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Results: 1 - 29 of 29
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Chair.
I was very troubled to hear that a CBC radio host in the Yukon felt compelled to resign because, as an indigenous person, she could not speak her truth. While we know the Broadcasting Act states that the Canadian broadcasting system should reflect the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of indigenous peoples, it would seem there are some challenges.
Therefore, does the Minister of Heritage share the concern of some journalists that problems of systemic racism in Canada are still existing within the institution of the CBC, and will the government now acknowledge the need to recognize the jurisdiction of indigenous governments?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
When I was in the government, and as a minister, I learned the term “red meat” issues. I understand these issues to be ones that challenge societal norms, that are not politically expedient to address because they can lose you votes, even though addressing them is morally right and a smart thing to do. Mostly these are issues addressing inequality and the most marginalized in our society.
In the justice system, examples include mandatory minimum penalties, defunding police, and even investing in restorative justice. Red-meat issues often become defining issues for society and for governments as the world changes. Surely now these issues are politically less of a consideration than the tragic reality of even more slain indigenous Canadians at the hands of police, or thousands of indigenous people still incarcerated or living in poverty.
Will this government please finally commit to the necessary work originally promised in 2015 and repeal in the justice system the vast majority of mandatory minimum penalties, assuring the necessary discretion for judges, and meaningfully invest in restorative justice measures?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I'll go on to another red meat issue. In British Columbia we are in the fifth year of the opioid overdose public health emergency crisis. Sadly, May marks the deadliest month of overdose-related deaths. We are halfway into the year and have currently passed 500 deaths caused by overdose. Many of the deaths are related to COVID-19 measures that have prevented people from accessing supervised consumption sites, so they are overdosing alone. While the provinces welcomed the federal backing of safe supply exemption back in March, it is to expire in September of 2020.
Echoing the call of the chief coroner of B.C. and Dr. Henry, more is needed from the federal government, more action. Will the government provide the necessary supports to the province and help support safe supply initiatives in the provinces?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Chair.
While there seems to be general consensus that systemic racism exists in Canada, there's been much recent debate about what it means. Can the government please tell this committee how it defines “systemic”, and provide specific examples of policy and legislative initiatives that are under way or being considered?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I didn't hear a specific definition of “systemic racism” there, but I'll move to my next question.
With respect to indigenous peoples, would the government agree the Indian Act is one of the most, if not the most, egregious examples of systemic racism in Canada, in particular in sections 5 through 17, where the Crown is still legislating and determining who is legally an Indian, and sections 74 through 80, where the Crown is still legislating how those people so define and govern themselves? Would the government not agree that these are both examples of systemic racism?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you. I'm not sure I heard agreement with my question.
Surely it is the height of racism when one group of people tells another who they are and how they make decisions about themselves. Does the minister agree that the determination of who are indigenous persons and how they govern themselves and make internal decisions should be an exclusive power of a recognized indigenous people?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
Just to clarify and be certain, does the minister agree that these powers of governance should be the exclusive powers to recognize indigenous peoples?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
This government has stated numerous times that it is committed to advancing sentencing reform that will “stand the test of time”. It also states it is “committed to...[addressing] the tragic problem of overrepresentation of indigenous peoples and marginalized Canadians while holding offenders to account and protecting victims.”
I think most members in this House would agree that the time for empty promises is over and that action is required. Evidence clearly shows that mandatory minimum penalties are a big part of the problem and not smart justice policy. There has been enough study and too much delay due to political expediency.
When will the government confirm that it will repeal mandatory minimum penalties for all but the most serious offences?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Chair.
Today is our 16th COVID committee meeting, and while this committee has certainly been and remains important, so too are all aspects of our democracy and our institutions. I believe, as I have heard from many constituents, that we need to ensure that the House of Commons resumes on September 21. There is no question that there are critical issues that we need to discuss, both domestically and globally.
Will the government commit to taking all necessary steps to ensure that we will meet in Parliament on September 21, whether virtually, in person or in a similar manner as we are today?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
While all Canadians can look with shock and horror at the events unfolding south of the border, we cannot be complacent in our own country when it comes to issues of racism against black Canadians, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups.
