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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2021-06-14 11:03 [p.8309]
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The Chair would like to take a moment to provide some information to the House regarding the management of Private Members' Business.
As members know, certain procedural realities constrain the Speaker and members insofar as legislation is concerned.
Following the replenishment of the order of precedence, the Chair has developed a practice of reviewing items so that the House can be alerted to bills that, at first glance, appear to impinge on the financial prerogative of the Crown. This allows members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.
Accordingly, following the May 31st, 2021, replenishment of the order of precedence with 15 new items, I wish to inform the House that there is one bill which preoccupies the Chair: It is Bill C-301, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Canada Health Act, standing in the name of the member for La Prairie.
The understanding of the Chair is that this bill may need to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.
I therefore encourage hon. members who would like to make arguments regarding the requirement of a royal recommendation for Bill C-301 to do so at the earliest opportunity.
I thank hon. members for their attention.
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View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2021-06-14 11:06 [p.8309]
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moved that Bill C-273, An Act to establish a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely honoured to rise in the House today to speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-273, an act to establish a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income. I give my thanks to the member for Malpeque, who seconded the bill and is a champion for a guaranteed basic income pilot in his home province of P.E.I., and to the member for Beaches—East York, a true progressive who traded his spot so I could stand in the House today to begin second reading of Bill C-273. I feel blessed to call him a colleague and friend.
Basic income is not a new idea. It is one that has been circulating in Canada for decades. This bill is being introduced after the many years of advocacy, research and work of many leaders, including Professor Evelyn Forget; former minister, MP and senator, the Hon. Hugh Segal; Ron Hikel, who directed the MINCOME program in Manitoba; Sheila Regehr, chair of the Basic Income Canada Network; Floyd Marinescu, executive director of UBI Works; the Hon. Art Eggleton, former senator, MP and minister; and Senator Kim Pate, among many other current senators. I stand on all of their shoulders. Their work is the reason this bill exists.
Even though a motion on basic income was presented in the House by the member for Winnipeg Centre, Bill C-273 represents the first time a bill on basic income has been introduced in the House of Commons, and it is a true honour for me to speak at the second reading of this bill.
We are slowly coming out of a once-in-a-generation pandemic, and we are all wondering what kind of world we want to come back to. We are all asking ourselves questions about how we want to live, inquiring about some of the models and systems that are currently in place. We are looking with new eyes at the economic model that has been the foundation of global growth. We have a much better understanding of the human impacts on our planet, which are accelerating climate change, and are asking ourselves how we can change the way we live. We see more clearly the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and other global disruptors on the most vulnerable and are asking what our obligations are to those who are less fortunate than us.
In building back better, what is the world we want to live in? As we chart a course forward, I believe we need a 21st-century approach that provides stability and better supports for Canadians, tackles income inequality, enhances productivity and spurs economic growth and innovation.
Bill C-273 proposes to create a new model that would serve as the foundation of our social welfare system. The bill, at its core, is about enabling implementation pilots between the provinces and/or territories and the national government to test large-scale guaranteed basic income programs. This bill is not about testing whether basic income is a good idea. There is already strong and substantial data that supports the effectiveness of a guarantee basic income, but there is much less information on the best ways or models to implement and deliver basic income at scale.
Bill C-273 would enable us to frame, test and validate different models to get to those answers and the data. The results of these implementation pilots and data would ultimately be used to create a national guaranteed basic income model. The bill does not propose which basic income model to use, whether it is a negative income model, the Ontario model, the MINCOME model or any other model. It also does not articulate a price tag or propose to eliminate any existing government-assisted income or support programs.
Bill C-273, if passed, would have all these details worked out between the provinces and/or territories and the federal government. It would allow for interested provinces or territories to model and create a program that works best for their populations. This bill would also collect data in three key areas: the impacts to government, the impacts to the recipient and the impacts to recipient communities. It also proposes the creation of a framework of national standards.
Why am I proposing a bill on guaranteed basic income? Canada's current social welfare system, created in the 1940s and modernized in the 1970s, is still largely at the foundation of the system we have today. No matter how many times it is adjusted, too many Canadians are still falling through the cracks. There are literally hundreds of income and support programs for Canadians, delivered by dozens of departments and ministries. This complexity leads to our current service model missing many of the Canadians most in need, and focuses too often on applications and auditing Canadians and far less so on delivering the actual support they need. Meanwhile, even with these programs, income inequality continues to grow despite our deliberate efforts to tackle it.
I am so proud of the many ways our federal Liberal government has tried to directly address income inequality and reduce poverty over the last five years, such as raising taxes on the top 1%, reducing it on the middle class, introducing the Canada child benefit, increasing the Canada workers benefit and increasing the guaranteed income supplement for seniors, among many other things. We have greatly reduced poverty in Canada by over a million people, but income inequality continues to be an issue. That is why I believe it is time to review the foundation of our social welfare system and bring it into the 21st century. I believe that a new service model could be a guaranteed basic income program, one that may simplify our social programs while better delivering support.
Even before the pandemic, almost half of all Canadian families were $200 away from coming up short on their monthly bills. The jobs they rely on are not what they used to be. People used to turn to part-time and temporary work as a last resort during tough times, but now for many, multiple jobs are needed to pay the bills and meet responsibilities.
Indeed, the world of work is changing faster than ever before. More workers are shifting to the gig economic, there are more temporary and short-term jobs, and many jobs, whether blue collar or white collar, are being eliminated by automation and artificial intelligence. In addition, disruptions in our economy are happening at an accelerated rate, faster and more frequently, leaving more Canadians working harder, longer and feeling like it is more difficult to get ahead.
Throughout history, humans have had to adapt to major disruptions like the ones we are going through now, which include COVID and the move to digital economy, among many others, and we eventually do adapt. However, the period of change can be harsh, even ruthless, leaving countless workers behind, with many never recovering. Our social safety net is not well designed to help Canadians through transitions, so in my opinion we need a new model, one that provides stability to those who have been trapped in a cycle of poverty, to those who are in danger of falling into poverty and to the middle class threatened by disruption.
Workers cannot weather economic change without a strong financial floor under them that provides them with stability. Too many jobs no longer provide that floor. Low-wage work prevents people from moving on to better opportunities. People cannot take time to train for tomorrow's job market or turn an idea into a business that employs other people. People need financial freedom to move up the economic ladder and innovate.
Young people understand this volatile future because they are already living it. They know that the guarantees made to them no longer hold true. We promised them a middle-class lifestyle if they got an education and worked hard. Instead, they are inheriting an economy facing non-stop disruption. They are being forced into a gig economy and temporary jobs or facing threats from automation. We need a social welfare system that is more responsive, less complex, more flexible and better at managing labour changes, disruptions and transitions. A basic income program can offer that.
Finally, I see the guaranteed basic income as a cornerstone of Canada's innovation and economic growth strategy. Providing an equal opportunity for everyone to succeed is a fundamental value at the heart of Bill C-273. We need a system that removes all obstacles regarding access to opportunity and that allows people to be their best selves. Canada's economy and success will be dependent on our ability to innovate. The only way for Canada to achieve its economic potential is by allowing all Canadians to achieve their full personal potential.
It is vital to note that the operational design of a basic income program is critical to its success. Ron Hikel, director of the MINCOME Manitoba program, said there are three essential design features of a system that will provide sufficient income and address variability of income, greatly encouraging work, minimizing fraud and reducing public costs. The design of any basic income model or implementation pilot must be thoughtful, and guaranteed income implementation pilots should be monitored and adjusted as they unfold to ensure they are producing the impacts that are desired.
There are three common often repeated myths of basic income. One, it will encourage people to stay at home and not work; two, social programs that are helpful will be eliminated; and three, it will cost too much.
Basic income pilots have been tested all over the world. Beyond our borders, countries such as Japan, Finland, Iran and the United States have tested it. The verdict is that a basic income helps reduce poverty without reducing people's desire to work. Some people find that last part hard to believe, even though basic income recipients in pilots around the world show they continue to work. That is because most basic income models would not cover all costs, but would provide the stability needed to improve options. Recipients of basic income do not see it as a handout but a resource that they use to retrain, go back to school or search for full-time work, and when they do, they often find better work, earn more and stay in jobs longer.
As for the cost, some people believe that the price tag is too big. However, real life has shown us that the cost of doing nothing is bigger. What is the cost of not altering a system that we know is outdated? What is the cost of not better supporting Canadians to be their best and more productive selves? In the end, it may be cost-effective, if pilots generate more value than they cost.
Before the pandemic, our social safety net was already failing; the pandemic just pointed a spotlight at it. In the months ahead, pandemic supports will start winding down, and families will go back to hoping that their limited monthly savings are enough to get by on. My sense is that we know they will not be.
