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Results: 1 - 15 of 23
View Philip Lawrence Profile
Perfect. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It is an honour and a privilege, friends, to join you at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food to speak about my private member's bill, Bill C-206.
It has been a pleasure throughout this private members process, especially as a new MP, to get to talk to farmers and stakeholders from coast to coast to coast. Do you know what? In talking to farmers, nearly all farmers, in fact, every farmer, supported Bill C-206.
After all, we have to remember that our farmers are the backbone of our communities, the engine of our economies. They work early mornings and late nights to put food on our table and clothes on our back. They have continued to ensure throughout COVID-19 and really at any time in recent history that our food supply has been protected. While we have battled the pandemic along with the farmers, they have not paused their work. They continue to plant their fields, feed their livestock—
View Philip Lawrence Profile
Our agriculture industry accounts for almost 7% of our total GDP. It is more vital to our economy than many might realize. We are the fifth largest exporter of agriculture in the world. The agri-food and agriculture industry employs 2.3 million Canadians. That's one in eight jobs in Canada. We are one of the world's largest producers of flax seed, canola, pulses and oats.
While the farmers' work has been unwavering, they have faced many challenges, known colloquially in August and the autumn of 2019 as the harvest from hell. They've also faced some global trade wars that have reduced their markets. In addition to that, they've been fighting the pandemic along with all of us. Some of those barriers were unpreventable. However, one that is very controllable and where we can help Canadians is that they currently bear an inequitable share of the burden of the carbon tax.
The greenhouse gas pollution pricing currently allows qualifying farmers an exemption on certain farm fuels such as gasoline and diesel; however, it fails to extend that exemption to other fuels such as natural gas and propane. This is challenging on many different fronts, as farmers quite often don't have other options and their only option for their particular industrial equipment may be natural gas and propane.
The science says that natural gas and propane are often cleaner fuels than diesel or gasoline. Why would we not include them in this exemption? Farmers, after all, are stewards of our land and, along with our indigenous people, were some of the first environmentalists standing up for the land and also for the animals and plants located on their properties.
Farmers have been leaders in environmental technologies. They've led with such technologies as no-till to prevent soil erosion, or precision-led, satellite-led agriculture that reduces the use of fossil fuels. In fact, the Canadian agriculture industry has already achieved net zero decades ahead of many other industries.
Beyond the fact that the carbon tax presents a significant cost to our farmers, it has tremendous pricing barriers for our farmers as well. Many times our farmers are price-takers, and so, unlike other industries, they cannot simply push the carbon tax on to the consumers. They absorb it themselves, which can be a make or break for many of them, making them uncompetitive in some cases.
We've seen the result of higher taxation on farmers as farm debt has doubled in the last 20 years. Farmers are struggling now. Farmers want to reinvest in our communities, to spend money at the feed stores, the tractor dealerships and local restaurants to keep the rural economies flowing through these very difficult times. Rural Canada needs more support, not more taxes.
Our farmers deserve a break. Bill C-206 aims to fix what seems to me, to put it gently, an oversight in the initial carbon tax legislation. By expanding the farmers' exemption from the carbon tax we are securing their continued innovation in environmental protection, the protection of Canada's food supply, the livelihood of farmers.
What may seem like an insignificant amount of money to the government may very well be make or break for many of our farmers. I have seen carbon tax bills of tens of thousands of dollars. This is having a tremendous impact on our farmers across Canada.
In closing, Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the farmers for everything they do. Conservatives will continue to advocate for farmers and common sense solutions. I hope to see, this time, not just all parties, but all members support Bill C-206.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and honourable members.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you about the Government of Canada's COVID-19 vaccination strategy.
It's been just over one year since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Canada. The intervening months have been extremely challenging. Canadians have experienced hardship, anxiety and heartbreaking losses. To say that it has been difficult is indeed an understatement.
But there is reason for hope. In less than a year, vaccines have been developed and authorized. Canadians are receiving them right now, and every single vaccination brings us closer to a safer, healthier and more prosperous future.
I would like to begin by providing an update on vaccine distribution. As you know, both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines have been authorized for use in Canada and are now being distributed across the country. So far, we have secured a total of 80 million doses of these two vaccines. Of these, more than 1.1 million doses have been delivered to the provinces and territories. This means that more than 860,000 people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Although the delays recently announced by Pfizer and Moderna will have a short-term impact on vaccine rollout, we are still on track to receive the full six million doses from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of the first quarter. Starting in April, the pace will accelerate, with at least 20 million doses delivered between April and June. It is during this time that the mass vaccination campaigns will really begin to ramp up around the country. We are working with the provinces, territories and indigenous partners to prepare for this next phase. Most importantly, we expect to have enough vaccine for every Canadian by the end of September 2021, even if no other vaccine is authorized for use in Canada.
