Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 30 of 2241
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:17 [p.2653]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Vimy, who will be giving her maiden speech in this venerable House.
It is an honour for me to be in the House today and to speak on behalf of the residents of Davenport.
It is also an honour to join my colleagues to participate in this important debate on Bill C-20, which includes three key parts. The first part makes a number of adjustments that will expand the eligibility criteria around the Canada emergency wage. Part two covers a number of changes that must occur in order for us to provide a one-time payment to persons with disabilities for reasons related to COVID-19. In part three are a number of appropriate changes to certain acts that will provide some flexibility to certain time limits that were difficult or impossible to meet as a result of the exceptional circumstances produced by COVID-19. I will be talking to part two.
This bill would allow information sharing among several federal departments and agencies and Employment and Social Development Canada, so that a one-time payment can be made to support persons with disabilities during this pandemic. We have to allow for information to be shared among several departments in order to deliver this one-time payment as soon as we possibly can.
This one-time payment of $600 will help approximately 1.7 million Canadians with disabilities who are recipients of the disability tax credit certificate, CPP disability or QPP disability benefits and/or disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.
Bill C-20 is just one part of a much larger plan that our government has dedicated to supporting Canadians with disabilities. Today I want to talk about the evolution of our plan, the actions we have undertaken and our government's next steps toward creating an inclusive and barrier-free Canada.
In 2015, our government named the first-ever cabinet minister responsible for persons with disabilities and promised Canadians that we would pass legislation aimed at removing barriers to inclusion. This signalled our commitment to doing things differently in order to ensure that all Canadians have an equal chance at success.
One of the key milestones on this journey was the National Disability Summit that we held in May 2019, in the days prior to COVID. The summit provided an opportunity for participants to exchange best practices and to create and build on partnerships. It allowed us to understand the next steps to truly realize an inclusive and accessible Canada.
At the same time as the summit was taking place, the federal government's landmark legislation for the Accessible Canada Act was being finalized, following the most comprehensive consultations with the disability community in our country's history. More than 6,000 Canadians and 100 disability organizations shared their views and ideas about an accessible Canada. As we know, the act received royal assent on June 21, 2019 and came into force in July of that year.
The legislation builds upon existing mechanisms and ensures compliance and accountability. The Accessible Canada Act takes a proactive and systemic approach to identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility in key areas within federal jurisdiction. The goal was to ensure that the act was based on safeguarding human rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The act also created new entities such as Accessibility Standards Canada, which creates and reviews accessibility standards for federally regulated organizations.
I am proud of this legislation because it sends a clear message to Canadians that persons with disabilities will no longer be treated as an afterthought. From the start, systems will be designed to be inclusive for all Canadians. This is because it is our systems, our policies, our practices and our laws that need to be fixed, not our people.
I also want to point out that in the mandate letter of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, a number of important additional measures will continue to ensure that we promote disability inclusion. These include, among other measures, undertaking initiatives to improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities, targeting barriers to full participation in the labour force including discrimination and stigma, raising public awareness, and working with employers and businesses in a coordinated way.
As the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion has said, we move from “Nothing about us, without us” to “Nothing without us”, because everything in society touches the lives of Canadians with disabilities.
The Government of Canada is leading the way in ensuring communities and workplaces are accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities. It is the largest federal employer. It is also the single-largest purchaser of goods and services in the country, and provides vital programs and services to Canadians. As such, we have committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years in the federal public service. We are also committed to applying an accessibility lens to government procurement and project planning.
Over the last five years, our government has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Canadians with disabilities. I wish to share some of the highlights over our two mandates, which began in 2015.
Our government applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs such as the Canada child benefit, the national housing strategy and the infrastructure program. The result is that families of children with disabilities receive an additional amount under the CCB. For example, from 2017 to 2018, 1.75 million children benefited from the disability supplement.
Under the national housing strategy, there is a commitment to promote universal design and visitability. This includes a requirement that public and shared spaces meet accessibility standards, and that at least 2,400 new affordable housing units for persons with developmental disabilities are created.
