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Results: 1 - 15 of 47
Jean-Robert Lessard
View Jean-Robert Lessard Profile
Jean-Robert Lessard
2020-06-05 14:14
Thank you for the opportunity to tell you what we did during the pandemic.
On March 12, Groupe Robert Inc. took its first steps. It addressed the situation by setting up a crisis management committee to ensure daily communication with all its employees. The committee implemented several measures, including the suspension of visits to its facilities, except for visits from critical suppliers. These suppliers had to fill out a self-identification form before being allowed in.
We stopped business travel and instead focused on the use of communication technologies such as Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Groupe Robert Inc. also funnelled all questions and suggestions from employees to a single address, covid19@robert.ca.
In addition, a series of hygiene measures were implemented in keeping with the recommendations made by public health authorities in Quebec and Canada. Employees enter through a single door, where there's a washing station and where their temperature is taken. Our drivers must follow a protocol for the use of disinfectants to clean their cabins. The housekeeping team has increased its cleaning rounds of all areas. The mechanical maintenance team must disinfect all required instruments before and after use. To encourage physical distancing in common areas, we've changed the break and meal times.
At the end of the school break, several employees who returned from trips needed to be quarantined. In addition, although the lockdown has eased, basic hygiene rules are part of daily life. These include physical distancing, hand washing and coughing into elbows.
We created a dedicated COVID-19 team. The team consists of three employees from the health and safety department. Its mandate is to research all relevant information on the pandemic. These three employees became the resource people to consult in order to avoid any wrongdoing or misinformation, including erroneous statements in certain press releases.
A number of employees are now teleworking. Our managers have received training on best practices for managing teleworking teams.
I must mention the establishment of various protocols for the steps required when an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19. We were fortunate, because only eight out of 3,600 employees contracted the coronavirus. I'm pleased to report that all eight employees have recovered.
The implementation of shorter hours and, above all, more timely support through online training has made it possible to reassign employees to other duties in order to limit layoffs. We also believe that the strong collaboration between the employer and the union should be noted. This collaboration led to the establishment of a forum that enabled the employer and the employees to work together to convey the same message.
At the height of the crisis, we temporarily laid off 459 people. In this period of crisis, Groupe Robert Inc. is pleased to see that its strength lies with its employees, who have tried to find solutions and accomplish great things.
We've been in business for 73 years. We've learned that the only way to overcome challenges such as this one is to work as a team.
Fanny Sie
View Fanny Sie Profile
Fanny Sie
2020-06-05 14:23
This pandemic has exacerbated many existing gaps in our health care system while showing the immense value that the life sciences sector brings. Issues such as system capacity, lack of virtual care and data fragmentation across the country are igniting a pressing demand for sustainable change. We have started to see incredible flexibility and leadership in our health system's immediate response to the pandemic. However, it's important to use learnings from this crisis to catalyze meaningful long-term change.
As we shift the focus to recovery, there are great opportunities to accelerate innovation and move our country forward. The future of life sciences in Canada is extraordinarily bright. There are many actions that the government can take to promote growth at home and abroad.
First, the federal government should revive the health and biosciences economic strategy table. The announcement of the industry strategy council is a good start, but we encourage the government—with input from industry, patients and other sector stakeholders—to revitalize this work to identify specific and measurable next steps. It's also important to acknowledge the need to rethink some of the recommendations in the context of pandemic planning and of building our capacity for the next potential crisis.
Second, a strong data ecosystem is a key success factor in the response to COVID-19. The pandemic has exposed significant limitations in the ability to collect, access, integrate, share and analyze high-quality data. It has also magnified concerns that data cannot be easily compared between jurisdictions, as each province uses different data collection methodologies, standards and policies. Furthermore, most provincial data is publicly inaccessible and incomprehensive. We believe that we can win this fight through the sharing of safe and secure health care data and knowledge, abiding by local privacy laws, to better inform patient care and health system decision-making.
Lastly, there needs to be an increase in investments in programs like the Scale AI and the digital superclusters that Roche is very proud to be a part of. COVID-19 has demonstrated the catastrophic effects to both patient health and the economy as a result of a lack of constant innovation in our sector. By rewarding innovation and increasing investment into innovative technologies, such as genomic sequencing, cloud computing, digital health tools for remote patient care and monitoring, as well as medicines that deliver superior outcomes, we stand to deliver unprecedented value in both health benefits for patients and economic growth for our country. These technologies will position Canada as a leader in personalized health care and allow us to provide patients with exactly what they need from their health care systems.
Whether through diagnostics, medicines or insights, Roche is a committed partner, helping to navigate and ultimately end the COVID-19 pandemic. The life sciences sector has the amazing potential to lead the economic recovery of this country. Healthy Canadians bring a healthy economy. Through collaboration with patients, patient organizations, companies like Roche and the government, we can mobilize these ideas into action.
Thank you very much for your time today. We are happy to address any questions you may have.
View Luc Thériault Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-05-20 17:28
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am going to address Professor Attaran first. These days, we can say that science is being tossed around a lot. All decisions are supposedly made in the name of science. One might even think that it is being used more to justify some political dithering.
Mr. Attaran, on page 3 of your brief, you say the following:
...the Prime Minister hesitated, perhaps because of the scientifically inaccurate advice from his Minister of Health, that closing the borders to slow the disease down is “very ineffective.”
Some people argue that border closures have no significant effect in stopping the spread of the disease. I understand you disagree. Should the borders—especially the U.S. border—have been closed much sooner?
Did we have all the information we needed to make that decision? If not, what would have been required to make that decision as quickly as possible? What is the reason for the conflicting scientific advice?