In the meantime, while supplies are limited, vaccines are being distributed strategically to the groups who need them most.
While the provinces and territories are responsible for the distribution of vaccines within their jurisdictions, their decision-making is informed by the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
Last fall, the committee recommended who should be vaccinated first, given limited initial supplies of vaccines, and this includes residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors; adults 70 years of age and older, starting with those 80 years of age and over; health care workers; and adults in indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences.
Given these guidelines, I'm pleased to say that there has already been notable progress in the territories. In Nunavut, more than 11% of the population has received at least one dose of Moderna. In the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, more than 21% and 9% of their respective populations have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
This month, the national advisory committee will be updating its guidance on the prioritization of initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and this updated guidance will help inform stages two and three of the vaccine rollout as vaccine supplies increase.
In the meantime, we expect additional vaccines to be authorized. Health Canada is now reviewing vaccine submissions from AstraZeneca, Janssen, Verity Pharmaceuticals and Novavax. Should these vaccines be found to meet Health Canada's strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality, they would be authorized and included in upcoming vaccination campaigns.
Vaccine development is a long and highly complex process. In normal times, it can take years to carry out the extensive research needed to produce a safe and effective product. Vaccine reviews normally take place after all clinical studies are completed and the full results are available, but of course these aren't normal times. We're fighting a global pandemic, and many thousands of human lives hang in the balance. With this in mind, we have put into place measures to safely expedite vaccine authorization.
Health Canada is the regulator responsible for this process. We recognize the need for flexibility to expedite it, given the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we can't compromise on safety, quality and efficacy. That's why last fall I signed the interim order respecting the importation, sale and advertising of drugs for use in relation to COVID-19. This interim order allows us to accept rolling submissions for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.
What that means is that manufacturers can submit data as it becomes available. These requirements are comparable to those established by other major regulators, such the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency, and the World Health Organization. It was through this expedited process that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were authorized. Health Canada is using the same process to review subsequent submissions for COVID-19 vaccines.
Once an authorized vaccine is in use, Canada continues to monitor its safety through its well-established post-market surveillance system. This system collects safety data from various domestic and international sources, including mandatory reporting by manufacturers, which allows Health Canada and public health authorities to respond quickly to changing trends or unusual adverse events.
This system was enhanced through the interim order, which provides the authority to impose terms and conditions on any authorization or establishment licence at any time. This includes a post-market safety and effectiveness system with risk mitigation measures, and additional assessments of safety information, as requested by Health Canada. Of course, Health Canada will not hesitate to take action if safety concerns are identified.
The Government of Canada is working closely with provinces, territories, indigenous and public health partners to ensure the timely rollout of the vaccines as they're authorized by Health Canada. Our vaccine strategy is being led by the national operations centre. This centre was created by the Public Health Agency of Canada and is supported by the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.
At the same time, the national emergency strategic stockpile of the Public Health Agency is making sure we have the supplies we need for a smooth rollout, and this includes millions of needles, syringes and alcohol swabs, as well as freezers for vaccine storage all across the country.
With vaccination now under way and measures in place to ensure a reliable supply of vaccines, we can look ahead to a future free of COVID-19.
The Government of Canada is doing everything it can to reach that future as soon as possible. We're taking steps to authorize safe and effective vaccines quickly. We're protecting our most vulnerable citizens first, and we're working with all partners to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine can get access to a vaccine.
At the same time, the Government of Canada continues to invest in research. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is addressing many issues related to COVID-19, from the development of vaccines and therapeutics to the variants of the virus, including their impact on the effectiveness of vaccines.
In the meantime, we cannot let our guard down. We must continue what we've been doing—staying physically distant, washing our hands, wearing a mask.
We owe it to our seniors. We owe it to our neighbours with high-risk conditions. We owe it to our health care providers and essential workers.
We must stay vigilant as we wait for our turn to get vaccinated. That day is coming soon. When it does, I want Canadians to be proud of how they worked together to overcome this unprecedented health crisis.
Thank you.
View Anita Anand Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Good afternoon.
Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to appear before this committee alongside my colleague and Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu.
I would like to acknowledge that I am meeting you from the territory of many first nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinabe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples.
Joining me today is my deputy minister, Mr. Bill Matthews.