In the area of infrastructure we have approved nearly 800 accessibility projects, including almost 500 new para-transit buses and improvements to 81 existing transit facilities to make them more accessible to Canadians. This was made possible by ensuring that accessibility was an eligible expense in public transit projects. In just one year, almost $800 million was invested into our public transit systems to make them more accessible.
We have also increased our investments in existing programs such as the enabling accessibility fund, the social development partnerships program and the opportunities fund. All three of these programs were significantly enhanced, allowing people to keep doing the good work they are doing to improve the lives of Canadians with disabilities.
Current COVID-19 supports have been amply covered by my colleagues over the last 24 hours, but I want to bring them to mind briefly. Since the pandemic was declared, our government has taken a disability-inclusive response to the pandemic. This included adhering to the principle of “Nothing without us”, from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the creation of the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group to bring the lived experience of persons with disabilities to our government's response to the pandemic.
We provided additional support to students with permanent disabilities and the one-time payment that is part of the debate today. We invested in mental health for the Wellness Together portal. We launched calls for proposals under two components of the enabling accessibility fund, and created a national workplace accessibility stream of the opportunities fund to help people with disabilities find jobs right now. Finally, we added funding to the social development partnerships program to enhance accessibility communications during this crisis, and invested $1.18 million in five new projects across the country through the accessible technology program to help develop dynamic and affordable technology.
In conclusion, from the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know Canadians with disabilities are underemployed compared with the general population, a situation made worse by this pandemic. As the economy opens up again, this represents an opportunity for a vast and largely untapped pool of talent: people who are available to work, who want to join the workforce and who are ready to apply their innovative ideas to our new normal.
In the meantime, I call upon my colleagues to quickly pass the legislation before us so we can get support out to the people who urgently and immediately need it.
I am now ready to take questions.
Collapse
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-21 10:27 [p.2654]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, what is the number of disability payment recipients in Canada now?
Collapse
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:27 [p.2654]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. I actually do not have the answer to that question.
I do know that the changes we are about to make would, we believe, benefit 1.7 million Canadians. The other thing to point out is that the changes we want to make would make it more inclusive. We want as many people as possible, who have disabilities and need emergency support, to be able to access it. That is the reason we are proposing these changes in the legislation today.
Collapse
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-21 10:28 [p.2654]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, the disability tax credit application is quite arduous. I am not sure if the member has had a chance to go through that with some of her constituents, but it is a very heavy bureaucratic process and does take time.
I am wondering if she is aware of that process, the challenges that many Canadians have in applying for that credit and the fact that those who are either in the midst of applying or do not qualify are being left behind by aspects of this legislation.
Collapse
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:28 [p.2655]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I was listening very intently to the minister yesterday. She spoke about the system behind the benefits available to persons with disabilities in Canada, and basically said that the system needs to be changed. It has to be simplified as it is not easy to navigate. She has made a commitment to do everything in her power to simplify the system and make it easier for us to get benefits directly to those who need them immediately.
Collapse
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-07-21 10:30 [p.2655]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, when I heard my colleague mention social housing, it occurred to me that if we wanted to make life easier for people living with disabilities, maybe we should fund the health care system properly. Health care is still underfunded. As for social housing, Quebec is still waiting for the transfers from the federal government.
Would my colleague agree that it is urgent to transfer that money if we want to truly support people living with disabilities?
Collapse
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:30 [p.2655]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, I read a number of the elements of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion's mandate letter and we are going to take a number of additional steps to try to be more helpful to our disability community.
In terms of health care, my understanding is that we have health agreements with every single province, except Quebec, and we are very happy to step up to the plate and continue those discussions with Quebec to ensure that persons with disabilities, as well as all Quebeckers, will have access to better health.
Collapse
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2020-07-21 10:31 [p.2655]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that members of the opposition would question how long it takes for these disability tax credits given that we would be two months further ahead had they not been playing politics with this issue a couple of months ago.
The member talked about the lower employment levels of people with disabilities. I know first-hand that my cousin Aidan, who has Down syndrome, has all the supports he needs to get through his education, but after that there is a real lack of opportunity for employment. What this bill seeks to do, in particular, is create the economic environment for people with disabilities to prosper to their fullest potential. The federal government is looking to employ 5,000 more people with disabilities.
