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Results: 1 - 30 of 429
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all of the witnesses who are joining us today.
I'll be directing my questions to Dr. Loh, but I would first like to thank him and his team for all of the hard work they have done in our community during this pandemic.
Dr. Loh, the new delta variant has been found in our community. On June 2 you said that we need to move quickly with second doses in Peel and other hot-spot zones for maximum protection. I agree with you on this need for prioritization.
Have you heard any feedback from the provincial government on prioritizing hot spots for the second dose?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
On April 20 you made the courageous decision to shut down workplaces that see outbreaks of five or more employees in order to avoid workplaces spreading COVID-19 in our community. Do you think there's anything additional that the province could have done to prevent workplace transmission during the height of the third wave in Ontario?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Brampton is one of the most racialized communities in the entire country. I'm concerned that many of the policies of the Ontario government are disproportionately affecting essential workers who cannot access sick leave, and those who are living in multi-generational households and workplaces that may not be considered truly essential. Do you think the Ontario government has sufficiently examined the impacts of its policies on the community in Brampton?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Dr. Loh.
You said in your statement that the most impacted region, Brampton, has been the hardest hit in the entire province of Ontario. We have seen the horrible impacts of the virus on our community's workers and families. Have you provided any advice to the Ontario government that could have prevented the severity of the tragedy, and did they they really want to hear your advice and take it into account?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Peel was one of the first communities to have a federally funded voluntary isolation centre to help quarantine people who were not able to safely do so at home.
Could you speak to the effectiveness of the service?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
In your opinion, has the Ontario government done enough to curb community transmission in the first, second or third waves?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
[Technical difficulty—Editor] encourage witnesses to complete a conflict of interest disclosure form. I understand that some witnesses today may have already done so. For anyone who may not have done so yet, I would ask them to do so as soon as possible with the clerk of the committee.
This has to do with whether a witness has an economic interest or acts as an officer or a director of any outside entity whose financial interest would reasonably appear to be affected by the addition of the witness's testimony in any report that may be written by the committee on that matter. Witnesses should also disclose any personal, business or volunteer affiliation that may give rise to a real or apparent conflict of interest.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank all of our witnesses for being here today.
I will start my questions with Dr. Morgan.
Dr. Morgan, I know you have written about different models for pricing drugs and how they can better serve patients. Can you speak to how, with models based on fixed costs, a patient's ability to pay might apply in Canada? Is there room for such a system in the PMPRB's proposed model?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Affordability is an important concern for everyone. An issue that regularly comes up when I speak to my residents, Bramptonians, is how increasing drug costs and insurance premiums impact their budget. As we all know, the government is working to move forward to establish the fundamental elements of Canada's pharmacare.
To what degree do you believe that lower drug prices will result in an overall saving for Canadians, and on their insurance premiums, if the new guidelines are introduced?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
First of all, I'm extremely disappointed with this motion. I have some important questions for the witnesses from New Zealand. I strongly believe it is important to have their perspective studied. I'm very disappointed that my turn was next and the opportunity has been taken away from me. Mr. Davies just said that questions should be offered equally, but this motion personally took my time away today.
We agreed to a subcommittee meeting, following the NDP topic in our work plan as agreed by all members. Letting the witnesses go despite the agreement on the scheduled subcommittee meeting has been disappointing. Is this what we are showing our friends in New Zealand? They woke up at 5 a.m. and have spent hours preparing their testimony, and we are doing this. It's unbelievable.
As I said, you had mentioned that a subcommittee meeting would be held next week after we completed Mr. Davies' study. We had also adopted an earlier subcommittee report in March that said we would have two more PMPRB meetings and proceed to report writing.
This motion is worded in a very confusing way. I'm very concerned about how much time the fourth section of the motion has asked for public officials, these high-ranking public servants, to be on standby for an hour on two different days every week, in the middle of the day, while they are in the middle of managing our response to a global pandemic. It is just asking for two hours. Like everyone, they need to prepare for these meetings. They need to defer other meetings. They're accountable to us, but it is not their job to be grilled with unnecessary questions for multiple hours a week so that an opposition member can get clips for social media.
