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View Michael Barrett Profile
Madam Speaker, I find myself often rising to ask questions of the government with respect to its handling of ethical matters, and no more appropriate a time have we found to address the government on these questions than in light of the scandal that currently has engulfed the Prime Minister's Office.
For a third time, the Prime Minister is under investigation by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, twice having been found to have broken the law. On the front lines of this latest scandal with the WE Charity, the Prime Minister is in the company of another minister who has been found to have broken ethics laws in this country: the Minister of Finance with his forgotten French villa.
We hear from the finance minister and the Prime Minister, time and time again, that they are sorry. They are sorry they were caught, because right out of the gate with any of these issues the immediate response is that there is nothing to see here.
We remember with the SNC-Lavalin scandal the very first reaction by the Prime Minister was that the story in The Globe and Mail was false. Since then, the Ethics Commissioner investigated and found in the Trudeau II Report that the Prime Minister did contravene the Conflict of Interest Act. The story in The Globe and Mail was true.
We know that when it was before cabinet, and members of cabinet spoke out against the lack of ethical integrity at the table, the member for Vancouver Granville, the former minister of justice and attorney general, was fired. Canada's first female, indigenous attorney general was fired.
We know that when another member of cabinet with integrity, the former president of the Treasury Board, Dr. Jane Philpott, raised the issue as well, she was kicked out of caucus with the member for Vancouver Granville.
We know from those two reports, the Trudeau Report and Trudeau II Report, that the Prime Minister likes to reward his friends. We know from the ejection of the member for Vancouver Granville and the former president of the Treasury Board, the hon. Dr. Jane Philpott, that the Prime Minister punishes his enemies.
Accountability is not found today in the office of the Prime Minister, so we look to the government benches and ask Liberal members if they have the courage of their convictions and the intestinal fortitude to demand better of their Prime Minister.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 18:35 [p.2648]
Madam Speaker, at times I wonder if the member goes to bed at night trying to influence his dreaming capabilities so he can raise some sort of issue with the government of the day that he can put a negative spin on. I was reviewing the question the member posed that ultimately led to the speech we just heard. The question was this: Why did the Bloc party vote with the government to prevent us from dealing with an issue that was in the House of Commons prior to the last election? He was upset with the Bloc because the Bloc voted with the government, but the Bloc agreed that the issue was from the previous Parliament and we did not need to talk about it.
If we were to go back to previous elections, I am sure we could find a number of interesting scandals that Conservatives were involved in. Do members remember the Senate scandal? Maybe we should regurgitate one of those scandals and have them go before the ethics committee.
At the end of the day, there has been a great deal of transparency and accountability. We have seen the Prime Minister, even when he was in opposition, bring forward things such as proactive disclosure. We have seen that the Prime Minister has been very candid in recognizing if he makes a mistake. He then apologizes for it and takes actions to rectify it.
In the end, I truly believe that we need to move forward. The report the member referred to, the second report on the Prime Minister, was dealt with in the House. We are not the only party in the House that agrees with that. I suggest the member remain focused on some of the good things that are happening. Maybe the member could spend less time dreaming about how he can create crisis situations and instead look at ways we can improve the system. I am not saying the system cannot be improved upon; the system can be improved upon.
There will be mistakes. Conservative ministers made mistakes and went to the commissioner. I urge members to remember that the commissioner is relatively new. That position only came into being in 2008, so there have only been two prime ministers and two governments that have been subjected to the commissioner. It is a learning process, and we have a Prime Minister who understands that. When mistakes are made, he is very straightforward and he co-operates with the Ethics Commissioner.
I see those as positive things. I only wish that Conservative opposition members would give some attention to not only the negative side of life but also to the positive side of life. Maybe they could bring forward ideas so we can ensure there is more accountability and transparency.
I am very open-minded, and I look forward to the rebuttal in the form of a question from my friend, but I would like to see us move forward. I would like to see if we can come up with some positive contributions to how we could change the system and ultimately see an improvement. I know he has it in him to come up with some positive recommendations. I would implore him to suggest one or two of them in a positive light.
View Michael Barrett Profile
Madam Speaker, the member opposite talked about things that I dream up at night, when these are, in fact, the nightmares Canadians are having with respect to the ethical scandals we are seeing from the Prime Minister's Office.
The question I originally asked, which brought about this late show, had to do with the Liberals working with the separatist Bloc party to prevent the Ethics Commissioner from presenting his report at the ethics committee. That is the lack of accountability of the Liberals. It is the same ethics report that the Prime Minister refused to allow nine people to testify for, or to provide evidence to the commissioner about.
A positive recommendation I have for the member opposite is that the Prime Minister voluntarily offer to appear at any standing committee of the House. A second recommendation I would make to the member is that the Prime Minister agree to waive all cabinet confidences this time, not just the ones that have already been broken through various reports.
These are recommendations the member opposite should encourage the Prime Minister to follow. Those are recommendations that the Liberal caucus should really encourage the Prime Minister to take, because if he does not, Canadians will be unable to have confidence in their institutions and their public office holders. Frankly, they deserve better.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 18:40 [p.2648]
Madam Speaker, just to emphasize, the member opposite is focused on trying to blame the Bloc for voting with the Liberals to prevent something from a previous election coming before a House of Commons standing committee. This is the same Bloc that often votes with the Conservative Party against the government. The member is imputing motives that might not necessarily be justified, I would suggest, and I am trying to be as nice as I can with regard to it.
When I think of standing committees, in the back of my mind I am trying to think if Stephen Harper ever appeared before one. I wonder if the member is aware that, even though the office of the commissioner has only been around since 2008, there were a number of Conservatives—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, I have just come to the House from the hearings of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights. We spent all day in powerful hearings about the genocide happening in East Turkestan or Xinjiang in China where Uighur Muslims are facing all kinds of horrific human rights abuses simply on the basis of their faith and ethnic background. There was a clear consensus among witnesses that there is a genocide ongoing in Xinjiang, and there was a call from witnesses to take strong action here in Canada to respond to that genocide; indeed, to make meaningful our historic commitments to saying “never again”, that we will never again allow a people to be eradicated or attempts to eradicate them in this kind of way. Adrian Zenz, a senior researcher, described what is happening in Xinjiang as the largest mass incarceration of a minority since the Holocaust.
The calls to action included Canada's imposing Magnitsky sanctions against those involved in this gross violation of human rights, and also a response that would looks at the use of Uighur slave labour in our supply chains, with stronger legislation to prevent products that are produced through slave labour from making their way into our supply chains, as well as stronger measures to prevent government co-operation, like we have seen with Nuctech and security firms that are also involved in gross violations of human rights in East Turkestan.
The last panel at our hearing brings me to this question today, because we had an opportunity to hear from Kamila Telendibaeva, the wife of Huseyin Celil. Mr. Celil is a Canadian citizen of Uighur background who is currently in prison in China. He has been in prison in China for over a decade, and he has not had access to consular services. It is a horrific situation. He is the father of four, but he has never had an opportunity to meet his youngest son, because his wife was pregnant at the time he was taken. However, he was not arrested in China. He had travelled to Uzbekistan on a Canadian passport and was arrested in Uzbekistan and transferred to China. He has a wife and four sons here in Canada, the youngest of whom he has never met.
This horrific situation, the genocide of the Uighurs, in particular the detention of this Uighur Canadian, should seize Canadians and the government. I raised this issue at the Canada-China committee with our ambassador on February 5. Unfortunately, he initially seemed unaware of the case, and then he said that Mr. Celil was not a citizen. I note that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has since corrected this, but it remains a fact that we have regular mention, and rightly so, of other Canadians who are detained in China, but we have not seen nearly the same level of attention paid to cases involving Canadian citizens who originated abroad. Cases such as Mr. Celil, Fan Wei or others have simply not gotten the same attention in statements by our ambassador as cases that involve those born in Canada. That is very disappointing, because I think that we should all believe in a principle that a Canadian is a Canadian, and yet we have not seen a strong enough response.
During the testimony today, witnesses asked that the government not only make right what was made wrong but that it also take further steps, including appointing a special envoy to look into this case. I want to know what the government's response is to those calls actions and—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 18:46 [p.2649]
Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank members of the standing committee and those who have taken the time to present and share their thoughts on this very important issue.
Huseyin Celil is a Canadian citizen. As the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have consistently stated, the government is seized at all levels by cases of Canadians detained in China, including the long-standing case of Mr. Celil. Mr. Celil has been in detention in Xinjiang since 2006.
The provision of consular services to Canadians in China is governed by a bilateral agreement that details consular obligations and entitlements of our two countries in order to facilitate the protection of the rights and interests of our citizens. It is also governed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Canada expects China to live up to its obligations under these agreements.
In the case of Mr. Celil, despite repeated and ongoing attempts, Canadian officials have not been granted consular access. The government is deeply concerned about the case of Mr. Celil and will continue to raise his case at every opportunity at senior levels. Canadian officials will continue to advocate for Mr. Celil and seek consular access to him to verify his health and well-being and offer him assistance.
Mr. Celil is of the Uighur ethnicity, and Canada is deeply concerned by the mass detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang based on their ethnicity and religion and under the pretext of countering extremism. We acknowledge the pain and hardship experienced by Mr. Celil's family as a result of his detention. Consular officials are in communication with Mr. Celil's family and will continue to provide support until they are reunited.
Uighurs have been disappearing into detention in China, and getting information about their whereabouts can be incredibly challenging. Publicly and privately, in multilateral fora and in bilateral conversations, Canada has consistently called on the Chinese government to address the situation. Canada has called on the Chinese government to allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Procedures immediate, unfettered, meaningful access to Xinjiang.
Our government will always stand up for Canadians in need of assistance abroad. We recognize and affirm that Mr. Celil is a Canadian. We will continue to advocate for him and make every effort to obtain consular access to him.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for speaking from the heart.
I want to follow up on some of the testimony we heard. The government has said words with respect to this issue, but we need strong action.
Irwin Cotler, a former Liberal justice minister, said this is a genocide that requires us to respond in accordance with our international obligations under the genocide convention. We must recognize it and respond to it. We must recognize that we have a responsibility to protect and then deploy a range of measures to protect, to do what we can, whether this involves Magnitsky sanctions or other actions. We should also ensure that we do not have slave labour in our supply chains. That is a problem right now, and we need tougher legislation dealing with slave labour in our supply chains, especially coming from Xinjiang.
