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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Minister.
I will now move on to my next question.
I have read the Treasury Board's Contracting Policy. Can you explain why your former colleague Frank Baylis was awarded a contract not long after leaving his job?
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View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
2020-11-04 19:15
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Once again, I'm pleased to be able to answer this question promptly knowing that Ms. Anand, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, has already announced that she will be able to visit you soon. I know that she is keen to do so. That will give you an opportunity to put the question to her.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
I am aware that contracting is Ms. Anand's responsibility. However, the Treasury Board prepares the guidelines.
For instance, can you tell me whether or not your policy allows a shell company like FTI Professional Grade to be awarded a $237 million contract for ventilators made by Mr. Baylis's company?
Does the policy not state that it is important to “ensure that the fees paid do not exceed the appropriate market rate for the service provided”? How can the failure to comply with Treasury Board directives be explained?
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View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
2020-11-04 19:16
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That's an excellent question.
As you mentioned, the Treasury Board is responsible for providing directives to all Canadian government departments, in particular, as you noted, in matters of procurement. The ministers concerned are there to apply these directives in accordance with their responsibilities and their assigned areas of authority. Ms. Anand is the person who can provide you with the details of this particular case.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
At the Treasury Board, there are also guidelines in its Guidance for Drafters of Treasury Board Submissions, which provides information for everyone on matters pertaining to financial policy and contracting.
I have a question about the WE organization. There is a problem in terms of French. When the contract was awarded, there was nothing in it about French, or even Quebec. And yet the Treasury Board directives clearly state that “In all circumstances, you must conduct an Official Languages Impact Analysis.”
Was such a study conducted for the WE organization?
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View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
2020-11-04 19:19
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I'm glad you asked that question, Mr. Paul-Hus. You and I are both Quebeckers and francophones, and we firmly believe in the importance of ensuring that the public service can work in French, wherever employees wish to do so, and that services in French are offered to Canadians wherever they may live in Canada, and certainly in Quebec. It's not just a directive, but a fundamentally important policy that—
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View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2020-11-04 19:43
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Okay. So, not that then.
Let me get back to Mr. Paul-Hus' earlier question.
In the Official Languages Act, there is something that is triggered when they are asking for money. A couple of items will trigger a need for a completed official languages checklist and official languages impact analysis. WE would have done this.
The analysis should have included a summary of the official languages impacts and covered the steps taken to assure Treasury Board ministers that the program complied with the Official Languages Act.
It's very clear that the WE program did not comply with the Official Languages Act. It would have triggered an analysis that would have gone to you for approval.
Did you see this analysis, and if you did, why would you have signed off on it to allow the money for WE when, very clearly, it violated the Official Languages Act and would not have passed the small test for the Treasury Board?
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View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
2020-11-04 19:45
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On that particular aspect, there are two different things. First, there is the very important responsibility of Treasury Board to provide guidelines to all departments. Second, there is the responsibility of individual departments.
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View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2020-11-04 19:45
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Very clearly.... Did you see the analysis, Minister? Did you agree with it and sign off on it? These are simple questions. This was $910 million. Did you see the analysis? Did you sign off on it?
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View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
2020-11-04 19:45
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A simple answer.... There is the important responsibility of Treasury Board to provide official languages guidelines, and you understand that really well. I'm grateful for that ability and interest. Second, there is the responsibility of—
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View Francis Drouin Profile
Lib. (ON)
I see.
I'm going to ask another brief question.
Mr. Minister, I know you're a firm believer in the two official languages, the importance of which we have often emphasized. However, some of my colleagues have alleged that you sign all the contribution agreements to ensure they respect the official languages. I know that's not the case. Yes, there was an official languages provision in the agreement. Now, this is a hypothetical situation.
Minister, am I right in saying that you don't sign all the contribution agreements that go through the Government of Canada? That seems impossible to me.
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View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
2020-11-04 19:54
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I think there's been a misunderstanding. People are probably in good faith, but this is a source of confusion that should absolutely be shut down. You have to have a better understanding of how the machinery of government works.
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View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for coming.
I want to follow up on the question from my colleague, Mr. McCauley, and ask the minister if he can commit to us today to provide the language impact analysis for the WE Charity contribution decision to our committee.
Can you commit to that?
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View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
2020-11-04 20:01
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Again, I would first like to thank you and commend you for your interest in official languages and the ability of French-speaking Canadians to receive the services they need, like anyone else.
