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View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, on April 29 the government established the CESB, the Canada emergency student benefit, to provide financial assistance to students who may be experiencing problems finding a job under the circumstances we are all aware of. This goal has been achieved.
However, it is important to make sure that this CESB does not prevent students from entering the workforce. It should not deter them from working. In other words, it is essential that every student's income should always increase for each additional hour they work.
My question is a simple one: does the current CESB provide for additional student income for hours that they work, in every instance?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
I have not had an answer to my question. I will state it again because I am in a good mood. My question is: does the current CESB provide for additional student income for hours that they work, in every instance?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
And yet it's a simple question. Will every single student who works more hours earn more income as a result?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
I will ask the question another way.
A student who works two days a week will have exactly the same income as a student who works five days a week. Does the Deputy Prime Minister find this logical?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
The answer is simple. A student works two days a week; that's a fact. I am not a mother, but I am a father, and I can understand that.
I will now ask a very simple question. You agreed with the Bloc Québécois: on April 29, you agreed in the House that it was necessary to introduce work incentives. What has happened since then? You gave your word to the Bloc Québécois. What is the outcome? What have you done over the past three weeks?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
I know the answer: The Liberals have done nothing. They promised on April 29 that they would offer incentives because they felt we were right. However, they did nothing.
How can we trust a government that gives its word but then fails to follow up on it after three weeks?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would like to raise a point of order.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, once again, although I would like to be creative and very open, I do not understand how this question is related to what was decided by the House of Commons—not the government—by means of a motion. The motion was to the effect that the committee should meet to debate matters pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is entirely unrelated to the subject under discussion.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
I think that my colleague should abide by the House of Commons decision, namely that the committee should meet to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are going through an unprecedented and historic period, during which we need to be there to help Canadians. We need to be able to debate and we are prepared to answer all questions from the opposition. We are happy to do so. There are also seven question periods each week, but this question has absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, once again on the point of order. If I may, I would like to read the April 20 motion. It is very specific. It was read and passed in the House:—(h) a special committee on the COVID-19 pandemic shall be established, composed of all members of the House, and which shall meet for the purposes of
(i) considering ministerial announcements,(ii) allowing members to present petitions, (iii) questioning ministers of the Crown, including the Prime Minister, in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic—
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, my comment pertains to the same point of order.
There is currently a worldwide pandemic in progress. Members of the House agreed that we should meet in committee to debate issues pertaining to the pandemic. It's extremely important.
I assume that my colleague and members of his party have some questions to ask about the pandemic. We are prepared to listen to them and answer their questions. However, we must comply with House orders.
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
I have a response to that point of order.
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
The Deputy Prime Minister just said that this is the biggest financial crisis facing Canadians since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Spending taxpayer dollars on renovations to a home while Canadians can't pay their bills is, with all due respect to the government House leader, part of the COVID response. That money could be spent elsewhere to help Canadians. I don't understand how the honourable government House leader does not see this as a valid question, as it is really about the priorities of the government.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would be very grateful if my colleague could spend some time asking questions about the pandemic that is affecting not only Canada—
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
—but the whole world.
I believe that my colleague could concentrate on the pandemic, in which case we would be pleased to answer his questions.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, rather than becoming mired in things like conspiracy theories, state secrets, and hidden agendas, I would ask my colleague to debate matters that pertain to the pandemic, because that is what the House of Commons decided we should be doing.
View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
Good afternoon.
Mr. Chair, many Canadian citizens who had been abroad were repatriated because of COVID-19. However, some are still stuck there. That is the situation for a citizen of Chicoutimi, Mr. Andre Gauthier, who is currently being held in a prison in Dubai for a crime that he has clearly not committed. There is no reason for this matter to drag on. At the moment, the virus is spreading quickly in the prison where he is being detained, which is dangerous to his health and safety. The Canadian government is his only hope.
I would like to know when the Minister of Foreign Affairs is going to demand the repatriation of our Canadian citizen.
View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, some startup companies that are only beginning to grow are not eligible for government assistance. As we know, startup companies do not have comparable figures that would enable them to determine whether they have lost 30% of their revenue, for example, compared to the previous year. These startup companies have made investments and signed contracts with other employers. However, banks are twitchy at the moment and hesitant to lend them money.