I wonder if the member would be willing to recognize specifically that China has not met its international obligations when it comes to consular access, and comment on the suggestion that we should have a special envoy to deal with this case.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 18:50 [p.2650]
Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada remains deeply concerned about the ongoing detention of Mr. Celil.
As with all cases of Canadian citizens detained abroad, our officials have repeatedly sought consular access to determine Mr. Celil's well-being. While Canada has submitted numerous official requests and made high-level interventions in the case, China has not granted Canadian officials access to Mr. Celil.
Canada is deeply concerned by the mass detention that is taking place based on ethnicity and religion and under the pretext of countering extremism. We will continue to advocate on Mr. Celil's behalf and call on China to allow consular service officials to visit him.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am back to talk about the Canada-China relationship, which, as we saw earlier today, the government has no interest in discussing in this chamber, shamefully, after giving no speeches during our special debate on the situation in Hong Kong. There have been no speeches from Liberal members, no speeches from NDP members. Both of those parties voted unanimously not to allow the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations to meet and do its work. They voted against allowing this committee to meet and do its important work during this time. That is shameful. It is a disgrace that the Liberals and the NDP refused to be involved in that conversation, and they worked together to shut down that possibility from happening. I know their constituents will hold them accountable for the shameful disregard for what is happening in Hong Kong, the disregard for the terrible human rights record of the Chinese government.
The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader said that we are not supposed to be talking about this issue and that we should be talking, instead, about COVID-19. Let me say a couple of things about that.
First, the parliamentary secretary should know that various authoritarian countries around the world, in particular the Government of China, are using precisely these circumstances to crack down on fundamental human rights and violate international law. If we ignore the vital need to stand up for the international rules-based order during this time, things are going to be a heck of a lot worse after this crisis is over. If we put our heads in the sand and pretend things are not happening, things are going to be a lot worse when this is over.
Second, the government needs to understand that we have a global pandemic precisely because of the suppression of information that took place in Wuhan and in China more broadly as a result of the authoritarian politics of that system. If this had happened in a democratic country, there would have immediately been discussion, debate and questions, openly, but the Chinese government intentionally suppressed information and discussion about the outbreak of COVID-19. This is what has allowed the global pandemic to unroll in the way that it has.
At a time when information is coming out about the suppression of information related to COVID-19, at a time when there are important questions to be asked of the World Health Organization about the way it is beholden to the Government of China, it is vitally important that we ask questions about the actions of the Government of China. However, the government does not want those questions to be asked, because every time the opportunity comes up, it gives a weak statement. It refuses to condemn the violation of fundamental human rights that is happening in Hong Kong. It refused to support an investigation into the actions of the World Health Organization that includes meaningful investigation into what is going on, including what is happening on the ground in China.
At committee, Ambassador Dominic Barton praised the Chinese government's response to COVID-19. The question that I asked earlier of the government on this issue was about whether it has confidence in Ambassador Barton, who praised the Chinese government's response to COVID-19, led a corporate retreat in Kashgar four miles from a Uighur concentration camp, and led McKinsey work to improve the image of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych.
These are important questions about Ambassador Barton. These are questions that the government does not want to answer, because after giving no speeches, the Liberals voted not to allow the parliamentary committee on Canada-China relations to meet virtually and investigate these questions.
Why is the government refusing to answer questions and refusing to allow debates at committee on the Canada-China relationship?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 18:35 [p.2393]
Mr. Speaker, I was here earlier for the vote, and it was not just the government, but there were opposition members from two other political parties who agreed with what the government is saying on the issue.
It have been interesting to see the issue evolving over the last number of years. When Stephen Harper was the prime minister, he made reference to China on a number of different occasions. In fact, he flew to China, came back from China, and talked about how wonderful things were. He got a commitment from China to bring over a couple of panda bears. That is when I bought my panda bear necktie. I can recall it quite vividly. There were trade agreements of sorts that were signed off on but never debated here inside the House, agreements between the Harper Conservative government and China. Now, in opposition, the Conservatives seem to have taken a complete 180° turn in their approach to China.
We do not need to be lectured by the Conservatives on the importance of expressions of freedoms and rights, including to be able to speak freely. We are the party that came up with the Charter of Rights, which was presented by Pierre Elliott Trudeau back in the 1980s. The Charter of Rights is now a part of our Canadian values and we are very proud of it. We look at our values here in Canada and try to share them wherever we can throughout the world, trying to play a strong leadership role. I find it very interesting how the Conservatives continue to want to push that 180° turn, their road to Damascus approach, with respect to China.
There are some difficult situations that have to be overcome, just as there were when Stephen Harper was the prime minister. Yes, there has been a special committee. There have been numerous discussions. At the committee stage, there was a report. That report was adopted and concurred in by the House. No, the member did not get what he wanted specifically; there were both government and opposition members who said that there was no need.
As somebody said earlier today, our Chinese heritage community in Canada predates our Confederation. Our Chinese heritage community was here before Canada was even a country as we know it today, so when things take place in China, Hong Kong and Asia, Canada is concerned. When I say “Canada”, I am talking of people in Canada, even people who are not of Chinese heritage. We have all sorts of human rights advocates. Winnipeg is home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, one of the jewels of our city.
There are many parliamentarians who have been strong advocates of humanitarian rights and freedoms and are trying to ensure that Canada maintains its strong international leadership. Over the last number of years, with this Prime Minister and this government, we have continued to promote Canadian values throughout the world.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, that was a lot of bafflegab, with no response to the question. I am glad to know that the member comes from the city where Canada's human rights museum is. I suggest he visit it sometime; he might learn something.
We had a choice and had an opportunity today to support a return of the Canada-China special committee. That would have allowed for hearings to happen online, just as other hearings are happening online. It would have allowed for hearings to actually get to the bottom of what is happening, and also put pressure on the government to take a stronger stance, because its stance so far on what is happening in Hong Kong has been very weak. If we compare it with the past, with Stephen Harper and the Conservatives' strong response to the Russian invasion of Crimea, the response by the current government to the violation of international law in the case of Hong Kong is not remotely comparable. That is why the Liberals do not want to have these conversations.
Why did the Liberals, along with their allies in the NDP, refuse to allow the committee to do its work to stand up for human rights?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 18:40 [p.2394]
Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak for the New Democratic Party. Nor can I speak for the Green Party member who I understand also voted not to proceed, as the member has suggested.
What I can say is that the Liberal members have been very strong advocates for human rights. We have been very strong. We have not been selective, but the Conservatives choose to be selective. We recognize many injustices take place all over the world. Even at a time when Canadians have been dealing with the situation of coronavirus and this government has been focused on helping them, that issue and other human rights violations have not been lost to us.
We have a caucus that is diverse, caring and wanting to ensure that the values we have in Canada are shared among the world, and we will continue to advocate for that.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, I speak as the member of Parliament for the riding for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, home to Garrison Petawawa, training ground of the warriors, Canada's largest army base.
I am honoured to rise in this place on behalf of the women and men who serve in uniform in the Canadian Armed Forces. I appreciate the trust I have earned from our women and men in the forces. They know whenever I rise in this place to question the government, I have their backs.
During question period on March 9, two days before the pandemic was declared, I asked the Minister of National Defence when the military hospital at Garrison Petawawa would finally be operational. Canadians were disappointed to hear the minister of defence refuse to own up to the most recent $247 million cut from military infrastructure funding by the Prime Minister. In the case of health services, the health and safety of our troops is at risk at the worst possible time.
Again, what is the minister doing about the unfinished military hospital at a time when we need it most?
I am pleased to recognize the nearly 1,700 soldiers, including those from 1 Canadian Field Hospital stationed at Garrison Petawawa, who are deployed on Operation Laser. To meet the unprecedented challenge caused by the pandemic, members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been supporting a request from civilian authorities in Quebec since April 20 and Ontario since April 28. In Operation Laser, Canadian soldiers have been deployed to long-term care facilities to maintain staffing and help with infection control and infection prevention. They are at 25 long-term care facilities in Quebec and five homes in Ontario. Those numbers of deployed soldiers fluctuate as circumstances dictate.
Canadians expect our soldiers to be equipped with the latest in protective gear, with the proper training and with what Canadians expect is medical-grade protective equipment. It would appear that training and equipment has not prevented 28 soldiers serving on the front line of the pandemic from contracting the respiratory illness. Our prayers are with each and every soldier to fully recover.
The women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces put their lives on the line to protect us every day. At the time I asked my question, before Canada was placed in lockdown, I warned the minister of defence our soldiers would be at a heightened risk of getting sick. I warned the Prime Minister.
Our soldiers need to know we have their backs with the proper resources, like a full operational hospital. In the case of the construction on the hospital in Garrison Petawawa, it must be behind by two years. The Prime Minister is such a big fan of China. China built two hospitals in less than two weeks.
Canadians have learned that 28 Canadian Armed Forces members have tested positive for the coronavirus after being deployed to long-term care homes, with 12 positives in Ontario and 16 in Quebec. That is a jump in soldiers testing positive for the virus from five last week to 28 this week. How many more years will it take the Liberal government to build just one hospital?
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2020-05-25 18:46 [p.2395]
Mr. Speaker, in times of crisis, the Canadian Armed Forces has always been there for Canadians. At this time, Canadians and members of the forces are mourning the tragic losses from the Cyclone helicopter and Snowbirds accidents. While these losses are painful, those who serve are continuing to step up for Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our government continues to make the necessary investments to ensure that the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces are well supported.
We know that there is no greater risk to Canadians right now than COVID-19.
Our medical personnel were critical in repatriating about 650 Canadians from China and Japan when COVID-19 first began to spread.
The health and protection of all Canadians are the top priorities of the Canadian Armed Forces during this pandemic. That is why the Canadian Rangers are supporting the First Nations community health authorities and providing their help to vulnerable populations in indigenous communities, remote communities and northern communities from coast to coast to coast.
The Canadian Armed Forces is also assisting the Public Health Agency of Canada with warehouse management of personal protective equipment and with contact tracing. Through the Canadian Armed Forces' response to COVID-19 called Operation Laser, we have deployed over 1,600 members to support long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario. As of May 24, 36 military personnel who were providing support in facilities in Quebec and Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19. They are putting their lives on the line. Because of that, the chief of the defence staff has stated, “To recognize this uniquely hazardous environment...I have tasked my staff to pursue Hazard Allowance for those directly engaged inside the facilities.”