I am wondering if the member can comment on how she sees this impacting people in her own community of Davenport.
Collapse
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:32 [p.2655]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I would have also liked to see this legislation pass two months ago. One of the positive aspects of waiting, turning lemons into lemonade, is that this time we expanded on who can apply and access this one-time emergency funding.
We are providing a number of avenues for more people to apply for the disability tax credit. If more people apply for the disability tax credit, more of them will be able to access the one-time emergency support. I know that is going to benefit many more people in my riding of Davenport.
Collapse
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-07-21 10:32 [p.2655]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the pandemic, our government has followed the guidance of public health officials. Governments across Canada put lockdown measures in place to slow the spread of the virus and ensure that our health care systems were well prepared.
The lockdown measures that governments put in place to control the outbreak meant that many Canadians lost their jobs or a significant portion of their incomes. Without question, the nature of this crisis is completely unprecedented. We are confronting a public health and economic crisis. Canadians have managed to control the virus, and gradually and safely, our economy is restarting across the country.
Canadians have made great sacrifices to get here. Businesses of all sizes closed their doors during the emergency phase and are still facing uncertainty.
Our government acted quickly in March, when we launched the first measures of our COVID-19 economic response plan. Through rapid and broad support, the government has been able to protect millions of jobs, provide emergency income support to families and help keep businesses afloat during the worst of the storm. This support is helping Canadians get back on their feet and has prevented serious, long-term damage to our economy.
With the Canada emergency response benefit, we are providing temporary income support to Canadians across the country who have stopped working because of COVID-19. More than eight million Canadians have applied for the CERB.
We provided a special, one-time $300 top-up to the Canada child benefit for the month of May, delivering almost $2 billion in additional support to families who needed it. The government also provided a special top-up payment in April through the goods and services tax credit for low- and modest-income individuals and families, giving on average a single adult almost $400 more and couples almost $600 more.
We have worked to support our most vulnerable as well, providing support for the food banks, charities and non-profits that provide services to those in need. We have also provided $158 million to support Canadians experiencing homelessness, ensuring that the shelters they rely on have the equipment they need to prevent outbreaks.
We know that during the lockdown, home was not always a safe place to be. We provided funding that has helped over 500 organizations that support women and children experiencing violence. We want to work to keep our communities safe and vibrant.
We know that preserving the small businesses that give our neighbourhoods life is key to keeping our community strong. The Canada emergency business account, or CEBA, has helped over 690,000 small businesses. Through this support, small businesses and non-profit organizations can receive an interest-free loan of up to $40,000, 25% of which is forgivable if paid back by the end of 2022. We recently expanded the CEBA so that more small businesses can access it. The CEBA is making a real difference in addressing the cash-flow challenges we see businesses facing as a result of COVID.
We know making rent can be a challenge for our hardest hit businesses. That is why we launched the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance, or CECRA, which provides eligible small-business tenants with a rent reduction of 50%. We recently announced that we are extending the program to cover eligible small-business rents for July. The program provides support by offering forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners, whether they have a mortgage on their property or not.
The CECRA also offers another key support to help businesses through the current challenges. Overall, since the beginning of the COVID-19 global outbreak, the Government of Canada has taken swift and significant action to support Canadians and protect jobs. The Canada emergency wage subsidy is one of the cornerstones of the government's economic response plan.
That is why with this week's legislation we are proposing to extend the Canada emergency wage subsidy until November 21, 2020. Furthermore, the government is announcing its intent to provide further support through the wage subsidy, up to December 19, 2020. The bill would make the program accessible to a broader range of employers and would help protect more jobs and promote growth as the economy continues to reopen.