We are faced with some big questions as we come out of this pandemic, and as we tally up the costs and face the hard truths that have come to light over the last 16 months. The late Shimon Peres, former president and prime minister of Israel, at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2014 said that the world is changing faster than ever before, but the opportunity before us is to shape the world that we want to live in. So, what is the world that we want to live in? In Canada, what kind of society do we want to create?
Mark Carney tells us that the crises facing the world today come from a focus on price and profitability at the expense of fairness and income equality. Recognizing that our current models have not resulted in a fair and more equitable world, what are the right values for Canada to pursue now?
Maybe we want to create a base set of principles that is at the root of our society: that all Canadians have access to food, a roof over their heads, health care, freedom from violence, greater choice and full access to opportunity. Maybe we want to balance, making policy decisions that look only at improving productivity, efficiency and creating jobs while also providing Canadians with stability, dignity and personal growth that will have greater success in achieving those goals. Maybe we want to create a new foundation for our social welfare system, one that provides stability, dignity and the right incentives for all Canadians to be supported so they can contribute as their best selves.
We have done this before. After the Depression and World War II, a compassionate Tommy Douglas imagined universal health care for all men and women, many of whom he was seeing in the streets. Many had served in the war but, when coming home, could not afford health care and had become destitute. Tommy Douglas had imagined free health care services for all, and starting in one province he showed that it could be done and how best to do it. We then expanded health care to the rest of Canada, and we are not poorer as a country; we are richer for it. We also did this with public pensions and old age security for seniors. Again, we are a better, richer and fairer country because of these programs.
In conclusion, the world is in transition now, and it is a moment when we need our governments to step up and create the world that we want to live in. This is that moment. Our aging social infrastructure is ill-suited to support the needs of Canadians today. Too many people no longer have a fair shot at opportunity. Creating a new model that provides stability can restore a fair shot for everyone and boost our innovation and economic potential. A guaranteed basic income, as would be enabled by Bill C-273, is the simplest, fastest and most effective way to get it done.
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View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
View Louise Chabot Profile
2021-06-14 11:20 [p.8312]
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Madam Speaker, I listened to the member plead her case at length, but what she is talking about is a pilot project with the provinces, not a guaranteed minimum income.
I will not comment on the substance of the matter, because a guaranteed basic income, or minimum income, has potential advantages. However, I have to point out that it is up to each province to introduce it. The social assistance programs we are talking about, the income assistance programs, ultimately, and other social programs are a provincial jurisdiction.
Rather than reflecting on these conditions for the 21st century, there are two things the government could do right away. First, it could strengthen and reform the employment insurance system for workers. Second, it could stop discriminating against some seniors and increase old age security for all seniors aged 65 and over.
Could my colleague comment on that?
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View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2021-06-14 11:21 [p.8312]
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Madam Speaker, there are two things that I want to address. The first is in terms of adjusting our current EI system. As I mentioned in my speech, it was a system that was created in another era, and it was meant to serve a population at a time with different challenges and opportunities. For me, it does not matter how many times we adjust the system. Still too many people cannot actually access the supports. Still too many people are falling into poverty. We do not have the agility and flexibility in the system that we need for the unpredictability of the work world that we see both today and in the future.
In terms of the participation of the provinces, support programs are actually offered both provincially and federally, and I think—
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View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Carol Hughes Profile
2021-06-14 11:22 [p.8312]
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Unfortunately, I do have to allow for other questions. There are only five minutes for questions and comments.
The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.
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View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2021-06-14 11:23 [p.8312]
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Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on her private member's bill and advancing the idea of basic income. However, as we know, leading basic income efforts have indicated that basic income is actually not a silver bullet and it must be in addition to current and future government services and supports.
My concern is with proposed subparagraph 3(3)(d)(i), which provides the option of “the potential of a guaranteed basic income program to reduce the complexity of or replace existing social programs”. My concern was amplified last week, on June 3, when the member for Davenport voted in support of reducing the CRB from $2,000 to $1,200 come July, in the FINA committee, which is a totally unlivable income.
Is the member willing to make amendments to her bill to ensure that cutting our social safety net is off the table?
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View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2021-06-14 11:24 [p.8312]
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Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her leadership on this issue. There are two things I will address.
One is in terms of what support programs would be included in any type of basic income implementation pilot. The bill does not actually call for any programs to be reduced. I think it is just gathering the data as to what would be reduced if there are any programs that are flattened over time. It is really up to the provinces and territories to work with the federal government to come up with a pilot for their citizens. The principle should be that everyone is better off.
In terms of what the member referred to in the finance committee, there was a proposal to actually increase CRB, but it was ruled out of order because of a technical thing that does not allow motions to come before the finance committee that would increase the budget.
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View Mike Kelloway Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mike Kelloway Profile
2021-06-14 11:25 [p.8312]
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Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Davenport for her important work on Bill C-273. In my riding of Cape Breton—Canso, health care is top of mind for all constituents.
Can you tell us about the relationship between basic income and social determinants of health, and how basic income can reduce the strains on our health care system?
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View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Carol Hughes Profile
2021-06-14 11:25 [p.8312]
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I want to remind the member that he is to address the questions to the Chair and not to the individual member.
A brief answer from the member for Davenport.
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View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2021-06-14 11:25 [p.8312]
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Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his tremendous support and leadership. The reason we want to have these types of implementation pilots is that we want to test how we could better support our populations in an era that is changing faster than ever before. We know that the current costs of poverty and the current costs of not providing enough support to our population do have negative effects on health. I think that is the reason we want to be testing these implementation pilots moving forward.
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View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2021-06-14 11:26 [p.8313]
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Madam Speaker, it is very good to be back on the floor of the House of Commons. Like so many parliamentarians, I have been participating virtually for months, so it really feels great to be here today with you and everyone in the House.
I am pleased today to put some thoughts on the record concerning Bill C-273, an act to establish a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income.
What is a guaranteed basic income? There are many different policy iterations of it. On the whole, it would essentially be monthly cheques to every Canadian. Some of the policy iterations of this would provide basic cheques to children as well. The amount tends to vary depending on the plan, some having a few hundred dollars a month and others seeing it more as a means to cover all basic necessities, like CERB, which was of course $2,000 a month. In simple terms, a guaranteed basic income is like CERB, but for everyone, forever.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer has estimated that a national guaranteed basic income could cost $85 billion per year, rising to $93 billion per year in 2025-26. To pay for this at the federal level, Canadians could expect to see a tripling of the GST, which currently sits at 5%, or an increase of personal income taxes to 50%. Introducing a basic income following the costliest year in Canadian history, where federal government spending hit $650 billion in 2020 and is predicted to hit $510 billion in 2021, is cause for concern, especially since we have received no viable, tangible strategy of how the Liberals are going to raise enough revenue from taxpayers to responsibly pay back the $354 billion of deficits from 2020 or the $154 billion of deficits predicted for 2021. Just six short years ago, the federal budget was a mere $298 billion. The Liberals have doubled Canada's national spending during their time in office, and now want to talk about adding another $93-billion permanent spending program to the bottom line. I think Canadians are reasonably concerned about this.
The basic income proposal is about more than spending, of course. One of the main arguments is to address poverty, and policy proponents argue that the benefits to the country's social fabric will outweigh the costs. In 2019, Statistics Canada estimated that 3.7 million Canadians, or one in 10, live below the poverty line. A 529-page report, quite a lengthy report, by researchers and economists at three leading Canadian universities concluded after a three-year investigation that a basic income would not be the best way to address poverty. Rather, the report found that government should focus on improving existing programs that already target those who really need them, for example help with rental assist, youth aging out of the child welfare system or perhaps Canadians living with disabilities. Proponents of basic income argue that it will help those living at the extreme inequalities in Canada, those who are homeless, for example. We know that often those who suffer from homelessness also suffer from severe addictions, with the two often feeding into one another.
I have grave concerns about the impact of a basic income on Canadians suffering from addictions. We know that COVID‑19 has had severe, extreme and deadly outcomes in Canada since the pandemic began. In fact, overdoses have killed more young people, by far, than COVID‑19. In Toronto, fatal suspected opioid overdose calls to paramedics were up 90% in 2020. In Manitoba, 372 overdose deaths were recorded last year, which is a full 87% jump from the year prior. In British Columbia, the latest data tells us that an average of five people die every single day from illicit drug overdose, with 500 people having died in the first three months of 2021 alone. In fact, Canada-wide, in the six months following the implementation of the COVID‑19 lockdowns and restriction measures, there were 3,351 apparent opioid toxicity deaths, representing a 74% increase from the six months prior, a truly devastating statistic.
