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View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you.
I would also like to thank both of the witnesses for your testimonies today and for the valuable work that both of your organizations do.
We know that job creation and job security are going to be integral to a successful economic restart. Some businesses, we know, have been able to weather the pandemic and some businesses have weathered it with the help of the emergency government programs that have been offered. Unfortunately we also know that some businesses haven't and that others are on the brink of permanently closing and others have had to restructure completely.
My first question is for Steve Cordes with Youth Opportunities Unlimited. Connecting at-risk youth to employment opportunities is very valuable on the individual level, and also we know that it benefits society as a whole. I did have an opportunity this morning to look at the letter from Samuel that you shared with the committee. It's certainly a testament to how empowering a job opportunity is but also to how empowering people can be when we take the time to listen and to help others one on one, and that comes from taking the time to genuinely listen and grow a rapport with them. Frankly, it comes down to caring. It's important that youth job opportunities continue to be available and accessible.
I'm just wondering, in your view, what the greatest barriers facing at-risk youth seeking employment are and whether the pandemic has changed these barriers.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
I think it definitely comes down to that one on one. When you read Sam's letter, he didn't feel valued. With having people take that opportunity and that time to sow into somebody and speak those words of affirmation and give them the opportunity to try, things can change.
I have another question for you.
This committee in particular has heard testimony from other witnesses who have talked about some businesses moving toward permanent remote structures. I'm wondering how this would change the work you are doing and how the change would impact at-risk youth.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, I'm sorry. I very clearly heard Mr. Desilets say “no”. If he's needing to hear from the whip, then I think it's inappropriate. We had the vote; he voted no.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
This gives the individual a second vote, Mr. Chair.
He had his first vote. He does not get a chance to revote once the vote is done.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, everyone, for your input.
With all due respect to Mr. Fisher, what was proposed back at that time was a number of months ago. We've since seen what has come out of that and the information that's been provided or has not been provided. The redacting of that information basically left in the “thes”, the “tos” and the “ins” but took everything else out, and that's challenging.
When we turn around—and we made adjustments to the motions by taking out emails or by taking out texting—we find out that Minister Champagne said in an article in The Star on April 3, “You know, basically, I had to negotiate the landing slots for our planes to land in Peru, I did that by text message, to be honest”. Then the minister, at our meeting, meeting number 30 on June 23, 2020, basically said, “We did diplomacy by text message. I managed to get people out of Peru by texting my counterpart there and negotiating landing rights. We got people out of Morocco by texting the minister and saying we needed one more flight.”
This is information that has been put out there that we hear after the fact, after it's all been redacted and taken out. So I truly—
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Correct. The reality is that it was redacted. Why? It was because of ATIPs. For you to suggest that this is not the case—and then we have to wait to see what the ultimate response is—I think is a little misleading.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Ultimately, I would ask Madame Sidhu to reconsider this motion.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We hear a lot of talk about science. Science is multifactorial. Information is provided by multiple scientists around the world. The Public Health Agency has received information. The health minister has received information. Ultimately, the health minister has received that information from multiple facets, not just the Public Health Agency of Canada. One would assume the minister has received information from the provinces and their scientists, and the great work their public health doctors have been doing.
For us to turn around and say that, purely, we're going to get the answers we want because this is what we're asking for...is not there. We need to hear all the science. We need to know the information. Canadians need to know the conversations that the health minister and her office had, besides just listening to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
We have heard from multiple people, throughout this committee, on how the communication has broken down, that it never got out and was never put out by the doctors and the scientists. For us to turn around and say we're not going to hear from the health minister is, to me, demeaning to Canadians. I think we need to listen to that and hear that information.
I will be voting against this.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm comfortable with that. I think, though, that we should go right back to 2003, when the NESS, as well as the agency, was first established, to see exactly how it was established and how it was monitored. Having that information.... I wonder if the mover would be okay to make that adjustment and make it as of 2003, or whether he needs another subamendment to a subamendment to an amendment to an amendment.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Certainly, Mr. Chair.
I don't want to prolong it. We've definitely been rehashing and rehashing, and that's why I made my amendment to the amendment to the subamendment to the subamendment.
The bottom line is that when NESS started.... I agree with Mr. Fisher. I don't know exactly whether it started in 2003 or 2004, but I think if we established the purchase of masks, etc., back at that point in time, it would be interesting to see and worthwhile to know whether that equipment was actually found to be obsolete and whether it was replenished, etc. I'm comfortable with....
