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René Roy
View René Roy Profile
René Roy
2020-06-23 11:02
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will provide the opening remarks.
On behalf of Les Éleveurs de porcs du Québec, I thank you for this opportunity to share our concerns and our expectations regarding risk management programs. My name is René Roy and I am a pig farmer in the Chaudière-Appalaches region. I am also an administrator with Les Éleveurs de porcs du Québec. I am accompanied by Mr. Mario Rodrigue, our director general.
Les Éleveurs de porcs du Québec brings together more than 2,700 producers who own pig farms. They are the foundation of an industry that generates more than 31,000 jobs in Quebec and exports 70% of what it produces. The entire Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector wants to contribute to the recovery of the Canadian economy, and the pig sector is particularly well positioned to increase its already considerable contribution. However, producers must have the tools and resources they need to ensure that their businesses are sustainable and to harness its development potential. It is important that the toolbox include risk management programs properly tailored to the realities and issues facing the businesses for which the programs have been created. From this perspective, improvements must be made to the risk management programs offered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
We fully support the Canadian Pork Council's position that it is important to review the parameters of the AgriStability program to restore the trigger level to 85% and remove the factor that limits the reference margin. In its current form, this program is not fulfilling its role. The result is increased pressure on business liquidity and on the risk management tools developed and provided by some provinces, including Quebec. When deprived of the cash flow they need, producers must postpone investments that are necessary to stay competitive and meet societal requirements in terms of animal welfare.
Improvements are also needed to the AgriRecovery framework to ensure it has the flexibility to adapt to the specific realities of sectors facing extraordinary costs following a catastrophe. For example, although they have had to cope with costs directly related to COVID-19, producers will not likely be able to receive their share of the $125-million envelope announced on May 5. This is because only expenses resulting directly or indirectly from the obligation to euthanize pigs are eligible.
The $3.7 billion generated by Canada's pork exports is a key asset for the Canadian economy. However, this strong presence in export markets exposes producers and the industry to risks over which they have little control. It is important to remember that the prices paid to producers by U.S. packing plants serve as a reference for determining the selling price of pigs in Quebec. The trade war involving the United States and China in 2018 led to a significant drop in the selling price of pigs in the United States, which directly affected the price received by Quebec pork producers.
More recently, the pandemic has caused major disruptions. Within a few weeks, the forecast average price of pigs sold in Quebec for 2020 dropped by nearly $20 per 100 kilograms, below the cost of production. This represents a $150-million shortfall for Quebec producers.
Like the other Canadian provinces, the Quebec government offers risk management solutions for farm businesses. Pork producers in Quebec have access to the Farm Income Stabilization Insurance program, or FISI. However, producers must assume one third of the compensation paid under FISI. It is important that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada provide producers with risk management programs that are complementary to those provided in the provinces.
The drop in the selling price of pigs due to external shocks, such as the trade war or COVID-19, has increased FISI payouts. As a result, the premiums paid by producers increase at the same rate and prevent them from reaching their cost of production. For this reason, steps must be taken to limit the frequency and dollar amount of FISI payouts.
In addition, FISI parameters do not make it possible to record and take into account costs that are not in line with the realities observed during the investigations commissioned by La Financière agricole au Québec. COVID-19 had the effect of temporarily reducing slaughter capacity, thereby forcing producers to postpone the delivery of pigs. The consequences of this delay on the various technical efficiency coefficients, such as the decrease in average daily gain or the increase in mortality rate, are not covered by FISI.
Several studies show that volatility in agricultural markets has increased since the early 2000s due to new factors over which individual businesses have no control and which they cannot predict, prevent or adjust to. From this perspective, it is imperative to establish an income safety net that provides sufficient, predictable and competitive support. To continue to operate, adapt to change, innovate and compete, farm businesses need a stable base on which to build. They must have access to effective and reliable business risk management programs. These financial tools represent a strategic investment by governments in the economy.
Thank you.
View Francis Drouin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Rodrigue said the problem has been resolved in Quebec and producers will not need to euthanize their animals. Is that correct?
René Roy
View René Roy Profile
René Roy
2020-06-23 11:38
Yes, we have managed to reduce the number of pigs to be euthanized. However, the issue has not been resolved in all parts of Canada. You are familiar with Mr. Rick Bergmann. He said he will have to euthanize animals this week. That is the situation in Canada.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you for your response, Mr. Beaudoin.
Since I've been a member of Parliament in Ottawa, I've often heard about Quebec's approach to housing, an approach that is said to be more comprehensive and more community-based.
Could you tell us about what characterizes Quebec's approach to housing?
Jacques Beaudoin
View Jacques Beaudoin Profile
Jacques Beaudoin
2020-06-19 14:35
I'd be happy to talk about it, Mr. Trudel.
I'm not saying that Quebec is better than the other provinces, because each province has its own policies, constraints, directions and ways of doing things.
By necessity, we have developed a model over the last 20 years or so that is largely based on community initiative. The projects that are designed and receive support from authorities and government funding come from the communities. This is what has allowed us to set up dozens and dozens of seniors' residences in rural areas, in small communities.
In a hundred or so municipalities in Quebec, without these housing NPOs to provide housing with services for seniors, the latter would have to leave their communities and move to large centres when they retire or at the end of their lives, because there would be no housing with services for seniors.
In each of these communities, people of good will came together, and government support, private sector funding and shared initiatives ensured that these projects were successfully developed.
As you mentioned, this doesn't mean that everything is fine and everything is settled. There are still huge problems related to housing accessibility, access to a roof over one's head. There is still a lot to be done. We need to have funding available under the National Housing Strategy. An agreement must be signed as soon as possible.
However, the foundation has been laid. There are programs and a way of doing things that will allow us to use this money for further development.