What is the government going to do to help these startups?
View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, some entrepreneurs do not have a business checking account; they only have a personal checking account. That's why they do not have access to the Canada emergency business account, even though they meet all the other criteria. Before considering any expansion of this program, it's important to make sure that all of our family businesses have access to it.
If entrepreneurs were to open a business account now and their personal checking account did not show any payment defaults, would the government be open to the idea of making them eligible to apply?
View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, the economic recovery plan will be key for Canada. The government is well aware of the fact that there are ways other than increasing taxes to pay down the debt. Private sector natural resource projects in Canada represent over $200 billion. There is a major project called GNL Québec in my own riding.
When is the government planning to restart and speed up the environmental assessment process, specifically to create wealth in the country?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
The tourism sector is of course deeply impacted, and that's why we have the rent support, the wage subsidy and also the CEBA account and the regional development agency funding.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Well, there is a program directly for tourism operators, and my colleague knows about it because we had good conversations about it. It is to pay the rents, pay the employee salaries, and also to have access to liquidity. These are the measures that are there for the tourism sector.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
My colleague, the Minister of Public Safety, and I are in close contact and close co-operation. We understand that we need to make sure we respect the public health authorities' advice, while at the same time supporting the reopening of the economy. Certainly tourism has been hard hit, so that's why we have in place measures until the end of August through the wage subsidy.
However, if businesses are really falling through the cracks of the system, they can have access to the regional development agency funding, and of course we're looking at supporting destination marketing organizations as well.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you to my colleague for his important question.
I understand the anxiety of people in the tourism sector expressed by my colleague today because it is a sector that is hard hit. We did some very important investments in the past mandate to make sure we would be supporting winter tourism, but we want to do more, and that's exactly why we're spending through our regional development agencies, and we will continue to engage with the tourism sector as we're trying to reopen and—
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, several weeks ago, the Bloc Québecois suggested to the government a subsidy program that would cover a major portion of fixed costs for SMEs and organizations.Our goal was to prevent our SMEs and organizations, when they resume their activities, from offsetting their revenue shortfalls through credit, which would mire them even deeper into the vicious circle of indebtedness.
Can the Minister of Finance tell us why an appropriate and effective program has not been put in place to truly cover the fixed costs of SMEs and organizations so they can avoid this vicious circle.
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, it has become fairly obvious that the government has not done enough with respect to the fixed costs of SMEs and organizations and that businesses of all kinds are now being forced to consider terminating or substantially reducing their activities.
Is the government prepared to reimburse a significant share of these fixed costs through a genuine, concrete and effective—and I hope universal as well—50% refundable tax credit for eligible fixed costs for small businesses, business owners who draw dividends, and partnerships?
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, in fact, the statistics show that the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program is not effective. Many PMEs and organizations are ineligible. And according to the latest survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 51% of owners do not use the program because they have to pay 25% of the rent. It is only to be expected that some should refuse to apply for this program to avoid having to provide a portion of the support.
Will the minister ever get around to listening to tenants and owners, and make the program more flexible? Since he is speaking about modernizing programs, would not the option of providing assistance directly to tenants have been fairer and more effective?
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, once again I would like to ask if we can expect to see a refundable tax credit for eligible fixed costs to help our SMEs avoid the vicious circle of debt?
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I spoke with the Community futures development corporations—CFDCs—in my region.These CFDCs were unanimous in saying that the July 15 deadline for submitting projects to the Regional relief and recovery fund is too early.
For a direct recovery, could the government agree to postpone the July 15 date to September 30, for example, to give the RRRFs enough time to do their work and for entrepreneurs to be able to benefit from their acknowledged expertise?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague. I know that he is very keen on the CFDCs, as I am. They have just received the biggest budget in their history, with a $70 million boost. At the moment, the objective is to get them in place quickly. If my colleague has any suggestions, I would be happy to discuss them with him.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
I was on the floor channel. I can repeat my reply to my colleague Mr. Lemire's question.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague, who is very keen on the CFDCs, as I am. As they recently received a whopping $70 million in funds we want to make sure that they can get the money as quickly as possible to our companies in the field. If my colleague has any suggestions, I would be happy to discuss them with him.
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
I have recently received a number of emails from indigenous constituents expressing confusion, fear and even anger regarding the new gun ban.