Why don't we go back to 2005, go back 10 years? If I need to make a subamendment to that, I will, but I'm hoping Mr. Fisher might say, “Hey, maybe I can make that change” and we can agree unanimously on that.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
I'd like to move a subamendment to change the date to 2005, please.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I'll start with Mr. Medline. I just have a simple question for you. The extra pay, how much per hour was it per employee?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Okay, thank you. I have limited time but I appreciate that.
Ms. Davis, for you guys, was it two dollars an hour as well?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Okay. Thank you.
Then Mr. La Flèche, for you guys, was it two dollars an hour as well?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Okay, so for any of you, prior to or after you made the decision to increase by two dollars an hour, was there an email or a phone call saying, “Hey, this is what we did. Are you doing the same thing?” Was there any of that kind of consultation amongst each other with the two-dollar increase, not just the decrease?
Mr. La Flèche, do you want to go first?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
To the best of your knowledge, did every competitor, even the ones outside of those here at this committee meeting, all use just two dollars as an arbitrary, random number?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Okay.
Mr. La Flèche, I'm just wondering if you could clarify a few things for me. Earlier you told Mr. Masse it was an email you had sent about what you guys were doing, as far as reducing the pay. Then you told Mrs. Gray that it was a phone call. I'm just going to give you another chance here. Which was it? Was it an email or was it a phone call?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
What about others, such as, say, Walmart or any other multinational companies or other grocers? Did you call any of them and talk to any of them about it?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Did you email or call your lawyer? What kind of communication was that?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Ms. Davis, when you referenced contacting your lawyer, I think you said that you copied your lawyer on the email that you sent to everybody else. Is that true or did you consult beforehand?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'll be splitting my time with Mrs. Gray.
Ms. Davis, I'm going to go back to you.
You said this was appreciation pay for your employees, so why not make your level of appreciation higher than that of your competitors?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Right, but then ultimately everybody has the same level of appreciation. If you really wanted to show your employees you value them, why not make it more than your competitors? Particularly if your company philosophically believes in a basic liveable income, why do you need to wait for the government to legislate around it?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
I'm thinking that you could really just lead the charge, though, take the bull by the horns and be that trailblazer, and just say, “Hey, you know what? We value our employees more than everybody else.”
On the two-dollar pay, or just the pay in general, why not be the trailblazer? Why not just be that one to be saying, “Yes, you know what? We are going to be the ones who set the bar higher than everybody else.” Again, I don't think you need to wait for the government to be the one to take that initiative. I think you guys could do that. Could you not?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Earlier this week, when Mr. Dias came on here, he said the big companies like yours, but also the small town grocers, like I have here in my riding—I have 120 small towns that all have their own stores—are all making money hand over fist. You're saying that's not the case.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Okay.
I'll split my time with Mrs. Gray.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Colleagues, since we have a full complement of our committee members, I will call this meeting to order.
This is meeting number 22 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. Pursuant to the motion adopted by the House on May 26 of this year, the meeting today is at the request of the four members who sent a request to undertake a study on the Canada student service grant.
I believe all of you are familiar with the procedures of this committee. We've been doing these Zoom meetings for quite a few months now. This is just a reminder that this meeting is scheduled for only one hour, so hopefully we can have everything that we need to discuss concluded within that hour.
I would also ask that, for the benefit of our technicians, if you are either asking questions or making comments and you start in one official language, to continue on and do not alternate between English and French. We've found that when you do alternate, even if you switch channels between English and French, it puts a burden on our technicians and sometimes delays the proceedings. Once again, I would simply ask, if possible, when you start making comments in one of the official languages, you continue on in that same language until you are finished your commentary.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
As we were talking about just a few moments ago with other committee members, hopefully we'll be able to get everything concluded in this meeting. However, if we do decide to proceed with additional meetings, I wanted the committee to know what my schedule is like. For example, next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I will not be available. Thursday and Friday I will. Then, from the 18th to the 22nd I will not be available, but I will be available on July 23. In fact, I will be chairing our next scheduled meeting of this committee. Then, I'm gone away—and Kelly, you would appreciate this as you're going with me—to our Saskatchewan caucus meeting, so I'll be gone again from the 26th to the 29th.