With respect to indigenous peoples, we have made strides forward, yet we are only now beginning to come of age as a country. There is still systemic racism. We still have the Indian Act. We still have significant levels of over-incarceration of marginalized people. I know for certain that significant work has been done at the Department of Justice on necessary sentencing reforms and restorative justice measures to address the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in the justice system, and there is a clear plan for getting rid of the Indian Act through rights recognition.
We know what needs to be done. Will the Prime Minister please tell this country why the government has failed to support these comprehensive and transformative plans? Nice words need to be translated into action. If not now, when? If not us, who?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you. I definitely agree that we need action and we need it now.
Relatedly, today, as we know, is the one-year anniversary of the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls report and its calls to action. Many ministers of the government have stood in this committee in the last few days and emphasized the importance of hearing the calls for justice from across the country and around the world.
The murdered and missing indigenous women and girls report has 231 calls for justice. Can the government commit today, on the one-year anniversary of the report, to releasing the action plan on MMIWG? More consultation should not be an excuse for inaction.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Minister of Employment has stated that measures would be forthcoming for individuals with disabilities, similar to the one-time payment increase given to seniors on OAS and GIS.
Could the minister please provide some more details with respect to the statement she made? When can individuals with disabilities expect meaningful financial assistance?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you for that.
My office has heard from many constituents who are frustrated over the lack of information on eligibility requirements from the government regarding the business credit availability program. Furthermore, banks are giving small and medium-sized businesses mixed messaging.
How will the government ensure that the messaging for BCAP and similar programs is articulated properly?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Chair, members may not be aware, but there are ongoing restrictions on when some civil servants can access government servers and their files due to the pandemic, to ensure that those dealing directly with the pandemic have priority. For example, this is affecting negotiations with indigenous peoples.
Can the government please tell us when the system will have sufficient capacity so that all civil servants can do their work remotely and without limitation?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
As current and former parliamentarians call for a national inquiry into long-term care homes, something I would strongly support, can the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations please give the members an idea as to when the action plan on murdered and missing indigenous women and girls will be released?
In asking this question, I certainly understand the need for consultation and the reality of some delays due to the pandemic.
There are of course many actions that we all know need to take place now that do not need more consultation. The need for consultation cannot be an excuse for the lack of action.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I have a short question for the Minister of Transport.
Does the government have any plans to step in and encourage airlines to return money to customers rather than vouchers? I've heard from many constituents and businesses in this regard.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
Race-related crimes are on the rise against persons of Asian descent in Canada. I think we can all agree that there is no place for this in our society.
Having issues with the manner in which the government of another country conducts itself does not give licence for being racist. It has absolutely no bearing on how we expect people to treat one another. For thousands of Asian Canadians, this is their home too.
What is the government going to do to step up actions against hate crimes in this country and send a clear and public message that Canada will not tolerate other countries' failure to respect the rule of law?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
There is going to be significant cost to some charities and not-for-profit organizations to adopt some of the government health and safety policies in light of COVID-19, not dissimilar to the costs incurred to provide physical security to houses of worship in light of the rise of hate crimes globally.
Will the federal government consider a scenario where there is a new program or update to the security infrastructure program to help cover these costs?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
As many jurisdictions begin lifting restrictions, and as we Canadians adapt to our new normal, we need to be prepared for a second wave of COVID-19. Can the government confirm that it is planning for a second wave? Will the existing aid programs be reinstituted in the event of a second wave? Will there be enough PPE and critical medical equipment? Are we ensuring that we have all the necessary authorities in place to respond quickly and effectively?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I appreciate that answer.
There's still some time before there's going to be a vaccine, and it's good to see the international cooperation around respect for information sharing. I believe Canada has a significant international role to play.
Will Canada take a strong stand at the World Health Assembly to support vulnerable populations around the world having access to the vaccine and for equitable distribution? What steps is the government taking in this regard?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
While recognizing the federal jurisdiction for the border, many of my constituents, like most British Columbians, are extremely concerned about the possible spread of COVID-19 from the United States. In lifting the restrictions, other parts of the country seem to be doing that more quickly. This is also the concern.
