a message.
I've already lost my Internet connection. Even though I'm in one of Canada's Parliament buildings right now, I lost my connection. We could ask technical services to ensure that the Wellington Building is properly connected so that we can do our work, especially if these virtual meetings continue.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
As I see it, it will all depend on when we get it. You said in the evening, but if I get it after six or seven o'clock, I honestly don't think I'll be able to give my feedback the next day, considering the long hours we've been putting in for nearly two weeks now.
What's more, I don't really feel like making my staff work after hours, Monday night, given all the long hours they've been pulling for a while. I'm not questioning, however, your efforts to get it delivered sooner.
If we can get it at a reasonable time, I would gladly make the effort to spend some time on it Monday evening, but I won't work on it until midnight; that's for sure. In any case, I'm on duty Monday.
Let's not forget the constant votes being called without warning. I don't want the committee to count too much on my contribution. I don't mean it in a negative way; I simply wouldn't hold out too much hope.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I agree that there's no rush to deal with the matter, but does it have to be included? That's a question I think we should ask ourselves.
I realize that it's tied to infrastructure, but as far as smart cities are concerned, it's more a matter of infrastructure management. Perhaps we could mention the piping, the way it is managed, and the need to know what the current inventory is. From the comments we heard, we learned that we have no idea as to the inventory across the country, so I don't think using this element as an example poses a problem.
What I wonder about, though, is the reason for incorporating the motion into our study on smart cities. We could simply include all the elements affecting all cities and mention that particular aspect. Does the issue merit a report? I don't really have an opinion on that yet.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I agree with my colleague's sage advice. I think we can hold off on deciding whether to include it in the report. You just said we have until December. That gives us enough time to think about it. Let's not rule out the possibility. I just think we should wait to hear what the witnesses have to say during the next four days of meetings in order to figure out whether we really can connect the two in a meaningful way. I think we can work towards that. We shall see.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I agree with my two colleagues. I have no objection to that idea. What we will need to think about during the next four meetings on smart communities is whether to deal with it fully in that report, merely take it into account, or devote another report to it.
We have no problem discussing that. I see no reason why anyone would think the opposite.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
With all due respect to the committee members and the study on smart communities, I think we can bring in all kinds of witnesses to hear about their experiences. We have heard from many, and heaven knows how important the subject is, but the priority, even before we start thinking about smart cities, should be on hearing from communities that do not currently have access to fibre optics, that do not have access to the technology. As things stand, multiple regions across the country simply do not have access to it.
The minister has all the necessary authority in that regard and makes his infrastructure choices. The government announced a $180-billion plan and says that the infrastructure bank is coming soon. We should know a bit more. Perhaps the bank could even support Canada-wide projects aimed at getting everyone connected.
At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' annual conference last week, we learned that the federal government intends to hold a smart cities challenge, so the government already seems to have a clear sense of what it wants to do on that front.
I think the people the committee should hear from are those who do not have that access. What should the government do? What should the committee recommend to the Department of Finance and the government to make this an essential service that is accessible to everyone?
That said, I'm not trying to take anything away from the rest of it, but, as the expression goes, we're putting the cart before the horse. It's urgent that we get everyone across the country connected, no matter where they live. That is what we need to build on in order to help all municipalities.
Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, in short, all the big cities, have been working on this for a long time now, believe me. For years, municipal associations have been meeting with experts from all over the world to get advice on best practices. They are already active, they know the programs, they know which doors to knock on for the funding to carry out these projects. They don't need a challenge.
We aren't the ones in the lead; I would even say we're behind them. They are already ahead of us.
We need to give this serious consideration. We need to find witnesses who will make the recommendations that will help the government, so it can make the right decisions to ensure everyone is connected.
That is my humble opinion, anyway. Otherwise, it will simply be a waste of time.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Chair, I just want to clarify something.
I don't oppose Mr. Badawey's motion. In fact, I completely agree that we work on it. My point is simply this: if I had any sway over the witness list, I would encourage the committee to learn as much as it could to figure out how to get communities connected. We could work with private companies—who are willing to work with the government—to put it all together.
I want to make myself perfectly clear: I am not at all against this motion. I, too, have a municipal background. Before we hear from Vancouver and Montreal officials on what their cities are already doing, we should, instead, look at how we can get everyone connected so that we can all make progress.
Believe me, the big cities are already working on it; they don't need us in order to think about it. They have their own experts, advisors, and lobbies looking after them. I just wanted to clarify that I am not at all opposed to this motion.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I want to clarify that I am not against it, just so we're all clear.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
On what was just said, I don't know that we should rush to hear from witnesses as soon as June 14, since we won't be studying the subject until after the summer break, during which we'll all be in our respective ridings. Perhaps we could allow a month to propose witnesses. That would give plenty of time to contact them. That might help us, on our end, do a better job.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes, the new team.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good morning. My thanks to the witnesses for coming here.
My first question is for either Health Canada or the Office of Infrastructure of Canada.