I have a suggestion, and it's only a suggestion. If the committee, at the conclusion of today's meeting decides that you need or require more meetings, additional meetings, I'm suggesting you consider not starting those meetings, so that I can be available as your chair, until perhaps the end of July or the early part of August. That's just for your benefit so that you know my schedule. That's basically all I have to say.
Mrs. Block, I am going to invite you to speak to the motion as our first speaker, since we received the letter with your name on it, as well as the other members. If you have some additional commentary, before I turn the meeting over to you, please go ahead.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
No, thank you, Mr. Chair.
I did want to advise you, as the chair, that I wanted to table a motion in regard to what you have just presented. I know it's been circulated—I believe it's been circulated in both French and English—so I'm wondering if it's important for me to read it into the record now.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
You can if you wish. It is not mandatory that you do so, because my understanding is that all committee members have received a copy of the motion in both official languages. It is in order. It is amendable and debatable, so we can consider that to be in complete order.
Since we don't have any witnesses today as well, it's just going to be a discussion among committee members, although there will be others who have joined the meeting and will be observing. We can just start with a speakers list right now—establishing one at least.
Mrs. Block, I had you as our initial speaker. For anyone else who wishes to speak to the motion, I ask that you virtually raise your hand and I will ask Michel, as our clerk, to try to compile a list and advise me as to the correct speaking order following Mrs. Block.
Right now, Mrs. Block, the floor is yours.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I believe the letter you received and the motion we have presented speak for themselves. I would simply provide the rationale for why we believe it's important for this committee to undertake this study on this issue at this time, understanding that perhaps there will be a delay in the beginning of the meetings because of individuals' calendars.
We were told by the Prime Minister, on numerous occasions once this story broke, that not only could the public service not handle the administration of this program, but that it was, in fact, departmental officials who recommended that the WE organization was the only one able to administer it.
Because this falls within the purview of our committee, I believe it's important that we undertake this study, as well as hear from the ministers who have been included in the motion.
I will simply leave my comments there. Thank you.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mrs. Block.
Michel, I have seen a few committee members raise their hands. I'm not sure if you have started to establish a list. The first member I saw virtually raise his hand was Mr. McCauley. Michel, if you're listening to this, you can text me, at your earliest opportunity, with the list you have started to establish.
We'll go to Mr. McCauley first. Then the second member that I saw—at least who caught my eye—was Madam Vignola.
Mr. McCauley, please go ahead.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you.
Again, I saw, from my perspective, that Madam Vignola is next, but if anyone wishes to participate, please virtually raise your hand so that I can hopefully get everyone who has a question or a comment on the speaking roll.
Madam Vignola.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much.
I see some hands raised: Mr. Green, Mr. Drouin, Mr. MacKinnon and Mr. Aboultaif.
We'll start in the order I just described, starting with Mr. Green.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Drouin, I have you next on my list.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Drouin.
Before I go to Mr. MacKinnon, Mr. Drouin raised a point about scheduling. We do have, in a sense, the luxury of time, inasmuch as finance has said they want their study completed in early August. I think they had August 8 as the completion date. If we reconvene or hold our next meeting in early August, as an example, by that time there may be a number of pieces of information that would be germane to this committee's decision on whether to study a particular aspect of the CSSG or talk about ESDC.
In other words, we may find out more information in the intervening weeks that would be helpful to the further discussions of this committee. I think it's probably a good thing for us to be able to have a couple of weeks behind us, between the completion of this meeting and engaging in future meetings, if that's what the committee wants to do.
Mr. MacKinnon, We'll move over to you.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you.
We'll now go to Mr. Aboultaif.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Aboultaif.
Mr. Kusmierczyk, I see your hand raised.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much.
I'm looking to see if there are any other committee members who wish to participate in this debate.
Mrs. Block, I see your hand up.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
If nobody else wants to weigh in, perhaps it's appropriate that I make some closing comments on this.
I appreciate the observations around whether or not we are sticking to the mandate of our committee. I think that we'll be able to demonstrate, through the hearings that we hold, that there definitely are linkages to the individuals we have included in the motion. I appreciate the concerns that have been raised, but I do think that, as others have said, this is our responsibility and we need to undertake this study.
I would also say that I want to follow up on what Kelly McCauley raised in regard to the wording changes that the clerk put forward. I just want to make sure, Chair, that the motion you have in front of you, which I did not read into the record, is the motion with the wording changes, the latest version of the motion.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mrs. Block.