I have said two things to Mr. McCauley, which I will repeat briefly: (a)—
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View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2020-11-04 20:51
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Great, thanks.
I want to get back to the question by my colleague Mr. Paul-Hus, who was asking about purchasing. There are purchasing guidelines under the contracting policy from TBS. It lays out the policies for procurement and rules to follow. When we were asking about the Government of Canada buying PPE produced with forced labour, we heard from your colleagues at PSPC. They said that we didn't have to worry because people in Communist China...and the government self-attests that they're not going to do that. That simple self-attestation by companies abroad violates the Treasury Board guidelines for contract policy.
What is your role to ensure that PSPC and other departments are following your Treasury Board guidelines for this? Again, PSPC is in clear violation of your guidelines for foreign purchases.
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Glenn Purves
View Glenn Purves Profile
Glenn Purves
2020-11-04 20:53
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We have teams that have particular oversight with respect to procurement and transfer payment guidelines and policies that work through these matters. Again, guidelines effectively are set out, and departments have a lot of responsibility to ensure that they are meeting these guidelines as they're written.
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View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
View Matthew Green Profile
2020-11-02 16:33
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I would be happy to.
This will be a great clip for my social media, so I appreciate the indulgence, Mr. MacKinnon.
The motion is as follows:
That, in the context of its study of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a), the committee send for all briefing notes, memos and emails from senior officials, prepared for the Minister of Health, the President of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Chief Medical Health Officer of Canada, and the Minister of Public Service and Procurement between 2010 and Monday, August 31, 2020, regarding the stockpiling, management, disposal and replenishment of medical equipment and supplies in the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile; that the committee receive the information no later than Tuesday, December 1, 2020; that matters of Cabinet confidence and national security be excluded from the request; that any redactions to protect the privacy of Canadian citizens and permanent residents whose names and personal information may be included in the documents, as well as public servants who have been providing assistance on this matter, be made by the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House of Commons and that these documents be posted on the committee’s web page.
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View Steven MacKinnon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven MacKinnon Profile
2020-11-02 16:36
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank my fellow member Mr. Green for his motion. I don't believe I expressed support for this motion. On the contrary, I think it is a ridiculous motion that puts an additional burden on people we are depending on right now to purchase medical supplies and personal protective equipment. It is those people who will have to respond to the various motions for the production of papers—motions adopted by the House of Commons and supported by the members of the opposition. Other committees had very similar motions.
It is my duty as parliamentary secretary and our collective duty as government members to roundly condemn the witch hunt that seems to be taking shape through these motions for the production of papers. The opposition is looking for problems where none exist.
Allow me to explain.
The purpose of the national emergency strategic stockpile is to help provinces and territories in the event of a pandemic or medical emergency. I don't think that is a controversial idea. Supplies are added periodically, maintained and deployed when necessary.
The Public Health Agency of Canada maintains the stockpile, ordering supplies as needed. Any study of the national emergency strategic stockpile would need to be done by the Standing Committee on Health, which examines how Health Canada conducts its operations and manages its resources. The motion adopted by the House contains a similar request for the production of papers.
The job of Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC, one of the departments we scrutinize, here, is to procure goods and services when a client department asks it to. If a department wants goods, services or equipment of any sort but lacks the necessary authority to make the purchase itself, the central purchasing agent—PSPC—procures the goods or service on the department's behalf. In accordance with best practices in procurement, PSPC procures goods and services at the request of a client department.
What happens to the service or equipment afterwards is entirely the responsibility of the department or agency in question, not of PSPC. We find ourselves having to explain that on a fairly regular basis, which I find baffling. If Transport Canada wants to purchase a particular piece of equipment and has neither the ability nor authority to do so, PSPC purchases the equipment on Transport Canada's behalf.
Transport Canada accepts the equipment, adds it to the department's inventory, sets it up, deploys it and manages its life cycle, as necessary. Eventually, the department will remove the equipment from its inventory and start the process all over again. That's what departments do when they purchase equipment, and the same goes for the Public Health Agency of Canada.
I can't wrap my head around why Mr. Green is so intent on burdening the same public servants—we aren't talking about 5,000 of them—with this colossal task. His motion calls for the production of papers going back years. The committee would force these public servants to review and produce all of this documentation, while ensuring trade secrets, intellectual property and cabinet confidence are all protected.