I want to assure my colleagues that prior to going in, all Canadian Armed Forces personnel have been trained in assisting long-term care residents and have been provided with personal protective equipment. Conditions at these facilities and others across the country are constantly being monitored.
That said, we also have to make sure that the women and men who serve and who are protecting us and our most vulnerable have the necessary critical health infrastructure to support them. This includes investments to modernize existing military infrastructure and to build new health care facilities at bases and wings across the country. That is why we continue to advance the construction of the health services centre at CFB Petawawa. While the project has faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to the completion of this centre in September.
What is more, we are still on track to start building a new military family resource centre at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in order to support our soldiers and their families.
In addition to the ongoing work at CFB Petawawa, we have also completed jetty upgrades. We have a new armoury at the Saint-Hubert Garrison, a sports centre at the Saint-Jean Garrison, and we continue to modernize existing infrastructure. These investments help to ensure that the men and women in uniform have access to safe and modern facilities in which to work, train, live and receive care.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, the health of the Canadian Armed Forces is a matter of national security. When will the government start to realize that Canadians cannot wait until 2037, until the end of the 20-year time frame set by the government, to properly fund our armed forces?
That includes funds to complete the hospital at Garrison Petawawa, started by our Conservative government. In January, the Liberals said it would be open in June. Now they are saying September, and it is already two years behind as of January. This hospital needs to get open. Why will the Liberals not do what is necessary to make it operational?
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2020-05-25 18:51 [p.2395]
Mr. Speaker, we continue to ensure that military members are supported, both physically and mentally, and have access to safe and modern health care facilities. Our government continues to build new health care facilities at bases and wings all across the country, including at CFB Petawawa.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also taking new, unprecedented measures to protect our members.
Members who are supporting essential operations have made social distancing and sanitization part of their routine, while non-essential tasks are paused.
We have also interrupted certain training and other exercises and moved personnel both at home and abroad to ensure their ongoing safety.
Throughout this period, we have maintained health care services for our brave men and women in uniform. This includes mental health support services and maintaining operations for all 37 primary health care clinics for Canadian Armed Forces members.
View Steven Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure those listening to us that we have one of the toughest and most effective firearms registration systems in the world. It includes two specific measures.
For instance, when people want to acquire a firearm in this country, they must follow mandatory training to possess what is called a non-restricted firearm. If they want to acquire a handgun or a more sophisticated gun, they have to take additional training. I should know, because this measure was introduced in 2014 by the Conservative government of the day, and I was the minister of public safety at the time.
We have a registration system that is simple and safe, complete with many guidelines and procedures. It would take too long to explain it all this evening, as the training takes several hours. What I can tell Canadians, however, is that people who own legal firearms in Canada have a lot of rules they must obey. Before taking that training myself, I was a total neophyte. I was very surprised to learn how law-abiding gun owners are. They know that a firearm must be used very carefully. These are often people who enjoy hunting or sport shooting, the two main categories of gun enthusiasts.
As I was saying, the system is very simple. There are unrestricted weapons, restricted weapons and prohibited weapons. For the average Canadian, prohibited weapons are automatic weapons, or machine guns. These machine guns include what are known as military assault-type weapons, which have been prohibited in this country since 1979. Canadians can rest assured that in the legal firearms world, automatic weapons and military assault-type weapons are prohibited. No one can own one, in any way, shape or form.
This is what led the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, a credible public safety agency, to declare that Canada has adequate laws and that it is perfectly legitimate to own firearms. Furthermore, the former commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Chris Lewis, who can be seen on English TV and who is an analyst on CTV, said that instead of targeting law-abiding gun owners, the government should deal effectively with the criminals who do not obey our existing laws.
I mentioned two police organizations during my four-minute speech because the current Liberal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is a former top cop. That makes me wonder why he did not heed the advice of his fellow officers.
Last week, he randomly and arbitrarily classified 1,600 firearms based on purely subjective criteria. One of my colleagues put it this way: Adding a skirt and spoiler combo to a Honda Civic does not make it a Formula 1 car. That is kind of what the minister is trying to do. He is using aesthetic and subjective criteria to classify firearms, and that is penalizing hundreds of thousands of honest citizens. He says he plans to buy back those firearms, which could cost a fortune and penalize what is clearly a highly legitimate industry, the recreation and tourism industry.
Why is the government not heeding the police's advice to go after illegal weapons, criminals and street gangs? Why is it going after scrupulously law-abiding people who are even more safety-oriented than the general population?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 18:56 [p.2396]
Mr. Speaker, the issue of firearms has been hotly debated for many years in the House of Commons. In the early nineties I was a member of the Manitoba legislative assembly, and Ottawa was debating the issue of firearms. The Conservative approach is to talk about law-abiding firearms owners. If the Government of Canada, or Liberals, New Democrats, Green Party and possibly the Bloc, propose anything that deals with any form of controls or red flags, Conservatives say the government is attacking those law-abiding firearms owners. It is unfortunate.
I have had many discussions over the years with individuals who are law-abiding firearms owners. I do not believe that what the government is advocating is irresponsible in any fashion. We have demonstrated a willingness to work with other jurisdictions, particularly municipalities. We are having discussions at different levels of government, listening to the different stakeholders and, for a majority of the political entities inside the House of Commons, we are moving forward on a very important issue.
The Conservative Party seems to want to take a hard-right approach by saying any change is bad. I was pleased when the member made reference to the fact that, while he was a minister, the Conservatives brought in some legislation. That is something that Conservative MPs do not talk about very much. I was pleased that the member made reference to the legislation, because those mandatory training programs are critically important. A good number of law-abiding firearms owners support having progressive actions taken on the issue of firearms.
I spoke with a law enforcement officer, and he talked about toy guns. Some toy guns that look like assault-type weapons have an orange cap identifying them as toys. The officer said it would be possible to spray paint these caps black and have them look very convincing.
The actions the government is taking are not on a whim. They are working and listening to what Canadians want the government to do. They want to see some action on this important file. It is about safety. It is about making our communities a better place. It is about working with others.
I would invite the Conservative Party to get on board and be part of the broader coalition that is looking to make our communities better places while still respecting law-abiding firearms owners.
View Steven Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague that we should make our communities safer. That was our slogan in 2006.
I agree with him that firearms owners, whether they are sport shooters or hunters, are law-abiding citizens.
Why go after and harass them with costly and ineffective measures instead of examining the real problem of street gangs?
When will the government put in place measures to deal with street gangs and illegal firearms?
We will support the government. We even have proposals, such as strengthening the capacity of the CBSA at the border, putting in place a better information exchange system for police services and establishing harsher sentences for the possession of illegal firearms. We have proposals, but the Liberals' actions are designed to pander to the ill-informed for purely electoral and partisan reasons. They are intent on making hunters second-class citizens.
We will be there to represent and defend them.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 19:01 [p.2397]
Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. Our government recognizes that the vast majority of firearm owners are conscientious and law-abiding, and we have tremendous respect for them. However, when guns get into the hands of criminals with violent intent, the results can be tragic.
We also intend to take further action to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands by strengthening safe storage laws and continuing to build a national system that will allow for the monitoring of bulk firearm purchases. The issue of gun and gang violence is complex and consistently evolving. It requires collaboration in partnership with all levels of government, law enforcement and community groups to get to the root of the problem and intervening where we know it will make a difference.
That is why the government has made unprecedented investments to support prevention, gang exiting and outreach and awareness programming through initiatives to take action on gun and gang violence. We are investing $327.6 million to give police and prosecutors new resources and tools to fight gang-related violence and address gun smuggling.
I see the time is up, but I have appreciated, as always, the opportunity to say a few words.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-12 18:38 [p.2056]
Madam Speaker, I suspect if you were to canvass the House you would find unanimous consent to call it 6:53 p.m.
View Heather McPherson Profile
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-03-12 18:39 [p.2056]
Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to speak in the House. I am honoured to speak on behalf of my constituents in Edmonton Strathcona and on behalf of Albertans.
With each passing day, I ask myself if there is a future for my children in Alberta. For 60 years, Alberta has become gradually and increasingly dependent on a single resource sector, a single resource that has driven the economies of Alberta and Canada in times of boom, but also devastated families and communities in times of bust. It is Albertans who have always paid the price for this dependence. Now Albertans face more than just another devastating bust cycle. Albertans are facing economic collapse.
Forty years of Conservative leadership in Alberta dedicated to rip and ship has cost Albertans dearly. It has meant that the value gained from a single resource and the jobs created declined even as production grew. Now, with the global climate crisis threatening our very existence, the world no longer needs or wants this single resource, a resource that accounts for 30% of Alberta's economy today.
Last week, I asked the government what it was going to do to help ensure a future for Alberta. I noted that unemployment in Edmonton, where I live, is the highest in Canada. I asked for investment in Alberta to create jobs now and investment to help diversify our economy for the future. I asked for our government to stop misleading Albertans, to stop telling us that there was going to be some sort of renewal of oil and gas and that it was coming back to $95 a barrel. I asked why the government is failing on diversification and failing to support Alberta workers. The Prime Minister responded, saying, “That is why we have worked to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion”. This is not good enough. Albertans desperately need this government to work with us to diversify our economy.
Last week Canadian crude was $47 a barrel. Today it was worth less than $20 a barrel. At the moment, it is $17.58. Last week Alberta was in the midst of an economic crisis. This week we are facing economic collapse. However, we do not have to. We can build a better future for Alberta if this government decides to take action.
My riding of Edmonton Strathcona is home to The King's University, the south campus of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and the University of Alberta. There are amazing researchers, inventors and innovators from academia and industry. Since my election, I have been privileged to hear a steady stream of ready-to-implement ideas to lower our greenhouse gas emissions and build our economy. In fact, I am convinced that we have the answers we need to address climate change and diversify our economy if we have the means to implement them.
Translation of research and development into commercialization and practice has always been a challenge for science and innovation. Every great idea or advancement requires funding to come to realization. Some projects, like advanced carbon sequestration practices, do not have access to venture capital because they do not have commercial outcomes. Others, like sulphur removal technologies, may have future commercial appeal but require funding for prototype development now.
Funding for these new ideas is one way to support Alberta. The Liberal government could help Alberta right now by creating an Alberta infrastructure bank for energy and other diversification projects and by targeting investment for—
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 18:43 [p.2057]
Madam Speaker, before I begin, I want to acknowledge that the question the member put forward for the adjournment debate was related to international development. I know she is also the shadow minister for international development and I would love to provide her with feedback in terms of what our government is doing for international development.