What I'm going to do, colleagues, is have Michel read the suggested amended motion. Primarily there were two minor changes, which I am sure you've all been made aware of. The one is with reference to the various ministers coming to appear as witnesses. They should just be coming to appear, because ministers themselves do not appear as witnesses. They just appear to provide testimony. Also, there was one other minor change.
Michel, do you have an amended or a proposed amended motion that you could read back to the committee?
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
In that case, Mrs. Block, since your connectivity does not seem to be an issue and you have the revisions that were suggested, would you be able to present that motion with the proposed revisions? Then all committee members will be able to listen to make sure they are completely onside with the motion that we will be voting on shortly.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The motion reads as follows:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(c), the committee undertake an emergency study of four meetings into the awarding by the federal government of a $900 million sold-sourced contract to WE Charity, as well as prior contracts to this organization; that the study include an inquiry as to why the federal public service was unable to administer the Canada Student Service Grant; and that the following Ministers be invited to appear before the committee: the Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada, and the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Mrs. Block.
If everyone has heard that motion, in just a moment I will ask for a recorded vote on that motion, but before I do that, we've heard suggestions from several committee members, including commentary by yours truly, that delaying the first meeting until sometime in the early part of August might be a more prudent approach because of holidays, but also because of the finance committee's study, which will be close to completion by the first week in August. If you are all in agreement, and I will only make this suggestion if you are in agreement, if you give the ability to the chair to call the next meeting when I believe it is appropriate, and if you also have any particular suggestions as to dates to avoid and you could allow those comments to be funnelled through the clerk, we'll try to then come up with a schedule of next meetings.
Do I see some nods of agreement there?
I see some thumbs-up by a few people.
In that case, the next meeting will be at the call of the chair, but do not expect the next meeting to be called before the early part of August and perhaps even after August 8, which is the deadline for the finance committee to have completed its study. It will certainly be in the early part of August. In the interim, if you have dates that you wish to avoid, which are in conflict with your own personal schedules, please get your available dates in August as quickly as possible to our clerk, and then the clerk and I will try to establish a meeting schedule.
Lastly colleagues, start thinking about additions to the ministers who will be asked to appear on the motion of Mrs. Block. If you have other witnesses, non-ministerial witnesses, that you think would be helpful to provide testimony to this committee, start assembling that witness list and at your earliest opportunity I would suggest you start getting those names to our clerk as well.
Our regular clerk Paul will be back on the 20th of this month, and I believe that's it for his holiday session. I think he's going to be around for the rest of the summer.
We thank Michel for pinch-hitting for this particular meeting, but we should be able to proceed hopefully without undue delay, once we get into the meeting schedule itself sometime in early August.
With that, unless there's any other commentary, as per the rules established by the House, I will ask the clerk to proceed with a nominal vote.
(Motion agreed to: yeas 10; nays 0)
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
The motion is carried, colleagues. Thank you very much for that.
As my closing comment, I will simply say thank you to you all for your input. I will be getting back to all of you in a call of the chair sometime in early August. In the interim, please let the clerk know—Paul will be back on Monday—what your schedule will be like over the course of the summer, your availability and any potential witnesses you would like to have.
Madam Vignola, you have your hand up.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Certainly.
As I said, I think the best course of action is to have all of you first give your schedules to our clerk. I want to try to ensure that all of you, if at all possible, will participate in the study and we don't lose anyone due to holidays. If you will all send your current schedule of availability to Paul as quickly as possible, Paul and I will determine a course of action as to the next meeting. That meeting will take place shortly after the completion of the study but probably before it's tabled.
Michel, I see your hand raised.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much.
Members, thank you so much. I know it's a busy time for all of us. We wish you well in the intervening weeks. Hopefully, we will see you all again sometime in early August. Well, we'll see you on July 23, which is our next scheduled OGGO meeting, but to discuss this particular motion it will be sometime in early August.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
One of the reasons I'm asking you to supply to OGGO, to our clerk, your proposed witness lists is that, once we have them, I can certainly call a subcommittee meeting to discuss the agenda.