To ensure strong subsidy support for those who need it, effective July 5, 2020, the Canada emergency wage subsidy would consist of two parts: a base subsidy available to all eligible employers experiencing a decline in revenues with a varying subsidy amount depending on the scale of revenue decline, and a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers that have been most adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. If businesses are experiencing a revenue drop of 50% or more, they would receive the maximum base subsidy rate. If they are experiencing a decline between 49% and zero, their base subsidy rate would gradually decline in accordance with their revenue decrease. By removing the 30% revenue decline threshold, these adjustments would make the Canada emergency wage subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers. The introduction of a gradually declining base subsidy would allow the program to be extended to more employers and continue to support recovering businesses.
As well, the top-up subsidy rate of up to 25% would be available to employers that were the most adversely affected during the pandemic, which is to say those having experienced an average revenue drop of more than 50% over the preceding three months. This would be particularly helpful to employers and sectors that are recovering more slowly.
We will also make sure eligible employers that were making plans for the next two CEWS periods based on the existing design would be entitled to an amount of subsidy not less than the amount they would be entitled to under the wage subsidy rules that were in place before that period. This would provide a safe harbour so employers that already made business decisions for the period between July 5 and August 29 would not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have under the previous rules.
By helping more workers return to work and supporting businesses as they recover, these changes would make businesses more competitive and would ensure that our economy returns to growth.
In conclusion, with this legislation the government is addressing the challenges employers are facing and is providing the support they need to participate in the restart. Therefore, I strongly recommend that all members of the House support the bill so that together we deliver on our collective commitment to be there for Canadians and help them bridge through to better times.
Collapse
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-21 10:40 [p.2656]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments and agree with the fact it has been two months since this was first presented. However, significantly more people with disabilities are included now because of the time that was invested in making the bill better.
One area the bill improves is support for veterans. They are included in this payment. Over 50,000 of them are without funding. I have a concern regarding what the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion said when she presented this in the House and referred to veterans. She said, “this is going to be super complicated at the back end”.
Does the member have any idea of the process that has been put in place to do this in an expeditious manner for veterans so that they do not lose hope again and this isn't another situation where the government is not providing them something they have been promised?
Collapse
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-07-21 10:42 [p.2656]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, our government is listening actively and working with various partners to make sure that no one is left behind. Certainly, we should not forget our veterans.
As we all know, this is the first time we are dealing with this. The disability act should have been debated and changed two months ago. We lost precious time, but I am sure, and can assure the House, that the minister, her team and the great people of our public service are going to find the solutions we need to make sure our veterans have the support they need.
Collapse
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-07-21 10:42 [p.2657]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the speech from my colleague, who sits on the Standing Committee on Finance.
I am going to ask her a somewhat technical question. I should probably ask the government, but I will see if she can answer. It is about support for people living with disabilities as drafted in Bill C-20.
In his announcement on June 1, the Prime Minister mentioned a refundable tax credit. However, Bill C-20 calls it a payment out of the consolidated revenue fund. On closer scrutiny, it seems like the payment could be considered taxable income for the taxpayer.
Does my colleague know whether this tax credit is taxable?
Collapse
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-07-21 10:43 [p.2657]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I thank my esteemed colleague from the Standing Committee on Finance for his question. I honestly do not know the details. I do not know if it is taxable or not, but I will find out and get back to him.
Collapse
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-07-21 10:44 [p.2657]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, as we talk about the recovery of the economy, obviously a huge part of it is child care. Workplaces have continually expressed the need for a national public system of affordable child care.
The government has put forward an economic recovery plan, but the $625 million that has been allocated to child care is simply not enough. Some are calling for $2.5 billion.
I am wondering what the member across the way has to say about the huge difference in realities and the need to do a lot more on child care.
Collapse
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-07-21 10:44 [p.2657]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I am part of the finance committee, and we have heard time and time again through our witnesses that there will be no recovery unless we have affordable and proper child care. Our government is committed to that. I know that our various ministers have been working very closely with partners in various provinces. It is not an easy fix, but I know the discussions are going on. Our goal is to make sure that affordable child care is in place as our economy starts to recover.
Collapse
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member opposite on her maiden speech. I recently had to do one and I appreciate the stress that comes with it.
I have a quick question on the CEWS legislation. In the backgrounder that is produced by the Department of Finance, there is an example that talks about businesses that now qualify because of the reduction in the 30% limit. In that example there is no reference, and in fact this is quite clear, to a retroactive application of this legislation for some very significant businesses that would qualify now but have been waiting for over 100 days for help in this legislation.