We are currently providing more than $6 billion in international assistance over the year to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable around the world. To achieve our sustainable development goals, we committed an additional $2 billion over five years, starting in 2018-19, and in budget 2019 we announced an additional $700 million in 2023-24. These announcements represent the largest increase to Canadian aid since 2002.
However, our international assistance efforts go beyond dollars and cents. They are also measured by our leadership on international issues and our commitment to innovation. For example, through our assistance, we supported 2.9 million women and girls in gaining better access to sexual and reproductive health services, including modern methods of contraception. As an active member of the UN, we have a strong record on contributing innovative ideas and offering our global connections and expertise to address the world's most difficult peace and security challenges.
We currently chair the Peacebuilding Commission and are fostering cutting-edge work through the Elsie initiative on peacekeeping. We want to build on these and other efforts in securing a rotating seat on the UN Security Council in 2021-22, not as an end in itself but as a means to advance our foreign policy priorities and contribute to a peaceful, inclusive and sustainable world.
Ultimately, we want our international assistance to go farther and reach more people. We have new tools in place to attract more resources for sustainable development. We are building new partnerships, including with the private sector, and adopting more flexible and innovative approaches. The June 2019 announcement by our government will make sure that the equality fund, a partnership among government, philanthropists, the private sector and civil society, will create a sustainable source of funding for women's organizations and movements in developing countries.
We are confident that Canada is making and can continue to make a significant and positive difference on the world stage.
View Heather McPherson Profile
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-03-12 18:46 [p.2057]
Madam Speaker, I am always happy to talk about our development efforts. Today's question was on the diversification of the economy for Alberta, but I would like to quickly point out that our official development assistance is at the lowest it has ever been and that there is much work we could do. Similar to what we see in Alberta, we have a government that is certainly speaking about the right things, with the feminist international assistance policy, and in terms of supporting Alberta, but is not actually doing the work we need to have it do.
There are things we could do in Alberta right now to help Alberta workers and I would encourage the government to move on that as soon as possible.
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 18:47 [p.2057]
Madam Speaker, we are doing incredible work when it comes to foreign affairs on the national front, as well as the international front. I am extremely proud of the feminist international assistance policy that is helping the most vulnerable and the poorest individuals around the world. We will continue to foster sustainable development, work to reduce poverty, promote peace and security around the world and provide humanitarian assistance during crises to protect some of the most vulnerable people.
I know the member opposite has extensive experience in international development and I look forward to working with her and making that a reality.
View Martin Shields Profile
View Martin Shields Profile
2020-03-12 18:47 [p.2057]
Madam Speaker, it is great to be here tonight to speak on a very critical topic.
In 2017, Health Canada proposed changes to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board regulations. These changes introduced new factors to determine whether a medicine is being sold at an excessive price. Since these changes were proposed, rare disease patients have been warning there will be a problem. The new PMPRB regulations require drug manufacturers to lower the prices by a lot. By some estimates, price cuts of 45% to 75% will be required.
That sounds great, but the reality is that it makes our country a much less attractive market and hurts patients, particularly those with rare diseases. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
From November 1, 2019, to February 29, 2020, Health Canada registration for new clinical trials dropped by 60% below the average of the four preceding years. There has also been a two-thirds drop in drugs approved before approval in the United States or approved within a year of approval there. The rate is now 15% of drugs.
We are dangerously falling behind because of the chill these proposed changes have caused. This is having a real-world consequence.
In my riding, I have constituents suffering from rare disorders like cystic fibrosis. No, they cannot get a doctor to get a special certificate, because they are not available. That does not work. The Liberals say it constantly.
Cystic fibrosis patients desperately need approval of the new drug called Trikafta. It could help 90% of people with cystic fibrosis. It was fast-tracked for approval in the United States and the U.K. It is available in the U.S. and many other countries, but in Canada, patients have no access.
The manufacturer, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, says its concern about proposed changes to Canada's regulations for patented medicines is the reason the product has not been launched in Canada. When the Liberals say it has not applied, there is a reason it has not applied. It is because of the regulations. It cannot drop its prices by as much as the PMPRB changes would require. Like many other pharmaceutical companies, it will not even bother applying to Health Canada under these new rules. Who suffers? It is patients with rare diseases like cystic fibrosis.
This is not about pharmaceutical companies; it is about patients who are suffering and need the drugs. They need their government to deliver for them.
Now we have the coronavirus. There is no drug for it. What are we doing? We are doing all sorts of things in the world economy. The Liberal government gave $50 million to the UN to help with it, but how would $50 million have helped the patients who have cystic fibrosis? We know 90% of them would be helped by this drug, but the Liberals gave $50 million to the UN.
Patients understand that companies should bring drugs to market at a reasonable price, but they also need the government to make sure the regulatory environment does not prevent them from getting access to life-saving drugs.
Cystic fibrosis patients do not have time to wait for the government to sort this mess out. They need action now to get this drug. The government needs to stop the proposed changes at the PMPRB and find a better way to get new drugs into the hands of patients. They need them now.
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 18:51 [p.2058]
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak about this extremely important topic of access to therapies for rare diseases.
I would like to reassure the member and the House that our government recognizes the importance of providing access to medications for patients with serious conditions and few treatment options. The lack of timely access to therapies and the high cost of treatment are barriers often faced by individuals living with rare diseases.
Health Canada's initiative to expand priority review processes for drug submissions is decreasing the review time for health products, including drugs for rare diseases, which in turn allows these medications to become accessible to Canadians faster.
The department is also working to align its regulatory review process with partners such as the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health to reduce the time between approval of a drug and the reimbursement recommendations.
The drug authorization process is initiated when a manufacturer files a submission to Health Canada for review. While Health Canada encourages manufacturers of new drugs to seek authorization for sale in Canada, it is the company's decision whether to apply to market their product in Canada.
Additionally, we recognize that for many Canadians who require prescription drugs to treat rare diseases, the cost of these medications can be extremely high. This is why our government will continue to work with the provinces, territories and other key partners to develop a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases.
Budget 2019 proposed to invest up to $1 billion over two years, with up to $500 million per year ongoing, to help Canadians with rare diseases access the drugs they need.
To ensure that Canadians have access to safe, effective and high-quality medications, Health Canada conducts a thorough review of every drug for the Canadian market. This thorough review ensures that Canadians are being offered the best possible medications.
However, we also know that every patient will have their own response to a given medication, and that is why there is the special access program that allows access to unauthorized drugs for patients with serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions, under specific circumstances. SAP is available around the clock to respond to physician requests, and delivers a 24-hour service, 365 days a year.
There are situations where Health Canada is unable to authorize a drug available in another country because the manufacturer has not yet applied to market their drug in Canada. An example of this is the drug Trikafta, which my colleague talked about, and which is a breakthrough therapy used for cystic fibrosis. Although Health Canada has not received a new drug submission for this particular drug, there have been 14 requests for this drug through SAP.
We are absolutely committed to working with all our partners, including the provinces and territories, to reduce barriers to treatments for Canadians living with rare diseases. This important work includes improving access to necessary prescription medications and making them more affordable for every Canadian.
View Martin Shields Profile
View Martin Shields Profile
2020-03-12 18:54 [p.2059]
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the information, but that is just not how it is working.
It is not working because companies will not apply. They are not going to apply to Canada because of those proposed regulations. That is why the numbers of companies applying has gone down 60%. Companies are not going to bring it here.
The problem is the member can say it is going faster, but it is not, because the companies have not applied.
We have people dying when 90% of cystic fibrosis people could survive. The cost to our health care system is phenomenal. These people are going to ERs because of their medical conditions. It is a huge cost. They could have a life, and 90% of the cases for CF patients could be resolved from this particular drug.
We need this done now.
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 18:55 [p.2059]
Madam Speaker, as a registered nurse, having worked in the community as well as in hospitals, and having met with individuals with rare diseases, I can say that I understand what the member is talking about. There are significant challenges for patients with rare diseases in our country.
Under the Food and Drugs Act and regulations, all products sold or marketed in Canada that make a therapeutic claim need to be approved by Health Canada. The drug authorization process is initiated when a manufacturer files a submission to Health Canada for review. The drug company that the member talked about has not submitted this drug.
To improve the access of effective treatments to Canadians, we will work with the provinces, territories and other key partners to develop a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-03-12 18:56 [p.2059]
Madam Speaker, we all know that winter is not pleasant for Canadians. However, in the midst of this bleak winter for the Canadian economy, there was a good day that brought good news. On February 4, the Court of Appeal handed down a ruling in favour of Trans Mountain. We can now move forward, as there was no appeal. In short, it is working. This is good news because the Trans Mountain project is good for Canada's economy and its natural resources.
Unfortunately, the government nationalized the project. It took $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money to purchase a project that was not for sale. It decided to buy it and send the money to the United States. Unfortunately, the price keeps going up. We are talking about another $7 billion, and taxpayers will be the ones footing the bill.
Even so, it is a good project that has the support of all directly affected first nations. Better still, it will contribute $20 billion to Canadian, provincial and municipal coffers. That is why I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage what he planned to do with the billions of dollars he will be able to spend as heritage minister, keeping in mind that he frequently spoke out against Trans Mountain in his past life.
Unfortunately, that is the only good news we have received since this government took office. Since the Liberals have been in power, 200,000 Canadian jobs have been lost in the energy sector, seven major projects have been cancelled, and $150 billion in potential investment has evaporated. That is this government's record.
It does not end there. Last week, a private investor withdrew funding from Quebec's Énergie Saguenay project, a pipeline that would bring liquefied natural gas from the west to Quebec. That private investor is not just anybody. It is the one and only Warren Buffett. He did it because he rightly feels that the current government has done everything in its power to discourage investment in natural resources.
Canada is closed for business.
That is unfortunate. Speaking of Quebec, it is important to remember that 50,000 people in Quebec work in the petrochemical industry. People in Quebec are said to be against the pipeline. Quebec has 2,000 kilometres of pipeline. Nine pipelines pass under the St. Lawrence River. In 2012, we built a pipeline that goes from Lévis to Montreal through 630 different areas, covering 248 kilometres and crossing 26 waterways, including the St. Lawrence River. It works so well that no one knows or talks about it. That is what happens when things are done right, and that is how Trans Mountain is going to do things.