Can the minister please clarify how this ban will impact indigenous people in my rural and remote northern Saskatchewan riding where people use these weapons to feed themselves and their families during this pandemic?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
I appreciate the minister's acknowledging that these newly banned guns are used by hunters and are critical to food security in my riding.
Before the COVID pandemic, first nation leaders in my riding were having checkpoints set up at the entrances of their communities to address safety concerns related to violent gang activity. Gang activity is a major source of concern for these first nations and many rural areas in my riding. The government's gun ban will do nothing to address this problem.
From a first nations perspective, whom did you or your government consult before issuing the order in council?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, the government was elected on a promise of reconciliation and consultation. In doing that, it agreed to an MOU behind the backs of the elected chiefs and the members of the Wet'suwet'en people.
John Horgan, the premier of British Columbia, acknowledged last Wednesday, on the eve of the signing, that the consultation process had fallen short of his expectations. Does the minister agree with Premier Horgan that the government has fallen short on the consultation process?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, the March 1 news release announcing the MOU says, “If ratified, Minister Fraser and Minister Bennett have agreed to return to Wet'suwet'en territory to sign.”
Why did the minister, when she knew that the elected chiefs and Wet'suwet'en people were not consulted and there was in fact no ratification process, proceed with signing this agreement anyway?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
I appreciate that, Minister, and that's my whole point on the Wet'suwet'en issue.
At committee, we have been consistently shut down for discussing this issue, and you just used the reason that due to the pandemic, the consultation process was not allowed to be carried out appropriately.
Again I ask why you signed this agreement when there wasn't proper consultation.
View Joël Godin Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair
ThePrime Minister announced the Canada Summer Jobs program a few months ago. He tried to get us to believe that there were 70,000 new jobs. Then he announced the Canada emergency student benefit, encouraging our young people to put their feet up and relax.Now, he is withholding confirmations for jobs under the Canada summer jobs program. Total confusion!
Businesses and organizations are waiting for the Canada summer jobs program confirmations in order to hire students. In Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, only 57 jobs have been confirmed out of the 140 that were already pre-approved. Why the delay in confirming the others?
This is a month behind schedule. Young university and college students are idle and prepared to work. The government's inconsistency is inexplicable.
Can the government confirm all these jobs immediately to help our companies and organizations, and allow our students and young people to take part in the economic recovery following COVID-19?
View Joël Godin Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Chair, the minister just said that the program had been improved, but when jobs are lost in a crisis, during a pandemic caused by COVID-19, I do not see any improvement.
Can the honourable Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion tell us why this year, in the middle of the pandemic, fewer businesses and organizations are able to hire a student under the Canada Summer jobs program?
View Joël Godin Profile
CPC (QC)
What I just heard is not true. I have the same budget in the riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier and there are 40 fewer jobs. So I do not know how the minister did the calculation.
Moving on to another subject, thePrime Minister has often said that all Canadians would receive assistance. I would like to mention two very specific cases in this regard.
To begin with, what would the Prime Minister be able to say to entrepreneurs who have had to shut down their company permanently during the crisis? They have no employment insurance benefits, they do not receive the Canada emergency benefit and have lost their retirement pension.
What has the government provided for business owners like this?
View Joël Godin Profile
CPC (QC)
There is therefore nothing for this entrepreneur.
Now for the second part of my question.
A 63-year-old woman with a chronic illness had to stop working three years ago. She has no employment insurance benefits, is not receiving the CEB and does not have a retirement pension.
What can the Prime Minister say to this honest citizen
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We are very concerned, obviously, about ensuring that air travel to communities in the north is possible. That is why we worked with the Government of Nunavut to come to an agreement whereby we would transfer to them $5 million to ensure that Canadian North was able to provide the necessary services, not only to move people across the territory but also to ensure that essential cargo could be delivered.
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, in a crisis, it is important to be able to cope, but also to prepare for the post-crisis period. In order to do so, it is essential to know where we stand at the moment, hence the importance of tabling an economic update.
Will the minister be tabling an economic update in June, as provided?
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
Are we going to have an economic update in June, as provided?
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, in order to be able to ensure economic stability, it is important to look to the future, and for that it is necessary to know where we stand now.
Are we going to have a full economic update in June, as provided?
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
Okay!