Is there a complete inventory of the water pipes that might contain lead here in Canada?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I would like to hear what the officials from the Office of Infrastructure of Canada have to say about this.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I'm surprised. I was honestly expecting to hear that a national database had been created for that purpose, especially since you say that you work closely with the provinces and, in turn, with the municipalities, I imagine. God knows that this is a serious problem for municipalities. This is the case in many parts of Canada.
Would it not be wise to have such a database?
The government wants to implement programs. It chooses the ones in which it wants to invest money; so it sets priorities.
When it develops its budget, how does it decide to prioritize water quality, for example, in infrastructure programs, and to allow work to be done on the pipes?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
In my opinion, if you rely on the municipalities and they have access to those data, it should not be so complicated—with two territories and 10 provinces—to compile that information in a database in order to be able to monitor the situation. As a result, the government or the department responsible for infrastructure could have a longer-term perspective and a clearer idea of the time required to address the problem across Canada. Honestly, your answer really surprises me.
The infrastructure bank is a topic much debated in the House of Commons. We hear that the bank is going to have $35 billion for projects.
Are the projects related to drinking water and the replacement of water mains among the priorities of the Office of Infrastructure of Canada?
Could municipalities get funding for this through the infrastructure bank?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I encourage you to—
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes. This is just a comment.
I encourage you to go through the exercise with a number of the elected officials here. I can confirm that all municipalities have access to those data. At any rate, the vast majority have access to them.
In order for the government to make decisions, regardless of the party in power, the department should have access to that information to be able to make forecasts. I bring it back to the budget exercise. I think it would make us a little less cynical in the way we see things.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Ms. Block.
Thanks to both witnesses for being with us.
Like everyone else, we are concerned about airport security. We see what is happening in various parts of the world, and in Montreal in particular. My colleague, Mr. Luc Berthold, had intended to talk about this, but unfortunately he could not be here. He sends his regrets. His replacement is Mr. Deltell.
Mr. Berthold and I are very concerned by certain investigative reports that we have seen regarding the Montreal airport. I think the committee would like an answer to certain questions.
In various media reports, we have heard about the profile of certain employees, which could be worrisome. We hear all kinds of stories about individuals whose profile could raise questions. Far be it from me to scare people. I think you do a tremendous job and I am not in any way questioning the coordination of all the services. The information we have received, however, is that there are just six armed SPVM officers who work around the airport, and not necessarily in the restricted area. In fact, acts are not necessarily committed in restricted areas.
Is it true that there are six SPVM officers doing that work at the Montreal airport?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
We know that, in Quebec, it is the Sûreté du Québec. Federally, it is the RCMP. You also have more than 200 members of your internal security service, if memory serves me well.
Are there other police services or security officers from your organizations that patrol the public areas of the airport, or is that the responsibility of the six police officers we are talking about?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I am referring to the public areas. Are there not other police services or security officers who also work in the areas where the SPVM patrols?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
You might not have the figures, but for how long has there been the equivalent of six police officers on patrol? Has it been for five years, 10 years, or is it something recent?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
That's perfect.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Before I start, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that my friend opposite had no reason to point out my colleague’s absence, nor any right to do so. I think it was inappropriate on his part. That is all I want to say on the matter. Personally, I prefer to show my colleague some understanding because I know how very important he feels this topic to be. My intentions were good. I can assure you that he wanted to be here, but he had to be away for an urgent personal matter. That is all I wanted to say about it.
Now, here are my questions.
You said that traffic is increasing by about 5% per year. If we go by what we read in various articles, and the fact that people are going on vacation, especially in the winter to get a little bit of sun, I doubt if the traffic is going to decrease. You confirm that yourself.
Does the level of people’s security also go up each year? Is it in proportion to the increasing traffic and the budgets allocated? I would like to know if you take that into consideration. I imagine that that the presence of more and more people also requires more surveillance, more training, and more resources in order to ensure security.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
So, if I follow your reasoning, are you saying that to decrease the line-ups that are more and more frequent at Montreal-Trudeau airport without adversely affecting security, all we need is more staff?
As I understand it, in order not to decrease the level of security, financial resources have to be allocated to hiring staff or to new technologies. Perhaps there are technologies that can achieve that result. Otherwise, the travellers automatically bear the brunt, either in the quality of the service or in the time they have to wait.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
That's great.
As I understand your comments, your level of security is very high. Would you say that it is higher than at other Canadian and international airports?
Of course, I am talking about major city airports. There is no need to compare situations that are not comparable.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Let me ask the question again. Compared to the security services in airports like New York, Fort Lauderdale, Paris, Barcelona or Toronto, are those at Montreal Airport above average or at the average?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
If the risks to be managed were the same at all those airports and an international incident occurred, would our level of security be higher than or the same as at other airports?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you.
I imagine that you go and see best practices elsewhere. Can you tell me about the practices used in Montreal that set you apart from the airports with which you are in competition?
I suppose “competition” is not exactly the proper term. Let's just say things that are done elsewhere, internationally.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
You can just give me one example, if you want.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
So not all airports provide that service.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I see no problem with Mr. Badawey's motion. I think we all agree that smart communities are important and that it would be desirable for everyone to talk to each other, be it at the municipal, provincial or federal level.