What bothers me when we talk about energy in Quebec is the fact that Quebec bought 10.6 billion litres of oil. It does not bother me that we bought the oil, because we need it. What bothers me is that 62% of that oil comes from the United States. Why send billions of dollars to Donald Trump when we could keep that money here in Canada? That is why people in Quebec are in favour of developing natural resources, if it is done correctly. Yes, Quebeckers, like all Canadians, would rather buy Canadian oil than foreign oil. What is happening right now in Quebec is that the Liberals and their Bloc Québécois friends are against these development projects. They would rather let Donald Trump lead them by the nose than help the Canadian economy.
What will the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who was against the Trans Mountain project, do with the billions of dollars in tax revenue that this project will bring in for the governments?
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 19:00 [p.2060]
Madam Speaker, it is a core responsibility of the federal government to help get Canada's natural resources to market and support good middle-class jobs. We know this is only possible when we earn the public's trust and work toward addressing environmental, indigenous peoples' and local concerns.
The Trans Mountain expansion project is part of that. It is a critical project for Canada that is creating thousands of good, well-paying jobs. It will boost the price of valuable Canadian resources by unlocking new global markets, generate revenue to help fund clean energy and climate solutions and help advance reconciliation with indigenous people, including through economic opportunities. That is why we have done the hard work necessary to ensure that this project moves forward in the right way, every step of the way.
Construction is under way. Pipe is in the ground. Work is under way at the terminals in Edmonton and Kamloops. More than 2,900 hard-working Canadians are currently making this project a reality. The Federal Court of Appeal ruling was a positive one, especially for our energy workers.
These are not the only reasons this project is a positive one. We have always said that the economy and the environment not only can, but must, go hand in hand. We remain committed to that principle with this project. We will invest the revenues from the TMX project in climate and clean energy solutions.
Let me address a few of the investments our government has already made in energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy projects: more than $2.3 billion in clean technology, over $1 billion of new funding committed for energy efficiency through budget 2019, a coast-to-coast network of fast chargers for electric vehicles and new chargers at street level and apartment building retail outlets and workplaces.
We know the TMX project will support more of these investments and create significant economic benefits for the country. In fact, the Department of Finance estimates that additional federal corporate income tax revenues could be around $500 million per year once the project is completed. Every dollar we earn from this project will be reinvested in clean energy projects that will power our homes, businesses and communities for years to come.
We did the hard work necessary to get this project right because it is good for Canada and will advance our investments in clean energy.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-03-12 19:03 [p.2060]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the passion she has for this project. Unfortunately, this is only for one project. Because the government lacked leadership, we lost seven big projects. We lost $150 billion of investment because the government is closed for business in developing our natural resources.
The question was for the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who has an very colourful past. I have a lot of respect for him. He is very involved in environmental issues and said all kinds of bad things about Trans Mountain. Now, he is acting as though nothing happened.
We are asking the government why it took $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money to buy a project that was not for sale and that will now cost an additional $7 billion.
Before the government can invest one cent in the environment, it will have to spend tens of billions. How is that good management of public funds?
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 19:04 [p.2060]
Madam Speaker, I assure the hon. member that I am extremely proud of our government, our Minister of Canadian Heritage and all cabinet members for the work they do in ensuring that we not only grow our economy but do it in a way that protects the environment.
We have a steadfast commitment to moving forward in the right way, every step of the way, on TMX, because we know how important it is to every Canadian. We believe that the success of this project and other projects will demonstrate that Canada can create the prosperity we all want and protect the environment we all cherish.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 18:30 [p.1968]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today as a follow-up to my question on funding for a national framework for mental health. I would like to start today by sharing how mental health has impacted my journey here.
I began my career as an educator. One day, a 14-year-old student got into some trouble in class and was sent down to see me. As we talked, it became clear there was a lot going on. I was aware of some social struggles in the friend group and I knew a bit of family history.
Suddenly and unforgettably, this student for whom I cared deeply, said the words, “I do not want to live anymore.” The student had the means and the motivation to escape this painful experience. The weight of the suffering hung thick in the air. I did what any human would do under the circumstances. I did my best to stumble through the rest of the conversation with empathy, but I recognized very acutely that my colleagues and I were not equipped to navigate the complexities of these conversations with the youth who trusted us the most. I would spend many hours and resources finding the tools to tackle this crisis, and I wish many other Canadians would also have that opportunity.
I am acutely aware of the pain of suicide, as many of us are. We have all lost someone. a cousin, the child of a teammate, a co-worker, a friend, a grandmother. Research shows that approximately 90% of people who die by suicide suffer from mental illness or addiction. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24. Rates of suicide are three times higher for members of first nations communities than they are for non-indigenous people. Risk factors are directly linked to socio-economic characteristics, including household income, employment status, level of education and family support.
I have shared a story. I have shared the data. I would now like to look to the solution.
Canadian provinces and territories need financial support from the federal government to ensure they can address the mental health crisis impacting families and communities across the nation.
We need to invest in training for professionals across sectors, educators and everyday Canadians to access resources and learning opportunities to support those suffering from mental illness.
We need to invest in a timely diagnosis process. Service providers and families need access to early diagnosis to ensure early intervention.
We need to invest in a national pharmacare system. Canadians should never have the financial anxiety of needing to choose between buying groceries or life-saving medications.
We need to invest in support for sexual assault survivors. This is a massive missing link in this conversation.
We need to invest in support for elders, like intergenerational housing, to avoid isolation and loneliness.
That is why on February 26, I asked the Minister of Finance if the budget would include funding for a national framework on mental health so the provinces and territories could work together to find solutions to address this crisis. I look forward to hearing the response from the hon. member as to how we might come together to restore hope for Canadians across the country.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:33 [p.1969]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member first and foremost for sharing her story and for providing the House with this opportunity to speak about mental health.
According to Statistics Canada, one in three Canadians will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime. Mental health is influenced by a number of factors, including life experience and social and economic conditions. Our government recognizes the need for a comprehensive approach to mental health, one that embraces promotion and prevention alongside treatment and recovery.
For this reason, we have worked with our partners and stakeholders to put in place community-based programs and initiatives that promote mental health and contribute to the prevention of mental illness.
Our government is also committed to increasing the availability of high-quality mental health services for all Canadians. Through budget 2017, we provided provinces and territories with $5 billion over 10 years to improve access to mental health and addiction services. These targeted investments will address specific gaps in the availability of mental health services, including those for children and youth.
Allow me to illustrate, through concrete examples, how these investments are expected to directly help Canadians suffering from mental illness.
With this funding, in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador we will add new community crisis houses to provide a safe place for people experiencing a mental health crisis. Several models will be explored for these beds, based on the emerging needs of each of the province's regional health authorities.
Quebec will improve accommodation and community retention services to provide psychiatric hospitalizations and reduce psychiatric ward stays.
The Northwest Territories will contract an itinerant private counselling team that will provide surge capacity assistance to individuals struggling with mental illness through timely crisis supports when local resources are either unavailable or overwhelmed.
Saskatchewan will establish residential options that include intensive supports for individuals with serious and persistent mental health issues.
With federal funds, Ontario has committed to develop and provide new services in supportive units, such as daily living supports and case management for those living with mental illness, those with addictions, and those who are at risk of becoming homeless.
In Ontario, as well as in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, federal investments will also support other initiatives that integrate mental health and addictions services into supportive housing programs, justice services, and education settings, all of which will have a particular focus on youth.
To provide support for those struggling with suicidal thoughts, our government is also investing close to $3 million over five years to support the development of the Canada suicide prevention service through Crisis Services Canada. This service connects people in Canada to confidential 24/7 crisis support and resources through trained responders.
Finally, to promote child and youth mental health, our government is also investing $1.1 million in 2019-20, $4.7 million in 2020-21 and $4.9 million from 2021-22 and onwards through the mental health promotion innovation fund. The fund will support the development of new and promising interventions that aim to address the underlying determinants of mental health in children and young people throughout Canada.
To sum up, mental health is a priority for the federal government, and we will continue to work with all our partners to make improvements in this area.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 18:37 [p.1970]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that really wonderful response. There are lots of great initiatives taking place in Canada. I feel we have come a very long way.
I do want to highlight that there are still some missing pieces. Mental health has long been recognized as a fundamental aspect of one's health; however, under our current health regime, the majority of mental health services do not meet the eligibility requirement of “medically necessary”.
I feel we need to have another look at this, and that is why I am asking for a national legislation framework. There is a patchwork of provincial and regional initiatives, but I feel we need a more unified approach. I am thinking of a story of a constituent who is searching for their son across provincial lines and is having a lot of difficulty because there is not a lot of collaboration and communication that occurs.
I am asking for a national strategy to be looked at and funded by the government.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:38 [p.1970]
Madam Speaker, I know my hon. colleague is passionate about this issue and I encourage her to reach out and work with all the departments.
I am sure the member knows that the provinces determine where most of the federal money given to them goes. That is why we were so adamant in earmarking that money for mental health initiatives.
We are committed to a comprehensive approach to mental health, one that embraces promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery. We are investing in a range of culturally appropriate mental health initiatives and programs that take into account social, economic and environmental factors, such as income, housing and education. We are also working with our provincial and territorial partners to improve access to mental health services for Canadians.
As mentioned, through our commitment of $5 billion over 10 years in budget 2017, investments have been made in appropriate and cost-effective mental health services for Canadians. We will ensure that the provinces continue to do so.
The challenge of addressing mental health issues requires the combined efforts of all levels of government and many stakeholders, as well as all members in this House.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 18:39 [p.1970]
Madam Speaker, Retirement Concepts runs 23 long-term care facilities for seniors in Canada. Nineteen are in B.C. and seven are on Vancouver Island. Retirement Concepts provides independent living, assisted living and complex care for seniors.
In 2017, the government approved the sale of Retirement Concepts to the Chinese corporation Anbang Insurance. The following year, Anbang's CEO was convicted of corruption, and the company was taken over by the Chinese state.
The conditions at Retirement Concepts' Nanaimo Seniors Village in my riding were atrocious. The home was understaffed and provided substandard care. Seniors went for weeks without receiving a bath. They were left in soiled clothes and soiled beds. Bedsores and other related health consequences of neglect were common.
After numerous complaints by residents and their families, the Vancouver Island Health Authority took over Nanaimo Seniors Village and two other Retirement Concepts care facilities on Vancouver Island. Last month, another facility, in Summerland, had to be taken over as well.
