An Act respecting certain measures related to COVID-19

Sponsor

Jean-Yves Duclos  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Feb. 15, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-10, An Act respecting certain measures related to COVID-19

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

June 20th, 2022 / 5:55 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, much of the work was also done during the study of the old Bill C‑10, so we need to look not only at the study of Bill C‑11, but at all the debates on the Broadcasting Act.

People in the cultural community, especially those in Quebec, told us there was an urgent need to act and warned against missing this opportunity. That is why it was so important for us to press the government to move forward and pass this bill. Too much time has been wasted already.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2022 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, this afternoon the minister is trying to defend the indefensible from coast to coast. Bill C-11 is a disaster, as was Bill C-10, and it is being shut down once again. We had 20 written submissions handed to us last Wednesday at committee from people who wanted to come to committee. The member talks about LGBTQ and indigenous issues. We have not heard from APTN, which was one of the guests the NDP wanted to bring to the committee. It has yet to come to talk to us.

This is a disaster waiting to happen. Why do the Liberals want to shut the bill down in the House of Commons, do nothing over the summer and hand it over to the Senate? We have time to bring other issues forward. Proposed subsection 4.1(2) has always been an issue. It was an issue a year ago when we debated Bill C-10 in the House, which they rammed through and then called the unnecessary election. This is the same situation we are seeing today with Bill C-11.

Government Business No. 16—Proceedings on Bill C-11Government Orders

June 10th, 2022 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is shameful abuse.

We as parliamentarians owe it to our constituents, our stakeholders and Canadians from coast to coast to do our due diligence, evaluate amendments, debate amendments and ensure the amendments being proposed achieve what is in the best interests of Canadian creators, Canadian viewers and Canadian consumers.

Could members do that, with dozens of amendments and dozens of clauses, in two hours and 59 minutes? It is not acceptable. It is unreasonable, and it is not possible.

I will tell us what could happen. What could happen is the same thing that happened with Bill C-10, where the Liberals tried to force through amendments that do not improve the bill but in fact worsened the bill. That is what happened with Bill C-10. The Liberals, out of the blue, moved an amendment that took away the exception for user-generated content.

As an aside, we see in this bill, and I will talk about it a little later, an exception to the exception for user-generated content, so the Liberals have clearly not quite learned their lesson when it comes to user-generated content and the importance of protecting it.

Here is another issue: We have the unique situation where there are members of the House who are not represented at committee. I am speaking about independent members, members from unaffiliated parties, such as members from the Green Party, who do not have the opportunity, or I would say the privilege, to sit on committees.

In traditional times, those members are able to come to committee, any committee reviewing pieces of legislation, and submit amendments and move those amendments during the clause by clause.

This programming motion, this guillotine motion on steroids, in subparagrah (iv) says, “suggested amendments filed by independent members pursuant to subparagraph (a)(ii) shall be deemed to have been proposed during the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill”.

It says “deemed to have been proposed”. The member for Kitchener Centre and the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands will not even have the opportunity to appear before committee and move their amendments to this piece of legislation, which is the largest update to the Broadcasting Act in over three decades.

This is like a bad novel. It keeps getting worse and worse. Obviously, it is a bad novel written in a foreign country because Canadians only produce great novels, but this is a bad novel because it keeps getting worse as we go. Subparagraph (v) states:

if the committee has not completed its clause-by-clause consideration of the bill by 9:00 p.m. on June 14, 2022, all remaining amendments submitted to the committee shall be deemed moved, and the Chair shall put the question, forthwith and successively without further debate, on all remaining clauses and amendments submitted to the committee, as well as each and every question necessary to dispose of the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill

That means no debate. Not just limited debate, but not a word of debate on a clause-by-clause or amendments at clause-by-clause. Our job, as parliamentarians and as elected officials, is to debate legislation. It is to debate legislation on behalf of our constituents and on behalf of Canadians.

Under this motion, Motion No. 16, each and every question necessary will be put without debate. It means that we cannot even suggest minor amendments to proposals. We cannot suggest to the Chair that perhaps an amendment may be out of order based on various reasons, including the parent act rule. That would not be possible because this proposal does not provide for it.

This proposal states that there shall be no debate, no debate on the largest update to the Broadcasting Act since 1991. No debate on a piece of legislation that could affect each and every Canadian who listens to music online, watches videos online or creates content that is posted online. There will be no debate on clause-by-clause or amendments after 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Government Business No. 16—Proceedings on Bill C-11Government Orders

June 10th, 2022 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the hon. member is going to let me speak to the question of witnesses.

Originally, three of the four parties at the committee thought that a certain number of hours would be sufficient to hear from witnesses. The Conservative members then proposed 20 hours, which was more than the other parties thought needed to be given to witnesses, given that many of these witnesses had already been there for Bill C-10. However, the rest of the members of the committee agreed to accede to the request from the Conservatives and provide 20 hours to hear from witnesses. At that point, the members from the other parties felt that we had heard from a sufficient number of witnesses and the Conservative members disagreed. The majority of the committee believed we had heard from a sufficient number of witnesses. As a result, instead of just coming to a vote and deciding by majority whether we had heard from a sufficient number of witnesses, there was a filibuster of each and every motion to try to move to clause-by-clause on the vote.

