Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:04
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm pleased to be presenting a petition in support of Bill S-204. This is a bill in the Senate, put forward by Senator Salma Ataullahjan.
It would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ for which there has not been consent by the donor. It also creates a mechanism by which someone could be deemed inadmissible to Canada if they were involved in organ harvesting and trafficking.
This bill is designed to confront and address the horrific practice by which, in certain cases—for instance, inside China—minority communities or dissidents may be targeted and have their organs removed as they're killed and used for transplantation.
Petitioners are supportive of Bill S-204, and they want to see it passed as soon as possible.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:05
Mr. Chair, I am presenting a petition today signed by Canadians who are concerned that Bill C-7 removes safeguards from the current euthanasia regime, including the mandatory 10-day waiting period.
Mr. Chair, these people who are signing this petition would like to see an improvement in assisted living, not assisted dying.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:06
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:08
COVID-19 has emptied food banks across Canada, even in an agricultural community like Chatham-Kent, so Wes Thompson and James Rasmussen, along with Alysson Storey, Randi Bokor, Maureen Geddes, Chris and Terry Johnston, Jason King, Fannie Vavoulis and Brent Wilken, grew an idea into the community's largest-ever food drive.
Project manager Moréna McDonald estimates that over 3,000 volunteers ended up helping in the May 16 Miracle. Residents put non-perishable foodstuffs on their doorsteps, with drop-off centres organized for rural areas. Volunteer groups travelled predetermined routes while maintaining physical distancing.
The community collected an amazing 678,000 pounds of food. They accidentally exceeded by over 20% the record in the Guinness World Records book for collected food in a single day. Chatham-Kent has restocked their food banks and reaffirmed their community pride. It's an honour to represent such a community.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:09
As much as I like seeing my friends on the big screens, there are no big screens yet, so we don't know who's on and who's not on. I was wondering if there was going to be a TV coming up soon here, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:09
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:13
Mr. Chair, I would like to acknowledge all of the organizations in Saskatchewan and across Canada that are working hard to help small businesses adapt to the challenges of the current pandemic.
In particular, I would like to thank the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District, or RDBID. As soon as the pandemic hit, RDBID launched a daily electronic newsletter to keep their members informed of support programs, local initiatives and local success stories. They have used their social media channels on a daily basis to promote takeout and delivery services, online and curbside services offered by restaurants and retailers. They have also launched a number of their own initiatives to help businesses access e-commerce. Through persistent communication and a lot of long hours, RDBID has helped businesses in downtown Regina to weather the storm. Because of their hard work, downtown Regina will come through this pandemic better than ever.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:14
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:16
Without a doubt, these past few months have been challenging, to say the least, from both a health and economic perspective, but, Mr. Chair, I have to say how proud I am of my community of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. We continue to successfully flatten the curve in our region and, just as importantly, we are making sure that we are here for each other, whether it is the Cornwall Optimists' GoFeedMe campaign, the Iroquois-Matilda Lions Club delivering groceries to those who are quarantined in their households or the local United Way, the Social Development Council or the Carefor seniors support centre co-leading an effort to deliver 1,500 baskets to seniors in need. There have been many examples of kindness and generosity from our community.
I rise today in the House of Commons to say thank you to my constituents and to all Canadians; to our essential front-line workers, our service clubs and our businesses that have stepped up to help out; and to everybody playing their part to get us through this challenge.
I couldn't be more proud of my community and my residents, and it is an honour to serve as their member of Parliament.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:17
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:18
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Over the last few months, Canadians throughout New Brunswick and across the country have stepped up to support their community. Health care workers, truckers, farmers, business owners, pharmacists, grocery store staff, faith-based and non-profit organizations and so many others have all answered the call to do their part.
Today, Mr. Chair, I would like to specifically highlight the work of those who support and take care of our seniors, who are among some of our most at-risk citizens. It has been said that the character of a nation and its people is revealed most in how they treat their most vulnerable. Our seniors have made immense contributions to our society. Many have put their lives on the line to protect Canada and the democratic freedoms we enjoy as Canadians. They have worked hard and made many sacrifices throughout their lives to make Canada the greatest nation on earth. Taking care of our seniors is the right thing to do.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who are supporting and caring for our seniors. Whether they be long-term care staff, personal care workers, health care professionals, family members or volunteers, thank you for all you are doing in support of our seniors. Together we shall overcome.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:19
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Although we've come to the end of Asian Heritage Month, I'd like to acknowledge some unsung Chinese Canadian heroes who shed their blood as patriots for our nation. I commemorate the 6,500 Chinese Canadians of the 9,000 railway workers who helped build and unite Canada. I pay respect to the many Chinese Canadians who died while building the CP Railway on the most dangerous terrains in the B.C. segment. I honour the Chinese Canadians who served and died in World War II.
Sadly, Asian communities in Canada face racist incidents today. No one should be afraid of walking in their own neighbourhood. Adult children should not have to call their elderly parents to tell them to stay home because they might be attacked by racists. There's no justification for racial slurs, physical violence or vandalism against any individual or community.
I will continue to work together with other elected officials, the police and the RCMP to mitigate these issues toward justice and restoration.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:20
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:23
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.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:24
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:25
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
When the government first starting rolling out programs to help Canadians get through this pandemic, we raised points about some flaws and gaps in the program. The government assured Canadians that it would fix these programs as time went on. Well, Canadians are suffering through both the health and the economic consequences of the lockdown related to the coronavirus. Here we are the first day of June and the government still has yet to address the flaws in its programs; it is still letting so many Canadians down.
I have a series of very straightforward and specific questions.
On April 20 we raised with the Minister of Finance the issue of companies that had purchased another company not being able to demonstrate revenue loss, and therefore not being eligible for the wage subsidy, even though both companies separately would have been able to do just that. We have raised it several times now. I would like to ask the government when it will be fixing this unnecessarily rigid aspect of the wage subsidy program.
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:27
Mr. Chair, that's the same answer we got last week. It's the same answer we got two weeks before that, and it's the same answer we have been getting from day one.
This is a very simple question. The government has indicated that it will change this program to allow for amalgamations. The solution is very simple. It is to also allow for those companies that have undergone acquisitions.
This is a very specific question: Will the government fix this program and allow for companies that have acquired another company to still access the wage subsidy program?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:28
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:29
Mr. Chair, reports indicate that up to half of the money allocated for the wage subsidy is going unspent, precisely because this government has left in unnecessarily rigid barriers for companies to be able to access it.
It's a yes-or-no question, and the minister still can't answer it. Along the same lines, we asked on April 8 to allow businesses applying for the wage subsidy to demonstrate their 30% revenue loss using other metrics, such as loss of earnings, subscriptions and orders, in order to qualify. They still can't do that today, the first day of June.
Why hasn't the government addressed this part of the program?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:29
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:30
Mr. Chair, it's quite clear what Conservatives believe in. We believe that when times were good, this government should have paid down debt instead of wasting money like $50 million to Mastercard and $12 million to Loblaws.
The fact of the matter is that the government left Canadians in a vulnerable position as we were entering this pandemic precisely because of its fiscal irresponsibility, and now they have designed programs that have unnecessary barriers in them that prevent more and more Canadians from getting the help they need.
Again, on April 26, Conservatives asked the Prime Minister to change the criteria for the Canada emergency business account so that small businesses that don't happen to have a business bank account can qualify. Why hasn't the Prime Minister made that change either?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:31
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:42
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?
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:43
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:43
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.
Hon. Ahmed Hussen - 12:43