Under the Investment Canada Act, Anbang had an obligation to maintain staffing levels. The federal government made assurances to the provinces that patient care would be protected. The B.C. Seniors Advocate has stated that she did not understand how the federal government could make such an assurance. The reporting and transparency required to make that promise do not exist. The federal government should not be permitting foreign ownership of businesses that provide taxpayer-funded health care services. When seniors are hospitalized as a result of neglect and substandard care, we all carry the cost. Our seniors deserve better than for-profit care run by foreign corporations that lack accountability.
Recent analysis by the B.C. Office of the Seniors Advocate found that the not-for-profit sector spends 59% of its revenue on direct care. That is 24% more per resident per year than the for-profit sector. The for-profit sector failed to deliver 207,000 hours of funded care. The not-for-profit sector provided 80,000 more hours of direct care than it was paid to deliver. Wages for care workers in the for-profit sector were 28% less than the industry standard. Nanaimo Seniors Village had a hard time attracting workers, with an average wage of $18 per hour, rather than the industry standard of $24 an hour.
There is a waiting list for every government-funded care bed. There is no competition to provide these services, no free market. These beds will be filled, whether or not a facility is properly staffed and delivering appropriate care. That revenue stream is guaranteed.
The abuses that have resulted from this situation are horrifying. We have failed to protect our seniors. We must remove the financial incentive to provide substandard seniors care. Corporations cannot be permitted to squeeze profit out of the health care system through vague accounting, paying below-average wages and neglecting vulnerable seniors. That is unacceptable.
The operation of seniors long-term care facilities is under the jurisdiction of the provinces, but the government must be actively involved in creating a solution to these problems. The government needs to mandate national standards to ensure the safety and dignity of Canadian seniors. Going forward, the government should not permit foreign ownership of businesses that provide taxpayer-funded health care services.
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2020-03-11 18:43 [p.1971]
Madam Speaker, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond to the comments made by my hon. colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith regarding the acquisition of Retirement Concepts by Cedar Tree in 2017.
Let me begin by saying that the safety and well-being of our seniors is of paramount concern to our government. We also recognize that global investment can benefit Canadians and the Canadian economy. Investment flows into this country are important, and Canada has a robust framework in place to promote trade and investment.
The Investment Canada Act is one part of that robust framework and is the primary mechanism for reviewing foreign investments in Canada. Acquisitions of Canadian businesses are subject to a net benefit review. Consequently, they are carefully considered in light of factors set out in the act, and it is only after that act has been consulted that approval is forthcoming. Of course the determination has to be made that the acquisition is of overall economic benefit to our country.
In the course of the review of this specific investment, the minister considered submissions from a number of health care advocacy groups, associations and professionals. The minister also considered submissions from academics and individual Canadians. These parties raised important policy issues regarding the quality and availability of care for seniors in Canada.
The minister also consulted with the relevant provincial regulators of senior care facilities, such as the Government of British Columbia, which further informed the review and the ultimate decision.
I wish to emphasize that existing provincial regulations set out licensing obligations and standards of care for all operators of residential care and assisted living facilities, regardless of ultimate ownership. Retirement Concepts continues to be required to meet or exceed these requirements, and it is also required to work with the Government of British Columbia to remedy any concerns.
Additionally, through the Investment Canada Act review, legally binding commitments were put in place. Federal officials consult their provincial counterparts to actively monitor compliance with the Investment Canada Act.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 18:46 [p.1971]
Madam Speaker, now that the Chinese state has created a new corporate entity called Dajia, which owns Retirement Concepts, it is time for the federal government to review the original purchase and rescind the agreement.
The Canadian seniors of today are the workers and business owners of yesterday. They worked hard, paid their taxes and contributed to building what they believed to be retirement security. They are also our parents and grandparents. We owe them dignity and care in their final years. No one in a care facility in Canada should be left in a soiled bed for hours until he or she gets a septic wound. No one in a care facility in Canada should be left without a bath for weeks on end.
We should not have allowed this critical health care service to be sold to the highest foreign bidder. This crisis must be fixed.
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2020-03-11 18:47 [p.1971]
Madam Speaker, Retirement Concepts, as the operator, continues to work with the Government of British Columbia to remedy any and all concerns. However, I feel it is fitting that I close by recognizing the first Canadian death from COVID-19: a resident of a British Columbia residential care facility. We extend our deepest condolences.
Our absolute priority will always remain the health and safety of Canadians. The federal government will continue to provide leadership and partnership with the provinces, territories and all Canadians.
View Eric Duncan Profile
Madam Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to speak during adjournment proceedings tonight.
I will speak to the first two questions I was able to ask in the House of Commons as a member of Parliament. They pertain not only to my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry and its rural municipalities and rural projects, but to every corner of this country, whether it is a small, rural municipality, of which I have several in my riding; the city of Cornwall, a mid-sized Ontario urban community; downtown Toronto, Ontario; or the west or east coast.
I have had two opportunities to ask questions about the delays we have seen in getting infrastructure funding out the door. The announcement that dollars are there is one thing, but giving the okay to municipalities so that shovels can get in the ground is something we have not seen quickly, which has been very concerning.
This issue is a bit of a passion of mine. Before I came to the House, I served at the municipal level as a mayor in the township of North Dundas and a warden of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry for 12 years. I am a self-professed technocrat when it comes to this subject.
I requested the time tonight not just to complain about these delays. As I committed in my maiden speech and in my community, I will not just complain about things, but rather offer some solutions or feedback to my colleagues in the House.
I will remind members of my question on a specific project, which is just as an example of hundreds across Ontario and, I am sure, in other provinces and in rural communities across the country. The example I used is the Morrisburg streetscape project. Last May, the Municipality of South Dundas and many counties came together and applied to the investing in Canada infrastructure program through the stream of the rural and northern lens.
Most relationships that have been done by Conservative and Liberal governments over the years have been one-third federal, one-third provincial and one-third municipal. Municipalities put their projects forward and commit one-third. Last summer, in July, many projects, including the Morrisburg streetscape project, got the okay from the provincial government and they were given their one-third.
I had a concern as an outsider at that point, as I was not a member of the House, when we were coming into an election period: Will dollars get out the door before the election? Unfortunately that did not happen. My thinking at the time was was to give the benefit of the doubt, since the government cannot make announcements or okay projects during a writ period. I understand and respect that. However, one thing I have said as well is that bureaucrats are not off during an election. We are often out and about, just as ministers are, so bureaucrats here in Ottawa or across the country can prepare lists for approvals for our communities.
What could have happened? The first day the new minister was back in Ottawa, we could have signed off and had these projects. Unfortunately it is five months after the election and hundreds of applications are still outstanding, waiting to hear yea or nay on those projects.
These delays are frustrating. One of the reasons for that is municipalities have now done their 2020 budgets. They have allocated the money and are waiting to go, but they need an answer from the federal government on whether these projects can happen.
One of the other concerns I have is with the timeframe we have now. By the time we get approvals out and RFPs go out for tenders on these projects, costs are going up because it is later in the season.
I have two questions for the parliamentary secretary, whom I appreciate being here tonight to respond. Would she agree that these delays are excessive and unnecessary when it comes to approvals, when the other two levels of government have agreed? Does she agree that while it is one thing to announce funding, we need to get it out the door and give those dollars to get the shovels in the ground?
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:52 [p.1972]
Madam Speaker, first and foremost, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for his recent election and passionately representing his constituents in the House. I too am from a very large rural riding. I love to say the land-mass of my riding is bigger than Switzerland. I have 217 beautiful little communities. Therefore, the member should come and visit the west coast of Newfoundland at any time.
The Government of Canada believes in the importance of investing in infrastructure. We believe in the promise we made to Canadians to create good jobs, grow the economy and invest in resilient and sustainable communities.
The over 52,000 projects across the country that we have supported through the investing in Canada plan are tangible proof of how we are delivering on that promise. Over 4,800 of those are right here in Ontario.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk about how we review the projects submitted for funding approval and to highlight how the federal funding is available now for provincial, territorial and municipal priorities. We want all Canadians to see and feel the impacts of the investments.
Under the majority of Canada's infrastructure programs, once the projects are approved, partners can start their projects and spend immediately. The flow of federal funds occurs when the claims are submitted to the department for reimbursement. We want to ensure that the projects are reviewed and approved as quickly as possible. That is why we continue to work closely with our partners to explore how we can improve the timeliness of our flow of funds.
Through the investing in Canada infrastructure program, we are investing over $33 billion across the country through bilateral agreements with each and every province and territory. The program investments all aim to improve the quality of life of Canadians by investing in infrastructure through four funding streams: public transit; green; community, culture and recreational; and rural and northern communities' infrastructure.
Specifically, the rural and northern communities' stream of the program dedicates $2 billion to addressing the unique infrastructure needs of these really rural and remote communities. Our investments are increasing economic growth and creating jobs within the infrastructure that improves peoples' quality of life. The investments are benefiting rural and remote communities across the country, but before a project can begin, an application has to be submitted.
Under this program, it is then up to provinces and territories to identify the projects, prioritize the projects and submit those projects for approval. Each application is then assessed to determine whether it fits within the applicable funding stream or whether federal environmental assessment or indigenous consultations are required.
By working closely with our partners, we are aiming to get shovels in the ground faster to deliver real results for Canadian communities.
I understand the member's question about during the writ period. I too was impacted by that, and that is just the way things go. During the writ period, nothing happens. If it is a sitting member, it is considered a feather in his or her cap, so to speak. That is why nothing goes on during the writ period.
In fairness to my colleague, as he is new in the House, it takes a while for the new departments to get staffed up and under way, especially when a new minister is in place.
I am proud of the work our government is doing to ensure our communities grow and succeed now and into the future. I look forward to working with my colleague anytime we can address this issue further.
View Eric Duncan Profile
Madam Speaker, I am going to follow up on a few of those aspects.
I agree with her. There has been an improvement in the after aspect of municipalities getting the actual cheques when the projects are done. I am speaking more specifically of that time lag between the deadline of those applications being received and that okay.
I appreciate her comments about the writ, and again I understand and respect that. However, regardless of elections or not, perhaps we could tighten up that time frame in terms of how we can do that.
As for the multi-year agreements we saw between the federal government and different provinces and municipalities, there are ways of improving that process. I want to be collaborative, like I have said before.
My colleague teased the other day and said it was “A” for announcement and “D” for delivery with respect to these things sometimes. We should ensure the dollars get out in a timely manner. Equally as important is getting it out at the right time so when tenders to municipalities go out, they are getting the best price and maximizing Canada's weather patterns as best as they possibly can.