I do not understand this motion, since the Standing Committee on Health and Health Canada will be answering the same questions. PSPC will be forced to do the same in response to the various motions adopted by the House and other committees.
It will come as no surprise that I do not support the motion. We are in a pandemic, and frankly, this isn't helping anyone. No one should take pleasure in imposing all of this extra work on senior officials and employees who are doing a stellar job. They look for personal protective equipment around the world and oversee the purchase of vaccines, looking after the logistics and working with organizations such as Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to build a national stockpile.
Now I ask the honourable members here today, from all the parties: is that not exactly what you would have them do? Their days already start incredibly early and end just as late, not to mention the overtime they do on the weekend, and yet, we would have them shoulder another burden, digging through records for documents that would in no way help us draw lessons to better manage the pandemic today.
This is my appeal to you, so to speak, on behalf of those public servants. Let's not make them do this or let's at least revisit the matter later. It is no secret that every aspect of Canada's handling of the pandemic will eventually be scrutinized—and the response of every province and every country will surely be as well. Everyone will have questions, and everyone will want to review the response and learn from it. That will be the case universally. Wanting to draw lessons and learn from the response to the pandemic is a goal shared by everyone, not just a single party. There will certainly be lessons to take away.
That said, this is my appeal to you, Mr. Chair and Mr. Green. Let's not force public servants to prioritize tasks like these over the safety and welfare of Canadians.
That is where I stand on this motion. Thank you.
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View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
View Julie Vignola Profile
2020-11-02 16:47
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The honourable member is right about one thing. The motion would have us examine 10 years' worth of work, 10 years of procurement and stockpiling efforts, but the reason for doing so is simple.
Millions of masks were thrown out because of shortcomings in the replenishment process. Of course, Health Canada makes its own decisions in that regard, but as far as procurement goes, does it not behoove us to check whether the processes in place to protect Canadians and Quebeckers are valid? It is out of the question to wait until the pandemic is over to realize that we should have done this or that.
We are in the midst of the pandemic, and now that we have a tiny bit of hindsight, we can check whether the process is adequate and whether we can make any improvements to immediately protect people's health. We have to make sure the equipment and supplies in the stockpile aren't expired. The masks I referred to had been expired, not for three weeks or six months, but for five years. As I see it, everyone should review the process, and that is the committee's job.
To be clear, had the government supported the opposition's motion to create a special committee, there would not be three or four committees examining the same issue from various angles. There would be a single committee examining the issue from every angle, and we wouldn't even be having this conversation right now. I don't mind, because this is important work, but why not focus our efforts? That option was rejected, so we will try something else.
There are lessons to be learned, and the time to learn them is now—not when the pandemic is over. That would be the worst thing we could do. Let's immediately take advantage of the hindsight we have.
The motion was put forward this summer and the work got under way. The last thing I want to do is overburden public servants and those who have to search through the records. That is not my intention, and it certainly isn't Mr. Green's, to speak on his behalf. The objective is to get to the truth and to improve the process for everyone's sake.
That's what I have to say on the matter.
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View Francis Drouin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm going to respond to Mrs. Vignola's remarks. Yes, the motion may have made sense this summer, when the provinces, Quebec and all of Canada weren't in the middle of a second wave, but now they are. I would like the opposition members to agree at least on which committees they want to be on and have examine these issues.
As members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, we have a responsibility associated with PSPC and the Treasury Board. However, the way the motion was written, it relates mainly to the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada.
As my fellow member Mr. MacKinnon explained so well, PSPC is responsible for procuring supplies such as personal protective equipment, once—and only once—the Public Health Agency of Canada has notified PSPC that the equipment is needed. That is why we are reluctant to support this motion.
This is also a matter of principle. A motion with very similar wording was put forward last week, and the honourable member Mr. Green already voted in favour of it. Our party did not support it because we understand how hard the people who have to produce this information—many of whom live in my riding—must work to fulfill this request. They helped us come through the first wave, and now, we are going to thank them by piling even more work on in the midst of the second wave.
This summer, the pandemic lost a bit of steam, but we knew the second wave was coming. Now the opposition is choosing to request information, which I fully understand. That is their duty. They can do that. We are in the grip of the second wave of the pandemic and the crisis continues, so I ask you: is now really the time to call for a sweeping audit to obtain all these documents?