Mr. Chair, what are the economic growth forecasts for the coming months?
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I am going to switch to another question.
Does the minister have an economic recovery plan?
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
There is of course a plan during the pandemic, but what will happen after that? I am talking about economic recovery. Is there a plan? If so, can we see it?
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, the businesses are already prepared to contribute significantly to the economic recovery by creating quality jobs and skilled jobs. One such company is Chantier Davie here in the Quebec City area. Its reopening would lead to at least 3,000 jobs.
Is the minister going to miss the boat yet again or is there truly a recovery plan that includes Chantier Davie?
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I understand the need to protect people during the crisis. But to see the forest, you have to stand back from the trees. It's essential to anticipate and look to the future.
Hence my question: is there an economic recovery plan? Is there also an update with a view to implementing the plan?
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, I have a point of order.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, I'm 100% behind what Mr. Davies said, but my point of order extends further than that. We as committee members are here to present and ask questions, to protect our witnesses as well as ourselves, and to make certain that we have that protection. If we do not have that as a committee, the questions and points that we may bring up can be held against us, and that's just not acceptable. How can we function as a committee if that's not the place?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-05-20 17:26
Mr. Chair, I would like to raise a point of order.
Professor Attaran seems to want to add a comment. Perhaps he could clarify what it is, which could help you deliberate further. I would be prepared to let him speak quickly, since I thought I saw him raise his hand. So I would like us to hear what he has to say. Then you could deliberate on that.
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-05-20 17:28
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am going to address Professor Attaran first. These days, we can say that science is being tossed around a lot. All decisions are supposedly made in the name of science. One might even think that it is being used more to justify some political dithering.
Mr. Attaran, on page 3 of your brief, you say the following:
...the Prime Minister hesitated, perhaps because of the scientifically inaccurate advice from his Minister of Health, that closing the borders to slow the disease down is “very ineffective.”
Some people argue that border closures have no significant effect in stopping the spread of the disease. I understand you disagree. Should the borders—especially the U.S. border—have been closed much sooner?
Did we have all the information we needed to make that decision? If not, what would have been required to make that decision as quickly as possible? What is the reason for the conflicting scientific advice?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-05-20 17:30
Some witnesses have told us that we cannot fall behind in the case of this virus. The fact that the incubation period is often 14 days means that, since the beginning of the pandemic, we have constantly been feeling that we are playing catch-up. So I imagine that things should have been done differently and that decisions should have been made much more quickly.
You were talking about structural and systemic difficulties related to the Confederation and the inability of the scientific community and public health authorities to work in a coordinated manner and in real time with respect to sharing data.
What is the point of not working together? What justifies it? You gave the example of Ontario during the SARS episode. What is the point of those provinces or Quebec not working together? I have trouble understanding that.
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-05-20 17:32
How could legislating or establishing regulations be more effective? I'm trying to understand the motivation behind this inefficiency.
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-05-20 17:33
Yes, of course.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair,
Thank you, everybody, for your presentations today. They've been greatly appreciated.
Dr. Attaran, yesterday I spoke to Dr. Tam and asked her a question about data sharing between the provinces and organizations with the federal government. You've answered a lot of those questions I had for you, but further to that, I was asking her about demographic data, in particular how New York City has come up with a lot more demographic information, etc. She indicated to me that it's on the Public Health Agency of Canada's website, so I took the opportunity this morning to go onto that site. With some help from my staff, I finally managed to find some information on that.
They talk about updating the data as of today and about 4,201 cases of clinical presentations, and of those, 561 cases or 13% were clinically or radiologically diagnosed with pneumonia. My point about that is it provides a lot of information and then, all of a sudden, I find a little bit further down a little statement: “The epidemiology update is based upon information received for 38,746 cases. Not all data fields are complete, only cases with data available are included.” The bottom line is they're providing inappropriate information on the data that we have.
How is it that we ask you or other epidemiologists to come up with data and provide modelling when we put this out with inappropriate information?
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
When the Public Health Agency is making these decisions based on World Health Organization data, which is maybe coming in from China or wherever, which is inappropriate, again how do you come up with that proper information?
Dr. Fisman, do you have any comments?
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
That's a challenge, though, when you don't have proper data and you don't understand that.
I'm going to go on a little bit further.