I look forward to working with colleagues on that issue going forward to help all municipalities across Canada.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:57 [p.1973]
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, we are investing $33 billion through the bilateral agreements with each of the provinces and territories. The funding is available now for them to start their projects immediately.
We have made important investments in infrastructure in every region. Our goal remains to work collaboratively, responsibly and quickly to invest in infrastructure. However, the application process is critical and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure these investments will make the lives of Canadians better.
My colleague commented about the weather. This winter, Newfoundland and Labrador has seen mountains of snow and I know it will have an impact on its construction season as well. I agree with the member that we need to do all we can to ensure we get the funding out to the respective communities in a timely manner.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-10 18:30 [p.1919]
Mr. Speaker, when I rose to ask the Prime Minister about the failures of his national housing strategy, including the glaring absence of a housing strategy that would be led by indigenous people for rural, urban and northern indigenous people, I received the usual meaningless talking points, despite the Liberals pledge in 2017 with the introduction of the national housing strategy to address the housing crisis for Inuit, Métis and first nations people.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development even said on the public record that the Liberals were committed to a separate national urban indigenous housing strategy by and for urban indigenous people. However, years later there is still no action.
Aboriginal people in Canada are 10 times more likely than non-aboriginal people to become homeless. When I pointed out that 40% of the homeless population in Vancouver was indigenous people, the Prime Minister was busy patting himself on the back with self-congratulatory rhetoric that I do not even think he realized how severe the housing crisis was and how grossly disproportionate it was effecting urban, rural and northern indigenous communities.
Across the country, indigenous peoples are experiencing the highest levels of poverty, with a shocking 25% of indigenous people living in poverty, despite making up only 5% of Canada's population. High poverty rates for indigenous people are part of the continued legacy of colonization. Ignoring the housing crisis they are facing will only result in having these numbers increase and further perpetuate the impact of colonization.
With a staggering 87% of indigenous households not living on reserve lands, we need to have an affordable housing strategy to address the needs of indigenous people living in the rural, urban and northern parts of Canada. It is a matter of urgency requiring immediate action that is consistent with international human rights law.
This strategic approach must be founded upon cultural-based practice and action, led by indigenous people for indigenous people. No more kicking the can down the road. Canadians need to see the allocation of the necessary funds to support the national housing strategy in budget 2020 and action for a urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy led by and for indigenous peoples. The government promised to do better, Canadians expected better and the government must do better.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2020-03-10 18:33 [p.1920]
Mr. Speaker, we all agree. I am very proud to have helped move the motions at committee to start the process of driving forward an urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy to make sure that people that are governed outside the Indian Act, close to 87% in my province but 80% across the country who live outside of the national indigenous organizations governance structures, have their housing needs met. They need to be met now. They needed to have been met years ago.
I am proud to be part of a government that not only passed the national housing strategy, which incorporates the move towards self-directed, self-designed and self-delivered indigenous housing programs in this area but also has started to make profound investments in that very same space.
Our 2016 budget included $564.7 million in new funding over the next three years to address pressing needs in 464 first nations communities. We have also, as part of the 10-year housing strategy and part of the reaching home strategy, for the first time carved out an indigenous stream, which is indigenous-led, indigenous-designed and indigenous-delivered in communities right across this country.
We did something else which is profoundly important. In areas where homelessness is high and the point-in-time counts show a strong indigenous population unfortunately is being over-represented, we have started to convert even the designated communities to indigenous leadership so that indigenous housing providers can provide support for those communities right across the country from coast to coast to coast.
In Vancouver, in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, the community entity that manages the funds for that part of the country and the community advisory board is now being led by indigenous leadership and indigenous housing providers precisely because we recognize their expertise but also their cultural capacity to deliver better services for people that are homeless.
As I said, the government committed in mandate letters to the Minister of Northern Affairs, to the minister that I work for, and also to the minister of indigenous infrastructure to deliver an indigenous-led urban, rural and northen housing strategy. Those dollars will be building upon investments that we have made already as part of the national housing strategy. In fact, $225 million over the last three years has been invested specifically here.
We did one other thing that I am also very proud of and that is we made sure that CMHC stops its practice which it has been conducting over the previous decades of disqualifying indigenous applications as they came forward by saying that the applicant has to go to INAC, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, to get money. All applications, indigenous and non-indigenous, that come forward to serve indigenous communities are now incorporated into the national housing strategy under all of the $55-billion program. We are having real success with that.
We also negotiated accords with the provinces and territories across this country a responsibility for those provincial accords to address indigenous housing in off-reserve areas, including supports to sustain the existing program and existing rental supports that are needed to make and sustain affordable communities for indigenous people. We also made sure that capital dollars were allocated in that area.
The member is correct. This is an area that is going to require this Parliament to act with great deliberation and to make substantial investments.
It is unfortunate that the NDP platform does not mention indigenous housing in urban spaces at all. It also is unfortunate that the three different letters that have been posted by the leader never once mention indigenous housing, not specifically and not intentionally.
I am glad that the member opposite has raised this issue and has driven this issue forward to make sure that her party takes this issue seriously. I look forward to her support at committee and her support of the federal budget and support of the findings that our government will produce to show the way forward.
We can solve this crisis. If we do not solve the crisis of urban, rural and northern homelessness, if we do not have a self-directed fourth pillar in the indigenous housing programs of this country, we will never solve homelessness and we will never achieve reconciliation and we will never achieve the dreams of decolonization that the member talked about.
Our government is committed to achieving this. I am committed to achieving this. I look forward to working with members opposite to make sure the dollars flow, the housing is built and people are cared for.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-10 18:37 [p.1920]
Mr. Speaker, "There is a specific kind of hypocrisy when government over-promises but continues to under-deliver, which serves nothing more than to damage an already fraught relationship. In the emerging political momentum on tackling the indigenous housing crisis and homelessness, urban and rural indigenous stakeholders cannot be an afterthought in the process." That is a direct quote from Marc Maracle, the Gignul Non-Profit Housing Corporation representative.
The comments from the parliamentary secretary, while political, do not serve the work that needs to be done. The fact remains the government ignored and did not even see the need to address the urban, rural and northern indigenous communities' homelessness crisis. Now it is talking about it but that talk has gone on for years and years and it is now time to act.
The NDP is always ready to see action become reality. We will be at the table at every turn, pushing the government until indigenous communities in urban, rural and northern communities are housed.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2020-03-10 18:38 [p.1921]
Mr. Speaker, let me be crystal clear. The $2.2 billion reaching home program has a specific indigenous-led homelessness component to it that specifically addresses the needs, goals and aspirations of indigenous housing providers fighting homelessness right across the country.
Additionally, we have put $55 billion into housing. Those housing dollars are available to all indigenous housing providers across this country on an equal terms basis.
That is a foreshadowing to the important work we have to do to set up a fourth, distinct and deliberately intentional funding formula that builds on the $225 million we have already invested, without the help of the New Democrats, who never promised a penny of this in their platform and have never asked for a penny of this in any of their budget submissions. We have put those dollars into play, which are building properties right now. I was in Vernon, B.C., where I opened an indigenous elders' seniors residence. I have worked in Sturgeon Falls, where we have produced new housing. I have been here in Ottawa with the Inuit community. We have also delivered new housing as a direct result of the investments to the national housing strategy.
There is no hypocrisy here. There was action, an investment and a commitment to work for even better results in this Parliament.
View Richard Cannings Profile
Mr. Speaker, last December I asked the Prime Minister about the financial situation surrounding the Trans Mountain pipeline. As most Canadians know, the government now owns this pipeline, having bought it in 2018. We paid $4.5 billion for the pipeline, a price that has most charitably been characterized as being at the higher end of the valuation range. By other analysts, it was considered overpriced by a billion dollars or more.
I asked that question because the Parliamentary Budget Officer had just reported that the pipeline was losing money. To be accurate, it actually posted a small profit in 2019 due to, according to the PBO report, tax recoveries due to negative earnings before taxes and changes in the provincial corporate tax rate. Therefore, the taxpayers, particularly those in Alberta, continue to subsidize this project.
In my question I also mentioned the analysis of Trans Mountain's financial situation by economist Robyn Allan. She found that the tolls charged by the pipeline only covered about a third of the cost of running it, and that these tolls were constrained by the way Canada had bought the pipeline, through shares instead of capital assets.
The Prime Minister answered with two familiar narratives. He said that Canada needed access to new oil markets outside the United States, and even after I had explained why there would be no profits for Trans Mountain, the Prime Minister said that all those profits would go to “nature-based solutions and new technologies”.
I will say briefly that all analysts would agree that almost all the oil that may flow one day through the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline will go to the United States, not Asia, since it is in the U.S. that the best opportunities for bitumen lie. The narrative that the government and industry are spinning about the need for pipelines to tidewater is not at all accurate.
I want to spend the rest of my time explaining why the Trans Mountain expansion project will result in little or no profits for shippers or the government. The government has been saying for months that tax revenues will increase by $500 million per year once the expanded pipeline is in place. That assumption is wildly incorrect for two reasons. First, it was based on an estimated project cost of $5.4 billion and, as I will mention shortly, that figure has changed a bit. Second, it is also based on the incorrect assumption that all the oil production in western Canada would benefit from better prices produced by having a pipeline to tidewater.
As we have all heard, there is often a considerable differential between the price of oil received by some producers in western Canada and the general world price. That differential is caused by shipping constraints when refineries are shut down for maintenance or pipelines are shut off to fix leaks, so a bigger pipeline would help eliminate that differential. However, according to Natural Resources Canada, the differential only affects about 30% of oil produced in Canada, so profits would only increase theoretically for about 30% of oil producers, and even those profits are at risk because of the rising costs of the project.
I asked a second question on Trans Mountain a few weeks ago when the company announced the price of the expansion had gone up from $5.4 billion to $12.6 billion, and as project costs skyrocket, profits for the companies that have pledged to use the pipeline quickly vanish. They go down because a portion of the pipeline shipping toll fees for those producers is linked to the costs of the project. As the tolls go up, profits go down, and if the cost is truly $13 billion, they essentially vanish. It is those non-existent profits that would theoretically generate the tax revenues the Prime Minister would want to use to fight climate change.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2020-03-10 18:44 [p.1922]
Mr. Speaker, as always, I appreciate the question and commentary from my colleague, who I know cares deeply not just about this project but about the environment more broadly.