I have never seen a company or a not-for-profit organization perform an audit in the middle of its fiscal year. There will be plenty of time to request this information. Actually, it has already been requested, with the House adopting a motion to that effect. Because of the opposition, employees of the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, who are working tirelessly here, in Gatineau, in Hull and in Aylmer, will have to stop everything because the opposition is calling for an audit at the height of the crisis. I have never seen that, Mr. Chair.
I respect the committee and I respected the House's decision. I am not trying to go on as long as I can. I just want to reiterate what was said last week about the member for Calgary Nose Hill's motion. You heard that a number of key stakeholders had concerns about how the motion adopted by the House was written. That is on you now, and I hope you explain that to your constituents when you go back to your ridings.
Mr. Green said he likes to post on social media. It is on him now to explain why he is asking for this when he knows full well that the House has already requested the information and that it will be going to the Standing Committee on Health.
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View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2020-11-02 17:06
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Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank Mr. Green and Ms. Vignola for some very good points.
Watching my Liberal colleagues talk about this, it's kind of like Queen Gertrude with “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” from Shakespeare.
There are a couple of things I want to bring up. It's quite funny to hear the Liberal side talk about there being so many other committees studying this. I want to hearken back to the 42nd Parliament, where we had five different committees studying greening the government and the Liberal majority on this committee insisted that we needed to have another one, despite so many overarching concerns we needed to look at. It's funny that they would justify five or six overlapping committees at one time, but now they're in abject opposition to doing the same.
I want to bring up a couple of other points. We hear again and again from the government side, “Oh, pandemic. We can't do anything. The pandemic.” Just last week, we saw Kevin Lamoureux justify corruption because of a pandemic. We can't look at ethics because we're in a pandemic. Now we're hearing from the Liberals that we can't look at incompetence that has hurt Canadians, blatant incompetence that has punished Canadians, because of a pandemic: “We have to do it for the safety of the public service. We can't bring them in and force them to work. We can't take them away from needed stuff.” It's as if it's Patty Hajdu herself sitting there flipping through her emails to find this information. There are over 120,000 public servants working in Ottawa. I'm sure we can find the resources to get this information.
I was looking at the PBO's study on the 699. Do you know how many people from the Public Health Agency are taking the 699, which is paid time off without work? Six in the entire department are not available for work, six out of the entire department. We had the people. We had the resources to get this done.
The public accounts are coming out next month. We have all the resources to comb through all the government's spending records to publish the public accounts safely. The other general work is still getting done safely. We can get this stuff done safely as well.
We should look at this. We have the resources. There's no reason in the world we can't get this done. I'm with Mr. Green. This is not an issue that's going to go away, so we either sit here and allow the will of the committee to proceed, or we get to a point where every single meeting is just going to be Liberals filibustering and blocking our ability to help Canadians.
I want to thank Mr. Green for being so forceful on this, and Ms. Vignola for her remarks. I would just say to my Liberal colleagues, let this go ahead as we agreed before prorogation. A lot of it has probably already been done. Let's get the work done. We have the assets. We have the ability to easily get this done. We owe it to Canadians so we do not have a repeat of this down the road, whether it's in one month, one year or two years.
Thanks.
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View Irek Kusmierczyk Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to start by picking up on a comment that Mr. Green made very early in his comments. Mr. Chair, I think you made the same comments as well, about how we got off to a really good start at the beginning of this committee meeting. There seemed to be a really good spirit of collaboration. Right off the get-go, we passed a motion that had six items on it, and we passed it unanimously. I think it demonstrates our commitment to working together on this committee to get real work done.
I know that my colleague Mr. Green also in previous meetings put forward.... I know we are prepared. There are 12 motions on the table. We are prepared to support 12 of 13 motions. On our part, there is a real willingness to work together, to collaborate and to get important work done in this committee.
I've been clear, pretty much since the beginning of this committee's work, that where you're going to see push-back from me is where I see motions that are asking for the proliferation of committees, for the production of papers and the duplication of work without a clear and well-defined value added. That's where you're going to see me push back. I'm ready to roll up my sleeves, ready to support motions, whether by colleagues on this side of the aisle or by my esteemed colleagues on the other side of the aisle. The motions have to meet a certain standard. Again, where you're going to see me push back is when I see proliferation of committees, production of papers and duplication of work and I don't see a clear value added.