What happens if we send a monthly cheque of thousands of dollars to those who are severely addicted to drugs? When CERB was first introduced, a constituent of mine, a mother, called me in desperation, terrified that her adult son, who was unemployed and did not qualify for CERB, would apply for CERB, get it and have a severe and possibly deadly relapse. Frontline workers confirmed this fear, like those at Winnipeg's Main Street Project, who have said they believe that CERB has hiked drug use and contributed to opioid abuse and addiction. This is a real concern I have about a basic income, and I really have not heard a coherent solution to address it.
It is difficult to break out of the poverty cycle. We know this. The data tells us that once a person has been unemployed for more than a year, it can be extremely difficult to rejoin the labour market. It can create a dependency on social programs and a disincentive to work. In this sense, a basic income could create a permanent underclass in Canada.
Importantly, there is an inherent dignity in work. MPs are hearing from small businesses in our communities across Canada, particularly in the service industry and the construction field, that it is more difficult now than ever to hire workers and that prospective employees are opting to stay home on government emergency support programs rather than going to work.
Millions of Canadians are, of course, working and taking whatever work they can find, but some are not. We know working and earning an income provides both economic and social benefits. It is necessary for providing for oneself and one's family, and it also boosts confidence through the earned satisfaction of a paycheque. It provides purpose and builds personal responsibility, personal growth and perseverance. It provides daily structure and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We know it contributes to our personal identity. Many people say “I'm a nurse”, I'm a truck driver”, “I'm a scientist”, or “I'm a small business owner”. It is part of who we are.
As Sean Speer said in the Financial Post a few years ago, “Work is one of those crucial activities and institutions that underpins the good life.”
Recently my grandfather passed away. He was 91, and he was born in the Prairies in the last pioneer generation in Canada. There were very few government support programs in his early days. CERB and public health care were unheard of at the time. People simply had to work very hard every day or they would not eat.
Now, we have developed a kinder, more compassionate society that takes care of people when they fall on hard times, and that is very good. My grandparents' generation built the strong prosperous country that allows for this type of public generosity in Canada. However, near the end of his life, my grandfather remarked that sometimes it seemed to him that young people feel a sense of entitlement to an easy life of comfort, free from struggle. As a young person, I do get that sense as well.
Last year, when CERB was first introduced and the Liberals were creating a student version of it, it happened to be at the same time that our country's food resources were at risk. Every year Canada brings in about 40,000 temporary foreign workers, generally from Central America, to work in our agriculture sector to produce the food that feeds Canadians and, in fact, feeds the world.
However, with the border closures, it was very difficult to get these workers in and our food supply chains were at risk. Now, with tens of thousands of service sector jobs in tourism, hospitality, and the restaurant and bar industry closed, many students who relied on that work for summer employment, and I use to be one of them, obviously did not have the same opportunities.
At the time, just over a year ago, the Conservatives suggested to have able-bodied young people, full of energy, work, as a temporary measure, in our agricultural sector. They could be picking fruit, working in the fields, living on farms for the summer, contributing to the COVID effort and really securing our food supply chains.
This proposal was met with quite a bit of apprehension, to say the least. In fact, when I consulted university student leaders during committee on this idea, one student, and I will never forget this, said that students go to university so they do not have to do those jobs. That is what she said. This was coming from a student who was at a committee meeting asking for government handouts for students.
The student benefit was important, and I am glad it was provided. However, I found these comments very discouraging, not just for the younger generation but also for what was implied, which was that a labour job or an entry-level job with limited requirements for complex skills or education was somehow not respectable, or that those jobs were beneath certain Canadians, notably some student university elites, apparently, who looked down their noses, perhaps, at an honest day's work in the sun.
What does that message send to those aspiring to break into the job market at the bottom of the ladder, or the millions of Canadians who have to work at minimum wage jobs. I was one of them. I worked in dozens of these types of jobs, in restaurants, retail and manual labour. I have done them all, and I am a better person for it. It taught me the value of hard work. It shaped my work ethic and character. I learned many valuable skills that really carry me today. I could go on about the value working part-time since I was 14, on and off, has added to my life.
We know there is no better way out of poverty than getting a job, even when someone has to start from the bottom. The experience, skills, and socialization are ultimately unmatched.
In conclusion, that is why the Conservatives and the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Durham, are focused on a jobs recovery plan from the economic destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic. Priority number one for a federal Conservative government would be to recover and create one million jobs, and get every industry in Canada firing on all cylinders and leaving no demographic or region of the country behind.
Meanwhile, the Liberals are here today to talk about basic income, which is more money for everyone forever. We know that is not a jobs plan. It is certainly not an economic recovery plan. Conservatives want to create an inclusive economic recovery that will build a stronger Canada with more opportunities for everyone, so they can succeed in the job market and not need to collect cheques from the government every month. That is our focus and will be our number one priority should we form government after the next election.
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View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2021-06-14 11:36 [p.8314]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the member for Davenport, who introduced Bill C‑273. Everyone on the Standing Committee on Finance very much appreciates her contribution.
I studied economics for years, and I remember that the great union leader Michel Chartrand published a book about citizen's income with Michel Bernard. I was immediately intrigued by the idea. I was also surprised to learn that right-wingers such as the father of neoliberalism, Milton Friedman, also supported the concept. My professors and classmates and I debated it during our classes.
Whether it goes by guaranteed minimum income, basic income, universal allowance or basic living stipend, citizen's income will feature prominently in political debates in the years to come in Quebec, in Canada and around the world. There are two reasons for this: one, the unprecedented accumulation of wealth by advanced societies, most of which is being hoarded by a handful of individuals and must be redistributed; and two, the unprecedented growth in precarious employment, with its attendant insecurity, poverty and misery.
In Canada, the wealthiest one per cent hold 10% of the wealth, while over one-third of the labour force hold non-standard jobs. The social safety net no longer protects these part-time, self-employed or temporary workers. That is what this pandemic has proven, since the employment insurance regime fell apart as soon as the crisis began and the crisis seems to have once more exacerbated inequalities.
The various social programs, especially employment insurance and social assistance, do not provide the minimum social safety net our fellow citizens are entitled to receive. It is not surprising that vulnerable workers raise their eyebrows when promises are made regarding the right to a citizen’s income that would be paid without the exclusions and bureaucratic nitpicking that come with existing programs.
However, this generous plan to redistribute wealth in our society runs contrary to another plan: that of the guaranteed livable income promoted by advocates of neo-liberalism, which would be just enough to enable people to eke out a living in exchange for the dismantling of the current social safety net. Once again, the benefits of such a policy depend on how it is done and to what extent. Once again, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
Support for individuals and families is the responsibility of Quebec and the provinces, not Ottawa. Let us look at an example and ask ourselves about the consequences of allowing a program to be run by Ottawa instead of Quebec.
In 1940, Quebec ceded its jurisdiction over employment insurance to Ottawa through a constitutional amendment. As reform after reform was made to the system, employment insurance eventually lost its primary purpose and practically its fundamental meaning. EI collapsed at the beginning of the crisis, even though its very purpose was to provide insurance in this type of extreme situation, but it was already failing to fulfill its role even before the pandemic hit. Barely four out of 10 unemployed workers were entitled to EI benefits. For women and youth, it was about one in three. This tracks with the increase in the total percentage of jobs that are not permanent full time, which is over 40%. What is more, the different governments in Ottawa changed EI from an insurance program into a hidden tax by pilfering $59 billion from the fund, money that was effectively taken from the unemployed. Quebec agreed to a constitutional amendment and Ottawa did not play its role. It betrayed us.
The majority of the programs in the social safety net, aside from employment insurance, fall under Quebec's jurisdiction. I am talking about welfare, the CSST, the QPP, child benefits, disability benefits, and so on.
A guaranteed minimum income in Quebec would require a major overhaul. Because so many programs have been adopted since the 1960s, it would be very complicated to dismantle the existing social safety net and bring in this universal policy. Dismantling these programs could end up making many people receiving government assistance worse off. I am not saying that we should not do this because it is complicated, but we need to be well aware of what we are doing. We would have to ensure that no one who might be affected by this kind of change would see any change to their well-being. I am thinking about seniors, single mothers and people living with a disability.
Furthermore, because of the way Canada's federation is structured, this kind of program would require the federal and provincial governments to work together closely, which is always a big challenge. In the best case scenario, Ottawa collaborates in the initial stages of a program, as appears to be the case with the new child care program. However, Ottawa has an unfortunate tendency to renege on its commitments and break its word. Health care and EI are examples of that. Just ask the first nations: This country has a history of failing to keep its word.
If Quebec wanted to establish a citizen's income, it would have to repatriate the employment insurance program. However, as constitutional scholar Henri Brun pointed out to the Commission nationale d’examen de l’assurance‑emploi, co-chaired by Gilles Duceppe and Rita Dionne-Marsolais, the federal government's exclusive jurisdiction over employment insurance “could not be transferred to the provinces, or Quebec in particular, without a constitutional amendment” that would have first obtained the agreement of seven provinces representing more than 50% of Canada's population. As they say, good luck, Charlie Brown.