As you know, Kelly, the normal practice over the course of the last year, probably, has been that we take these suggestions to the full committee. Even though the subcommittee is empowered to come up with a proposed schedule, normally we just go straight to the committee as a whole once we have an idea of the witness lists that have been submitted. Either way, I will ensure that we have, at a minimum, a subcommittee meeting to discuss the agenda. That will then be presented to the entire committee. We will have a finalized and approved agenda moving forward for the four meetings that we are empowered to have as a result of the motion we passed today.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
The meeting on July 23 has already been preset. It's a regular OGGO meeting. It has been established. We have witnesses who are being contacted right now to see if they can come.
However, the special meetings of this committee will take place—
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
All right.
With that, colleagues, I thank you very much. I hope you all have a good weekend coming up. I hope the heat subsides so much in eastern Ontario and Quebec. We'll see you all, hopefully, in no more than two or three weeks.
Have a great evening, everyone. We are adjourned.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Chair. Five minutes just doesn't seem long enough.
Mr. Verheul, again, thank you for your service and the time you put into developing some of the agreements that Canada has in place right now. There is a little confusion around one of the concerns that I have, so maybe you can clarify it.
When we settled our dispute with the U.S. on aluminum steel tariff, in the letter of settlement, in paragraph 5 of the statement, it stated:
...aluminum or steel products surge meaningfully beyond historic volumes of trade over a period of time, with consideration of market share, the importing country may request consultations with the exporting country. After such consultations, the importing party may impose duties of 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum in respect to the individual product(s) where the surge took place.... If the importing party takes such action, the exporting country agrees to retaliate only in the affected sector (i.e., aluminum and aluminum-containing products or steel).
Does this now cross over into the CUSMA agreement or not? What options would you have to retaliate if we did see a tariff on aluminum? I don't want you to give the details, but what toolbox would you would have to retaliate with?
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
I'm just trying to read through that. So it does carry through into CUSMA. Basically, if you wanted to put a tariff on, say, Kentucky Bourbon, or something like that, it would not be an option in your toolbox at this point in time?
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Again, the last time this happened, we took it to the WTO. We put in a claim and reported it there. How would we do that this time when the WTO is in such disarray?
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Again, though, it's the same problem. If you go to the WTO and the U.S. is not part of that process, which, going forward, seems to be the way they're leaning more and more, how do you enforce it? Yes, you've won at the WTO and other countries agree with you that this is outrageous—and I think it's wrong what they're trying to do here—but what are our options? If you look back to our CUSMA agreement, if we are restricted only to sector-to-sector retaliation, boy, we're really handcuffed here. How do we move forward?
Under country-of-origin labelling in the beef sector, for example, we were able to go to grape growers in California and apple growers in Washington state and put pressure on those districts to get the political pressure in Washington and get the result we needed for our beef producers. It looks to me like we can't do that anymore. Is that fair to say?
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Verheul.
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much to all members of the panel for joining us today. It's good to see that we're keeping well during these challenging times.
As I'm sure you're aware, pipelines are a major issue for southern Saskatchewan, for two reasons. First of all, because Saskatchewan has a lot of oil and natural gas, we want to extract and export to the rest of the world, and second, because many of the pipelines themselves are manufactured by Evraz steel just outside of Regina. As we come out of this pandemic, I would love nothing more than to see good, high-paying jobs created in both the resource sector and the steel manufacturing sector, both in Saskatchewan and across the country.
The website of Global Affairs Canada states that one of its priorities is to “deepen engagement with the U.S...on key areas such as...energy”. My question to the panel is this: How is the Government of Canada meeting this goal with regard to the Keystone XL pipeline and making sure that construction of that pipeline continues on both the Canadian and the American sides of the border?
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
In a similar vein, what is the Government of Canada doing to make sure that Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline continues to remain in operation?
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
That's very good.
I would like to change gears and bring up the Canada-U.K. free trade agreement.
Last February, Minister Freeland wrote a letter to the NDP member of this committee, Daniel Blaikie, stating that she intends to inform the House of Canada's intent to enter into free trade negotiations 90 days before they begin. When can we expect the House to be given the 90-day notification with respect to a Canada-U.K. free trade agreement?
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
And along—
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
Okay.
That same letter also indicated that the objectives of the negotiations would be tabled 30 days in advance. Have you or your department begun to write this document outlining Canada's objectives for a Canada-U.K. free trade agreement?
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, witnesses, for being here on a nice July day here in Ontario.