More than any of that, I'm concerned at this point about the lack of respect that this motion shows for this committee. We have repeatedly said that we should be discussing these things as they grow. As Mr. Van Bynen said, we had the same discussion about the last Standing Order 106(4) meeting, and the quote from Mr. Davies pretty much sums up how this committee should be functioning.
This motion would be in complete contradiction to the spirit of co-operation that Mr. Davies spoke about. This motion by the Conservatives is designed to render the subcommittee meaningless. How is it respectful of this committee if its intention can force the cancellation of a subcommittee meeting where the parties could all work together, off the record, to plot a good way to move forward?
I'm reminded of when they claimed that Canadians were at the back of the lineup to receive vaccines and would not get doses until 2030, but just today NACI recommended the earliest administration of the second dose due to an increased availability of the vaccines. If I may remind, this plan had been made available to the entire country very early on, last year, in 2020. On a recent podcast, Mr. Davies spoke about how inconsistent the Conservatives had been in their criticism of the government. He said they remembered how critical they had been of the government for being too slow to close the borders, and now they criticize the government for hotel quarantine rules and border control measures. They think we should reopen the economy. I cannot really tell what their positions are.
We should not be rewarding this behaviour by wasting public servants' time and inviting them for no reason in particular. If the opposition members would like to take the weekend to think about the topics they would like to discuss with these officials and the most efficient schedule to do that, I'm sure the subcommittee could come to an agreement.
This motion should not pass. The subcommittee should meet on Monday as planned, at which point you and the co-chair, along with Mr. Davies and Mr. Kelloway, can settle the agenda for the remaining meetings.
Thank you.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As a committee member, I'm always in favour of listening to experts. We're here to do the real work for Canadians. We need to go about that in an organized way.
I would like to speak to the information about our work plan proposed in this motion. I also want to respond to the measure of the pandemic response and the role of our committee.
First, we did work collaboratively in the beginning, and Mr. Davies's plan to study one topic per party set the tone for the entire study. The subcommittee meeting would have been the right place to discuss the next steps.
Mr. Chair, for a year we have been listening to expert testimony, and we are always willing to do that. It is important for us to help the government serve Canadians. That means amplifying the voices of doctors and other researchers and experts who can help us through this, and inform future pandemics, or inform us of any other relevant information. That includes outside experts, people who are both supportive and critical of the government's response; government officials who have been working day and night to protect Canadians; and decision-makers within cabinet. That is where the committee could add the most value.
A report reflects the best advice on how to handle a situation like this when it happens again. Even if it is not for another hundred years, we need to get around to writing a report at some point. This is why we need to have a subcommittee meeting, so that members can discuss how all of the testimony can best serve the country, and we can take the next steps. If that report were to be written today, it would reflect how well the government has handled this pandemic.
My community of Brampton was hit very hard by the pandemic. Members of this committee know this. We also received the first doses of the vaccine before September. Now, more than half of the residents of Peel, almost 70% of adults, have received their first dose. At the peak of the third wave we reported over 11,000 new cases. On a single day yesterday it was 271. Things are improving.
The federal government was able to do this by securing a larger portfolio of vaccine candidates per capita than any other country. We now rank number three in the G20 on doses administered per capita. To date, we have delivered more than 26 million vaccines to provinces and territories, with many more on the way across the country. Over 60% of Canadian adults are vaccinated.
The vaccines are also working very effectively, better than expected since we started these meetings. It was reported that only 0.15% of vaccinated Canadians have become infected by the virus 14 days or more after their first dose. Dr. Tam adds that “Compared to unvaccinated cases in these jurisdictions, these people were more likely to report no symptoms and less likely to experience severe illness requiring hospitalization.”
When provinces ask for help, we are there for them. We gave over $284 billion to the provinces to help them increase their vaccine rollout capacity. In Peel, the federal government provided many additional supports, including on-the-ground support from the armed forces in long-term care facilities in the tragic first wave, the public health outbreak response from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and a volunteer isolation site for the region.
Across Ontario, there are over 300 federal contact tracers performing 2,500 to 3,000 calls a day. The government has provided 11 million rapid tests, support to deploy tests to workplaces, additional voluntary isolation sites across the province and, of course, the $5 billion to Ontario through the safe restart agreement.
We also know that virtual care is more important than ever. That is why $46 million has been provided to the province to help expand these services, allowing Ontarians to still access care while hospitals are dealing with the crisis.