With health and safety being of paramount importance, can the government please confirm that it has no intention of opening up the border to the United States for non-essential travel anytime soon, and that it will respect the wishes of the British Columbia government, which has been very emphatic on this point?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
Last week at this committee I reflected that, thankfully, there were no major outbreaks of COVID-19 in indigenous communities in Canada. However, this no longer appears to be the case with La Loche and the Clearwater River Dene. There are growing concerns among indigenous communities that there will be more outbreaks, particularly as restrictions are lifted. [Technical difficulty—Editor] to support indigenous steps to protect their communities from COVID-19 and affirm their inherent right to do so.
One of the consequences of the pandemic is to highlight the conditions in indigenous communities, such as overcrowding, lack of infrastructure, food insecurity and lack of appropriate governance, that make indigenous populations more vulnerable. Can the government please explain why we still do not have a recognition of rights framework to support true reconciliation, self-determination and nation rebuilding that would have helped indigenous peoples to be less vulnerable during this pandemic, and when is it coming?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
[Technical difficulty—Editor] the answer [Technical difficulty—Editor] the concerns and situations in indigenous communities will continue.
Mr. Chair, over the last few weeks, our office has heard from many organizations and businesses that do not meet the criteria for the Canada emergency wage subsidy and/or the Canada emergency business account because they do not have a business account with a financial institution or, in some cases, their payrolls are handled by umbrella organizations. These businesses and organizations need to be included. Does the government plan on expanding the eligibility for these programs?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, I want to acknowledge that the government has introduced many programs from which we and all Canadians are benefiting. Thank you for that and thank you to the hard-working public servants who implement those programs.
As we've heard here today, seniors are falling through the cracks. I get an inordinate number of calls in my office in terms of seniors and their inability to qualify for individual programs. Can the government tell us what specifically they're doing for seniors in need, and can seniors expect a similar program as was introduced by the government in other areas?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, as other members in the House have commented and asked questions about, I'm wondering if the government will be setting national standards for long-term care.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
Will the government be introducing a national licensure system, so that doctors and nurses can have their credentials recognized in all provinces?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, recently my office has been made aware that some small businesses are running up against landlords who are refusing to take part in the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program. For small businesses, what is the government's intention with respect to these challenges that they're facing?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, recognizing that we are all focused on COVID-19 and making our way through COVID-19, we also recognize that we need to look towards the economy and the challenges we're facing with respect to the economy. Will the government be tabling a 2020 budget and has the government considered raising the GST?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, gilakas' la. I'd like to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
Our nation and the world, our ways of being, indeed our humanity, are being tested as we respond to COVID-19. This is unprecedented in recent times and our response will have far-reaching implications for the years to come. I think we all understand the gravity of the weight we feel in this place to get it right. Our hearts go out to all those suffering with the virus. We recognize the sacrifices being made to protect those most likely to succumb to the disease, it being not about what I can do for myself, but about what I can do for others.
We must also acknowledge the government, supported by civil servants, for the unprecedented steps it has taken to establish numerous emergency relief programs, from CERB to CEBA to mental health programs and many others. The emergency programs are helping, and new programs have been created and, aided by this place, adapted as needed.
That said, there are issues. My constituency office, like those of all MPs, has heard from many, including seniors, who are still struggling and are in need of government support. There are ongoing challenges for small businesses in meeting the criteria for CEBA, and there are issues about rents and what constitutes a livable income.
What is more, after some two months of extreme social distancing measures, the residents of Vancouver Granville, like all Canadians, are eager for some normality to return to their lives. While we wait for a vaccine, we turn our minds to what comes next as we move from the emergency response to the new normal, the end of the beginning, as has been said.
Clearly, physical distancing and proper hygiene are the new normal as we learn to live with COVID-19. In some cases, it will need to be institutionalized, particularly within situations of congregate living. Within long-term care facilities, there should be national standards that provinces adhere to in order for them to get a portion of financial support earmarked for elders. Further, there should be some standardization of pay, benefits and schedules for personal support workers.
As to the timing and the extent of removing restrictions, we of course must continue to be guided by science and our health experts. We must not be tempted to make the mistakes that are being made in some other jurisdictions. We do not save jobs and the economy by sacrificing lives.
As the pandemic has evolved differently across Canada, given our geographical and political diversity, the plans of the provinces and territories to reopen their economies will not be, and do not need to be, the same. However, given our system of co-operative federalism, there is a role for federal coordination. We are all connected and our Constitution protects mobility rights. We still need more efficient ways to test and track, and that need is national in scope. As electronic tracking and contact tracing become more widespread, we must be mindful of privacy rights and how we use data. We may need to regulate.