I am curious if the member believes that there should have been a retroactive component to the CEWS legislation for businesses that now qualify for the benefit but only on a go-forward basis.
Collapse
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-07-21 10:46 [p.2657]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I know that the CEWS has supported over three million employees by helping them stay in their workforces or return to work. I am not certain whether at this moment we are looking to see whether we are able to give retroactive payments or not, but I am certain this government will do everything possible to listen. We are flexible. We were not looking for perfection. We do not want to allow perfection to stand in the way of the good. I can safely say, in my opinion, that if there is a way to give retroactive payments, I am sure this government is willing to listen to that.
Collapse
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-07-21 10:47 [p.2657]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, first I want to let you know that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Manicouagan. I would like to take this opportunity to invite all members of the House to visit that magnificent region this summer. It might be far, but it is worth the trip.
Bill C-20 leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It is the embodiment of everything I most abhor about this federation. It is a reminder that my people, my nation, is still controlled by the nation next door. I am sure my colleagues will have understood by now that I am referring to the Bill C-20 that was passed just over 20 years ago, the clarity act, which set out the majority threshold and was tabled by Stéphane Dion. This bill reminded Quebeckers that Quebec would be ruled by the will of the Canadian majority to the very end. I see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons applauding that. That is just pathetic.
Twenty years ago, this Parliament came out and said that Quebec is not the master of its own house, so much so that its neighbour decided to give itself a say and even veto power not just over the next referendum, but also over the very definition of a majority, since it felt 50% + 1 was not enough for a majority anymore. So much for a people's right to self-determination. Quebec does not know what is good for it. There are echoes of Lord Durham's lamentable report here. This gets applause to this day.
As for Bill C-20, which is being debated today, the Bloc Québécois will obviously support it. Our logic is straightforward. Quite simply, since the bill is good for Quebec, the Bloc Québécois will support it. However, I would like to address the manner in which the bill was introduced and will likely be passed.
Over the past four months, the pandemic has shaped our daily lives. That is true for all of society and also for this Parliament. Its usual operations were suspended because of health guidelines. For four months, this Parliament and its legislators have no longer carried out their roles as they should. That is also true for the study of this bill. We will pass it with a sham procedure, ramming it through without being able to study it properly. I completely understand that it is urgent that we help those paying the economic price of health measures, namely our workers, businesses and people with disabilities. However, after four months, I feel that it is time to strike a balance and to put an end to this travesty of democracy, I would even say, this quasi-dictatorial government.
I will explain. Here is how it works. The government presents its bill to each party under embargo and then, just a day or two later, it introduces the bill in the House and insists that it be passed as is. In so doing, the government is short-circuiting the usual analysis and study process. We do not have time to examine the bill in detail, but, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. What worries me the most about this flippant approach is that, for the past four months, we have been passing bills without even giving members the opportunity to hear from the individuals and groups that are affected by those bills. The current process is too rushed. It does not make any sense.
I would like to give an example to illustrate this problem, that of Bill C-17. There was a section in Bill C-17 that sought to provide support to people living with disabilities. That support was intended for people who applied for the disability tax credit. However, since this was a non-refundable tax credit, many low-income people did not apply for it because they do not pay taxes. They were not going to fill out all the paperwork for something that did not apply to them. We know that far too many people with disabilities are living in extreme poverty. As written, Bill C-17 excluded the poorest people from the support program. Those who needed help the most were excluded, which was outrageous. This type of problem is usually fixed during the legislative process when committees have time to hear from the groups concerned and provide recommendations on how to improve bills.
In fact, it was groups like those who contacted us to complain about that aspect of Bill C-17. The bill affected their members. They are in the best position to analyze it, and they must be given time to take a close look at it and analyze it so that the government can hear what they have to say and make changes accordingly. As I have said before, the whole process that is crucial to passing good laws has been on hold for four months. That has to change. We need to get back to a democratic process. Let me just remind everyone that the government was unequivocal: Bill C-17 had to be passed as it was, and there was no room for improvement.