I'm going to start with you, Mr. Burney. I know you're in Colorado, but you should be in Ontario. It's a lot nicer here than Colorado today, I would swear.
In one of your articles you talked about the “economic prosperity network” that was being created. That was the U.S. basically working with Japan, Australia and like-minded countries to develop a system to have each other's back in times of need, for example, like now on personal protective equipment or ventilators and things like that.
In discussions with other people around the world, the members of the Conservative caucus trade members have been talking to groups, associations, and other trade ministers. We're starting to see countries form these groups or cartels where they're not only talking about having each other's back, but actually setting regs. They have the regs set, and if you're going to trade with that bloc, that's the reg, that's the safety standard, that's the item you're going to trade in, which will set the global regs.
What's your comment on that and why do you think Canada should be involved with that?
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
I hope you're not cutting into my time because of technical difficulties.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
All right. That just leads into both the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and to you, Mathew, from the CME.
We're starting to see a shift in the supply chains, like Mr. Burney talked about, and we're hearing this from other people we've talked to. They say there's a huge opportunity here in Canada because we have these trade agreements around the world and are positioned in such a way that we can ship and manufacture.
What do you think the government should be doing at this time to take on some of this opportunity to take advantage of companies wanting to move part of their supply chains out of China, to not be solely reliant on China and have them located here in Canada?
I talked to a few companies that said they don't want to get 100% out of China, but they might get 60% or 70% out of China, just to make sure they don't end up in a situation like they have right now.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
It was to both of you. I think you both could handle it quite easily.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Go ahead, Mark.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Am I out of time?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Randy Hoback: Okay. I trust you.
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Partyka, for your presentation today. I'm glad to hear that you and your business seem to be weathering the pandemic better than most.
I'm very curious about your experience with the federally funded Wataynikaneyap project in northern Ontario. Could you tell us about the bidding process for that particular project, and why you feel your company was not successful in that particular bid?
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
You've made past dumping complaints against the South Koreans. Can you give the committee an idea of how involved a process it is to file such complaints when you believe dumping is happening?
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
From your perspective, could you tell the committee what the federal government needs to do with future free trade agreements to stop these dumping practices from happening?
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you, witnesses, for being here this nice day.
Five minutes isn't enough, Chair, and I think you know that, but I'll go to Ms. Citeau first.
One of the concerns I have post-COVID is that countries are using non-tariff trade barriers to restrict access in order to protect domestic sectors as they try to recover economically in their country. On the agriculture side of things, of course, they use all sorts of items as we've seen in Italy and in China, for example, in canola. We've seen it in India and a few other countries that you mentioned.
Do you think the government has put in place enough people, for example, CFIA inspectors? Do you think our trade commissioners are positioned properly? Do you think we have the mechanisms in place for this turmoil that's coming in front of us? Do you think they have properly prepared, or are you aware of any changes they have made in regard to making sure we can represent Canadian companies in these countries when this turmoil erupts?
I'll start with you, Ms. Citeau.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
I'm a big fan of the trade commissioners and, in fact, I want to compliment them. I know that, when this crisis erupted, a lot of them shifted to finding the PPE supplies that we got into Canada, and they were trying to help in the logistics in regard to that. A lot of them stayed in countries when probably they would have preferred to come back to Canada.
That's one of my concerns now. We've had a lot of our bureaucracy who have been around the world, stationed in countries that are important to us, come back to Canada. What's the process of getting them back to the countries moving forward post-COVID and reflecting on making sure our Canadian companies have proper representation and that Canadian travellers in the future are properly represented and taken care of, too? That is one concern I have.
I'm going to shift a little bit to the U.K. One of the things I'm hearing from agriculture producers.... Here is a classic example. Last night I was on a conference call with some agriculture producers out of southern Ontario. They grow lots of beans, and they sell a lot of those beans into the U.K. They're very nervous that they don't know what the price of those beans is going to be on January 1, because they don't know what possible tariffs could be in place or not in place.
The other concern they have is, when they see other countries, such as the U.S., that compete with them, that the U.S. may have first-mover opportunity, which is what we had in Japan with TPP that really gave us good market access and a great advantage.
Are you concerned that we haven't entered into a negotiation with the U.K. and that we haven't even done the simple stuff as far as the easy, low-hanging fruit and at least get that out of the way?