If the hon. member had been there at the first meeting, he would know that was actually the history of the committee.

Government Business No. 16—Proceedings on Bill C-11Government Orders

June 10th, 2022 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, let me correct the hon. member: This bill has nothing to do with censorship. Freedom of speech is protected in this country under section 2, and it is very clear that freedom of speech is protected under this bill.

Second, this bill would not be necessary except for the fact that members of the hon. member's party have continued to filibuster the committee, preventing us from ever getting to a vote on any of the many motions, amendments and subamendments the Conservatives are making. In meeting after meeting, and now I have seen it on Bill C-10 and Bill C-11, their end goal is for the committee not to be able to get to clause-by-clause. I think this frustration is shared not only by the Liberal members of the committee, but also by the NDP and Bloc members of the committee.

In the end, we are doing something that is asking the House to instruct the committee to do its job and get to clause-by-clause, so it is actually very democratic and parliamentary.

June 7th, 2022 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Thanks, everyone, for sticking around.

Would you be able to provide us a breakdown—I've asked previously about this—for the money in Bill C-8, Bill C-10 and the supplementary estimates (C)s for the duplicated funding request for the rapid tests? Just provide it for the committee. I don't need it right now.

In the supplementaries, there's $823 million for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. In the supplementary (A)s it mentions it's for disasters, etc., over the last 10 years. I'm curious why it's in the supplementary (A)s now for items going back 10 years? What would it be addressing?

Bill C-19—Time Allocation MotionBudget Implementation Act, 2022, No. 1Government Orders

June 6th, 2022 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I find it mind-boggling and ironic that the minister talks about Conservatives bringing in U.S. problems, when the current government's whole modus operandi is to import U.S. culture wars.

I want to give an example of why it is so important that we continue debate. We heard the exact same response from the government over Bill C-8, Bill C-10 and the supplementary estimates (C), where there was $4 billion in Bill C-8 and Bill C-10 for rapid testing, and then a duplicate $4 billion in the supplementary estimates (C) for rapid testing.

We just found out today that the government is sitting on hundreds and hundreds, if not billions, of rapid tests unused, warehoused. This is the reason we need debate on this and other issues, so we do not have a repeat of this incompetence where the government is spending billions of dollars for items that are not even used.

Would the minister perhaps comment on why he wishes to stop any oversight of taxpayer spending and the government's incompetence?

June 1st, 2022 / 6:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I also want to thank the witnesses for joining us today.

I will start with you, Ms. Messier. I know you have been carefully following our discussions on Bill C‑11, and even on Bill C‑10, since the beginning. This is an issue that is important to you. I would like to hear your thoughts on the situation.

June 1st, 2022 / 5:40 p.m.
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Karine Moses Vice-Chair Québec and Senior Vice-President, Content Development & News, BCE Inc.

Madam Chair and honourable committee members, thank you for hearing from us today.

Bell is Canada's largest broadcaster. We operate a variety of broadcasting services across Canada in English and in French.

We support Bill C‑11 and urge its swift passage into law. It is long overdue. The bill begins to level the playing field between us and our foreign competitors, and that is important to the Canadian broadcasting system.

That said, the bill can and must be improved. Bluntly put, it does not properly recognize the central role Canadian broadcasters should have in our own broadcasting system. After all, it is the Broadcasting Act. The discussions to date—including those that occurred as part of Bill C‑10—have dealt with important issues, but have also almost completely ignored what domestic broadcasters require to succeed.

As it stands, Bill C‑11 does not explicitly incentivize foreign content providers to work in partnership with Canadian broadcasters.

This needs to change. Let me explain why.

Historically, Canadian broadcasters have succeeded by running hugely popular U.S. shows that appeal to Canadian audiences and attract significant advertising and subscription revenues. In turn, these revenues are used to fund the creation, production and showcasing of Canadian content.

At Bell Canada alone, we spend $1 billion annually on Canadian productions, both our own and with independent producers. Part of this spend is for local, national and international news that provides uniquely Canadian perspectives on events here and around the world.

Let me be clear. Everything we are able to achieve as Canadian broadcasters is directly related to the profits we make by accessing foreign content. Without it, we simply don't have a business. We have achieved that access through a regulatory regime that enables it.

Go ahead, Jonathan.

June 1st, 2022 / 5:35 p.m.
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Hélène Messier President and Chief Executive Officer, Association québécoise de la production médiatique

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you for having me today.

I am Hélène Messier, president and chief executive officer of the Association québécoise de la production médiatique, AQPM.

The AQPM advises, represents and supports more than 160 independent Quebec film, television and web production companies. Members of the AQPM also produce content for online platforms, such as documentaries or web series. Therefore, many of them are also creators of original digital content.