Even though it is in a minority situation, the government is behaving like a dictator. That is unacceptable. We said that we were in favour of Bill C-17, but that we needed time to study and analyze it. The government refused, saying that there would be no changes, and it chose to withdraw the bill and pout.
Fortunately for Canadians living with disabilities, just over a month later, Bill C-20 corrects the mistakes of Bill C-17 by adding three flexible elements.
First, individuals receiving a disability pension from the Quebec pension plan, Canada pension plan or Veterans Affairs will be entitled to the payment, even if they have not applied for the disability tax credit. However, this does not include those who receive a disability pension from the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec following an automobile accident, or the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail following a workplace accident. That could be improved.
Finally, individuals who apply for the disability tax credit within 60 days will be entitled to the payment, even if they did not previously claim it. This flexibility was not found in Bill C-17.
I would also like to talk about another point concerning the assistance for people with disabilities, which my colleague was asked about earlier. In his announcement on June 1, the Prime Minister talked about a refundable tax credit. However, Bill C-20 talks about a payment paid out of the consolidated revenue fund. It is not inconceivable that this could mean the payment is considered taxable income for taxpayers. I would like the government to clarify this.
Mr. Speaker, I want to appeal to you and to my colleagues from all parties here, in the House. We need to change how bills get passed. This chamber, its elected officials, its legislators and its committees must be able to actually do their jobs. We need to find a way that complies with health guidelines, but it is possible.
The government is comfortable governing without Parliament, but that infringes on our democracy. This has been going on for four months, which is far too long, and it needs to change.
Collapse
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
2020-07-21 10:54 [p.2658]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for his speech.
I find it a bit ridiculous to hear members say that there was an opportunity to vote for a bill to help people living with disabilities last month, but today, a month later, they are justifying having voted against it.
Today, we have the opportunity to vote in favour of the bill. Once again, it is easy to say that the bill is not perfect. Could my colleague opposite tell us whether it would have been better to vote in favour the first time, thereby avoiding all the political games?
Collapse
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-07-21 10:55 [p.2658]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, this is our first opportunity to vote on support for persons with disabilities. In fact, Bill C-17 was not even introduced in the House. We were not able to vote on that bill. The government chose to sulk by not introducing it.
Everyone in the House said that support for people living with disabilities was important. We just had to ensure that it was done right. My speech mainly focused on the fact that it was badly done and rushed. That is also the opinion of groups representing persons with disabilities.
Now, Bill C-20 is properly drafted. It is everything we asked for. The government must stop acting like a dictator and saying take it or leave it, and if we do not take it as it is, it does not work.
We have to return to a process that lets all elected members of every party to participate fully as legislators.
Collapse
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 10:56 [p.2659]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, the member has not responded to my colleague in a fully accurate way.
The Bloc, the New Democrats and the Conservatives were provided an opportunity not that long ago to give their unanimous consent. Unanimous consent is often given for a wide variety of bills, not only with this administration, but also previous administrations, so it is not as though it is unprecedented. There was an opportunity for us to see this legislation, or a form of it, pass.
It was not necessarily the Bloc as much as the Conservatives, but to try to imply that the government did not attempt to bring forward legislation that would have seen money in the pockets of individuals with a disability gives the wrong impression.
Would the member not acknowledge that there was a genuine attempt to make that happen?
Collapse
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-07-21 10:57 [p.2659]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, the government chose to introduce Bill C-17 as one bill made up of four different parts that could not be amended.
The part regarding support payments for people living with disabilities had the unanimous consent of the House. Had the government chosen to seek unanimous consent to pass that part of Bill C-17, it would have immediately gotten that consent. Every party publicly expressed its support for that part of the bill, so there would not have been any problem with that.
The government said no. The parties had to take the whole bill or leave it. That is the problem that we are once again seeing in this catastrophic approach to urgently passing bills imposed by the government. The part of Bill C-17 that helps people living with disabilities would have excluded the poorest members of that group because it was poorly written. The government is short-circuiting the usual process for passing bills in the House. That is what I have a problem with.