Everything we have heard, Mr. Chair, needs to be properly documented—the highs and the lows. We, in committee, need to be working towards a report, at the very least an interim one, that can better inform future leaders. The motion under discussion continues to delay this important work.
The government has had to make difficult but necessary decisions, such as how to manage the border. Canada has some of the strictest travel and border measures in the world. We have restricted non-essential entry into the country. We have banned flights from countries experiencing surges of the variants. We have required all air travellers to quarantine under PHAC supervision and have implemented rigorous quarantine and testing protocols for all travellers.
Earlier this afternoon, Dr. Tam said, “Things have taken a great turn for the better”. She also said, “Our efforts have got us well and truly over the peak of the third wave nationally and heading for a much better summer, if we can stay the course.”
While the situation may be improving in Brampton and across Ontario, other provinces, such as Manitoba, are still experiencing outbreaks, so we must be cautious and responsible. She said, “While this forecast is very encouraging, it reaffirms that now is not the time to relax our measures. If measures are relaxed, increasing the number of community-wide in-persons contacts, resurgence is likely”. As she said, we must “stay the course”, one that our government has charted.
Mr. Chair, we need to work collaboratively. These are my thoughts.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, can you clarify with the clerk if the member can livestream when the committee meeting is happening?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for joining us today.
Ms. Blais, you spoke of how you would like to see more resources put towards indigenous midwifery training. What are some of the ways you've been able to incorporate indigenous medical practices with western ones?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Ms. Blais.
Madam Chair, I want to give my time to my colleague Marc Serré.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all of the witnesses for being here today and for all of the hard work you are doing on the front line.
My first question is for Dr. Lucas.
Dr. Lucas, while PCR tests are the gold standard, rapid tests are important tools in our arsenal and so far the federal government has provided millions of rapid tests to provinces and territories. How many rapid tests have been procured for the provinces and territories? How many have been procured for Ontario?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
What role can rapid tests play in certain high-mobility settings? How can provinces and territories use them effectively?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
The next question is for Dr. Tam.
Dr. Tam, you talked about community-based approaches. I'm from Brampton in the Peel region, and about 60% of the adult population have received a first dose. It's now being made available to anyone over the age of 12. The vaccine has been made available through alternative clinics, such as those targeting specific culture groups for people working high-risk workplaces.
Can you speak to the importance of these alternative clinics in the efforts to reach all the population?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
The next question is for Mr. Matthews. The government said back in December that every Canadian who wanted a vaccine would be fully vaccinated by September. How many doses have been administered so far, and how many people have been vaccinated? Do you believe that we are on track to meet this goal?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
To Dr. Lucas, how does Canada compare with the United States and comparable countries in the G7 and G20 in terms of vaccination rates?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Mr. Stewart or Dr. Tam.
There's a concern among Canadians about the effectiveness of vaccines against the variants of concern, based on real world data.
Can you tell us about the effectiveness of vaccines against the variants of concern?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Dr. Tam, you talked about communication being the key. You mentioned some of the initiatives you are working on to increase vaccine updates, such as connecting to Canadians through social media. The federal government recently launched an advertising campaign on vaccinations and their benefits called the “Ripple Effect” campaign.
What can you tell us about the message this campaign hopes to share with Canadians across the country?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
We heard that approximately 58% of adults have received at least one dose, with that number continuing to climb.
My question is to Mr. Matthews.
How does our vaccine procurement portfolio ensure that we are able to provide so many vaccines in such a short amount of time?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
It is important for me to speak today. As a member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I know how serious the issue we are discussing here is.
Here's the main point: I believe we have to go above politics here and focus on survivors. I'm disappointed to see the politicization of this issue. It's so hurtful, Madam Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair, for giving me the opportunity.
It is so important for me to speak today. As a member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I know how serious this issue is that we're discussing here today.
Here's the main point: I believe we have to go above politics here and focus on survivors. I'm disappointed to see the politicization of this issue. It is so hurtful, Madam Chair.
Since March we have been conducting our own study on the same issue, following up on another study that we conducted in 2019. So far we have had eight meetings and heard from 36 witnesses, including the Minister of National Defence, Justice Deschamps, senior CF officials, law enforcement and over a dozen survivors of sexual assault in the military.
