I call this meeting to order.
I'd like to welcome everybody to meeting number nine of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health.
Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, March 24, the committee is meeting for a briefing on the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today's meeting is taking place exclusively by teleconference and the audio feed of our proceedings is made available via the House of Commons website.
I'd like to note parenthetically that this is the first time ever a House of Commons committee has met virtually, and while the meeting today is purely audio, members of the House of Commons technical staff are working diligently to deliver a quality video conferencing solution, which hopefully will be available to us for our meeting next week.
I'd like to thank the technicians and all the people who are working so hard to make this happen on short notice.
In order to facilitate the work of our interpreters and to assure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few rules to follow.
First, before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When I recognize someone by name, the operator will turn on the audio of that person; however, this may take a few seconds. During the questions and answers, I ask that members identify the witness to whom they are addressing their questions rather than simply directing their questions to the entirety of the panel. This will allow me to recognize the witness and give them the floor. All comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair.
I should add that when I recognize a witness to respond to a question, if other witnesses wish to respond to the question, they should dial *1 to let the moderator know that. Should members want to request the floor outside of the designated time for questions, please dial *1 and the moderator will signal this to the chair as well. Hopefully, unless there are technical issues, we won't need to do that because it will interrupt the questions and/or answers.
When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly and avoid using the speakerphone. I also ask that members and witnesses speak in the language that they have chosen for the meeting, so whatever line you have dialed in on. If you have dialed in on the English line, speak only English. If you have dialed in on the French line, speak only French. If you have dialed in on the main floor line, you can speak in either language.
Should any technical challenges arise, in particular in relation to interpretation, please dial one to signal this to the chair and the technical team will work to resolve the issue. Please note that we may need to suspend during these times as we need to ensure that all members are able to participate fully.
During this meeting we will follow the same rules that usually apply to opening statements and the questioning of witnesses during our regular meetings. Each witness will have 10 minutes for an opening statement, followed by the usual rounds of questions from members.
Before we carry on, since this is a purely audio meeting and we can't see who is in the room, I'd like to acknowledge who is in the room in the public portion of this meeting.
I am Ron McKinnon, the chair. We have our clerk, Mr. Jacques, and our analysts, Karin Phillips and Sonya Norris.
From the Conservative Party we have Matt Jeneroux, Dr. Robert Kitchen, Len Webber, Tamara Jansen, and Pierre Paul-Hus. From the Bloc we have Mr. Thériault and Mr. Champoux. From the NDP we have Mr. Davies. From the Liberals we have Mr. Van Bynen, Ms. Sonia Sidhu, Dr. Powlowski, Mr. Kelloway, Mr. Fisher and Dr. Jaczek.
As witnesses we have, from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Ms. Tina Namiesniowski and Ms. Cindy Evans. From Health Canada we have deputy minister Stephen Lucas. From the CBSA we have Mr. John Ossowski and Mr. Denis Vinette. From Global Affairs we have Heather Jeffrey.
Each group has a 10-minute opening statement. We'll start with the Public Health Agency of Canada. I recognize Ms. Namiesniowski to deliver a 10-minute statement.