I hope I have made that clear to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. This way of doing things needs to change. We have been doing things this way for four months and that is too long.
Collapse
View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I really liked what he had to say.
I think Bill C-20 would have been a good opportunity for the government to simplify to some degree the fairly complex measures introduced in Bill C-17. It is still complex. It is written in very complex jargon. We are afraid it might prevent some businesses and individuals from getting the help they need, which is what happened with the emergency commercial rent assistance. We realized that applying for it was so complicated, people just gave up.
Does my colleague think Bill C-20 would have been a good opportunity for the government to simplify the process?
Collapse
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-07-21 10:59 [p.2659]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, the Income Tax Act is such incomprehensible gobbledygook that a physicist or a mechanical or electrical engineer would struggle to do the math. The equations are full of variables. There are more letters than numbers. There are cross references. It is endless. It is impossible to understand.
During the technical briefing on this bill provided by officials, we were assured that the government would be able to present the extension of the wage subsidy and all its various forms in a comprehensible way. That is a huge but necessary challenge. As my colleague said, that was not the case at all for the commercial rent assistance.
Collapse
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2020-07-21 11:00 [p.2659]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, members bring their personal experiences to the House of Commons. I am here to represent the people of Quebec and my riding. I am also the critic for families, children and social development.
I want to talk a bit about my experience. There is a lot of talk about what is being proposed in Bill C-20, and it is clear that the matter of accessibility is a sticking point. I am a mother of three children, one of whom has a disability.
For several weeks now, I have heard people talking about the bill that was tabled and that would make certain things possible. I, of course, see the bill from a parliamentary perspective, but also from a personal perspective, as I think about people who are living with a disability and who are vulnerable. The government is implying that everything is easy and available and that these people were taken into account, but all along it has been dragging its feet and taking its time.
Today, listening to the questions being asked in the House, it is unclear how the assistance for people with disabilities will be provided. The government is unable to tell us whether the $600 they get will be taxable. In my opinion, we are far from a comprehensive, clear proposal and from providing assistance for those who need it most.
I wanted to mention that, not only is this measure long overdue, but there is still the matter of accessibility. That is why debates and committees are an important part of the process of perfecting bills, as my hon. colleague from Joliette mentioned earlier. Of course, for the Bloc Québécois, the goal is to help the most vulnerable.
I mentioned that it is too late and that it is unclear, and I feel the same way about the Canada emergency wage subsidy. I have spoken to a number of people and entrepreneurs in my riding who did not have access to the CEWS. Now the government is trying to improve it, apparently so that more people can have access to it.
I went to Gaspé, where I spoke to entrepreneurs. Applying for the wage subsidy is a burden for companies large and small. It is not an easy task. Some were ineligible, and now the government has made some adjustments based on other criteria that are so convoluted as to be almost incomprehensible. Once again, my concern is that the subsidy will not be accessible to people who cannot apply themselves or who cannot do so properly, since the program is so convoluted, as I was saying. We need to clarify and simplify things if we want people to benefit, and the same goes for the $600.
Are we really providing assistance if people are unable to apply for it? In the case of the disability benefit, will people with disabilities be able to receive the whole amount, or will we only be sending them half? Once again, it is too late.
I would like to know if businesses that were not entitled to it may be entitled and may qualify. This could be good for those who were unable to before. The reason it is being adjusted is that we know there were problems with the emergency wage subsidy. Will businesses have retroactive access? Those are my suggestions for this bill.
There are other problems the government could have fixed. Members were talking about vulnerable people earlier. That brings to mind employment insurance sickness benefits. People who are sick now, people with cancer, for example, need money to keep fighting. My colleague from Salaberry—Suroît actually introduced a bill to extend the benefit period for these people, who really need it.
I had hoped that we would be able to add this element. That was what happened with Bill C-17, which included several elements. There are three elements here as well. This is something the government could very easily have done, and that people would have applauded, because they have been waiting a long time.
I will come back to the stories of other vulnerable people in my riding, in particular in seasonal industries where people are still waiting. We are halfway through summer, and we have not yet begun addressing their situation. They are wondering what is going to happen to them in the fall. The emergency wage subsidy is all well and good, but it does not apply to seasonal industries when people are not working.