Mr. Ciciretto, you talked about high-quality antibody testing. We've heard a lot from you today and all of the witnesses about testing. Last week Health Canada approved the first serological test for detecting antibodies in those who contracted or may have contracted COVID-19. The approved serological test comes from an Italian biotechnology company.
Do we have the capacity to produce these tests domestically? Do you know that?
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-05-20 18:14
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Professor Fisman. Perhaps Mr. Schabas can express his opinion as well.
We do not yet have a vaccine or antivirals. Serological tests are just beginning. Faced with the desire for reopening, we have suddenly and a little hastily seen the notion of herd immunity appear. But there is no real certainty about the exact data, about the connection between COVID-19 and herd immunity.
Can you tell us where we are at in terms of knowledge or studies on herd immunity with COVID-19? Can you describe the situation?
If reopening were at an ideal rate, would we achieve herd immunity? At what rate would we need to achieve it to make everything safe?
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My thanks to all the witnesses for joining us. The content they have shared with us is very interesting.
My first question is for—
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-05-20 19:03
Okay.
Earlier, when I asked Dr. Fisman a question, I noticed that Dr. Schabas was reacting. I think he wants to answer the question.
It had to do with the rate of safe reopening that Canada should adopt in order to have herd immunity, given that we don't have a vaccine yet, we don't have antivirals, and we are just beginning serological testing.
My question is for Dr. Schabas.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair.
Madam Minister, I would like to commend you for your testimony with regard to women and I thank you for it.
There are many exceptional women. I would say they are everywhere. In one way or another, they are confined in this whirlwind of disorganization and uncertainty. We find them on the front lines, in the health care and social services network, in the CHSLDs, in grocery stores, or at the bedsides of the sick. Some of them go home alone.
Given that equality between men and women is still far from being achieved, the pandemic is making an already problematic situation worse. Yes, the pandemic is shining the light on women's reality. However, before this pandemic, the face of issues like poverty, safe and good-quality social housing, seniors, caregivers, workers in the healthcare network or in essential services, and even the cases of violence, was still predominantly a female face. This crisis therefore is exacerbating what was already a problem, because women are being directly hit by the economic consequences of COVID-19 and by the social consequences of the lockdown.
In this pandemic, those most at risk, physically financially, socially or psychologically, are women. In Canada, almost 90% of hospital nursing staff are women. About 80% of the orderlies, whose contribution we highlighted yesterday, are women. Most family caregivers, 77% of them, are women, generally women older than 45. Since their life expectancy is higher than that of their spouses, they often survive them after they have taken care of them. The majority of seniors are also women living alone.
Although their level of education is higher than men's, women still represent three-quarters of part-time workers. Some may say that some of them choose that situation in order to achieve a work-life balance. Even then, domestic and family responsibilities fall to women. However, other factors also explain the disparity. Women are overrepresented in certain areas of employment, such as hospitality. In service sectors, like hotels, restaurants, and retail, the jobs are mostly part-time. So women are not working part-time by choice, but because they are not offered anything else. We are told that by a sociologist.
In addition, women receive lower salaries than men. Even though equality exists in law, actual equality is often harder to find. Women are often working part-time. I would also emphasize that they face more difficulties. Only one- third of them qualify for benefits such as employment insurance. I can show you all those figures to demonstrate that, while the face of the current crisis is female, it is also a reality that we have to consider. The problems existed well before the crisis and they must be dealt with.
According to her mandate letter, the Minister of Employment must implement Canada's Pay Equity Act. This is a matter of urgency. She must also work with the provinces and territories on the ratification of the ILO's 2019 Violence and Harassment Convention. That is also a commitment that we must make. In fact, according to figures published by Statistics Canada, one woman in 10 is worried about being affected by a situation of violence and a number feel that they will experience a situation of domestic violence. That is quite startling.
Against such a background, we must not lose sight of the fact that we must hear people's testimony, simply to emphasize the importance of the role of women. The goal is also to remind ourselves that our work on behalf of women—in terms of their reality and their absolute right to equality—must be work that we do every day, work that we cannot lose sight of. This is particularly important during these crises, which bring with them issues that are not only social but also financial.
We must also remember this government's commitment to conduct a complementary gender-based analysis of its financial, economic and social policies. In Quebec, we call it a gender-differentiated analysis. We must ask ourselves whether each action we take discriminates against women or whether we are supporting them with gender equality so that the discrimination disappears.