Jacques Beaudoin
View Jacques Beaudoin Profile
Jacques Beaudoin
2020-06-19 14:38
I would say that there are already programs and an approach that have been proven to work. The AccèsLogis Québec program, which has been in existence for some 20 years, has enabled the construction of 42,000 social and community housing units.
We managed to improve our indicators. For example, between the 2011 and 2016 censuses, the number of people in core housing need in Quebec decreased thanks to the investments made in AccèsLogis. This program has proven its ability to build and provide new housing for our clientele, which is very diversified, as I mentioned at the beginning of my statement.
If we get additional funding, we will be able to accelerate the construction of these new units to meet the needs. It will also be done quickly because both the program and the ecosystem of organizations with the capacity and professional knowledge to mount projects already exist. That is what we really need it for, and that is what the funds will be used for once the agreement is finalized.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
I have one last question on the real need for housing. How many people could be housed immediately if the agreement were signed tomorrow morning?
Jacques Beaudoin
View Jacques Beaudoin Profile
Jacques Beaudoin
2020-06-19 14:39
Quebec needs 5,000 new community units per year. With the help of this agreement, we could probably catch up with the backlog.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, next week, we'll be celebrating our national holiday in a unique way in these even more unique times, but wholeheartedly, nonetheless.
As a resident of the north shore and a Quebecker, I want to say, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, how much I love my nation and my country, Quebec. Moulded by our traditions, our history, our common language and, of course, our present, we are the indomitable who, come what may, will always be left standing, strong, alive and invigorated.
No matter where in Quebec we call home, whether it be Sept-Îles, Gaspé, Valleyfield, La Prairie, Matane, Rouyn, Chicoutimi, Quebec City, Belœil or Montreal, we have a shared pride. That pride is evidenced as much by the vitality of our regions as by the majesty of the St. Lawrence, and is embodied by our artists, whom we are eager to see perform again in person, and our families, whom we are equally eager to hug.
On June 24, I encourage all Quebeckers, wherever they are, to come together, if only remotely, to celebrate their pride in belonging to the unique people that we are, people who make the world a richer place.
I want to wish all Quebeckers a happy national holiday.
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It has been more than 40 years since I emigrated here, to Quebec, with my mother. I am a child of Bill 101 and a proud French-speaking Quebecker.
Like my colleague, I want to recognize that, on June 24, all Quebeckers will come together to celebrate their national holiday. Quebec is a strong nation with a unique identity. Whether it's our arts community, our entrepreneurial spirit or our desire to build an energy-efficient future, all these things define us as Quebeckers. Our pride is not bound by political stripe, the colour of our skin or our country of origin.
As a member of Parliament, I work each and every day to improve Quebec's future. Let us all work towards a Quebec nation where generations, young and old, and new and existing Quebeckers come together as we continue our journey as a proud French-speaking nation that stands united.
I wish everyone a happy national holiday, especially the residents of my riding, Hochelaga.
View Richard Lehoux Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Lehoux Profile
2020-06-17 13:49
Madam Chair, several businesses and farmers in my riding, who rely on temporary foreign workers, have been extremely worried since the recent announcement that Guatemala and Mexico would no longer send workers to Canada.
How will Quebec manage to fill the thousands of job vacancies?
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Chair, we are very concerned about the cases of COVID in temporary foreign workers and those who have lost their lives, and we are making sure that we address the concerns raised by both foreign governments and by employers across the country.
We're taking steps. We are a country that values and is committed to worker safety, and we're doing everything we can to make sure all workers are safe and feel safe in their work environment.
View Richard Lehoux Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Lehoux Profile
2020-06-17 13:50
Madam Chair, the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund is quite popular in Beauce. So much so that funds will soon be gone. As a matter of fact, the minister dipped into them to give them to people in Montreal. In rural ridings like mine, we’re getting leftovers, Madam Chair.
When will the minister unveil her real plan for the regions?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair, for this opportunity to speak, since I strongly disagree with my colleague, because we have a good plan for the regions.
We’ve doubled the budget allocated to Community Futures Development Corporations, or CFDCs. My colleague was very happy when we did, as were, indeed, many of his Opposition colleagues. Of course, we know very well that there’s a huge demand. That is why we want to continue working with SMEs and supporting business owners in the regions, because regional businesses matter.
We’re there to help them.
View Richard Lehoux Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Lehoux Profile
2020-06-17 13:51
Madam Chair, the minister answered the question and told us that the program existed. However, more than half of businesses have not received an answer because of a lack of funding. What is the minister’s real plan? We need funding now.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
We do have the funding. We’ve doubled the budgets. If Mr. Lehoux has a question or a project to submit, let him come to me so we can discuss it and resolve those situations.
View Peter Kent Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Minister.
The City of Toronto is looking at something like $150 million, back due, with similar amounts ongoing, so I would hope you would address those issues in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Minister, you spoke to the willingness of some asylum claimants—a significant number—in Quebec to continue working in high-risk, long-term care home facilities, including some claimants whose claims have been rejected. We know you are under pressure from some of your Quebec cabinet colleagues to suspend the normal protocols of the Immigration and Refugee Board to accommodate asylum claimants who are working in those front-line care facilities.
Can you tell us where you are in your policy development to date? Are you looking to override the normal protocols and processes of the IRB?
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Kent. This allows me the opportunity to shed some additional light on the sacrifices that have been made by asylum seekers. As I pointed out in my introductory remarks, these are individuals who often overcome tremendous adversity just to get to Canada. As you well know, and as other members of this committee will know, these are individuals who are fleeing persecution, conflict, war and, increasingly, climate change, and have sought safe harbour in Canada.