We need to find something for them. We are being told that something is coming. However, when a seasonal worker knows that he is going to lose his job in the forestry or fishing industries, or in tourism, which has been struggling in many areas back home, he needs to know if he will be able to feed his family in the fall, that he will be able to keep working in his field and supporting his community, and that he will be going back to work in 2021.
We want our communities to retain their vitality and to bounce back from COVID-19. These people truly need help. I want to see this happen fast; I do not want to wait for summer to be over. Once again, we are falling behind on getting assistance to the people who are most vulnerable and who bear the brunt of COVID-19.
Collapse
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-21 11:06 [p.2660]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, this is a substantial piece of legislation that would bring in new support for individuals with disabilities. It makes significant changes to the wage subsidy program, a program that has, I would argue, saved millions of jobs. It has allowed employers to continue to employ their employees.
One of the concerns I have is the misinformation that has been put on the record in regard to the legislation itself. We have already had a couple of people speak about the disability aspect of the legislation, saying that it is taxable when, in fact, it is not taxable. The Bloc should be aware of that. If the members believe that it is taxable, they need to show me precisely what it is in the legislation that is giving them the impression that it is taxable. Not only is it not taxable, but it is also not reportable.
This is a direct benefit for individuals with disabilities, and this is something that we have previously attempted to get through the House of Commons. It is some members of the opposition who have caused the delay. This government has been aggressively trying to get it done as quickly as possible.
Collapse
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2020-07-21 11:08 [p.2660]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, the opposition has the right to disagree with the government. I think that is one of our freedoms, however modest it may be.
I have here an excerpt from the June 1 announcement, in which the Prime Minister mentioned a refundable tax credit. However, Bill C-20 talks about the payment being paid out of the consolidated revenue fund, which indicates just a possibility. It it not stated explicitly, but it is also not ruled out. If I do not see something explicitly stated in a contract, I want to clarify it and have it stipulated. If that is truly what the government intended to do, why did it not just write it down?
I do not want to mislead people. I am simply being a responsible member of Parliament and I am asking questions that, I think, are of interest to my constituents and to the people of Quebec and Canada.
Collapse
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-21 11:09 [p.2661]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated listening to what the member had to say. Today we had the opportunity to walk up the hill together and get to know each other a bit. We have a lot in common in our two ridings, and our concerns are very similar as well.
I do appreciate the Bloc members who have made the wise decision to tell the government that they are not happy with what it has done, with the help of the NDP, to our rights and privileges as the opposition on this side of the floor.
Would the member be interested in encouraging the rest of her caucus to fully support petition e-2629, which calls on the government to do the right thing and return, in full, to the House in September? We need to return so that we can carry on in the role we have to hold the government to account; bring forward our own supply day motions, which, as we have worked together, have been very successful; and have private member's bills.
All the roles we should have on this side of the floor have been hijacked by the government. We need to stand together, not just us parliamentarians in the House, but also every person in each of our ridings, and call on the Liberals to do what they should do and re-engage Parliament, rather than meeting virtually. We are no longer provided with opportunities to hold them accountable, other than through virtual means, or the Prime Minister stepping out of his door.
Collapse
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2020-07-21 11:10 [p.2661]
Expand
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her question. In fact, I have not read the petition she mentioned.
However, I believe that members have heard me make a request in the House on several occasions. I find that the Wednesday sittings are committee meetings and not real sittings of the House of Commons.
The ten or twenty hours my colleague and I must spend each week to get here will not prevent us from working in the House to hold the government to account. That is what we are doing today, even though it does not really want to answer our questions and seems to believe that we are biased. We need answers and we need to be responsible, which is something I truly appreciate. I believe it is the duty of every parliamentarian.
The Bloc Québécois caucus wants to do its job of course. We, the members, want to do our job as parliamentarians as it is usually understood in the House, with concern for our safety and that of all Canadians.
Collapse
Results: 1 - 30 of 2241 | Page: 1 of 75

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data