The fight for women is a one that society as a whole must fight, in all its forms. I believe that it is even more important to remind ourselves that the women we are not talking about and not worrying about are working and are in the front lines. We have finally realized how important their work is. We must not simply thank them, tell them how good they are and that we need them.
It is not enough to acknowledge how important they are for a day, or during a crisis. We must acknowledge that they are essential for society every day.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I present petition No. e-2429, the objective of which is to create an ombudsman for immigration.
Many in my constituency are frustrated by cases that are often bungled or processed too quickly by the officials. They are seeking additional protection for those cases, a second look at the processing of immigration claims.
I must say that this is a wish that other hon. members have expressed. We have the impression that MPs' offices have become ombudsman's offices, in a way. When there is a problem, MPs' offices are used like Service Canada offices. We believe that it is not our role to complete all the claims again and to review the procedures. There should be government services for those kinds of things.
Clearly, in an ideal world, the entire immigration system would be in the hands of the Government of Quebec.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Canadians are gradually going back to work and expecting their elected representatives to do the same thing. Next week, the legislative assembly of Quebec will sit three times a week. Then it will sit four times a week during its two sessions in June.
Can the Prime Minister tell Canadians why he feels that we do not have to come back to work here in the House of Commons?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
For several weeks, the House has been sitting three times a week, including twice by virtual means so that hon. members across the country, not just those who live in Ottawa, can be here to represent their constituents.
We will continue to ensure that Parliament is functioning, even when we are in this crisis situation.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, the Prime Minister knows that the House is not sitting normally. This is a committee of the whole. It's not the normal way that the House of Commons does its business and the Prime Minister should acknowledge that.
I've raised the issue of Brandt Tractor in my riding numerous times with the Prime Minister. I'd like to do so again today because Conservatives have been asking for weeks for the Liberals to amend the wage subsidy to allow companies that have acquired another company to compare their revenues based on the combined revenues of those two previous companies.
Last week the government announced a change to eligibility for the wage subsidy for companies formed by an amalgamation but not for acquisitions. There are many employees whose jobs depend on the answer to this question.
Can the Prime Minister confirm whether these same rules will be extended to acquisitions?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, in response to the honourable member's first comment, these are not normal times. We are in a pandemic situation where Canadians are having to adjust in many different ways. At the same time, it is important that we keep our parliamentary institutions going and that we provide opportunities for MPs to ask questions of the government on behalf of their constituents. That's why we have had three sittings a week over the past number of weeks.
In regard to the business in the member opposite's riding, I can highlight that finance officials have been in touch with that company and we continue to look at ways of closing further gaps. Even as we've helped millions of Canadians and hundreds of thousands of companies, there is more to do and we will keep working on that.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, in March 2019, the rating agency Fitch issued a warning about Canada's overall government debt level. They said that Canada's gross general government debt remains close to a level that is “incompatible with 'AAA' status”.
Now we all know what that means. If our credit is downgraded, that will mean taxpayers will pay more to service the cost of that debt.
Can the Prime Minister tell the House how much it will cost Canadians in additional debt-servicing charges if Canada's credit rating is downgraded?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, there are only two G7 countries that had unanimous AAA credit ratings for their economic and fiscal management going into this crisis: Germany and Canada.
We have a perfect score in terms of credit agencies because we have managed to keep our debt as it relates to the size of our GDP under control. We were responsible over the past five years, which means that when this pandemic hit us, we had the means to invest and to help, directly, millions upon millions of Canadians who needed that help.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, the exact opposite is true. Remember that when that government was first elected, they promised that the deficits would be small and temporary, just $10 billion a year for four years. Then they had to throw away that metric and said that as long as our debt-to-GDP ratio remains constant, that will be okay.
We all know that the economic output has shrunk. Meanwhile, spending even before this pandemic was going through the roof. Remember, it was the Liberal government that said Loblaws deserved $12 million for new fridges, and that Mastercard, a credit card company, deserved $50 million in corporate bailouts. The government made Canada weak heading into this pandemic, and all this additional spending that is being borrowed to provide assistance to Canadians is coming on the heels of record deficits and is hurting Canada's ability to maintain its credit rating.