It is true that there is a process by which those claims are adjudicated, and the Immigration and Refugee Board is charged with that responsibility. The individuals who have come to light in Quebec are stepping up in very significant ways, particularly in retirement homes, and I would just point out that asylum seekers, who often are living in shelters and in precarious housing, are already exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19.
Notwithstanding that, and notwithstanding any of the debate that has followed as a result of that, they continue to sacrifice themselves to support front-line health care workers and to aid the elderly and the sick, who, again, are disproportionately bearing the burden of this awful virus.
The debate we have engaged in is whether or not there is a way to recognize those contributions. Certainly, I hope to have more to say about that in due course.
View Peter Kent Profile
CPC (ON)
Minister, you are aware that under the Canada-Quebec accord, and given that this is essentially a Quebec issue and the pressure is coming from advocates in the province of Quebec, Quebec has the power to use its jurisdiction to provide whatever comfort that province may see as adequate.
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
You make reference to the Canada-Quebec accord, and I would point out that this is a well-established agreement, which works well for both the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec. There are clearly delineated responsibilities around economic immigration, as well as refugees and asylum seekers, which remain within the remit of the Government of Canada.
At all stages, we continue to collaborate and communicate very closely with the Government of Quebec, which is also, I understand, considering this issue. As I said, I hope to have an update in the not-too-distant future.
View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
I want to talk about a request from Quebec that was made before February. Quebec asked to process foreign workers' files on its own. This request was made by Mr. Legault's government and Minister Jolin-Barrette.
During the crisis, we've seen that the lack of flexibility regarding work permits has created several issues. For example, a company that has finished seeding can't lend its employees to a company that hasn't finished. Also, in the case of a company that has shut down, the welders can't work in a company that's still running.
Since the crisis, is the minister more willing to transfer responsibility for foreign workers to Quebec City?
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
I've had several conversations with my counterpart in Quebec, Mr. Jolin-Barrette. Our two teams have been working well together, particularly on the priority issue of foreign workers. We're working well together because we fully understand that a number of issues stem from the labour shortage and that the Quebec economy has needs. The program to support foreign workers meets a very significant need for the Government of Quebec. We'll be there to work and to continue discussions with the Government of Quebec.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I have four petitions to present today. I will be as brief as you suggested, although I will observe that if some members are going on longer during petitions than they normally do, it might be because the government has taken away so many of the tools that opposition members normally have for raising important issues in the House.
The first petition deals with the issue of euthanasia and long-term care. The petitioners are concerned that instead of focusing on improving medically assisted life, something that we know is a major issue in light of recent revelations, the government has put so much time and legislative energy into efforts to continually further expand euthanasia in Canada and remove vital safeguards.
The second petition speaks to the ongoing conversations happening in Canada around systemic discrimination and systemic racism. I think we do need to reflect on systemic discrimination. This petition deals specifically with Bill 21 in Quebec and raises concerns. The reality of the way that bill applies is that people from certain backgrounds who wish to practise their faith are not able to fully participate in Canadian society if they are employed in the public service. This petition asks the government to provide a response on that issue, something it hasn't done in response to past petitions on this.
The third petition deals with the issue of firearms. The petitioners want to see the government take a strong response in dealing with illegal guns and gun smuggling. The petition notes that the vast majority of firearms-related crimes in Canada involves illegal guns. At the same time, the petitioners are concerned that the government has the wrong focus—that is, harassing law-abiding firearms owners—without putting in place substantial measures to deal with illegal guns. The petitioners want to see the reversal of the order in council from May 1 and strong measures to deal with illegal firearms.
The fourth and final petition deals with Bill S-204, a bill that would make it a criminal offence for a Canadian to go abroad and receive an organ from a person who has not consented to giving that organ. It would also create a mechanism by which someone could be deemed inadmissible to Canada if they were involved in organ harvesting and trafficking. The petitioners are supportive of Bill S-204 and of similar bills in previous parliaments and would like to see us pass that bill as soon as possible.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Machin, if we look at the geographic distribution of investments made by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, we see that 64% of those investments were made in Canada in 2006, but that percentage falls to 15.6% in 2020. That is a very significant decrease. I understand that there is a desire to diversify assets. On the other hand, when you invest a lot of money abroad, you need to have a very good grasp of those markets.
First, I am concerned about the speed of this knowledge acquisition, given both the speed of this investment diversification, and the desire to limit risks.
Second, I'm concerned that there are almost no investments in Canada anymore. Of course, I am more concerned about Quebec, since I am a Quebecker and I want Quebec's economy to do well. How can you explain this decline in investment: is it because the Canadian economy is considered too risky or not diversified enough, or because you don't have confidence in it?
Could you explain how your investment strategy in Quebec differs from the one you apply in Canada, and give us an idea of the percentage of investments made in Quebec as compared to Canada?
Mark Machin
View Mark Machin Profile
Mark Machin
2020-06-11 16:57
I'm very happy to.
As of the fiscal year end, we have around 15.6% of the fund invested in Canada, or about $63.9 billion. One of the purposes of the fund, as originally set up, was to diversify the portfolio into a global portfolio. When we started, what we inherited from our predecessor was 100% domestic investment in Canada, and so we've been diversifying that gradually around the world where we have found good opportunities.
That being said, we have substantial investment in Canada, and we will continue to have substantial investment in Canada. It's our home market, and we understand the risks here, but we are massively overweight versus any measure of Canada's weight from a global GDP perspective, which is around 2%, and from a global equity market perspective, which I think is around 2.6% of global equity markets, etc. Having 15.6% versus two and something per cent in Canada is massively overweight. We are quite comfortable with that. We probably will remain overweight for quite a while.