In practical terms, establishing a citizen's income, or even a more modest guaranteed minimum income program, necessarily involves the collaboration of the two levels of government, because the income security system is a complex web of assistance and social assistance measures, not to mention there would be major implications for income tax rate structures.
If Ottawa were to embark on such an initiative, as suggested by Bill C-273, it would effectively be expanding, not to say intruding, into Quebec's constitutional areas of jurisdiction. The history of such intrusions calls for caution, to say the least.
Does the Liberal Party really want to reopen the Constitution? That is what should be done here with, I repeat, the agreement of the seven provinces that represent over 50% of the Canadian population.
Take health, for example. Although health falls under provincial jurisdiction, that did not prevent Ottawa from using the spending power it is granted under the Canadian Constitution to intervene. In 1957, the federal government passed the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act by promising to cover 50% of the cost of the provincial and territorial plans that provide hospital insurance to all of their residents. In 1966, the federal government passed the Medical Care Act by promising to share the costs fifty-fifty.
What is happening today? Federal transfers may have covered 50% of health care costs in the 1970s, but today they barely cover one-fifth of Quebec's health care costs. What is more, this percentage will drop to about 18% in a few years because Ottawa unilaterally decided to use a new formula related to GDP growth, which will deprive Quebec of billions of dollars. We know that this government's approach involves throwing the provinces some crumbs if they meet certain conditions. The Liberal health minister from the previous Quebec government referred to this as predatory federalism.
The federal government also changed its rules for how it allocates budgetary funding among the provinces. The allocation is now done on a per capita basis, even though Quebec's population is older and seniors depend more on health services than younger people do. The Government of Quebec calculates that because of this new rule the province will lose $174 million a year and over $2 billion over the next ten years.
The Commission nationale d'examen de l'assurance-emploi showed that the federal system is not adapted to the specific needs of Quebec and its regions, any more than the federal health transfers are. There is every reason to believe that it would be the same story with the citizens' income.
To recap, if Ottawa wants to set up a guaranteed minimum income that would enable people to live with dignity, it would have to reopen the Constitution with the approval of seven provinces representing over 50% of the Canadian population. Canada, Quebec and the provinces would also have to agree to replace, in whole or in part, existing social programs, such as EI, supports for seniors like the GIS, social assistance, programs provided by Quebec's Commission des normes, de l'équité de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, Quebec pension plan payments, child benefits, disability benefits and so on. Governments would also have to ensure that nobody affected by the transition, such as seniors, single-parent families and people with disabilities, would end up worse off than before. Lastly, we would all have to trust Ottawa and hope it keeps its promise not to take a program everyone finally agreed on and slash it a few years later. That has never happened because Ottawa has never shown that it deserves anyone's trust when it comes to administering social measures.
The Bloc Québécois finds the idea of citizen's income to be worthy of consideration, but Ottawa cannot be the one in charge. Quebec absolutely has to be the one in charge because running it in the context of the Canadian federation would pretty much be mission impossible. In other words, and I mean this sincerely, a citizen's income that actually works is possible only if Quebec is independent.
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View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2021-06-14 11:46 [p.8316]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to start out by congratulating my hon. colleague, the member for Davenport, for her private member's bill, because we know what we have learned during the pandemic is that our social safety net is patchwork and it is insufficient.
This is not an accident. This capitalist economy of Canada leaves those behind who do not fit into its economic agenda. Who is being left behind? It is disabled persons, people with complex mental health and trauma, people who are unhoused and living rough, people who do unpaid work and care work, seniors, veterans, students and the the list goes on. I think it is important to note that we cannot understand the poverty that we are experiencing today outside of race, gender, racism, ableism, colonization and the violent dispossession of land from indigenous peoples. To do otherwise is a futile exercise of washing over the ongoing white supremacy of racism that supports inequalities and inequities in the present.
We know that when we provide people with an income guarantee, along with wraparound social supports, it is a cost-saving measure. It is good economics to look after people. What we found is that during COVID-19, with the creation of the Canada emergency response benefit, a basic income is both possible and feasible in this country. There is no reason for anyone to live in poverty in Canada, and it comes at a very high cost. In fact, the World Health Organization has declared poverty to be the single largest determinant of health, and there is a direct correlation between poverty and high rates of incarceration.
According to federal data, the John Howard Society has shown that the annual cost per prisoner in federal prisons is about $115,000 a year for one person. In the MMIWG final report, the commissioners found that about 80% of indigenous women who are incarcerated are incarcerated for reasons related to poverty-related crimes, and therefore it is not surprising that in the report they included a demand for a guaranteed livable basic income. The Parliamentary Budget Officer did a careful breakdown, between 2011 and 2012 and found that each Canadian pays $550 in taxes per year on criminal justice spending.
Do members not think that this money would be better invested in looking after people to make sure that people have what they need and to ensure that we can all live in dignity? Creating lasting and meaningful plans that use human rights frameworks to address poverty would be costly up front, but not nearly as expensive as doing nothing. So much research has already been done, study after study, to prove this. In fact, in 1970 in the Dauphin Mincome study, one of the most ambitious social science experiments ever in Canada, they saw a decrease in hospitalizations, improvements in mental health and a rise in the number of children completing high school.
The Ontario basic income pilot, the most recent study, found that participants of the Ontario basic income pilot project were happier, healthier and even continued working, which goes against all arguments that when we look after people it is a deterrent to working. There has been study after study and pilot after pilot, even though we know the results, as mentioned by my hon. colleague, the member for Davenport. Guaranteed income programs have great results.
Basic income is a way forward in lifting millions of Canadians out of poverty and empowering them to make their own choices.
Basic income would give workers leverage. No one would be desperate to take a job offered at any wage anymore as we saw with migrant workers and meat-packing plants across Canada during the pandemic. Companies operating without adequate safeguards despite warnings from health experts create breeding grounds for the COVID-19 virus.
A basic income would mean not having to put up with degrading work as people could be in a better place to refuse a job offer. This would put the power back in the hands of the workers giving them the power to walk away from abusive work situations.
Although basic income is not a silver bullet, it would save lives in many cases and it would heed the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls call for justice 4.5, which states:
We call upon all governments to establish a guaranteed annual livable income for all Canadians, including Indigenous Peoples, to meet all their social and economic needs. This income must take into account diverse needs, realities, and geographic locations.
However, after more than two years, the government has only recently released a national action plan with no implementation strategy. Not only has the government not acted on the calls for justice, but it was unfortunate listening to our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he said that he sees no path for a basic—
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View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Carol Hughes Profile
2021-06-14 11:53 [p.8317]
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I want to remind the hon. member she is not to mention the Prime Minister by name.
The hon. member.
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View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2021-06-14 11:53 [p.8317]
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I am sorry, Madam Speaker.
—which goes directly against call for justice 4.5.
Unlike this bill, the motion that I put forward, Motion No. 46, which I introduced last summer was very clear that a permanent guaranteed livable income would not cut our social safety net, rather add to it as stated in paragraph 5 of my motion, “in addition to current and future government public services and income supports meant to meet special, exceptional and other distinct needs and goals...”.
It is not clear in Bill C-273 that the option to get our social safety net is not on the table. Of particular concern is proposed subparagraph 3(3)(d)(i), which states:
—the potential of a guaranteed basic income program to reduce the complexity of or replace existing social programs, to alleviate poverty and to support economic growth,
Leading experts on guaranteed livable income have been very clear that basic income programs are not a silver bullet and basic income must not replace our existing social safety net. Rather, it must be in addition to our current and future public services and income supports that are meant to meet special, exceptional and other distinct needs and goals rather than basic needs.
It needs to build on our current guaranteed income programs that are no longer livable like old age security, the child tax benefit and provincial income assistance and expand them out for those who are falling through the cracks. When we leave people without choices, we place people at risk. Poverty costs lives. Poverty kills.
There is no reason why anyone living in Canada should be destined for a life of poverty. This is especially the case given that we continue to witness billions of dollars gifted by the current Liberal government to subsidize corporations, including the $18 billion in the past year to big oil and gas.
The government has also failed to go after offshore tax havens and companies like Loblaws that have profiteered off people's suffering during the pandemic and have cut pandemic pay for frontline workers. The pandemic has only made the dire situation of poverty for individuals worse.
We must prioritize people and the collective well-being of our communities, families and individuals over corporate privilege. We must move forward toward a future where all people in Canada can live with dignity, security and human rights. This future is possible. It is simply a political choice.