One of the ways you can protect your credit rating is if you show the people you owe the money to how you're going to pay it back. Is the government willing to provide Canadians with an update as to how they will get Canada's fiscal track back under control when this pandemic is over?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, this is déjà vu all over again. We've heard yet again the same economic arguments that the Conservatives have been making for years. They made them in the 2015 election, when we proposed to invest in Canadians and they talked about debt reduction and austerity. They lost that election. Then in 2019, after four years of our demonstrating that investing in Canadians could not only create over a million new jobs but lift over a million Canadians out of poverty, they continued to make those same tired arguments and were rejected once again by Canadians.
We have demonstrated that fiscal responsibility, managing our finances properly while investing in Canadians, has been the responsible thing to do and has left us the fiscal firepower to invest in Canadians during this pandemic.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
When we established specific rules, we agreed on a number of representatives from each political party who would sit, for a total of 32 members. I invite everyone to count. The NDP, the Bloc Québecois and the Green Party have the number agreed on; the others do not. Perhaps this is a matter of fairness or a matter of safety, or perhaps both. At the moment, it is not working. Not long ago, all parties had more than the number.
So what good is it to make agreements when we do not observe them? That is my comment. The government has made two very formal commitments. On April 29, it committed to create employment incentives for those receiving the Canada emergency response benefit, or CERB. That did not happen. However, it was said very clearly, and we certainly agreed on it.
Also…
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, there is certainly a difference between pointing out that someone is absent and pointing out that too many are present. That is the issue today.
The government has made two formal commitments in the House and it has not lived up to them. We pointed this out in the sense that, next Monday, we are going to have to vote together once more. In a communication, the government asked us what we wanted. Our party has proposals, as usual, so we pointed out very clearly what we want. We did so this morning, in a media briefing. The leaders have spoken together to discuss it.
So I suggest that we start from scratch. If we want to work something out for Monday that is good for the people of Quebec and Canada, everyone has to keep their word. Otherwise, it all makes no sense.
Can the Prime Minister tell us whether he is aware of the Bloc Québecois' proposals for everyone to keep their word in the House?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, it is very important to observe the commitments that have been made. I can assure the hon. member that, if ever there is a vote, whatever the number of members present in the debates or the committees, we will absolutely respect the figures that have been agreed on, so that Parliament can continue working as we maintain the proportions in the House.
Of course, in a period of crisis like this, it is extremely important that we continue to sit as parliamentarians in order to show Canadians that they can trust our institutions and our democracy. That is why the work continues to be done. We have been sitting three times a week for several weeks, twice by virtual means and once in person. In so doing, we can continue to debate important measures that we are putting in place for Canadians from coast to coast.
We are going to continue to work with all the parties in the House so that we can continue to demonstrate the strength of our institutions and our democracy in the face of this difficult situation. It is important to demonstrate that Canadians can trust their members of Parliament. That is exactly the work that were going to continue to do
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
I understood that the number of people was determined because of health considerations.
I repeat that the government has made two formal commitments and it has not lived up to them. If we are giving specific powers to the government and the government does not live up to its commitment, why should we continue to give it those specific powers. This is just a matter of good common sense.
We were asked in writing what we wanted and we said what we wanted. So I am asking the Prime Minister if he read what we wanted.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Absolutely, Mr. Chair. We will continue to work with all members in the House in order to better serve Canadians.
I must point out that the proposals to improve the Canada emergency response benefit made by the other parties, including those from the Bloc Québecois, are taken seriously. We have been able to significantly improve many of the measures that we have taken for Canadians.
As for the concern about fixed costs, I actually made an announcement this morning that small businesses may have access to assistance in order to pay their commercial rents. This is an important factor that the Bloc Québecois had pointed out and that small businesses also told us about directly.
We are going to continue to do everything we can do to help Canadians and small businesses.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been working very closely with the provinces and territories on measures to put forward to help Canadians. There have been many good proposals that we've worked with the provinces on, including most recently the commercial rent subsidy, which we announced this morning. It's going to help thousands of small businesses right across the country with the pressures they're facing.