In Quebec, we have over $4 billion invested across equities and real assets and bonds. We continue to look for great opportunities in Quebec and in other provinces. We continue to look at some of the really vibrant companies in Quebec.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
In Quebec, 55,000 people are waiting for social housing. Groups are demanding social housing. Montreal wants to provide social housing, like Quebec City and like Ottawa.
Ottawa is asking Quebec City to provide social housing, but Quebec City replies that no one can ask it to do what it already wants to do.
Families are suffering at the moment. Can we get out of this crazy situation and release the money?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, we are committed to reaching a bilateral housing agreement with the government of Quebec. Based on the principles of partnership and collaboration, we want to ensure that we reach an agreement that works for Quebec and Quebeckers, and we're committed to reaching that agreement very soon.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Minister Hussen. I have heard him say on many previous occasions that his government is working hard to help society's most disadvantaged and most in need.
There is a housing shortage in Quebec. People have been waiting a long time for access to government-assisted housing. Unfortunately, for the past three years, Quebec has been waiting on the federal-provincial-territorial housing agreement. Quebec is the only place in Canada where people have no access to financing for their housing.
Is the Minister finally going to give the grant to the Government of Quebec so that it can put it to good use and help people in need?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
We will ensure that we work diligently and continuously to make sure that we reach a bilateral housing agreement with Quebec, an agreement that is signed in the spirit of collaboration and true partnership. We are very keen to ensure that this is an agreement that works for Quebec and Quebeckers.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Minister, while we are waiting in Quebec, ribbons are being cut across Canada and people are very happy to have some money. Housing is a Quebec jurisdiction. When will we get some money? We have been waiting for three years and I feel it is time we got some.
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
We have committed to entering into a bilateral agreement with the province of Quebec based on the principles of partnership, cooperation, consensus and accountability. This is not about imposing an agreement, but about working with the Government of Quebec to make a real difference for Quebecers who want access to affordable housing.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, for the past three months, the main message from all governments of the world has been “stay home”, but to do that, you must have a home.
Whereas the UN has criticized Canada three times for the poor housing situation; whereas more than 300,000 Quebec households are living in inadequate housing; whereas, before the pandemic, 82,000 Quebec households spent more than 80% of their income on housing; whereas the government has committed to spending $250 billion to manage the pandemic, but is unable to spend $1.5 billion to provide homes for Quebec's most vulnerable; and whereas more than a dozen housing associations, chambers of commerce in Quebec, mayors representing more than 85% of Quebecers and the Quebec National Assembly are unanimously calling for investments in social housing; the Bloc Québécois therefore demands the immediate and unconditional signing of the housing agreement with Quebec.
View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Again, we're learning that the Liberals are abandoning Quebec's regions. The regional relief and recovery fund is a fund for the regions, yet they are taking $30 million out of that fund and sending it to Montreal.
How is it that the Liberals are putting our regions second?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Chair, our regions are very important, which is why we've doubled the budget of all the economic development agencies in the country to support our regions.
At the same time, since the pandemic is currently hitting Montreal, we have to be where the need is.
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
The aerospace industry in Quebec, a strategic and extremely important sector, is going through troubled times. I think everyone will agree on that. Bombardier has almost reached a dangerous threshold where it can be bought out unconditionally and without compliance, under the inadequate Investment Canada Act.
Obviously, the industry is much more than just Bombardier. It represents about 40,000 jobs in Quebec and 200 businesses. It's safe to say that the industry and the various actors in civil society are concerned.
Why isn't the government acting now, with the same willingness and speed as it did for the automobile sector in 2008, or as it does for the oil and gas sector almost all the time?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, unfortunately, I disagree with my colleague.
Our government understands the importance of the aerospace industry. That's why we've invested in this sector since 2015. Our government understands the importance of investing in research and development, and these investments are going to improve the situation for aerospace industry workers.
We're going to continue to work each and every day to improve the situation of this sector.
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
BQ (QC)
What I understand from what the minister is telling us is that we will continue in the same direction, which isn't encouraging. As for the good work that the government is boasting about, if I listen to the Government of Quebec, which is concerned, the verdict is not at all the same.
It's the same story for the industry itself, which sent a letter to the Prime Minister last week to question him about this issue.
The same goes for the Institut du Québec, which was co-founded by the Conference Board of Canada. So it isn't exactly a bastion of independence. We will agree that it isn't prejudiced against Ottawa.
Furthermore, the study in question, which specifically mentioned Ottawa's inaction in the area, is signed by a man named Alain Dubuc, who isn't exactly from our gang, either.
So what concrete steps are coming up?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, once again, unfortunately, I don't agree with my colleague.
In fact, we've invested a lot of money in the aerospace industry since 2015. Our position is very clear. We must continue working with the Government of Quebec and the sector. Our position is also very simple: we are going to continue investing in the aerospace industry because it's very important for workers.
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
BQ (QC)
Let's talk about that. Canada is pretty much the only country with a real aerospace sector that doesn't have a policy to match the sector. If I understand correctly, there will be some money. With a bit of imagination, that's what I can detect in the minister's response.
If we've learned one thing from the Bombardier situation in Quebec, it's that money must not be given unconditionally to companies. That money must be invested in innovation and must go to workers, not just senior executives. A few weeks ago, I myself asked, with regard to the assistance provided, whether there could be a cap on executive compensation.
In addition, could there be conditions related to the ecological transition, for instance, or a guarantee that activities and jobs remain here? In other words, are there any conditions that will accompany this?
A few weeks ago, when I asked about a completely different kind of assistance, I was told that the conditions were important.
So I'm asking, again, what conditions will accompany the concrete measures that we don't yet know about?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, our position is very clear. We are going to continue to invest in the aerospace sector, which is very important for our economy, for the future and for our workers. That's why we will continue to work with the Government of Quebec and with the industries.