Before I begin, I would also like to extend a thank you to all of the people working behind the scenes who continue to make these virtual meetings possible—particularly our interpreters and translators, who play an essential role in ensuring Canadians have the most pertinent information in this time of crisis.
Globally, we have been living with COVID-19 for more than a year now.
From the beginning, my department, Public Services and Procurement Canada, PSPC, has worked tirelessly to procure the necessary supplies needed to get Canada through this crisis.
To date we have secured more than 2.5 billion individual items of personal protective equipment. We have delivered tens of millions of COVID tests, supplies and therapeutics, including 19 million rapid tests, to our provincial and territorial counterparts.
We know that the fastest way out of this pandemic is by getting vaccines to Canadians as quickly as possible. This is why we signed a number of agreements, as early as July of last year, for more doses than we would need. Our efforts were guided by, first, the vaccine task force, and second, the Public Health Agency of Canada. Our procurements proceeded after we received that advice. Our goal from early on was to build up a diverse portfolio of vaccines so that Canada would be ready once they were authorized and indeed discovered. As a result, we now have doses of authorized vaccines under contract to be delivered this year—enough to inoculate every single eligible Canadian.
As Minister Hajdu has noted, vaccines are now arriving and more are on the way.
Yet, while we are making significant progress, we have also known there could be bumps along the way, and we have always been upfront with Canadians about that fact.
As their products are proving safe and effective, vaccine manufacturers are significantly ramping up production to fill orders from around the world. Given this unprecedented reality, it is not surprising that vaccine supply chains have been volatile.
The whole world is operating in this environment, and all countries are facing the same challenges. This is precisely why we took the approach of putting in place a number of agreements and building up a diverse portfolio with flexibility built into our contracts.
When Pfizer and Moderna informed Canada and other countries that deliveries would be lower than predicted in the short term, it was disappointing news. I want to assure members and all Canadians that these delays are only temporary.
I can tell you that I and my officials have been in touch with suppliers every day to ensure that they meet their contractual obligations, and deliveries to Canada did resume this week. Last Friday a shipment of Pfizer vaccines left Europe. This Wednesday a shipment of Moderna vaccines left. Both have arrived in Canada for distribution to the provinces and territories this week.
In addition, through the COVAX initiative, Canada will also receive approximately 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This will be in addition to the six million doses of Moderna and Pfizer that arrive this quarter.
Mr. Chair, the AstraZeneca deliveries are, of course, dependent upon Health Canada approval, and these deliveries are in addition to the 20 million does of AstraZeneca that Canada has secured through an advance purchase agreement directly with AstraZeneca.
I can assure this committee that I work closely with all vaccine suppliers to accelerate their delivery timelines into Canada. We continue to work closely especially with the four other manufacturers with which we also have bilateral agreements: Sanofi-GSK, Medicago, J&J and Novavax.
Our diversification strategy is working. We have two approved vaccine candidates, three in regulatory approval and two in clinical trials. Once regulatory authorization is given, we will take action to get more vaccines into Canada as soon as possible.
We need to remember that we are in the early stages of a massive undertaking. As supply chains stabilize, we will see more predictable and more significant progress.
With the action taken so far, by the end September every eligible Canadian who wishes to have a vaccine will be able to have one. I can tell you that we are continuing to press our suppliers to make sure we get advance deliveries for doses even earlier. No stone is being left unturned.
While vaccines are critically important, my department has also worked hard to secure the syringes needed to administer vaccinations.
We have secured more than 170 million syringes of varying sizes from a range of suppliers. This includes 64 million of the low-dead volume syringes, which are in extremely limited supply around the world.
The first delivery of approximately one million of those specialized syringes is arriving in Canada this week, with another million on the way for next week and deliveries continuing through to May.
Mr. Chair, there is no greater priority than protecting Canadians from COVID-19. We are fighting every day to get PPE, rapid tests and vaccines for Canadians. This is what we will continue to do.
I am committed to this effort. I look forward to working with this committee and my parliamentary colleagues to put this pandemic behind us, once and for all. Together, we will get through this.
I appreciate being here with you today, and I look forward to taking your questions.
Thank you so much. Merci beaucoup. Meegwetch.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
On August 6, La Presse reported that your firm had approached federal MPs from Quebec for a list of community organizations that were short-staffed.
Is that true?
Martin Daraiche
View Martin Daraiche Profile
Martin Daraiche
2020-12-07 11:39
We know that, as members of Parliament, you are in contact with many organizations and sometimes students. People regularly tell you what their needs are. It happens often.