I guess where I may differ a little from the approach of my colleagues is that I do believe we are in a crisis. I believe it's the greatest health and economic crisis we have faced in our country, period. I do believe, with every fibre of my being, that this requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. It requires that we are laser-focused, and it requires us to make choices: Where do we want our attention to be focused?
My colleague mentioned that there are hundreds of thousands of public servants in the government, and that it's okay if just a few of them focus their attention on fetching emails and documents from 10 years ago. My argument is quite the opposite: We need every single pair of eyes, hands and brains, all that human capital, all those resources, all that attention focused on addressing and solving this issue and helping Canadians and our country get through this crisis. We need all hands on deck focused on this.
I want my colleagues to know that for me, there is a really high standard that I set, a high bar in terms of what motions will pass. Specifically, it's based on where we need to put our resources.
On this particular issue, we had members of PHAC and other government agencies in front of this committee in May, answering many of these very questions. May 15 was actually when we had a meeting on this exact issue, the national emergency strategic stockpile. We had folks—officials, vice-presidents, executive directors—from PHAC and Public Works. I remember one of the points that Mr. Green made at that meeting, which stuck with me. He highlighted the fact that a Senate committee in 2008 underscored and highlighted and concluded that the previous Conservative government had severely underfunded and mismanaged the NESS.
As much as I'd love to read emails and documentation and spend hours talking about how the Conservative government mismanaged the national emergency strategic stockpile, let's save that for another day and focus on the work in front of us. Let's focus on the crisis at hand. Enough of the political stuff; we need to focus on this crisis. We need full attention. We can't afford to lose even a handful of public servants being distracted from the work they need to do.
What I will highlight from Mr. Green's testimony is that when we had the officials here in May—I remember really appreciating this—he asked them what we were doing now to ensure proper supplies and what the plan was for the next wave. Keep in mind that this was in May, and Mr. Green was asking them some very fine questions: “What are we doing to prepare for the second wave?” That was very prescient.
I would rather have us focus our attention—because other committees are looking at this work—not on what happened in the last 10 years but on what we are doing now and what we are doing next. That would be a much more appropriate use of our time and resources.
I want to go on the record here to simply state where I have trouble with this particular motion. It's simply that I want to make sure that all our resources and attention are focused on the crisis at hand.
Thank you very much, Chair.
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View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2020-11-02 17:17
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm one of the lucky ones who were here when we initially passed this motion. I'm blessed that I'm here to actually talk on this new motion.
As Ms. Vignola mentioned, this is a great opportunity for us to look at the process. But the process is not just the process that happened as result of COVID-19. When we look at the strategic stockpile of PPE inventory, there are many dimensions when you look at inventory management. You look at how much of the stock you need; how you replenish it; how you decide what type of stock you need and what the reorder point is; where the locations are where you're going to stockpile; what the mechanism is for receiving orders from the provinces; how you determine the priority. These stockpiles are strategic stockpiles. They are not there to satisfy all of the demands.
There are many aspects to evaluating this. To the extent that the documents that might be available during this short period, especially during COVID-19, in terms of how much of it was disposed of.... I don't think these documents are actually going to shed a complete light onto how the consolidation of these centres came about, who made that decision, how we decided on what type of stockpile we needed and what combination we needed: Do we need surgical masks, do we need level three masks or do we need gloves? All those decisions needed to be made. I'm not sure whether we have that data.
Also, other committees, for instance the health committee, and the motion that was passed in the House, are generating these documents. When you look at the end-to-end process, I don't think the end-to-end process is only over the three months. It was over many, many years that these decisions were made. We need to wait until those documents are tabled to be able to see to what extent those documents that are being generated—or, as said, are nearly ready to be handed in to the other committees—put us in a position to be able to answer some of these key questions.
The level of the stockpile is only one element. There's the decision-making: How do we monitor it? How do we control it? All of those may or may not be answered in the documents that are being prepared.
My suggestion is to wait for these documents that other committees are asking for to be tabled. Let's review those documents, and then ask the fundamental question that everybody is asking, from all sides of the House. Whether it's the Conservatives, the NDP, the Bloc, the Liberals, the Greens or the independents, we are all asking the same question. The fundamental question is, how do we make sure that this doesn't happen again? Let's see what process was followed and where we can make those improvements.