These stories have been difficult to listen to, and I heartily commend all the survivors for coming forward. Having heard from the witnesses in FEWO, I agree that we need to work with the witnesses and work with the survivors, not play politics. Madam Chair, let me be clear: The survivors need solutions, not politics.
First I want to focus on the solution, Madam Chair. I have been encouraged by the amount of political will shown by the government, including the Prime Minister, the Minister of National Defence, and my friend the parliamentary secretary, who joined us in these meetings in FEWO in their sincere commitment to reform the culture of the armed forces and to better support survivors.
When the minister appeared on March 23, he acknowledged that a great deal of work needs to be done. He said:
Sexual misconduct, harassment and inappropriate behaviour are not acceptable. We must call them out for what they are: an abuse of power. Such behaviour is contrary to our values as Canadians and harmful to the Canadian Forces operational effectiveness. We want to prevent it. We want to be there for survivors and their support networks. We want to ensure that those who come forward feel safe, supported and confident that they will be heard when they report sexual misconduct and harassment.
There is obviously more work to be done, but the government has taken several key steps to ending sexual misconduct in the armed forces as part of Operation Honour. We have passed a declaration of victims' rights, created the sexual misconduct response centre, and the government is implementing the Path to Dignity and Respect, a strategy for long-term culture change to eliminate sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces.
Following this, the Government of Canada initiated an independent external comprehensive review led by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour. This review will look into harassment and sexual misconduct in the CF and will examine policies, procedures, programs, practices and culture within national defence and make recommendations for improvement.
The minister said:
Eliminating all forms of misconduct and abuse of power and creating a safe work environment for everyone in the defence team has always been a top priority for me as Minister of National Defence. However, recent media reports show that many members of the Canadian Armed Forces still do not feel safe to come forward. We know we must do more to make sure that every Canadian Armed Forces member feels safe to come forward and that we will be ready to support them when they do.
He went on to say:
Beyond the SMRC, members can also reach out to chaplain services, military family resource centres, the employee assistance program and the family information line....
and continued:
These resources are critical to supporting those affected by sexual misconduct, but they are just part of our larger efforts to build a safe and inclusive workplace for all members of our defence team. We're working to eliminate the toxic masculinity that forms part of our military culture and keeps us from moving forward, the outdated and toxic traditions that valorize toughness and aggression over emotional intelligence and co-operation, and any part of our culture that contributes to bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviours.
In our committee we made a conscious choice to keep the study survivor-centric. We recognized that we are not investigators, and it is not our place to risk interfering in investigations. The goal was not to look backward and find out who knew what and when, although all of those questions have been repeatedly and clearly answered in this committee. As a legislative committee, the goal was to make recommendations that would improve conditions for women in the Canadian Armed Forces going forward.
It was encouraging to hear that work has already begun on this issue. When I asked Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, he said he had spoken directly to survivors in the short time since he became the acting chief of the defence staff. He said that many had reached out to him and that he had carefully listened to their stories. He said the following:
One thing that is apparent to me is that we need to bring in some mechanism whereby survivors can achieve closure, perhaps where they don't necessarily want to follow a legal process. I am very keen to learn more and to see the wider restorative engagement efforts as part of a final settlement coming and perhaps as a learning opportunity to bring in some form of reconciliation process. There's much more to learn here.
Madam Chair, once again, the issue we're discussing is heartbreaking. We have to be asking questions. How can we help the survivors? As I've heard from my colleagues today, these questions are being asked by some members on the committee. I encourage everyone to focus on survivors and culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here.
I believe that our study needs to be focused on the survivor's perspective, so, Dr. West, thank you for your sensitive testimony.
My question is for Dr. West.
What gaps presently exist throughout the reporting process, and what do you think could be done better to close them?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Dr. West. Your input is very valuable to us.
The next question is for General Carignan.
What is your vision for your new role as the chief of professional conduct and culture?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
To follow up, General Carignan, what are the immediate and long-term steps that you will be taking to ensure meaningful and long-lasting culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for being with us, and thank you for your testimony.
My question is for Ms. Campbell.
What is presently being done to support the retention of midwives across Canada?
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
How do you think the two levels of government can better collaborate when it comes to the midwifery program? Do you have examples from other federated countries?
I would ask both of you to speak on that.
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