Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. de Burgh Graham.
Mr. Nepton, in your presentation, you mentioned that the carriers should not be the only ones to designate the locations to be served. You said that perhaps elected officials should be involved in this process. I would like to hear your comments on the CRTC's strategy, which has established a map with hexagons to determine which areas are served and which are not.
According to you, is this map appropriate to try to specify the areas to be served and the funds needed to provide these areas with infrastructure or technology?
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Lib. (QC)
Thank you. It's greatly appreciated.
Minister Duncan, first, I want to thank you for your commitment, passion and determination when it comes to science. It's extraordinary.
I've had the opportunity to meet with you several times with representatives of our research centres, both at the college and university levels. On a number of occasions, you and I have been told that regional research centres have difficulty accessing grants to continue their research. We've been told that these grants are mainly allocated to major research centres. However, some extraordinary research is also being conducted in the regions.
I'd like you to discuss potential measures to help our smaller regional college or university research centres access these funds.
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Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Minister, for being here.
I, myself, am an example of someone in a rural area who has Internet connectivity issues. I have to be in a specific spot in my home in order to get cell phone service, and thus make and receive calls. In the mornings, if I want to check La Presse for the news, and one of my four sons is online doing homework, I have to tell him, or yell out to him, to get off the Internet so that I can access La Presse. It's a problem.
Now, there's light at the end of the tunnel. The $500 million that we've invested in the Connect to Innovate program is going to ensure all 58 municipalities in my riding have access to high-speed Internet at 50 megabytes per second. The installation work has already begun and will continue until next year. Now, we have ambitious goals.
Given all the funding that is now available, specifically, for infrastructure and the CRTC, how is everything coming together to continue the expansion of high-speed Internet connectivity further to your vision?
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Lib. (QC)
I had a quick question.
Correct me if I am wrong, but, as I understand it, under the Privacy Act, the chain of command will sometimes not inform victims whether administrative measures have been taken, which can lead some members in uniform to believe that nothing has happened.
How do those responsible have to go about making sure that victims' needs are met in terms of follow-up, resources and services?
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Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
Clearly, this is a matter of trust. Before they can report their abusers, victims or potential victims have to have trust in the process.
My last question goes to Mrs. Preston.
Do you think that the new processes in place will encourage more victims to report their abusers?
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Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank the Auditor General and the representatives from the Canada Revenue Agency for taking part in this committee meeting.
Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Gallivan, I know the agency officials are working very hard to provide you with the information you need for any questions we might have. For my part, I am neither a tax expert nor an accountant, but I am a member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and several things are obvious to me. My colleagues have told you this as well.
This is the case for the amount of debt write-offs carried out year after year by the agency. Basically, we are talking about $3.2 billion or $3.3 billion a year. There was a slight decrease in 2016-17.
In his report, the Auditor General states the following, at paragrah 7.59:
We found that the Canada Revenue Agency did not know the full results of its compliance activities. Its calculation of the additional revenues generated from compliance activities, beyond the initial taxes assessed, was incomplete.
I would like the Office of the Auditor General to tell me what led to this observation that the information provided by the agency is incomplete. I would like a little more detail on this observation.
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Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much for that answer.
I will now ask the Canada Revenue Agency representatives how it is that we aren't able to obtain clarifications on such important issues as debt write-offs and assessment processes. This information is important to us, but also to Canadians.
How is it that this important information can't be collected?
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Lib. (QC)
The answers you've provided are acceptable to me.
You mentioned that the Canada Revenue Agency has 40,000 employees. It is the largest department in the federal government. The agency therefore has the necessary expertise to determine the possibilities of recovering funds. Year after year, it can determine the amount of money that can be collected, compared to the amount that must be written off.
I'll come back to debt write-offs. This is something I consider important because it represents $3.2 billion. Of course, you are the largest department. That said, the debt write-off for all departments, year after year, amounts to $4 billion.
The debts contracted represent a lot of money. What I want to know, basically, is whether the Canada Revenue Agency, based on the acts and regulations that govern it, is doing enough to recover the debts incurred and to recover as much as possible.
Mr. Chair, perhaps the agency's representatives can answer.
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Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, we're satisfied with the first answer that Mr. Hamilton gave me. I'm more preoccupied by my second question.
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Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This report from the Auditor General is important because of the conclusions and findings. The questions we have asked clearly demonstrate the importance we parliamentarians attach to a report like this.
I have a question for the Canada Revenue Agency representatives.
What is agency management doing to explain the conclusions of this report? As you said earlier, 40,000 public servants is a lot of people. Most of the time, public servants focus on the work entrusted to them.
What is being planned to make all public servants at the Canada Revenue Agency aware of the importance of the findings? I would also like to know what your action plan will be in this regard.
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Lib. (QC)
Excellent. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I've finished.
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Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My questions will be at 50,000 feet of altitude. Obviously, I'm not a defence expert. A few years ago, a few decades in fact, I wanted to pilot a plane, but my experience was limited to piloting a Cessna 152 for a few hours.
That said, in the course of the last weeks, I held consultations in my riding concerning the labour shortage. This shortage is present not only in Quebec but everywhere in Canada. It affects our entrepreneurs and businesses quite seriously.
I'd like to understand what is going on. Are there particular challenges with repairing and maintaining fighter aircraft that aggravate the shortage of workers or qualified technicians in this area?
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Lib. (QC)
Excuse me, I'll be more specific. Everyone understands that a fighter airplane is very complex. I should have been more precise.
I'd like to know what the situation is as compared to other trades in the armed forces. You have tanks and all kinds of very sophisticated equipment, some of them perhaps more complex than the CF-18s, which do go back a few years. Compared to the equipment used in other fields in the Canadian Armed Forces, are the fighter jets even more unique?
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