We also need to make sure that we ask for documents in an appropriate time frame. Right now, we are in the middle of wave two. The questions that are being asked, or the questions that we're trying to get the answer to, are most probably being addressed right now because we are going through wave two. We are saying now, based on wave one, that we have some ideas of what PPE we need. Based on the surges in various provinces, we also need to look at which provinces, which territories. Based on the needs from various regions, as the cases are going up, how do we look at strategizing or how do we look at prioritizing where these supplies are going to go?
Some of the answers that may come in this report may or may not be relevant to what we are doing right now, because we are learning, and we are learning every day. There are provinces and territories that we thought had beaten COVID, and now we are moving into lockdown situations. The prioritization now is going to change. The strategic stockpile is going to change, and the decision-making is going to change.
Let's focus on making sure that we use the lessons learned from the first wave and address the immediate need, which is the second wave, making sure that all the organizations that needed to benefit from the stockpiles get the support they need. Hopefully, when this thing is over, this will be a great motion to study, because we have the previous 10 years; we have wave one; we have wave two, and hopefully we'll beat this on wave two, so we don't have to go to wave three.
We will have a benchmark: How did we do? How did we react? That's going to be a much better time for us to leverage all the lessons learned, and also optimize the generation of all of these documents. The fact that only six members of the Public Health Agency are on 699 leave right now itself tells you how busy they are. Why are they busy? They're focusing on the people. They're focusing on you and me. They're focusing on our community. They're focusing on elders. They're focusing on children at school, and they're doing everything in their power to make sure that those supplies are ready.
I am to a large extent highlighting the areas that all members have talked about, and that I think are important to me and to my constituents: whether it's the process, whether it's the stockpile, whether it's the oversight, whether it's the history, whether it's how we managed during wave one or how we are going to manage during wave two. Therefore, my ask or my recommendation is, let's keep the focus on Canadians. Let's make sure that the stockpiles we have, whether it's the gowns or the masks that we've acquired and the internal capacity we've built, are getting to Canadians.
Partnering with other departments, whether it's working with PHAC, PSPC or ISED, let's make the investment. Let's focus on those as the government's number one priority. As a committee, we have six great motions. I'm looking forward to the next motion that Mr. Green is going to put to debate.
Mr. Chair, thank you very much for the time. I would ask all members to consider prioritizing the focus on Canadians rather than the production of documents.
Thank you.
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View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
View Matthew Green Profile
2020-11-02 17:31
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I'd be happy to. It reads:
That, in the context of its study of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a), the committee send for documents from Public Service and Procurement Canada (PSPC) containing the following disaggregated data related to businesses owned by under-represented groups (black, indigenous, women, and persons with disabilities) who have engaged with PSPC with regard to the federal government's response to COVID-19: (a) (i) how many companies from under-represented groups have secured contracts with PSPC, (ii) the value of these contracts, (iii) the number of businesses from under-represented groups screened and approved as credited vendors, (iv) number and value of set aside contracts for these businesses, (v) the number of sub-contracts entered into; (b), that the committee send for all papers and records, in unredacted form, from Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”) relating to the Federal Contractors Program, and in particular: (i) all current, signed Agreements to Implement Employment Equity (“Agreements”); (ii) the most current list of contractors covered by said Agreements; (iii) the most current compliance documentation furnished by each contractor covered by an Agreement, including the goalsetting report, achievement table, workforce analysis, revised goals for remaining gaps in representation, and any explanatory material; (iv) the most current documentation of ESDC's compliance assessment for each contractor covered by an Agreement; (v) the most recent Limited Eligibility to Bid List; (vi) all documentation filed in an appeal of a finding of noncompliance by a contractor to the Minister; (vii) all documentation connected to an independent review of an appeal; (viii) any documentation internal to ESDC assessing or evaluating the Federal Contractors Program; that the committee receive these documents, papers and records no later than Tuesday, December 1, 2020; that departments tasked with gathering and releasing the following documents do their assessment and vetting as would be done through the access to information process; and that these documents be posted on the committee's web page.
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View Irek Kusmierczyk Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm glad to see that my colleague from Hamilton is seated, because this is going to blow him away.
I love this. I love where the member is going with this. I really do. For me, this is exactly why I love being on this committee. This is important work, and this is the type of work I am excited rolling up my sleeves about and supporting because it is important. This is it. So I really commend him for bringing this very thoughtful motion forward.