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Yes, I was talking to one of the grain companies, G3, a couple of years ago, and they were concerned. They sell a lot of wheat into Warburtons, and they were trying to figure out their pricing mechanism in their futures contracts while not having the visibility of what that was going to look like. They were raising that issue for sure.
Do you think we're going to see a lot more challenges and a lot more ruckus, for lack of a better word, in our trading markets over the next year or year and a half? Do you get a sense from talking to your producers that it's not business as usual as it has been in the past?
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you. I'll be splitting my time with Mr. Lewis for this round of questioning.
Mr. Partyka, are you aware of any requirements during the procurement process for the electrical project in northern Ontario? Are you aware of the past dumping by the South Koreans being taken into consideration in the procurement process for that particular project?
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
All right.
In general terms, is there anything else that policy-makers should be doing or need to be aware of to stop unfair dumping practices?
View Michael Kram Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you.
I said I'd be splitting my time with Mr. Lewis, so I'll hand things over to him.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Dr. Siddiqi and Dr. McKenzie for your presentations.
I greatly appreciate hearing that from you. A lot of what you talked about is that data is lacking, and the fact that we need to have ongoing data. We've heard that throughout this committee. There is a big challenge in collecting and disseminating data, whether it's because of provincial barriers, federal barriers, etc.
You did talk about social inequality when you touched on the issue of income, you talked about housing and you talked about race, etc. I've noticed, in doing a little bit of research on you beforehand, that both of you have mentioned issues of persons with disabilities.
I'm wondering if you both could comment on that in this particular demographic. I'll start with Dr. McKenzie, and then Dr. Siddiqi you might be able to throw in some input on how this is having a big impact on dealing with that. You talked about how we need to hit the hardest hit group.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you.
The precautionary principle is the idea that there is “a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, especially when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk.” This means starting with the highest level of protections for society and whittling that down as new information about the risk posed, or lack thereof, comes forward.
Both of you indicated that certain demographics in communities within Canada face greater risk with respect to COVID-19, yet the Public Health Agency of Canada chose not to utilize the precautionary principle in dealing with the virus.
Do you feel that if we'd used the precautionary principle, we could have helped to quell the spread of COVID-19 amongst some specific demographics in Canada?
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you.
Dr. Siddiqi?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
I have a point of order, Madam Chair.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
As I'm hearing both the member in French and the interpretation at the same time, I'm hearing nothing. There are two voices at the same time.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My first questions will go to Mr. Meinema.
Earlier you had mentioned the thin margins that some of the stores are reporting, and the need for systemic change. As an example, my riding here is 77,000 square kilometres in size. I have something like 140 different communities within the riding. They're all very small towns. A lot of these individual small towns have their own grocery stores. The margins are so thin that if there were a mandated minimum wage increase from, let's say, where we are now to $15 an hour, I've had most of those store owners tell me that they would have to fire all their employees and work longer and more hours themselves, as the store owners, because they literally could not afford it.
How do we address that issue and that concern going forward?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Okay. Yes, I mean, again, going to those systemic changes, do you have any specific suggestions that would aid in that? It's great that we're having this conversation, but outside of this pandemic, I think because people have been forced to stay home if they're able to.... Maybe they're still working in their small town. They're not travelling abroad. Maybe right now they have potentially more to spend on food and those essentials. Outside of this, if life returns back to normal, we'll be faced with that challenge, especially when we have carbon taxes going up and different things like this that make transit more expensive and the cost of food more expensive.
What are the systemic changes that we're going to need? What are some really tangible things we can do that will help?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
For sure. I guess the big issue, going back to the small-town model, is not that there's a CEO structure there. One person is the CEO, the owner, the front-line worker and the stock person. They're doing everything because the margins are just so small. That structure, per se, doesn't necessarily exist there, although in the context of talking about Loblaws and these bigger companies, yes, that for sure is an issue.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and thank you to our guests.
I have a question for the Speaker, and it has to do with travel. I know you've been an MP for a while, and you don't have a medical background, I believe, but would you agree that if we're concerned about the safety of members, we shouldn't be heading back to our ridings on weekends and in between our sitting dates?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Even before the pandemic, we would take steps. If we know we're going to be in a room with or close to people who are sick, we take precautions. That's what we should be doing in our personal lives and business representing our constituencies in Ottawa.