I would like to congratulate the member on this historic step today. I am pleased to see her moving this conversation about basic income forward and I look forward to working with her to improve the bill.
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2021-06-14 11:56 [p.8317]
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Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on private member's bill, Bill C-273, an act to establish a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income, sponsored by my colleague, the member for Davenport, who is also a colleague at the finance committee.
I congratulate the member for Davenport for putting into a legislative format what has been discussed for years. In fact, various concepts of a basic income guarantee have been attempted over many decades, but for one reason or another there is less than complete documentation on how those systems worked, if it was even completed.
There was a program that was mentioned by another speaker in Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s, which was a different time from now. The data is really not available in a substantive way. The most recent trial, at least in this country, was the Ontario basic income pilot, brought in as a pilot project by the previous Wynne government, which was then cancelled by the incoming Ford government before any results were known. I think there was a lot of hope in that project that it would give us a baseline of how a guaranteed annual income would work.
Bill C-273 does not preconceive what is the best or the perfect basic income approach, but the bill sets the stage to try different pilots, to attain data in real time and to monitor results. It basically pushes the federal government to provide leadership in this national strategy.
Bill C-273 would require the Minister of Finance to develop and table a strategy to assess implementation models for a guaranteed basic income program in Canada. What the bill is really saying is that there could be different models. The government would be responsible for assessing them, for attaining the data. The act would require development, in consultation with key stakeholders, including industry, indigenous communities and governments, as well as municipal, provincial and territorial governments.
I heard what some of the other speakers on this bill said, some in opposition to it. My good friend from Joliette, who is also a member at the finance committee, said that this would require a constitutional amendment. Not so. This concept could vary from province to province. What we really need is the data to assess whether it would really work as well as some people suggest it would. There would be all kinds of consultations and the federal government would be required to do that under this bill.
The act outlines specific measures that the strategy must contain, including pilot project, national standards and measures for the collection and analysis of relevant data. I think that is key. I talked to a friend on the weekend who said that a guaranteed annual income is just going to be like CERB was with people not wanting to work. I do not think that is necessarily the case. People may improve their education. They may go for better jobs. They may look for better-paying jobs. As a strong supporter of a guaranteed annual income approach, I am willing to put my beliefs on the line. I believe it would work. I believe people would still want to work. I believe it would address the poverty issues that we have in this country.
I am willing to say that we should do a pilot. Let us put our beliefs on the line. Those who oppose the bill, saying that it will be a waste of money, which people will spend on drugs or whatever, should put their beliefs on the line. Let us actually do a sincere pilot where we collect the data in real time and prove it one way or the other. That is where I think we should be going. The minister, at the end of the program, would also have to prepare a report on the results of implementation two years after the tabling of the strategy. I think that is really important.
Let me turn to subclause (3)(a) in the bill, which states “establish a pilot project in one or more provinces to test models of implementation of a guaranteed basic income program.”
I come from Prince Edward Island, a province that has shown a willingness at the provincial level for the province as a whole to be one of those pilot projects. The member for Charlottetown and I have met with countless groups on the guaranteed income approach, and this province would be absolutely ideal for a pilot project.
There is the province as a whole; then bigger communities, smaller communities, rural ones and urban ones; hospitals and schools; and only 158,000 people. We could have a pilot project over time in Prince Edward Island. There is the willingness on the provincial side, which passed a motion in the legislature, to work with the federal government to attempt one of those pilot projects. This is really what we need. It would provide the evidence to show whether the system works or does not work.
Subclause (3)(d) reads “collect and analyze data for the purpose of assessing, for each model tested.” That is where we need to be. We need to do the pilots. I would suggest to do three across the country. I know there is some interest in B.C. and maybe in a bigger urban area as well, but do the pilot projects, monitor the data and assess it.
Then we all as members of Parliament, regardless of what our position is, would have the concrete evidence in real-time based on data that has monitored how it impacts people, their health, their income, their community and how it impacts people in the workforce. We would have evidence on whether people are willing to go to work or increasing their education and looking for higher-paying jobs. That is the kind of information we need and that is what I really like about the member's bill. There are no preconceived notions, only that we should do the experimentation.
I want to close by mentioning former Senator Hugh Segal. He is quoted in an article by Jamie Swift in the Whig Standard, in which he talks about his book Bootstraps Need Boots: One Tory's Lonely Fight to End Poverty in Canada. Senator Segal has long been an advocate of a guaranteed annual income for dealing with the poverty issue in Canada. This is a way to find out if it really works.
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View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Carol Hughes Profile
2021-06-14 12:05 [p.8318]
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The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.
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View Mona Fortier Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mona Fortier Profile
2021-06-14 12:06 [p.8318]
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moved:
That in relation to Bill C‑30, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 19, 2021 and other measures, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and five hours shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill; and
That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at report stage and the five hours provided for the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
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View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Carol Hughes Profile
2021-06-14 12:07 [p.8318]
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Pursuant to Standing Order 67(1), there will now be a 30-minute question period.
The hon. House Leader of the Official Opposition.
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2021-06-14 12:09 [p.8318]
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Madam Speaker, unfortunately, for the second time in only a few days, the government will shut down debate to keep parliamentarians, the elected representatives of the people, from doing their job and participating in a fair and balanced debate where every point of view can be properly heard. Once again, as it did with Bill C‑10, the government is shutting down debate on Bill C‑30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget.
It is never a win for Canadians when the government does this. Unfortunately, it has done this twice: last week on Bill C-10, which is an attack on freedom of speech; and today, on a main issue of the government, which is the debate on the budget.
Why did the government not do its homework?
Why did it not let us debate Bill C-30 when required? Why did the Minister of Finance move an amendment last week in the House when she very well could have done so at the parliamentary committee?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:10 [p.8319]
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Madam Speaker, I would remind all members that we have already spent 22 hours in the House and 40 hours in committee debating this bill. We listened to 160 speeches on this bill in the House, and the committees heard from 132 witnesses.
I would also like to remind all members of the House that it is now June 14. This bill is absolutely necessary for Canadians, for the economic recovery, for the Canada emergency wage subsidy, for the Canada emergency rent subsidy and for the Canada recovery benefit. All these measures are in this bill.
I do not understand why the Conservatives think this partisan squabbling is more important to Canadians than support for the economic recovery.
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View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
View Julie Vignola Profile
2021-06-14 12:12 [p.8319]
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Madam Speaker, no one is happy about time allocation, especially since these measures are so important and it is important to discuss them. Of course there have been discussions, but limiting debate again is a bit counterproductive because it stops other changes and insights from being proposed.
That being said, would the government have needed to limit debate if it had managed its legislative agenda properly and not prorogued Parliament for six weeks? If Parliament had not been prorogued, the budget could have been tabled sooner and this bill could have been fully debated. Does the government plan to make sure its legislative agenda is sensible and well managed from now on?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:13 [p.8319]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
Again, I wish to remind members of what this debate is actually about. Today we are talking about economic measures that are essential to Canadians. Today we are initiating the economic recovery. For a successful economic recovery, it is imperative that we continue to provide support measures to Canadian businesses and to Canadians and Quebeckers. This support is urgent and essential.
Since we have a minority government, we need the support of progressive parties to bring in what Canadians need. That is what we are doing today.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2021-06-14 12:14 [p.8319]
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Madam Speaker, as the Minister of Finance knows full well, the NDP has been pushing to stop the slashing of the benefits contained within Bill C-30. We have a situation in which benefits will be markedly reduced at a time when Canadians need those benefits to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. This will have a dramatic impact on people who are still struggling. Even if the government believes that fewer people might be going for the CRB, that fewer people will need it, the reality is that those who do need that benefit can use that $500 per week.
Instead of putting in place time allocation, why does the government not stop the slashing of the CRB so all Canadians who need that benefit at this crucial time, as variants hit our country, can use it to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:15 [p.8319]
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Madam Speaker, I know the member for New Westminster—Burnaby shares my concern for Canada's working people. He, like me, knows they need continued support as Canada finishes the fight against COVID and as all of us work so hard for an economic reopening to punch our way out of the COVID recession. To do that, we need the income supports and the business supports in this budget. We need to extend those to September 25. Without passing this budget legislation, those supports will expire this month.
Due to the Conservative delaying tactics, we have no choice but to move time allocation because we know Canadians urgently need this support. I am calling on all members of the House, particularly from progressive parties, to support us.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-06-14 12:16 [p.8319]
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Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the minister. To be very clear, what we have seen from the Conservative opposition is an attempt to prevent legislation from passing. We have seen that in the form of the Conservatives trying to adjourn the debate in the chamber for the day or by moving concurrence motions. They will do anything but allow bills to pass.