There is much to consider as we plan out our post-COVID economic strategy. Under the new normal, and even after restrictions have been lifted, it is unlikely that we will see people simply returning to life as before, at least not until a vaccine is found. Even with an optimistic 90% return to the pre-COVID economy, it will not be the same. There are longer-term fiscal implications. The federal debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be 48.4% in 2020-21. While manageable, this is certainly not ideal, especially if we factor in provincial, municipal and indigenous debt. We need to consider the fiscal tools available to support provincial and other governments beyond the current transfers and stabilization mechanisms.
Other fiscal measures may be required. Some are suggesting raising the GST. What we do know is that the current level of expenditure to get us through the initial period is not sustainable.
At the same time, some are also leading us to consider new ways to deliver assistance to Canadians, such as potentially establishing a basic livable income, something that other nations are also considering.
Moving forward, not all businesses will survive, despite the emergency measures. We will need to decide what industries and businesses we offer additional support to, and under what circumstances. We should be providing essential products and services, and if we do intervene, it should be primarily through equity investment.
I certainly hope the Minister of Finance will be tabling the 2020 budget soon. We need projections, and we need to debate our plan.
Every day in Vancouver, as I know happens elsewhere, we make noise at 7 p.m. to support front-line workers. When I hear this, I cannot help but think how work is valued and how it is paid. While we show gratitude reflective of our reliance on each other, the gratitude is not matched in wages. In our society, we need to reward work on a different value system. We need to understand this and we need to be reflective.
Yes, we all support the middle class and those working hard to join it, but what this pandemic has shown us is that it is really the working class and the most vulnerable who need our help. Societies are judged by how they treat their most vulnerable. If we had a society that truly supported one another, that had great health care for all, especially for our seniors and the most vulnerable, health care that provided them with the safety, care and attention they deserved every day, this crisis likely would not have been as much of a struggle for those people. If we cannot see that now, then when will we ever see it? If we are able to do something during a pandemic, then why not permanently?
Thankfully, and mindful of Alert Bay in my nation, there have not been major outbreaks of COVID in indigenous communities across Canada, but this could change. We must remain vigilant, and we must support indigenous communities that are taking steps to protect their communities from COVID-19 and affirm their inherent right to do so.
There are also growing mental health concerns in terms of isolation, particularly in remote communities. The pandemic only highlights the ongoing need for true reconciliation and a rights recognition framework so that we can properly address issues of overcrowding, lack of infrastructure, poverty and good governance.
Bringing back our economy is also a necessary lens through which we must view our post-pandemic socioeconomic plan to follow the lead of nations like Germany. The Prime Minister often says that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. The truth, and what this virus is showing, is that the environment, of which we are all a part, dictates the economy, and it will continue to do so more dramatically as our temperatures increase.
While stories of dolphins in canals in Venice may have been premature, the planet does appear to be healing. This is not to suggest for a moment that we should not restart our economy. Quite the contrary, but what it does make you think about is what sort of economy we should be restarting. It also makes one think about how we measure social well-being and success. It is not just about growth in the GDP.
GDP per capita has historically been used to make assumptions about the standard of living within a nation, the assumption being that the higher the per capita amount, the better the standards are. However, as I read in a recent article, GDP has mixed results when trying to measure the social well-being of a population. As an economic tool, it only makes assumptions about the basic standards of living, which can be different across the socioeconomic spectrum of a nation. Moreover, better standards of living do not necessarily equate to increased social well-being. We need to ensure that we look at this idea.
When we look at the crisis through the lens of our international relationships, it is coming at a time when democracy is under pressure and when the international rules-based order is being challenged and power is shifting. In many ways, COVID-19 is about a brewing perfect storm internationally. When the vaccine does ultimately come, Canada can show leadership and insist that it be made available to populations with the greatest need.
We have a lot to do, as members of Parliament in this House, and I know that when working together we can achieve many great things in terms of responding to this pandemic in a way that ensures we are caring and compassionate. As Bonnie Henry, our amazing public health officer in British Columbia, always sums it up: Be calm, be kind and be safe.
Gilakas'la.
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