We did indeed reach out to MPs' offices. We wanted to make sure that they were passing on the information, which was already public, about the Canada student service grant to organizations in their ridings.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
Sir, I know that going to court is a long and costly process, especially when you know that MPs enjoy certain immunity for what they say in the House and, by extension, what they say at committee, but have you ever considered filing suit against some members for the untrue statements they've made about you or your company on social media, which is not protected by parliamentary privilege?
Martin Perelmuter
View Martin Perelmuter Profile
Martin Perelmuter
2020-12-07 11:57
We've been very busy just managing our business and trying to get through the pandemic and so forth, but certainly it's crossed my mind. Probably when I have a moment to breathe and things slow down a bit towards the holidays, I may reach out.
I should say that I am not a litigious person. I've never brought suit against anyone. I would not want to do that, but if there were ever a situation where I would consider it, this would be one, because it's been really disappointing that this would be brought on at all, and in particular, the circumstances and how it came about.... It was just unnecessary.
Mr. Angus mentioned something earlier about getting answers. I believe in this process. I believe in this committee. That's why we're here. That's why we've co-operated through the whole process. That's why it's doubly disturbing, because if the work was done here at the committee, I would have no issue with answering questions and providing the information or documentation that was requested. That's the disappointment: It was taken outside of the committee and thrown into the public sphere, I guess, and we were just held out to dry.
We're not a big company. We can't hire a communications firm like NATIONAL Public Relations or someone like that. We're dealing with this on our own, and it's not fun when the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is check to see what kind of nonsense is on social media and what people are saying or doing. It's been tough.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
Thank you.
I want to turn my attention now to you, Speaker Rota, on security supports for members of Parliament.
We have heard recent reports that new security supports will be delivered to members of Parliament. I think all of this, or much of it, at least, came about in light of the news report we heard a few months ago about how Mr. Singh was confronted—I won't say accosted—on the streets by a citizen as he was walking to Parliament. Could either you or Mr. Robert expand upon what security supports members of Parliament may be able to expect in the coming months, if any?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'll start off, then hand it over to Mr. Robert.
The security of members is something that has been a concern since first being elected. We've had a number of meetings, not only with our own security people, but also with legislatures and speakers around the world, such as England, New Zealand and other places where we have been able to learn from each other, which is important. We want to make sure that all of our members are safe and that we do everything that we can to protect them.
I'm not sure if I'm going to hand over to Mr. Robert or Mr. Leahy.
Our Sergeant-at-Arms, Pat McDonell, will take it from here.
Patrick McDonell
View Patrick McDonell Profile
Patrick McDonell
2020-11-24 11:24
BOIE has approved additional security measures for members. That's in line with best practices. We would be better off giving the details of those security measures in camera.
View Alain Therrien Profile
Good morning.
I'm very happy to be with you today. I must congratulate you on the good work you're doing. I think we can all agree on that.
Before we start looking at the budget, I'd like to ask you a question about security for MPs. When Jagmeet Singh had the bright idea to call me racist, I got tens of thousands of hate emails. One of the problems we have in our work is social media. I've received tens of thousands of messages, if not more, and several death threats. As a result, my constituency riding and my home have had to be monitored by the police in Roussillon, in my part of the country.
First of all, I'd like to know how security for MPs works. Have you been contacted? Did the RCMP contact the police?
I know that the employees in my office called the Roussillon police because they were worried about my safety. My children, who are 8 and 11 years old, found it extremely strange to see the police walking back and forth in front of our house; they were very worried and even scared.
Could you take a minute to talk about how you proceeded and whether you were involved in the situation?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
It's a situation we took very seriously. We had already taken several steps before it happened. I would say that we were ready for just about any situation.
I'll let the Sergeant-at-Arms speak so he can explain exactly what we did in detail. Much of this information is still being studied in camera, away from the public.
I'll let the Sergeant speak, as he will be able to provide more details, to a certain extent. It may also be a conversation that we will have to continue a little later.
Patrick McDonell
View Patrick McDonell Profile
Patrick McDonell
2020-11-24 11:34
Mr. Chair, this is going to be a very short conversation because we had to discuss security issues behind closed doors. That's all I can say about it at the moment.
View Alain Therrien Profile
It was a rather exceptional episode that I experienced, but leaders of opposition parties, including my own, were threatened on several occasions. My colleague, Mr. Lukiwski, spoke about this. We have called for increased security for our leader, but also for the other opposition leaders. It's strange, I have a feeling that it's not coming as quickly as we would like.
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