Could the minister continue her thoughts on why this legislation is so very important to Canadians, given that the measures in it are a continuation of what has been our priority, which is the pandemic?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:17 [p.8319]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very hard work. As my colleague points out, this is getting really serious. The time for parliamentary theatrics, the time for parliamentary games and the time for the delaying tactics of the Conservatives is long past.
Today is June 14. The essential business and income support measures in the budget that are holding up Canada right now expire in June. The budget proposes to extend them to September 25. Canadians need that. People have sacrificed so much in the fight against COVID. We need to come together in the House, finish the fight against COVID and support the recovery. That is why we need to pass this budget legislation.
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View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2021-06-14 12:18 [p.8320]
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Madam Speaker, I am very sympathetic with the position that we need to get Bill C-30 through. There are many provisions there that are helpful. However, on principle, I have always stood against time allocation motions. The House exists to examine legislation and to take the time it takes to review it.
One of the things I am concerned about is that we seem to be under the false time pressure on many bills that an election is looming. We have a fixed election date law. In order to have an election looming, somebody in government must be prepared to break that law because the next election is in October 2023. This bill is important to get through, for sure, because there are immediate provisions that help Canadians, but other legislation continues to need to be studied.
Would the Deputy Prime Minister agree with me that there is no prospect of an election any time soon, unless her government is prepared to break the law?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:19 [p.8320]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her hard work.
Let me say a few things. First of all, on the question of an election, let me be very clear: Our government has absolutely no desire for an election. We think the job right now is to work hard to support Canadians, to finish the fight against COVID and to support our national effort to punch our way out of the COVID recession. That is our sole and unrelenting focus.
However, we do not have the luxury of time when it comes to the budget legislation. These income and business support measures run out in June. That is why we need to pass this budget legislation now and that is why the government is doing something we do not relish, which is bringing forward time allocation.
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View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-06-14 12:20 [p.8320]
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Madam Speaker, why is it that the minister does not want the opposition to do its job? Our job is to hold the government accountable and to exercise scrutiny and oversight. This is the biggest budget in Canadian history. It is the biggest debt, at well over a trillion dollars and heading toward $1.8 trillion. Canadians have never seen this.
As Kevin Lynch, the former deputy minister of finance said, this is the largest intergenerational transfer of risk and debt in Canadian history, and this minister wants to give us just two meetings at the finance committee to review this legislation. We are doing our job.
With this huge debt and interminable deficits facing Canadians, does the minister have a plan to return to balanced budgets, yes or no?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:21 [p.8320]
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Madam Speaker, let me just say this to Canadians: Canada continues to have the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. Following the tabling of our budget, the credit ratings agencies Moody's and S&P both reaffirmed Canada's AAA credit rating. That is the highest there is. That is clear, objective evidence of the reality, which is that this budget presents a prudent and responsible fiscal path. That is the verdict of the judges who really matter.
Let me also say, through you, Madam Speaker, to the Conservatives: It is time to stop delaying tactics. It is time to stop playing games with Canadian jobs and Canadian businesses, and to extend the supports Canadians need.
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View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
2021-06-14 12:22 [p.8320]
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Madam Speaker, I have a very simple question for the Minister of Finance.
Many people in the cultural sector, including those who work in theatre, music, live shows and festivals, are very worried that this budget means the end of direct assistance for workers. That may be all right for the majority of people, but workers and businesses in the cultural sector will need targeted assistance.
Why is the Liberal government trying to impose a gag order, when we could be working together to make direct assistance more flexible and to extend CERB for certain sectors, such as the cultural, tourism and hospitality sectors? I would like to hear my colleague’s thoughts on that.
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:23 [p.8320]
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Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to answer the questions, because it gives me the opportunity to point out that our concern for creators, cultural workers and tourism companies is exactly why it is so urgent to support Bill C‑30. These people, these Quebeckers, are the ones who need the support this budget will give them.
However, the only way we can help them is with the support of progressive parties in the House. That is what Canadians want, and that is our job.
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View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
View Louise Chabot Profile
2021-06-14 12:24 [p.8320]
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Madam Speaker, it is important to remember that we went without a budget for two years before the government tabled one.
This budget was tabled late in the spring and was preceded by an economic statement in November. We are now being asked to urgently pass the budget implementation bill and, obviously, it would be good if we passed it. However, the government is trying to once again impose closure on us, pushing us and saying that it is urgent we take action for various reasons, when the government is the one that dragged its feet and took two years to table a budget.
It seems to me that the reasons that are being given to justify closure do not take into consideration the work of Parliament or parliamentarians. What does the finance minister think about that?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:25 [p.8321]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
I would like to once again point out that we have already had a great deal of discussion on this bill. We had 22 hours of debate and 160 speeches in the House as well as 40 hours of debate and 132 speeches in committee.
I would again remind all members of the House that what Canadians and Quebeckers want is to get the help they need. We are in the midst of a crisis, a global pandemic, and they need the federal government's support to finish the fight against COVID-19 and ensure a strong economic recovery. We need to take action and do our job.
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View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Cumming Profile
2021-06-14 12:27 [p.8321]
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Madam Speaker, it has been two years since there was a budget, and this is a budget that is spending like there is no tomorrow. Parliament was prorogued and the natural resource sector is missing from the budget.
Why is it that the government cannot manage its time and is going to restrict debate on this very important piece of legislation?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:27 [p.8321]
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Madam Speaker, we can manage our time. The problem, which is threatening to become Canada's problem, is that the Conservatives appear to prefer partisan theatrics and partisan games to doing the work of the country: doing the important work we were all elected to do.
This is a national crisis. COVID has plunged Canada into the deepest depression since the Great Depression. It is time for all of us to set aside juvenile games, roll up our sleeves and pass this essential budget legislation that will continue the wage subsidy, continue the rent subsidy and continue the CRB. These support measures expire in June. We have no time to waste. Let us set aside the juvenile gamesmanship and let us do our jobs.
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View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2021-06-14 12:28 [p.8321]
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Madam Speaker, I find it very interesting when the hon. minister talks about gamesmanship and so on. When New Democrats came to the table, we came to work to make this bill better and ensure that instead of giving billions to corporations and banks with absolutely no question we actually gave it to the people: to the taxpayers, people in my riding of London—Fanshawe who are struggling and desperately trying to pay their bills, pay their rent and pay for food.
Why is it that when the government talks about a team Canada approach it does not actually mean it unless it is to do what it wants, when it wants, instead of working for people in Canada?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:29 [p.8321]
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Madam Speaker, I have to say that this budget is not about any political party. It is about precisely the people the member for London—Fanshawe has just spoken about so passionately. This budget is about giving Canadians the support they so urgently need to finish the fight against COVID and have a robust recovery. It extends the income supports to the end of September. It increases the OAS for Canadians over age 75. It will build a universal early learning and child care system across the country. That is what my constituents and the people of London—Fanshawe need.
Let us pass this budget, and let Canada get back to work.
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View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2021-06-14 12:30 [p.8321]
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Madam Speaker, I want to follow up on one comment the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands brought up about not having the government break the fixed election law. Why is it that we have speeches tomorrow for MPs who are not intending to run again if there is not going to be an election until the fixed election date, and if there is no need for an election at this point?
The other point I would make is this. We are here to try to fix this legislation. We have just seen the largest transfer of wealth from governments and taxpayers to the ultrawealthy. The ultrawealthy have made out like bandits during this pandemic. There are flaws in this legislation that would cause people to have their CERB cut when they are not ready. The needs of the small business community, in particular tourism, have been flagged in this piece of legislation, and there are a lot of things to fix. It is our job, as members of Parliament and legislators, to fix this legislation. That takes time and democratic debate.
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:31 [p.8321]
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Madam Speaker, let me emphasize that we have already debated this legislation for 22 hours in the House. There have been 160 speakers. We debated it for 40 hours at committee. There were 132 witnesses there.
The member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith asked about an election. Our government does not want an election. We know that Canadians want and expect all of us to get to work to finish the fight against COVID and support a robust recovery. To have that, they urgently need the supports in this budget. I want to remind members of the House that the support measures run out this month. We have no time left. We need to act.
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View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2021-06-14 12:32 [p.8321]
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Madam Speaker, we hear the Conservatives say they need more time to debate this. The reality is that not a single Conservative has talked about how they would like to change the bill; rather, they have said how much they dislike the bill. It is quite clear the Conservatives are going to be voting against this very important piece of legislation for Canadians, so for them to suggest that this side of the House is playing political games is completely false. The reality is that we have a budget here to support Canadians through to the end of this pandemic.
Would the minister like to comment on the actual impact this will have on Canadians, and on Canadian small businesses in particular?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:33 [p.8321]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kingston and the Islands for his hard work and excellent question.