As has been canvassed in this House many times, the Trans Mountain project matters to Canada. There are a number of reasons for that, but if we acknowledge that the oil and gas sector is a part of the Canadian economy that cannot be shut off overnight, we should do what we can to maximize the economic return while our energy producers are continuing to take part in employing Canadians and growing the economy. That said, we have to recognize that we are in the midst of a massive transition toward a low-carbon economy, and there cannot be a higher priority for the government.
With respect to the project, despite some of the issues that were raised by my colleague, we are confident that the project remains commercially viable. There is going to be a serious economic return from this project, although it was sort of dismissed. The fact remains that because we sell primarily to customers in one country, the United States, diversifying the markets these products could be sold into, whether they end up in the United States or in Asian markets, will create a competition in the marketplace that will increase the price, which will not only create economic returns on this specific project but will pay off across the energy sector more broadly. That does not even touch on the fact that thousands of Canadians in a part of the country that is deeply concerned about its local economy will now be working on this project.
I know there was some criticism on the basis that this was treated as some sort of a subsidy. The original question giving rise to the remarks this evening referred to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. I just came back from a finance committee meeting where the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that in fact this is the purchase of an asset, not a subsidy.
The costs have changed over time, but that is because this project is different from what it was in 2017. We have put in place higher standards for environmental protection. We have engaged in a meaningful way with indigenous communities, and there are going to be more union jobs on this project as a result of some of the changes. If those come at a cost, the arm's-length Trans Mountain Corporation will need to recognize that it needs to meet the standard that the Federal Court has recognized is appropriate for this case.
To summarize, this project is proceeding in the right way. With regard to indigenous communities in particular, there are now 58 agreements with indigenous communities that represent over $500 million in benefits. When the project is complete, the contract awards will exceed $1 billion. Importantly, every dollar of profit, whether from the operation or the eventual sale of this project, is going to go to the transition toward a green economy.
The original question was critical, asking why we would do this when we could be doing that. It ignores the fact that we have invested about $70 billion toward the clean transition and have advanced Canada's first-ever national plan to combat climate change. It includes, of course, putting a price on pollution, investing in energy efficiency that will see 90% of our electricity generated from non-emitting sources by the end of the decade, massive investments in the transition toward electric vehicles, the single largest investment to protect nature in the history of Canada, new investments in research and innovation, and a phase-out of coal by the year 2030, to name but a few of the items that we are pursuing.
The fact is that the project remains in the national interest. We know it will put Canadians to work, but importantly, we have not taken our eye off the ball of the need to transition to a low-carbon economy. That remains at the top of our priority list as a government.
View Richard Cannings Profile
Mr. Speaker, I will finish by pointing out two things.
First is the obvious change in the world oil market that has happened over the past few days. The world price is now hovering around $30 a barrel. Oil sands projects are not economical at those prices, and there is no indication that those prices will increase back to levels where they will be economical.
Second, according to recent polls, Canadians are increasingly opposed to the Trans Mountain expansion, especially as they see the cost rise to astronomical levels. In B.C., more people now oppose the project than support it.
How much will Canadians pay for the Trans Mountain expansion? Why does the government not abandon this expansion and instead invest those billions into projects that will put people to work in good jobs right now, instead of waiting for some mythical tax profits to magically appear?
Those increased taxes are not going to materialize, they are not going to provide any money to create the good jobs that western Canadians need now, and they are not going to provide money to do the good things around climate action that need to be done right now.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2020-03-10 18:49 [p.1922]
Mr. Speaker, with respect, we maintain that the project remains economically viable, and we intend to eventually divest this project into the private sector. I expect the very likely outcome that it will actually do better than break even and will turn a profit. Based on the economics, despite the recent short-term change to the price per barrel of oil, which is having a serious economic impact on the world economy, this particular project does remain viable.
The hon. member finished his commentary by saying there is a need to take action on climate change. I could not agree more. The fact is we have invested more than any government in the history of Canada toward measures that will actually fight climate change and protect our environment. I could list a few of them.
I look forward to sharing the measures that will be contained in the upcoming federal budget and that hopefully will be implemented in this Parliament. They will position Canada as a world leader in the fight against climate change. Anything less would, quite rightly, fall short of the expectations that Canadians have of our government.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-10 18:50 [p.1923]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening, after a full day of debate on the Canada-United States-Mexico trade agreement, to follow up on a question I asked in question period some time ago around the provisions protecting Canadian businesses, which see U.S. government procurement as an important part of their business, from the buy America policy.
We are told that these agreements are all about unfettered access to markets, yet there are companies like New Flyer, which manufactures buses in, among other places, Transcona, that have to shift jobs from manufacturing facilities in Canada to the Untied States because the U.S. content requirement for things like buses increases under the buy America policy.
I am hoping that a representative of the government can explain tonight the rules, if there are any, that protect Canadian businesses from the buy America policy. In the event that there is no preferential access for Canadians with respect to American government procurement, what reciprocal limitations are put on U.S. businesses applying for government procurement contracts in Canada?
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2020-03-10 18:51 [p.1923]
Mr. Speaker, the question my hon. colleague from Elmwood—Transcona asked is timely because today we started debating third reading of Bill C-4. Hopefully the bill will be passed in this Parliament with the support of all political parties in the House, including the NDP. I want to thank the member and his colleagues for their support.
The issue of buy America is very important. Our Prime Minister and our Deputy Prime Minister, who at the time was Minister of Foreign Affairs, have been very public and vocal about our intent and desire to resolve this issue with our American friends. There has not been a public or a private opportunity that the Deputy Prime Minister has not raised this issue. In fact, we utilized the support we have from team Canada, which includes provincial premiers, legislators in the House of Commons, senators, and governors in the United States, to make sure we sent a strong message to our friends in the United States.
Last summer I attended the National Governors Association conference in Utah and I had a chance to meet with several governors. Some of them were surprised to learn that 34 out of the 50 states have Canada as their number one customer. In fact, all 50 states have Canada as their number one, number two or number three customer. We made every effort to remind our friends in the United States that it is important to treat Canadian businesses with equal access to economic opportunities, because doing so is not only in the best interest of Canadian workers and Canadian businesses; it also serves the interests of American businesses and American workers.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-10 18:53 [p.1923]
Mr. Speaker, I will start by quickly noting that the NDP's support for this particular iteration of the deal was contingent upon some successful negotiation with the government on things that we think are important in going ahead on trade policy. Also, a number of the things we think are laudable about the agreement were secured not by our government but by American politicians, which is too bad, frankly, because we would like to see the Canadian government as a champion of things we support.
In the parliamentary secretary's answer, I did not hear a definition of the rules that apply to Canadian businesses applying for American government procurement work and vice versa. I wonder if he would be willing to follow up in a letter and outline what rules govern the application for procurement projects from parties of one country to another, going each way. I would appreciate a letter to that effect.
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2020-03-10 18:54 [p.1923]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague again for his support and also for raising this important issue, because I know that it is very important to many Canadian businesses and workers.
I want to take a moment to remind the member and colleagues here in the House that we were negotiating with an American president who wanted to limit trade and make it very difficult to access a free flow of products and services between our two countries. It was a challenge at times, but we persisted. We insisted on protecting the interests of Canadian businesses and workers, and we reached a good deal.
That said, there is still a lot of work to be done, and just as we have collaborated on Bill C-4, I look forward to continuing to collaborate with our colleagues in the NDP to achieve an even better agreement in the future.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-03-09 18:54 [p.1837]
Mr. Speaker, as you know, marine pollution is increasingly becoming an urgent global problem, impacting marine animals, millions of seabirds and even salmon on the west coast of British Columbia.
We had a spill on the west coast of British Columbia four years ago where 35 shipping containers spilled. The Government of Canada had no action plan to address this problem. In fact, those marine cargo shipment containers spread all up and down the coast and it was left up to local people to deal with this difficult challenge.
We know we are shipping plastic and debris to the Philippines and it has become a diplomatic problem for us. Finally, after our pressure, that pollution and that waste was shipped back to us. We know that in Malaysia, they are concerned about the first world shipping their problem to developing nations.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-03-09 18:56 [p.1837]
Madam Speaker, we know that we are facing a global crisis right now when it comes to marine plastic pollution and the impact it is having on our oceans. Right now we are seeing over eight million tonnes of plastic pollution entering our oceans every year globally. This plastic pollution is killing hundreds of thousands of marine animals and millions of seabirds. It is a huge problem not just globally, but certainly here at home as well. When we talk about the state of our oceans and our duty to protect them, it is for the species that do not have a voice.
There was a spill off the west coast of British Columbia four years ago. Thirty-five large shipping containers spilled into our waters and the Government of Canada was nowhere to be seen. It fell on the backs of local communities and local stakeholder groups like Clayoquot CleanUp, which is now called the Coastal Restoration Society, and Surfrider Pacific Rim, to take on the challenge of cleaning up the marine debris that spread throughout our coast.
We are also hearing about our garbage ending up in places like the Philippines. Members may recall the Philippines declared war on Canada because of the government's inability to deal with a problem and it grew into a diplomatic relationship issue. The Philippines did not want our garbage and it sat in a harbour there for several years. We are hearing that our garbage is ending up in Malaysia. Children are living in plastic garbage slums, and it is our plastic and our garbage. It is disgraceful and embarrassing for all Canadians. Children should not be living among our garbage in developing nations. It needs to stop. It can stop.
The Government of Canada has signed a part of the Basel Convention whereby it has to get permission from developing countries to stop shipping its garbage to developing nations. What we want is the government to not even seek permission, but to actually stop shipping our garbage to developing nations. It needs to stop. It is the responsible thing to do.
I do want to applaud the government for hearing our voices and feeling the pressure from us calling on the government to take on this huge issue. We worked with the government and the Minister of Environment when he was the parliamentary secretary. He came to Victoria for a meeting with me and the former member for Victoria, Murray Rankin. We met with the University of Victoria environmental offsetter, who had produced a report on the seven ways to address marine plastic pollution. The government did encapsulate some of those recommendations. It has taken some action when it comes to dealing with ghost and derelict fishing gear.
The government has talked a great bunch about single-use plastics, but we still have not seen any action or commitments. Despite the fact that nations and jurisdictions around the world have taken action, this is still falling on the backs of local governments and provincial governments.
The environment and the species in our environment cannot wait any longer. We are calling on the government to make an announcement about its single-use plastic commitments and to commit to dealing with industrial-use plastics.
I look forward to hearing from the parliamentary secretary. I look forward to continuing to work with the government on dealing with this urgent matter.
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