On supporting Canadians, that was the very first thing we did—
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, on this side of the House, we very much respect areas of provincial jurisdiction. That is why we are working with the provinces to respond to the needs that Canadians are facing that are within their jurisdictions. We are there to support the provinces—
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, thousands of Canadians across this country work for large enterprises. That's why we moved forward with the large employer emergency financing facility, which will give loans, with very strict conditions on executive pay and on environmental regulations, so that we are giving the help needed to Canadian workers.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, the large employer emergency financing facility will help protect Canadian jobs and help Canadian businesses weather the current economic downturn, but employers will need to show that they intend to preserve employment and maintain investment activities, commit to respecting collective bargaining agreements and protecting workers' pensions, and require strict limits on dividends, share buy-backs and executive pay.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, directing help to workers and people who need help right now is what this government has done since the beginning of this pandemic. With the Canada emergency response benefit helping over eight million Canadians, with the wage subsidy helping millions more, we are moving forward in ways that directly help workers. For large enterprises, the financing facility—
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, the honourable member knows that we have taken significant measures as a government to ensure that we're cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion, and have invested significant amounts in the Canada Revenue Agency to do that. The member opposite likes to speak in generalities, but if he has specific companies whose workers should not be helped, please, he should bring those names forward to the government.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, can he name one company where he thinks its employees should not get help from the government?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, the cinema in Lac Mégantic has not received a cent from the government. Restaurant owners, hairdressers, dentists and massage therapists all across the country are sending us messages begging us to let them return to work. Here in Parliament, the Liberals, the Bloc, the New Democrats and the Greens are doing everything they in their power to not return to work. They are making agreements among themselves.
Why is the Prime Minister so insistent in staying at home, when thousands of Canadians are simply asking to return to work?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
I am sorry to learn that my colleague is not working, but I can assure him that all the other members in the House are working extremely hard. This includes all the MPs in their constituencies who are making calls each day to isolated seniors, and helping food banks.
All MPs are working extremely hard and I hope that my colleague will acknowledge that.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, a virtual haircut never turns out well. A virtual House is no different, as that shows.
Mr. Chair, we have not seen you in the Speaker's chair in the House of Commons for a real sitting here since at least March 12. During that time, the Liberals, the Bloc, the NDP and the Greens have been making agreements of all kinds among themselves so that we cannot ask real questions here.
If this was a real sitting of the House, the Prime Minister would be answering all the questions today, as he usually does every Wednesday in the House.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I will not comment on the haircut portion of his question. As for the rest, I want to remind my colleague that we are here to answer questions. We answered questions yesterday and we will answer questions tomorrow.
Furthermore, when the House is sitting five days per week, there are normally five question periods of 45 minutes. Currently, from Tuesday to Thursday, there are seven periods of 45 minutes when the opposition can ask questions.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, the House is also called on to adopt bills and move them forward. We have not done that at all since this pandemic began, since you left your chair on March 12.
How many projects from the provinces are still waiting for approval? How many projects does the Minister of Infrastructure have on her desk and how many have been put aside?
Unfortunately, because of that, the economy cannot reopen.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
I will happily send him the list of bills that have been passed. It is a long list. It starts with the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, which was ratified on March 13. Then I could mention all the programs we have adopted here to help Canadians, such as the Canada emergency response benefit and the wage subsidy.
We have passed many bills here in the House. The work goes on.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
We are in complete agreement that those bills were passed. We were here. However, we would like Parliament to resume its work.
For example, how can we reopen the economy while we are waiting to hear from the Minister of Infrastructure? The minister has not been here in the House very often. Unfortunately, I have many questions to ask her. She said she intended to grant 80% funding for municipal infrastructure projects.
When will we have a press release about that?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Members know that they must not refer to anyone's presence in or absence from the House.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Actually, my colleague is helping me to demonstrate the importance of virtual sessions. Nearly all ministers are attending these sessions, and members can ask them questions and get responses directly.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, we learned last week that the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities caused some consternation in her government by announcing infrastructure measures that were not yet fully finalized, according to La Presse. The minister announced in the media that her department was speeding up the allocation of $3 billion to modernize infrastructure such as hospitals and schools across Canada.
When will the Prime Ministerconfirm this announcement?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
Will the 80% federal contribution apply to the more than 400 projects waiting, sitting idle on the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities' desk? Will it apply to all new projects? Which municipalities will be granted 80% funding for projects? We have no answer.
For once, could I get a real answer, please?
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