The reality is that every budget is important, but this budget is urgently needed. It is going to be the budget that finishes the fight against COVID and supports Canadians in the reopening they have sacrificed so much to achieve. It extends the wage subsidy, rent subsidy and lockdown supports until September 25. It extends the CRB. This budget creates a Canada hiring credit that will help businesses recover and will support them as they bring on new workers. It will establish a federal minimum wage of $15. It will send $5 billion to the provinces to support the vaccine rollout and our health care systems. How can anyone fail to see the urgency and not support this budget that will get Canadians the supports they need?
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View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2021-06-14 12:34 [p.8322]
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Madam Speaker, what we see is a government that dragged its feet and took its sweet time deciding whether to table a budget or not. Now it is pushing everyone around to get time allocation, even though it knows nobody will go for it. We will not allow ourselves to be pushed around like that.
Is this not just the Liberals' way of creating an excuse to trigger an election on the grounds that the government is not able to function?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:35 [p.8322]
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Madam Speaker, I have a lot of respect for the Bloc Québécois member, but I have to say he is totally wrong about that.
The fact is, our government does not want an election. Our government wants to work for Canadians because we know we are going through a crisis right now. We need to remember that we have spent the past year in a global pandemic and an economic crisis caused by that pandemic.
What our government wants to do now is finish the fight against COVID‑19 and support Canadians as we recover. I hope opposition members will understand that this is the practical, pragmatic work Quebeckers want and need.
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View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2021-06-14 12:36 [p.8322]
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Madam Speaker, once again we are faced with time allocation. The Liberal government has played games all along, proroguing Parliament and not releasing a bill. Now we are in the eleventh hour and once again the minister is trying to limit debate.
Nobody on this side of the House is trying to play games. We have been fighting hard to help Canadians. I am wondering when this party will stop playing games and stop ending debate so that we can truly represent the people of our ridings.
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:36 [p.8322]
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Madam Speaker, members on the opposition benches have in fact been playing games. That is what we have watched over the past days being done by the Conservatives. They are partisan delaying tactics at a time when Canadians need us to get to work.
I sincerely believe that the member opposite wants to work for her constituents. I do as well. The way to do that is to pass this budget, which, by the way, includes $18 billion to support indigenous people in Canada. They need that support. Let us pass the budget and get it to them.
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View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
View Luc Berthold Profile
2021-06-14 12:37 [p.8322]
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Madam Chair, I am really shocked by the words of the Minister of Finance, who spoke earlier of “juvenile games”, when it is the Liberals themselves who have been the most obstructionist over the last session of Parliament.
The minister is asking why we want to talk about the budget. It is because the Liberals decided to wait until next year to extend EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 26 weeks, because the Liberals created two classes of seniors and abandoned those between 65 and 75 years old, because this is the biggest budget and the biggest debt we have ever seen, and because the rich are getting richer while everyone else is getting poorer, since everything costs more.
We should make a list of all the members who are being deprived their right to speak to all the measures I just mentioned. Why is the government preventing members from speaking?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-06-14 12:38 [p.8322]
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Madam Speaker, what is shocking is the partisan bickering by the Conservatives. They need to realize that the country is watching what they are doing, and it does not have patience for such childish games.
Canada is going through a real crisis today, a global pandemic, and the country needs us to be pragmatic and practical. The country needs support from the federal government, and that is what the budget will provide. I want to reiterate that if this budget does not pass, that support will end in June. That is why we must all set this bickering aside and support the budget.
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View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Carol Hughes Profile
2021-06-14 12:39 [p.8322]
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It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.
The question is on the motion.
If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
The hon. member for Banff—Airdrie.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-06-14 12:40 [p.8322]
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Madam Speaker, I request a recorded division.
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View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Carol Hughes Profile
2021-06-14 12:40 [p.8322]
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Call in the members.
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View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2021-06-14 13:25 [p.8324]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise to respond to the question of privilege raised on June 7, 2021, by the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent in respect to the order adopted on June 2, 2021. In reviewing the lengthy intervention by the hon. member, I want to raise two issues with respect to the motion the member proposes to raise if the Speaker agrees that there is a prima facie question of privilege in this matter.
First, the practices of the House clearly demonstrate that the Speaker has the discretion on the type and substance of a motion to be moved when the Speaker finds a prima facie question of privilege or contempt. There are two avenues that the House can consider in the event of finding a prima facie question of privilege. They are to either refer the matter to the procedure and House affairs committee or find a member, the government or an institution of the government to be in contempt of the House.
This is not what the member is proposing to pursue. The member is suggesting a substantive motion with many separate elements for which formal notice would be required. The member for Louis-Saint-Laurent stated in his intervention:
That brings me to the remedy which I am prepared to propose in a motion, should you agree that there is a prima facie case of contempt here.
In the interest of giving members appropriate notice of where this debate might go, the motion I intend to move would do the following things: (a) it would find the Public Health Agency of Canada to be in contempt; (b) it would order the Minister of Health to attend in her place, here in this House, to produce documents that have been ordered; (c) it would then require the minister to be questioned by the House; (d) finally, it would set out the procedures for this questioning because the old practices followed when the witness would be summoned to the House for questioning, which the curious could find explained in a search of Bourinot's Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada, do not fit neatly into our contemporary rules and ways of doing business.
Page 150 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, states, “The Speaker would be reluctant to allow a matter as important as a privilege motion to fail on the ground of improper form. The terms of the motion have generally provided that the matter be referred to committee for study or have been amended to that effect.”
That is not what the member is proposing. The member's proposed terms of the motion represent a substantive motion for which notice would be required. Therefore, I suggest that the member can propose a motion of censure or to refer to the matter to the committee for study. That is the long-standing practice of this House.
The second matter I would like to raise is the lack of any meaningful mechanism to ensure that the confidential information that may be contained in the papers ordered to be provided are not made public. The member is proposing that the Minister of Health table unredacted documents in the House, thereby placing these documents into the public domain. This approach ignores the mechanism that was in the order adopted by the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations on May 10, 2021. That order provided:
(a) these documents shall be deposited with the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, in an unredacted form, within 20 days of the adoption of this order;
(b) the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel discuss with the committee, in an in camera meeting, information contained therein, which in his opinion, might reasonably be expected to compromise national security or reveal details of an ongoing criminal investigation, other than the existence of an investigation, so that the committee may determine which information is placed before a committee in public....
The in camera meeting being the critical part.
The safeguards, like those contained in the motion adopted by the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, are nowhere to be found in the proposed motion of my hon. colleague. This is a clearly a very dangerous and, quite frankly, clumsy oversight. The government has proposed using the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians, otherwise known as NSICOP, to undertake this work given the nature of the information contained in the documents and the expertise of the members of the committee in matters of national security.
Just as the then Conservative government did in 2010 with the Afghan detainee documents, the government is proposing a similar process that respects the balance of interests between the right of parliamentarians to have access to information and the obligations of the government to protect information related to national security.
NSICOP has a broad mandate to review Canada's legislative, regulatory, policy, administrative and financial framework for national security and intelligence. It may also review any activity carried out by a department that relates to national security or intelligence.
Committee members come from both Houses of Parliament. It is a body that was created by an act of Parliament by parliamentarians. All members hold top-secret security clearances and are permanently bound to secrecy under the Security of Information Act. Members swear an oath or solemn affirmation indicating that they will obey and uphold the laws of Canada and not communicate or inappropriately use information obtained in confidence as part of their responsibility on the committee.
NSICOP was created for exactly these types of situations and is an appropriate place for the review of these documents. The government has provided unredacted documents in response to this motion. The Minister of Health has referred this matter to NSICOP and the government through the Public Health Agency of Canada, provided a copy of the unredacted documents to NSICOP and informed the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of this on June 4, 2021.
It is critically important that there be an appropriate mechanism in place to ensure information that may be injurious to Canada's interests, could compromise national security or the privacy rights of Canadians, or relate to an ongoing criminal investigation, be protected. Providing unredacted documents to NSICOP is the appropriate and reasonable approach. Unfortunately, the House Leader of the Official Opposition has dismissed this option entirely.
Speaker Milliken clearly acknowledged the need to balance these interests in his ruling on April 27, 2010, which is directly relevant to the matter before the House. He said:
Several members have made the point that there are numerous ways that the documents in question could have been made available without divulging state secrets and acknowledged that all sides in the House needed to find a way to respect the privileges and rights of members of Parliament to hold the government to account, while at the same time protecting national security.
The government, for its part, has sought to find a solution to the impasse.
Speaker Milliken then states the following in relation to putting a mechanism in place to ensure this balance is struck:
The Chair must conclude that it is within the powers of the House of Commons to ask for the documents sought in the December 10 order it adopted. Now it seems to me that the issue before us is this: Is it possible to put in place a mechanism by which these documents could be made available to the House without compromising the security and confidentiality of the information they contain? In other words, is it possible for the two sides, working together in the best interests of the Canadians they serve, to devise a means where both their concerns are met? Surely that is not too much to hope for.