I have some questions about the app, Mr. Aubé. With the app you're developing right now, could you tell if a member was on a beach in Mexico when they were voting?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Could you tell where they were in the country? Would we restrict if a member was across the street from Parliament in a licensed establishment having a beverage? Could you tell where that individual was?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
It's actually interesting that you bring up devices. I have the iPhone that was issued from the Government of Canada. Could you track right now where I was?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Then the technology is there, on the hardware, to track where members are. As much as you say you geofence and take precautionary measures against abuse, you could track, on my iPhone, that I am right now sitting in my riding office. Is that correct?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Okay.
I'll change gears a little bit. Right now, obviously, as a committee we don't have consensus. However, from reading the body language and testimony and questions for the last few months, I believe that a proxy voting system would possibly have consensus across all parties.
To the Speaker, on September 21—without spending another dollar of taxpayers' money, because I know we're spending a lot right now—if we just implemented proxy voting handled by the whips, are there any thoughts as to whether that would be ready to go sooner than September 21?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
You're saying it would be acceptable if all members felt comfortable doing that. It would not involve any taxpayer dollars spent on it, and we could run it next week with minimal changes to the Standing Orders.
I still have questions as to why we're spending taxpayers' dollars on an app that may never be used, hopefully. If it is used, a consensus over changing the Standing Orders would have to be found, and I don't think we're going to find that.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
So that would be the most affordable one, and we're going with the most expensive option out there, which is developing an electronic voting system. Is that accurate, Mr. Speaker?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
My other question would be along the lines of the different options on cost. I'm sorry to be a stickler and a Scrooge here on rating the costs associated with the decisions this committee will make.
The most affordable one is a proxy vote, which seemingly all parties can agree on and which doesn't cost the taxpayer a dime, or some parties have put forward developing an electronic solution. Is there a middle ground? Maybe that's the pairing or the queuing of people.
Mr. Speaker, could you comment? Is there a middle-costed one that would cost in between the proxy and the luxury of an electronic voting app that allows you to vote from anywhere in the world? What would be the middle option on this?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Along those lines—
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
It's a rant and a small question, if that's acceptable.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
The comments I'd like to put on the record are around cost again. It's no surprise that I am allergic to spending taxpayers' dollars when we don't need to. The idea that Ottawa is working or improving things in Canada is, I don't think, held widely in my province or across Canada. I think there is ample waste going on with our federal government that we don't need to find new creative ways to waste taxpayers' dollars on an app.
Don't mind the partisanship of this, but right now we have really serious questions with the Ethics Commissioner about sole-source contracts and runaway boondoggles. This is going to be another example of government thinking that they can do things better than previous governments.
I think this is another example where, in generations to come, my kids will be paying for this debt, and it irritates the people I represent that we are talking about plans A, B and C with no hard cost. We're going with seemingly the most expensive and the most elaborate solution to a simple project that could be done with proxy voting tomorrow.
When my kids ask me 20 years from now what I did when I was an MP to stop the trillion-plus dollars in debt that is being racked up, I hope to tell them that it was only a couple million bucks, but nickels and dimes make dollars, and we were able to stop excessive spending in Ottawa a little bit. I hope that I could tell them in 20 years' time that my role in this was that maybe their income tax rate, instead of being 54%, will be 53%, but it's going in the right direction.
I am very frustrated that we are going with the most expensive option out there, while off-the-shelf—not even off-the-shelf—we have the ability to do proxy voting today.
That's my only comment. I hope that we can find a solution with consensus across all parties that doesn't cost another dime of the taxpayers' money. I'm kind of frustrated that we're not considering that road, not as plan C but as plan A.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, everybody, for being here today. Your presentations are greatly appreciated, enlightening us and educating us a little more on a lot of the stuff we've heard.
Throughout these meetings we've heard significant responses on issues. One that is concerning to me, and I've heard from most of you today, is the issue of supply chain challenges and risks. I believe Mr. Keon talked about how the movement is slower and more costly. We've heard about potential drug shortages, etc.
I go back to a number of meetings, when I was looking at things a little more closely than I have today, when there was a shortage of Epinephrine, and Diovan, Gabapentin, Carbathol, Cyclosporine, Novamoxin. Many of these drugs are definitely needed by Canadians today. We're seeing shortages of them.
It would be interesting to hear comments. Dr. Neame, I think you mentioned potential supply issues. I'm wondering if you could start. We would then go on to the CGPA.
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