I'm sure our strategy will improve the situation. Unfortunately, in the short term, we'll continue to have problems, but I'm sure that, in the long term, we'll have a very robust sector, which is essential for our economy and, in particular, for workers.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you.
Quebec had an agreement on skills training. The Government of Quebec manages the training, and the federal government transfers the money. We know that it takes time for the two levels of administration to coordinate. This is the case, for example, with social housing, where the needs are great. The money was announced a few years ago and the agreement has still not been signed.
Are any obstacles likely in this case and could the money announced for Quebec not be released?
Jean-Denis Garon
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
Jean-Denis Garon
2020-06-04 18:14
I repeat that we must train the workforce and increase the amounts currently on the table. The federal government has a role to play, particularly by improving employment insurance programs. The provinces will have to come to an agreement with Ottawa so that it can be done quickly.
I have a Quebec bias because I study the Quebec situation a lot. Quebec has a specific agreement on workforce training. As you said, Mr. Ste-Marie, this sort of agreement often takes a long time to negotiate. After long negotiations, we come back to square one, with some accountability, without very stringent conditions, and with a fine partnership.
Training the workforce in times of crisis will be an excellent test of how Canadian federalism works.
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My questions are for Minister Joly. If she wants to be prepared to answer, that will save us some time.
In Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent, tourism alone accounts for 15,000 jobs and $650 million in economic benefits. This economic sector is vitally important for my riding.
What is Minister Joly's plan to support the industry?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
I thank my colleague for his question. I know he is a strong advocate for the tourism sector in his region, which I've had the opportunity to visit several times.
A series of measures have been put in place, from the Canada emergency wage subsidy to the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance and, more specifically, the assistance provided to Quebec by Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions.
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, Quebec's tourism industry is currently asking for $650 million.
What is Ottawa's plan to support Quebec's tourism industry?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
As I said, our plan involves putting measures in place, of course. In addition, new funding will be provided through CED.
I will have some good news to announce in that respect in the next few days.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I understand my colleague's impatience. As I just said, it will be in the next few days.
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, yesterday, the Treasury Board President said in the House that we need to be transparent and give concrete answers and good answers.
When will the minister make this announcement?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'll be announcing some good news in the next few days. I will be pleased to give my colleague the good news—
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for her non-answer.
At the end of last week, the minister announced $70 million, $30 million of which was already earmarked for advertising in other parts of the world and which Canada will recover. That is a good thing. However, that does not include Quebec.
When will the announcement be made?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I spoke to the CEO of the Alliance de l'industrie touristique du Québec, Martin Soucy. He says that he is very pleased with the federal government's action so far and very optimistic.
Of course, we are in contact with the Alliance de l'industrie touristique du Québec. We will have some good news to announce in the next few days.
Furthermore, this morning, I spoke again with Quebec's Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, so that we can really support—
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Fitzgibbon has announced that he will not go as high as $650 million for Quebec's tourism industry.
Will the Minister of Economic Development announce additional funding to make up for Quebec's missing share?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
We will always stand by the tourism sector. We have been doing so since the beginning of the pandemic and we will continue to do so.
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, the Union des municipalités du Québec and the Fédération québécoise des municipalités received $2.2 billion from the government, whereas they were asking for $10 billion. The government said that additional amounts would probably be made available.
In Quebec, one of the rules imposed by the federal government is that 20% of all money spent must be spent on municipal buildings, fire stations, water tanks and other items that serve the community.
Is the government planning to relax its measures to allow municipalities to spend the money more appropriately?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, we are very proud of how we are investing in infrastructure across the country.
We are working with the province of Quebec and the municipalities to invest in projects. We are working directly with the province of Quebec, we are also working together on the gas tax, and we will continue to do so.
View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
According to a survey conducted by the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières' research institute on small and medium size businesses, the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region would be the most affected by the economic effects of COVID-19. This is not surprising. In fact, in our region, the tourism industry generates more than $300 million in economic activity, including $58 million for the cruise industry alone.
The $70 million that you announced yesterday is a very modest start. What does the government intend to do for the tourism industry in the regions?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, it goes without saying that the tourism industry is indeed very much affected. That is why we are responding to their concerns and worries.
We have therefore extended the emergency wage subsidy until the end of August. We are also providing the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance, as well as the $40,000 loans from the Canada emergency business account. We have also just announced $70 million in support for Canada's tourism sector.
I am having good talks with various stakeholders in Quebec, including Martin Soucy from the Alliance de l'industrie touristique du Québec. In addition, we are going to do our part to support the tourism sector through Economic Development Canada.
View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, the tourism industry in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region is the sum of all its stakeholders. Many of these businesses are too small to receive the assistance announced by the federal government. Overly restrictive standards will prevent some tourist accommodation from welcoming guests this year, even though they will have to pay their bills every month.
What does the government plan to do to help the regions most affected economically?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
I thank my colleague for his important question. What he is describing is the reason we are currently working on a game plan. We really want to be able to reach these small businesses, of which there are many in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, in Quebec and across the country.
That is why the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have committed an additional $1 billion to help those businesses that fall through the cracks. We need to respond now, and I will have more to say about it in the next few days.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
What type of support are you receiving from the Government of Quebec or the health department in this case? What type of relationship do you have?
Conrad Sauvé
View Conrad Sauvé Profile
Conrad Sauvé
2020-05-27 17:18
We have very close ties with the West Island of Montreal CIUSSS and the Government of Quebec. We're in constant contact. We work all the time, in every province, with provincial and regional authorities. It's an ongoing relationship. The demand has increased in Quebec government facilities.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you.