In the motion, it says: “...other levels of government, as they undertake integrated land use planning...” I do not know whether it is a translation problem, but in French, the term “aménagement des terres” is used. I just want to understand what is meant by “aménagement des terres”. Actually, land use planning is ongoing. All communities work on land use planning.
I wonder whether I missed something. Could we just clarify that? However, I completely agree on the substance.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Chair, if you agree, I would like the translation to be revised. What Mr. Badawey is saying is perfectly correct, but it is not reflected in the French version. For the rest, I agree on the substance.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I don't think it's necessary. We agree on the principle, but if you are in agreement, I would at least like it to be translated correctly according to what was mentioned.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Ms. Block.
I want to thank the witnesses for being here.
I want to take another look at an issue that's very important to me. I know the witnesses spent a lot of time preparing their appearance before us. However, I need to follow up on a situation that occurred here the week before the break. The issue is as important as the one we're discussing today. I'm talking about the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The issue, which we studied here for only an hour and a half, involves $35 billion in public funds. That's taxpayers' money.
Madam Chair, I'm following up on the issue because, when I talked about it, you weren't here, unfortunately. I think you were directly linked to my dissatisfaction regarding this issue. I can take the opportunity to summarize the situation.
On Thursday, May 4, you received, on our behalf, a letter from the Standing Committee on Finance. The letter indicated the following:
The Standing Committee on Finance is currently studying the subject matter of Bill C-44, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures. Please find attached a series of motions adopted by the Standing Committee on Finance on Wednesday, May 3 ...
I'll skim over this part of the letter. It went on to say the following:
The motions that were adopted also invite your Committee, if it deems appropriate, to provide us with recommendations ...
Madam Chair, I want to specify that I'm currently talking about the motion I tabled. My colleagues across the way closed the debate on this motion, and I want to resume it. As the clerk explained, the second part of the motion was admissible.
Do people still need a copy of the letter?
If not, may I continue, Madam Clerk?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I want us to resume debating this motion and to have the opportunity to discuss the very important issue of the Infrastructure Bank.
Madam Chair, you were addressed by the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, who invited the committee to provide recommendations and amendments, as appropriate. The letter specified the following:
Accordingly, the Parliamentary Counsel ... Nathalie Caron ... as well as the Legislative Clerk, Justin Vaive ... are available to advise your Committee, respectively, on the drafting of amendments and their admissibility.
I think the Standing Committee on Finance's message was quite clear.
The letter also said the following:
Therefore, I invite you to send me the Committee's recommendations, including any suggested amendments, by letter, in both official languages, no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 19, 2017.
It was the Friday before the break week, when we returned to our respective constituencies. I'll skip this part.
To my surprise, upon my return, I learned that you wrote a letter to the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance on our behalf. I was personally insulted, since I never felt that I was consulted regarding the matter.
I'll read the letter you sent.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
These are technical details. I don't know whether the clerk can answer me.
I tabled a motion, and my goal is for us to debate the motion. The government members ended the discussion before we reached an agreement. They took all the necessary steps to make that happen. My motion concerns an extremely important matter. Someone spoke on our behalf. I want to know my options so that I can continue the process in order to have my motion passed. I consider that this privilege was taken away from me when the debate was closed. According to my information, I think I have the power to continue the process in order to have my motion passed.
I don't know what I must do exactly. The process seems vague. I'm asking the clerk to clarify whether I can move forward with my motion, either as part of a debate or some other way. I have no idea.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Chair, my motion was never voted on. I was never able to have the motion voted on. I want to know why I can table a motion without having it voted on. All I want is to explain the meaning of my motion and the reasons for it. That's all. I don't see what would prevent us from debating the motion and then voting on it.
I don't know whether you're aware of this, but we're currently in a situation where someone spoke on behalf of the committee, an independent committee. I'm tabling a motion because I want to continue discussing an issue—
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I don't think we can rise on a point of order in this regard, at this time. I want us to debate the matter that interests me.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
I'll give the floor to my colleague, Ms. Block.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Chair, I'd like to respond to what you just said.
There may have been a mixup in the date and clerical issues, but the fact remains that you wrote to the chair of the finance committee and said that our committee didn't have any recommendations. You never put the question to the committee members. I had a recommendation; I had it with me that Thursday. I even sent it afterwards, as that was the only way it would get submitted. I didn't have the opportunity to make that recommendation in committee, as I should have.
An hon. member: Yes you did.
An hon. member: No we did not.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
May I speak without constantly being interrupted? I'd like to finish speaking.
I believe it was partly because of them that I didn't have the opportunity to discuss my motion or have it voted on. The arrogance is not coming from over here.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to give notice and read the following motion:
That the Committee reserve a minimum of another complete meeting on the subject of the Canada Infrastructure Bank and invite the former Chair of the Business Development Bank of Canada to appear on the subject.
Now I'd like us to discuss the motion, please.
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