Since the member raises precedence from the Australian legislature, I too would like to point out that the Australian legislators have experience putting in place mechanisms to deal with requests for sensitive information. I would draw to the attention of members an excerpt from Speaker Milliken's 2010 ruling. He said:
In some jurisdictions, such as the Legislative Council in the Australian state of New South Wales, and I would refer members to New South Wales Legislative Council Practice by Lovelock and Evans at page 481, mechanisms have been put in place, which satisfy the confidentiality concerns of the government as well as those of the legislature. Procedures provide for independent arbiters, recognized by both the executive and the legislature, to make determinations on what can be disclosed when a dispute arises over an order for the production of documents.
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View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Page 986 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 2017, elaborates on this matter:
In cases where the author of or the authority responsible for a record refuses to comply with an order issued by a committee to produce documents, the committee essentially has three options. The first is to accept the reasons and conditions put forward to justify the refusal; the committee members then concede that they will not have access to the record or accept the record with passages deleted. The second is to seek an acceptable compromise with the author or the authority responsible for access to the record. Normally, this entails putting measures in place to ensure that the record is kept confidential while it is being consulted. These include in camera review....
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that you have the power to ensure that if there is a finding of prima facie contempt, the motion to deal with the matter is either a motion to censure or a motion to refer the matter to committee for further study. NSICOP was created for exactly these types of situations and is an appropriate place for the review of the documents. As I stated, this body was created by an act of Parliament by parliamentarians.
The government remains open to discussions with the opposition on how to balance the right of members to consider unredacted documents with the need to protect sensitive information from public disclosure that could be injurious to Canada's interests.
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View Alice Wong Profile
CPC (BC)
View Alice Wong Profile
2021-06-14 13:38 [p.8325]
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Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to rise again to talk about this very important bill.
I had the privilege to serve as the Minister of State for Seniors for four years in the Harper government. In the ensuing days, my passion for being an advocate and champion of the golden generation has not waned. Indeed, in the last months of the previous Parliament, the House unanimously passed my motion, Motion No. 203, calling for action on fraud against seniors, which is a form of elder abuse. June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, so it is perfect timing that I am speaking to this very important issue.
Unfortunately, little has been done since my motion passed. For example, in the Lower Mainland, there has been a wave of scammers and thieves targeting seniors through phone calls or emails and taking advantage of those with weaker digital literacy. People of all ages are locked out of their Canada Revenue Agency accounts. Calls on the government to take further steps to address the systemic increase in elder abuse have once again fallen on deaf ears.
Of course, let us not forget those who take the time out of their day to provide support and aid not just to seniors, but to anyone who is struggling to meet the basics of everyday life. They are the informal and unpaid caregivers. Caring for the caregivers must be a central plank of any government steps to address a post-COVID-19 recovery. Unfortunately, there is little support for them in the budget.
In conclusion, the way forward needs to be treated through a reasonable, responsible, fiscally sound approach that spends Canadian tax dollars in a way that will best help Canada weather the fiscal storm on the horizon while also caring for the most vulnerable citizens. Moving forward, the government should seriously consider these urgent needs.
I am happy to take any questions.
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View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2021-06-14 13:40 [p.8326]
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Madam Speaker, one of my concerns certainly has been the lack of support for seniors since the pandemic began. Could the member comment further on that?
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View Alice Wong Profile
CPC (BC)
View Alice Wong Profile
2021-06-14 13:41 [p.8326]
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Madam Speaker, because of COVID, a lot of seniors have been left alone and have not been able to seek assistance. Also, as I mentioned in my speech, a lot of fraud has been committed against them. Protecting seniors against all forms of elder abuse, including physical, mental and financial abuse, is very important. That is exactly what everybody should be doing, but I am afraid the government has done little or close to nothing about it.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-06-14 13:42 [p.8326]
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Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to address this issue this afternoon. There are a couple of aspects that I would like to provide some comment on, but first and foremost is the idea of Bill C-30, now at report stage, and how important passing it is to all Canadians.
The other day, I talked about a progressive agenda. The Government of Canada has put forward a very strong, healthy, progressive agenda that includes today's bill, Bill C-12, Bill C-6, Bill C-10, Bill C-22 and Bill C-21. Of course, I often make reference to Bill C-19 as well. All of these pieces of legislation are important to the government, but I would argue that the most important one is the bill we are debating today, Bill C-30.
The budget is of critical importance for a wide variety of reasons. I can talk about the benefits that seniors would be receiving as a direct result of this budget bill, in particular those who are 75 and over, with the significant fulfillment of our campaign promise of a 10% increase to OAS for seniors aged 75 and above, and a one-time payment coming up in the month of August for that group. During the pandemic, we have been there for seniors, in particular those 65 and over, with one-time payments closer to the beginning of the pandemic, and even an extra amount for those who were on the guaranteed income supplement. That is not to mention the many different organizations that the government supported, whether directly or indirectly, to support our seniors, in particular non-profit organizations.
We have done a multitude of things, many of which are very tangible. The Minister of Finance made reference to the extension of some of the programs, for example, which we brought in so we could continue to be there for businesses and real people. This was so important. At the beginning of the process, the Prime Minister made it very clear that this government, the Liberal Party and the Liberal members of the House of Commons were 100% committed to working seven days a week, 24 hours a day to ensure that the interests of Canadians in combatting and fighting the pandemic were going to be priority number one.
As to that priority, we saw the establishment of a large number of new programs that ensured money was being put directly into the pockets of Canadians. One was the CERB, which benefited somewhere around nine million Canadians. Virtually out of nowhere this program came into being, in good part thanks to our civil servants, who have done a tremendous job in putting in place and administering the many different programs.
We have seen programs to support our businesses in particular, whether it is the Canada emergency wage subsidy program, the emergency rent subsidy program, the emergency business account or the regional relief and recovery fund. We recognized what Canada needed. The Government of Canada worked with Canadians and with, in particular, provinces, non-profits, territories, indigenous leaders and many others in order to make sure that Canadians were going to be protected as much as possible. All of this was done with the goal of being able to get us, as a nation, out of the situation we are currently in.
We have put ourselves in a position where Canada will be able to recover, and recover well. It is interesting to hear the Conservative Party asking about the debt. Many of the things I just finished talking about are the reasons why we have the debt. The Conservatives in many ways are saying we should be spending more money, while the Conservative right is saying we have spent too much money or is asking about the debt. Some Conservatives are talking about the creation of jobs. The most recent Conservative commitment was that they would create one million jobs.
Between 2015, when the Liberals were first elected, and the election of 2019, we created over a million jobs. We understand how important jobs are. Jobs are one of the reasons it was important for us to commit to businesses of all sizes, and small businesses in particular, to get through this difficult time. We knew that by saving companies from going bankrupt and by keeping Canadians employed we would be in a much better position once we got ahead of the pandemic.
I am actually quite pleased today. I started off by looking at the national news. A CBC story said that when it comes to first doses Canada is now ahead of Israel, according to a graph that was posted. When we think of populations of a million or more, Canada is doing exceptionally well. We are ahead of all other nations in dealing with the first dose.
I am now qualified to get my second dose. Earlier today I had the opportunity to book an appointment for a second dose on July 7. Canadians are responding so well to the need for vaccination. We understand why it is so important that we all get vaccinated. We need to continue to encourage people to get those shots.
It goes without saying that we need to recognize many very special people who have been there for Canadians. The ones who come to mind immediately are the health care workers here in the province of Manitoba. They are a special group of people that not long ago, in a virtual meeting, the Prime Minister expressed gratitude for in a very strong and significant way.
Our health care workers, whether the nurses, doctors or lab technicians, and people in all areas of health care, including those providing and sanitizing facilities as well as a whole litany of people, have ensured that we have been there from a health perspective.
We can look at workers involved with essential items such as groceries. Whether it was long haul truck drivers, people stacking groceries or collecting money for groceries, or taxi drivers who took people where they needed to go, whether to the hospital or the grocery store, they were there. Public institutions were there. I think of Winnipeg Transit bus drivers who opened their doors not knowing who was walking onto their buses. They were all there.
This legislation we are debating today is a continuation of getting Canada in a better, healthier position to deal with the coronavirus. We needed to bring in time allocation because of the destructive behaviour of the official opposition. We wanted to work and the Conservatives wanted to take time off. There was an excellent indication of that last Thursday, which was the biggest day in terms of debate for government. The Conservatives attempted to end the session only moments after the day got under way. It is not right that the Conservatives are playing games. We need to pass this legislation. I would ask all members to vote for it.
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