Mr. Sauvé, I want to go back to what you said about the $100 million provided by the Canadian government.
We hear that Red Cross funding is slow to reach Quebec. Is that true? What would be a reasonable time frame?
Conrad Sauvé
View Conrad Sauvé Profile
Conrad Sauvé
2020-05-27 17:55
Are you asking me whether funding is slow to materialize to support our operations in Quebec?
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
Yes, exactly. We're hearing this from funded organizations. Do you think that this is true, and what would be a reasonable time frame?
Conrad Sauvé
View Conrad Sauvé Profile
Conrad Sauvé
2020-05-27 17:55
The allocation of emergency funding is a broader issue. Obviously, in an emergency situation, we must be able to access funding quickly. The Red Cross had reserve funds that it could use right away. We have the government's support and we're dealing with this issue. This hasn't slowed down our operations in Quebec. The Red Cross showed up when it was asked for help. We've increased our operations significantly.
The funding that we recently received from the federal government seeks not only to meet current needs, but also to establish a fund to increase our capacity more quickly.
I must say that we received support in this area. This hasn't affected the quality of our operations on the ground.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
I'll provide an example. According to the president and executive director of the Centraide of Greater Montreal, two weeks ago, two months after the start of the pandemic, her organization hadn't yet received a cent. I don't know whether this issue was resolved or whether this is a reasonable time frame. This may be outside your purview. I don't know.
Conrad Sauvé
View Conrad Sauvé Profile
Conrad Sauvé
2020-05-27 17:56
The broader issue concerns how we can provide funding more quickly and implement mechanisms in emergency situations. This is a real issue.
We're holding discussions with public safety and with the provinces about quicker access to funding. We've created reserve funds to deal with these situations. Of course, it's always difficult to access funding quickly. The magnitude of the crisis obviously makes this a challenge.
I repeat that this hasn't slowed down our operations. This is nothing new for us.
Stanley Vollant
View Stanley Vollant Profile
Stanley Vollant
2020-05-26 17:46
Yes, I'm worried about delays in routine care.
I'm a cancer specialist at Hôpital Notre-Dame. Because of the epidemic, many people in Quebec and in the communities are stuck waiting for their test results or treatment. There will be long-term consequences. This will translate to higher mortality rates from cancer.
Many people haven't received their results from diabetes screening tests or tests for kidney or retinal disease. Unfortunately, this pandemic is likely to have long-term consequences.
That's a general observation that applies to the whole country and Quebec. Quebec is one of the epicentres of the pandemic in North America. It's a little harder. People aren't allowed to travel, but if they do need to go see their specialist in Montreal or Quebec City, they have to self-isolate when they go home because of the risk of contaminating their communities. It's a huge problem.
View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2020-05-22 14:47
Thank you.
You did talk earlier in your presentation about some of the numbers regarding temporary foreign workers coming into Canada, but my colleague, Ms. Rood, did mention that Quebec and B.C. seem to be lagging far behind compared with Ontario, for example. In Quebec they're still quite short of the temporary foreign workers who are supposed to be coming in to that province. The numbers that we have seen are close to around 50%. Is that accurate and why is there such a discrepancy?
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
You're quite right that there are some regional disparities. We are looking at ways we can increase and accelerate the rate of arrival for some of the provinces who are perhaps not as far along, like British Columbia, as you mentioned. I think we have seen good progress in Ontario and Quebec. One of the ways I think we're going to pick up speed in facilitating the arrival of temporary workers is by continuing to invest the resources that are necessary in the dedicated team within my own department, and also among a number of other departments like Agriculture, as well as Employment and Social Development, and Public Services and Procurement Canada. We understand there's a challenge there, but we are really expending every effort to get those workers here as quickly as possible.
Marjolaine Siouï
View Marjolaine Siouï Profile
Marjolaine Siouï
2020-05-22 14:14
Kwe.
In Quebec, as of May 20, there were 45,495 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,800 deaths. You all know that the province of Quebec has been the hardest hit in terms of deaths.
Of course, this has implications for first nations communities. To date, the communities have been very well organized and have all put in place an emergency measures plan, which has made it possible to limit, in the case of Quebec, the number of cases to 35 and the number of deaths to two.
Monitoring health status and its determinants is one of the major challenges in public health. Currently, there are no formal protocols. Normally, this is the responsibility of the province, but this has not been solidified by concrete agreements so that first nations communities can have accurate caseload and surveillance data, particularly in their care homes. We know that there are still a lot of people—
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to welcome all the witnesses. My question is for Mr. Picard.
Mr. Picard, this week, on Facebook, I saw an interesting image shared by a first nations activist. It was an embroidery piece on which one could read that the coronavirus had not broken the system, but rather revealed a broken system. That pretty much sums up the problem. In terms of housing, we are facing a systematic problem that can be very dangerous in terms of the transmission of the virus.
Can you tell us about the housing needs of the first nations of Quebec, the epidemiological challenges posed by the lack of housing, and what can be done by the federal government to correct this situation?
Ghislain Picard
View Ghislain Picard Profile
Ghislain Picard
2020-05-22 14:34
Thank you very much for your question.
That has always been the case. It's not the first time we've talked about it. Let us say that the crisis has amplified the situation and the problems that communities are experiencing. We hear almost contradictory messages. On the one hand, they are promoting guidelines, such as physical distance and washing your hands for 20 seconds, and on the other hand, there is overcrowding. It is therefore extremely difficult to take the guidelines into account and apply them in the circumstances we are aware of.
Simply put, tomorrow morning, 8,000 new housing units would have to be built in Quebec alone to make the situation comparable to that elsewhere. We have been talking about this for 20 years. Since 2000, the communities in our region have been saying that the housing situation is in crisis, and we have been advocating for change for 20 years. In the context of the current crisis, the determinants of health become even more important and, indeed, access to shelter or housing is at the heart of these conditions.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Picard.