This aligns really well with this government's focus in terms of promoting diversity and inclusion. You can look at, for example, the Black entrepreneurship program that was announced recently. That's going to be coming online. There's $220 million that's going to be going towards that. You look at the fact that part of that funding is going toward the establishment of a Black entrepreneurship knowledge hub, which is going to collect some important information and data about the barriers and the opportunities that are facing Black entrepreneurs in Canada.
You look at the fact that the government put forward a women's entrepreneurship strategy, the first ever, for $5 billion. You look at the fact that the government indicated in its throne speech that it wants to accelerate the women's entrepreneurship strategy, because this is an important part of not only the prosperity of our country but also the economic recovery of our country.
You look at, in April, how our government made an announcement that it would provide $306 million to indigenous businesses as well, because we know how important indigenous businesses are to the prosperity of this community. In terms of entrepreneurship, they are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in our country, and we know they need support, not just during the pandemic but after.
I love where my colleague from Hamilton is going with this. I will be supporting this, but I want to know if my colleague would be interested in going further. I think that we need to go further. This is timely. This is absolutely timely.
I want to know whether Mr. Green, my honourable colleague, would be interested in working with me to go further. I would propose an amendment to this motion. If it's okay, Chair, I'd like to put forward or read that amendment, if that's possible.
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View Irek Kusmierczyk Profile
Lib. (ON)
I would put forward, to build upon what Mr. Green has brought forward to this committee, an amendment—a friendly amendment, I hope—that the committee conduct a minimum of six meetings' study on businesses owned by under-represented groups—Black, indigenous, women, and persons with disabilities—and their ability to procure from the Government of Canada, before and during COVID-19, and that the committee report its findings to the House by May 30, 2021.
Again, I do believe that procurement is a critical aspect of entrepreneurship and the success of these businesses in Canada, and I believe that the time is now to study that and bring witnesses forward.
That is the friendly amendment that I propose in the spirit of collaboration.
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View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2020-11-02 17:45
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I want to thank Mr. Green for bringing this forth originally. I'd certainly love to dig into this more.
My biggest concern is that I want to make sure we add enough teeth to this. Those who were with us in the 42nd Parliament, of course, studied SME procurement with indigenous people, and we heard again and again.... Every single witness we had from indigenous and Métis communities came forward and said that the government was not following its own laws on procurement, that PSPC and INAC were a mess, and that not one of them was actually helpful or following the laws. Then we had the bureaucrats and the government show up, throwing their shoulders out because they were patting themselves on the back so hard.
We repeatedly brought it up in committee that the people we were supposed to be serving were saying that it wasn't working, yet witnesses—ADMs and that—from PSPC, INAC and the others thought everything was perfect and were tripping over themselves to compliment themselves on what a great job they were doing—complete disconnect. We tabled a report on this, and since that time, not one action has been taken on that report.
I applaud you, Mr. Kusmierczyk and Mr. Green, for bringing this forward. We don't have to do it today, but I really think we need to build some teeth into this if we're going to be spending this time. The Liberals have been in power for five years and have done nothing to address this. It's rather shocking. We did a greening government study that was duplicated by five other committees. That seemed more important than this. However, we actually did a study previously, and nothing has been done.
I do hope that we would actually add some teeth to this, and I think we could all support the motion and the amendment.
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View Irek Kusmierczyk Profile
Lib. (ON)
No problem. I'll read it in English. I'll read it slowly, just to make sure the interpreters can do their work as well.
It reads as follows: “that, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee conduct, at minimum, a six-meeting study on businesses owned by under-represented groups, black, indigenous, women and persons with disabilities and their ability to procure from the Government of Canada, before and during COVID-19, and that the committee report its findings to the House by May 30, 2021.”
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View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you. I appreciate that.
As I look at this, it appears to me that you're.... It sounds like you have some consensus around it. However, you're adding to a motion that's already looking into documents. It would alter that motion completely, from what I can see. I'm thinking it is outside the scope of the motion being presented by Mr. Green at this point in time. It might be something that you could present as a motion independently. By the sound of it from other members of the committee, you might be able to work amongst yourselves to come up with one that is acceptable to everybody.
So on this amendment, I'm going to rule that it's outside the scope.
That said, is there any further discussion on Mr. Green's motion?
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