Amir Attaran
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Amir Attaran
2020-05-20 17:29
You are right that scientific issues are often politicized, and that was the case with the border closure.
In my view, the purpose of closing the border is to protect us, especially in the case of the U.S. border. However, as you already know, the WHO says that it is almost useless, and the minister said that it is useless, but I disagree.
I know that, after the disaster we are now experiencing, we will rethink these issues. In Africa, for example, the borders between countries were quickly closed. They learned that lesson from the Ebola crisis. Now we see that nations are more protected. The infection rate in Kenya and Rwanda, for example, is lower than it would normally be. So it works.
View Kody Blois Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Kody Blois Profile
2020-05-19 11:32
Thank you very much. That will probably have some resonance for Mr. Green, who might ask questions in that regard as well.
How has COVID-19 impacted the ability of the office to do their actual work? Obviously, we know that COVID-19, as Mr. Kelly suggested and you made clear, will become a focus for the office. Has the work been able to continue for the employees? I think you mentioned that there are roughly 575 employees.
Karen Hogan
View Karen Hogan Profile
Karen Hogan
2020-05-19 11:33
Like every organization and every department across the government, we are all taking some time to deal with our new normal, working remotely and connecting in different ways. While it has slowed down and absolutely caused some delays in our ability to get information, and the ability of the entities that we audit to provide us information, it is still moving along.
When it comes to the COVID-19 audit, as soon as we accepted taking on that body of work, we put together a steering committee at our executive level. I am part of that. We started right away talking about the scope of work and where we might like to go. We've already begun engaging with deputy ministers in order to make sure we have the quantum understood so that we can figure out the best way for us to divide the audits to make it easier to deliver, easier for Canadians to understand and easier for this committee and Parliament to work with.
View Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Hogan, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of upheaval.
To what extent do you think the current public health crisis will affect the office's operations, particularly with regard to audits that are already under way?
Karen Hogan
View Karen Hogan Profile
Karen Hogan
2020-05-19 12:17
During this crisis, all of our employees are working remotely. From a technological standpoint, we have enough bandwidth and we haven't run into any problems in that respect.
However, as I was saying, it's hard to interact with organizations that we would like to audit, because the communications need to be protected and the office's policies need to be complied with. I expect that to delay our work. But it's giving everyone a chance to be creative and to come up with new and hopefully more efficient ways of doing things.
View Tim Uppal Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
I would also like to congratulate you, Ms. Hogan, for being considered for this very important position.
In answering a number of questions today, you mentioned, several times, resource constraints. You said that you don't have the numbers right now of what you would need and what you would like for additional funding. Considering that you or at least your office has made requests for funding at least a few times and those requests were not fully agreed upon or provided, can you, with the current funding you have, do the fulsome audit of the COVID spending and the investing in Canada spending that you've been asked to do?
Karen Hogan
View Karen Hogan Profile
Karen Hogan
2020-05-19 12:25
With the current funding that we have, we've unfortunately had to make the difficult decision to delay and defer audits in order to make sure that we can allocate the right amount of resources to deal with investing in Canada and COVID-19. The budget requests that we've put in over the last couple of years were obviously based on our assessment of our needs at that time, and needs evolve. As new mandates are added and as large audits like those two are put in front of us, those needs might also continue to evolve. That's why it's very difficult for me to tell you what that number might look like, but in order to take care of those two big audits, we will have to let other things go, absolutely.
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
2020-05-19 12:33
Great. Thank you.
Those are departmental decisions, operational decisions. If I'm looking at the audit of COVID-19, some of what will come through will come through only at the end of this coming tax season. I'm thinking of some of the emergency benefits that will get sorted once we get the tax returns of the individuals who have applied for and received benefits to see whether they were getting other income at the same time as they were receiving this emergency funding.
In terms of timing and looking at when the effects will actually be able to be audited, is that also something you're considering in your department, working with CRA officials or with finance department officials? How does that work?
Karen Hogan
View Karen Hogan Profile
Karen Hogan
2020-05-19 12:34
As would be the case for us with any audit, engaging with the deputy minister and officials within a department will be critical to making sure that we have a good understanding of the business, how it's running and how the programs and services are being delivered, so that we can do our testing at the appropriate time and to the right extent.
While I haven't been involved in any of those conversations with individual departments so far during the planning of these audits, I would trust that our auditors are doing as they normally would do, which is following due process and ensuring that our audit is properly planned and executed.
View Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Profile
BQ (QC)
Ms. Hogan, the current situation is unprecedented, and it comes with its own set of unique challenges. There have already been plenty of media reports about potential fraud in relation to the many financial aid measures offered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Are you planning to do a quick investigation into the implementation of these measures and the political decisions that guided them?
Karen Hogan
View Karen Hogan Profile
Karen Hogan
2020-05-19 12:48
Thank you for your question. As I said earlier, it's important for Canadians to receive the money they're entitled to on time.
In any audit, we need to examine the risk of fraud. If we suspect or know that fraud has occurred, that increases the risk, which means we need to expand our sampling or the work we'll have to do.
I'm fully aware that many organizations have had to make decisions on the fly. When that happens, it raises the possibility of errors. When we audit the programs, we would expect to see a mechanism in place for detecting errors. If errors have indeed been made, we would expect to see a process for fixing them, including repaying the full amount that was paid out if necessary.
Pat Armstrong
View Pat Armstrong Profile
Pat Armstrong
2020-05-13 17:54
Others might be better able to answer that question about fraud and misinformation than I am.
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