The federal government also announced $24,882,000 for the first nations of Quebec. Commenting on the $215 million that amount came from, Chief Perry Bellegarde said that it was a first step. This implies that a second one will be needed.
Regarding the Indigenous Community Support Fund, several questions come to mind. Is this money being paid out quickly enough for communities to meet urgent expenses?
Marjolaine Siouï
View Marjolaine Siouï Profile
Marjolaine Siouï
2020-05-22 14:37
In terms of the investments that have been made, this is certainly a first phase. However, when we look at the current needs, we cannot talk about housing without talking about the necessary infrastructure. In Quebec, we do have 14 seniors' residences. Most of the other seniors live with their families. So, this has caused great problems in terms of the measures needed to combat COVID-19, such as isolation and confinement.
On the other hand, there are jurisdictional conflicts, particularly when it comes to investments that were announced, whether provincial or federal. For Quebec, it is a great challenge to demystify all this. We also know that the communities have expressed great concern regarding temporary accommodation.
It is therefore certain that it is a good thing to have a first phase, but it will be necessary to look at much more specific issues and make a complete assessment in order to rectify the current situation.
Marjolaine Siouï
View Marjolaine Siouï Profile
Marjolaine Siouï
2020-05-22 14:38
Yes. There's the division of powers. As always, there's the question of who has what responsibility. As far as public health is concerned, we know very well that Quebec's Public Health Act applies. The provincial government therefore has its share of responsibility.
Marjolaine Siouï
View Marjolaine Siouï Profile
Marjolaine Siouï
2020-05-22 14:39
It's sad to see that in circumstances like these, people's health is put at risk because of jurisdictional issues.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Yes.
Do you need an additional amount of money on top of the initial amount? If so, how much is needed?
Marjolaine Siouï
View Marjolaine Siouï Profile
Marjolaine Siouï
2020-05-22 14:39
I couldn't give you a number today. There is no doubt that the sums invested to date are insufficient for many communities, for the simple reason that there are other measures to be taken. I'll give you an example.
This morning, a federal investment was confirmed. Quebec had announced wage increases, first because its system is flawed, that is, it does not pay front-line and essential services workers well enough.
Marjolaine Siouï
View Marjolaine Siouï Profile
Marjolaine Siouï
2020-05-22 14:39
As for the announcements that have been made, this will come under federal funding, as was the case today for people who work in seniors' residences or who provide assisted living services. On the other hand, anything that affects resources, such as police officers, nurses and other skilled trades—
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll pursue the same line of questioning with the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission.
Ms. Siouï.
Marjolaine Siouï
View Marjolaine Siouï Profile
Marjolaine Siouï
2020-05-22 14:48
I would say that we're very fortunate in Quebec that we have those regional organizations that are in support of the communities. A lot of those initiatives came from the communities themselves. Also, at a regional level, we have the First Nations Education Council that works with the schools. We also have, in our own organization, the whole support that comes for the educators in day care. It's the same with the Institut Tshakapesh, which is supporting the Innu communities. Those organizations have been working very closely with all of the communities in Quebec in providing activities live on Facebook, work activities that people can do, parent activities. We also set up a website specifically on COVID-19, on which all of the organizations are creating tools and links and some webinars. Many good initiatives have been put in place.
We also created on our website a forum through which each community has its place so it can share with other communities all of the good things and good practices that are in place.
We do have a network with first-line services, prevention services. We are in contact with those workers at the community level on a constant basis. I think everybody is working together and making it safer for those families and children.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
Chief Picard, I'm sure it's similar in your neck of the woods. Where I'm from, most of the first nations communities have blockaded the roads in and out. That seems to have worked. However, there are some concerns with inconsistencies in terms of who may travel in and who may travel out.
Have you heard anything on that? How have your communities managed maintaining the blockades on the roads so that only those who should be coming in and going out have been coming in and going out?
Ghislain Picard
View Ghislain Picard Profile
Ghislain Picard
2020-05-22 14:51
Excuse me, Mr. Chair.
In a way, we are guided in part by public health authorities in Quebec. As for the chiefs, they have been extremely proactive and they have come up with their own directives.
At the height of the crisis two weeks ago, at least 30 communities out of 43 really controlled access to the community, if not completely closed off access to the community. That is what's working, that is what's preventing the spread of the virus. In fact, anyone who has followed the news knows that the community of Kanesatake, located about 40 minutes from Montreal, has taken the same action in Oka Provincial Park and that the objectives in relation to vulnerable populations were the same.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
I would like to give Ghislain the opportunity to answer the question from my colleague, Mr. Viersen.
We're noticing that communities are taking jurisdiction to keep their communities safe through the bylaws that are within the Indian Act.
How are they able to enforce that? Continue your thought process, please.
Ghislain Picard
View Ghislain Picard Profile
Ghislain Picard
2020-05-22 14:53
At the risk of repeating myself, I think that we have a reality that is not the same as that of other Quebeckers or other Canadians.
Mr. Battiste, Ms. Campbell and I understand each other in this regard. We're familiar with these situations.
I think that in this case the chiefs found themselves in situations where they had no choice but to make extremely radical decisions to control access to their community in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Ms. Siouï gave us some numbers earlier. With about 30 cases and two deaths in Quebec, if we compare our situation to the situation elsewhere in Quebec, proportionally speaking, we get much better results, with extremely limited means. Imagine what we could do if we had both the structural and financial means.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Ghislain.
You also spoke about government and first nations working together to solve some of these problems. I'm wondering about best practices. I also want to reflect on the fact that two days ago, Lenore Zann and I were part of an MPs and chiefs discussion to collaborate and work together. In this new reality of Zoom, are the Quebec chiefs also meeting through Zoom?
Are all communities able to access the Internet and Zoom or web conferencing to help make these discussions...? Everyone used to travel. Now we're able to arrange an hour's video conference.
Is this an effective way of communicating? Do you find it's getting the job done in Quebec?
Ghislain Picard
View Ghislain Picard Profile
Ghislain Picard
2020-05-22 14:55
In 10 days' time, on June 2 and 4, we will hold our first official chiefs' meeting by Zoom. It's the new way of doing things, it's the new reality. That's the direction we're going in. No one, you or I, can predict how long this will last. All we know is that we have to prepare for the long term. As we discussed earlier, the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly will not take place in July. The North American Indigenous Games will not take place in July in Halifax. That is unfortunate, but that is the situation we are facing. It forces us to give ourselves new ways of doing things, because there are always challenges. Housing is one of them and there are many others. Our engagement with governments is also framed by this new reality.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
I wonder if you could speak a little about some of the mental health challenges going on in Quebec. We know that mental health is an issue in indigenous communities during regular times, but how about during COVID? Have you seen an increase in the need for mental health services?
Marjolaine Siouï
View Marjolaine Siouï Profile
Marjolaine Siouï
2020-05-22 14:57
Thank you.
So far, things are going fairly well, I would say, although we did see two murders over the most recent weeks, unfortunately, and a couple of suicides as well. That is always unfortunate.
I would say that most communities have access to mental wellness teams and to intervenors and workers. We do have a network in support of those resources. Of course, everybody is tired right now, because it's been going on for quite a while, but the work is about keeping an eye on that and making sure there is a safety net for communities.
In terms of violence, many people said that we could expect an increase, but we don't necessarily have the numbers right now—
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you.
On another note, Ottawa still hasn't signed the social housing agreement with Quebec. From CMHC's perspective, do you think this can be done in the near future?
Evan Siddall
View Evan Siddall Profile
Evan Siddall
2020-05-19 16:00
It would be our hope that we could do so in the near future. We have been engaged in negotiations with each province for, as you would know, a long period of time. For the Province of Quebec, we have sent them a number of draft agreements. In fact, there are a number of projects that are held up on announcement pending that agreement. Our people stand ready to finish an agreement. We're working earnestly with our colleagues at the Société d'habitation du Québec.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
If I understand you correctly, CMHC is therefore prepared to move forward by accepting that Quebec has its own way of doing things and is not subject to the same conditions as the other provinces.
Evan Siddall
View Evan Siddall Profile
Evan Siddall
2020-05-19 16:01
We have agreed to an asymmetric agreement with the Province of Quebec, and that is indeed what we have proposed. They have asked for conditions that are outside of my authority to negotiate. We have informed them of that and hope that we can reach an agreement very soon.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank the witnesses here today. We really appreciate your presentations.
I represent the constituency of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou. The constituency is very large and is home to many indigenous communities and indigenous women. I want to let you know that I was in Val-d'Or last September during the tabling of the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, or NIMMIWG.
The report clearly states that indigenous women in Quebec most often experience indifference, and sometimes even contempt, while former colonial policies have infiltrated Quebec institutions.
Ms. Whitman, the pandemic is making things difficult for indigenous women. According to an APTN report, the current pandemic is increasing pressure on women's shelters and creating complications for these facilities because of physical distancing measures.
Can you elaborate on this reality, particularly with regard to the situation in Quebec?
Lorraine Whitman
View Lorraine Whitman Profile
Lorraine Whitman
2020-05-15 14:42
Thank you.
I did get part of it by the time I found the translation. In regard to the violence that's occurring, you're certainly correct that with the shelters and what have you, it makes it far more difficult for our women to be able to find accommodation and make use of some of the services, especially with some of the shelters.
Some of them are not culturally related to the indigenous women, the Métis and the Inuit, so it makes it uncomfortable. At the same time, the shelters are facing this pandemic, which means they aren't able to take as many people into the shelters, in protection of the women and the children who are already in the centres. Of course, with new women coming in with children, it makes it even more distressing that some of the women's needs are not being met. Although I do understand there have been some rooms in hotels made available to accommodate the women, there are still women who are missing in these gaps that are occurring with this pandemic and the violence.
It's as though we're struck with two crises: the pandemic, and then the increase in violence.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to come back to the issue of the strategic stockpile.
I have a hard time understanding how the inventory is monitored. I was told that you track needs with the provinces. However, the Government of Quebec ran out of resources rather quickly at the beginning of the crisis. It started looking for masks even before the general public was aware of the situation. Meanwhile, you threw out expired masks.
Why was there no coordination between the two jurisdictions to help the Government of Quebec? I know that the masks were expired, but do you not know ahead of time when the expiry date of the masks is in six months or a year? Do you just sit back and then simply throw the masks out when they expire. I do not understand how this is managed.
Sally Thornton
View Sally Thornton Profile
Sally Thornton
2020-05-15 12:03
Perhaps I'll start and then go over to my colleague to talk about what has happened with Quebec, in particular.
Just to be clear, those masks that expired were purchased in 2009. They expired five years afterwards, in 2014, and they were destroyed in 2019, well before we had any inkling that this would be coming upon us. What we have done is to retain some other expired stock much more recently.
Health Canada, in an emergency, can often actually give you the authority to use expired materials. They still have to be subjected to a verification to make sure they do not pose any risk to the end-user. For anything that we did have, as well, we talked to our provinces and territories that also had expired stock. Where we were able to get the authority from Health Canada to use expired product, subject to a visual inspection, we did.
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