On February 1, 2021, I appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to talk about the importance and urgency of passing Bill C‑10. One year later, I am reiterating the same message concerning Bill C‑11.

How do things stand one year later? Canadian domestic production and Quebec production are both declining. Less and less Canadian content is being produced in Canada. In fact, 58% of spending in the Canadian audiovisual sector now comes from companies that are headquartered outside Canada.

Independent production companies now account for 31% of the production volume—that figure was 35% last year—and broadcaster in‑house productions, which are essentially news, public affairs or sports programs, account for 11%.

Some will say it's great that Canada is a land of welcome for foreign businesses, but that leads to a loss of intellectual property for Canadian businesses and job losses for Canadian creators and actors.

Giving up our ability to create, produce, showcase and broadcast our cultural content to benefit foreign interests is like accepting foreign companies exploiting 58% of our agricultural land, according to their own standards, and controlling the marketing of grains, fruits and vegetables, while selling them back to us at a profit. On top of that, we would be thanking them for the jobs they have created. That is what Bill C‑11 remedies by giving the CRTC the tools it needs to support all actors that decide to do business in Canada.

Online broadcasting services occupy a space that is constantly growing in the broadcasting ecosystem. In Quebec, 70% of francophone adults subscribe to at least one on‑demand video service, with Netflix being at the top of the list. In the francophone market, individuals in the 18 to 34 age group consume on‑demand online content more than they do traditional television. In the 18 to 24 age group, people watch YouTube nearly eight hours a week, while TikTok is now one of the most used platforms by the youngest people and has grown by 55% over the past year. The TikTok platform even became an official partner of the Cannes Film Festival this year and created for the event a competition of short films under three minutes in which both experienced and emerging filmmakers participated. This situation was unimaginable only a year ago.

The use of social media to broadcast original and professional audiovisual content to reach audiences that are forsaking traditional media is a phenomenon that will keep growing. So it is essential that Bill C‑11 enable CRTC to include in its area of jurisdiction both subscription-based streaming companies, such as Netflix and illico, and social media companies, such as YouTube, Facebook and TikTok.

It is also important for companies that provide Internet and mobile telephone services to be included in the bill, so that the CRTC may potentially determine how they could contribute to the creation and presentation of Canadian content. Those companies are currently completely excluded from the application of the act. Yet they play an important role in the ecosystem, not only by enabling content broadcasting and distribution, but also by providing privileged access to certain broadcasting platforms. For instance, Telus users get free access to ICI TOU.TV Extra; Vidéotron users have the same privilege, for three months, for Vrai and Club illico; and Bell Media and Rogers offer similar packages for Crave or Disney+.

The AQPM is also proposing certain amendments for the audiovisual industry, which are the result of a collaborative effort with the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions or with the Canadian Media Producers Association and the Alliance des producteurs francophones du Canada. I may tell you about this later. Otherwise, I will send you those amendments.

Thank you very much.

May 24th, 2022 / 11:25 a.m.
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Jérôme Payette Executive Director, Professional Music Publishers' Association

Good morning, everyone.

Madam Chair, thank you for inviting me to appear before the committee.

I am very pleased to represent the francophone music sector, which at times is overlooked in discussions concerning the Broadcasting Act.

The Association des professionnels de l'édition musicale, or APEM, represents the Quebec and francophone music publishers of Canada. Music publishers, partnering with author-composers, support the creation of musical works and promote and administer them. Music is published wherever there are music, online and concert music services and audiovisual productions.

The music sector needs the continuity that the Canadian broadcasting system affords.

There is much talk of the potential negative effects of the bill and the potentially twisted way in which the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, may interpret it. The CRTC currently has more power than what it would be granted under Bill C‑11, and the work it has done over the past 50 years hasn't troubled a single citizen. CRTC regulations are of critical importance to the francophone music sector.

I will therefore begin by discussing the very real effects of the lack of a regulatory framework that applies to online undertakings. It's quite simple: the further the online transition progresses, the more the Canadian music sector shrinks and strains to reach its audience.

The revenues that the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, or SOCAN, has paid to Quebec music publishers have fallen by 24% since 2016. Revenues from conventional sources such as radio and television are declining, and we have been unable to obtain a substantial share of revenues from online undertaking, which are growing.

According to SOCAN, the royalties distributed to Canadian authors and composers from digital distributors are 69% lower than those from traditional broadcasters. Only 10% of royalties from digital media are distributed to SOCAN members compared to 34% for conventional media.

Growth in the online music sector mainly benefits the platforms and a very limited number of international artists. It has not helped local music or niche music artists, minority artists or those who speak languages other than English.

Quebec music struggles to reach its audience online. According to statistics obtained by the Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo, or ADISQ, our market share in Quebec is only 8% for online music services compared to 50% for record sales. Our francophone music is in even greater trouble as it represents only 6% of total streams. The situation is dire.

In the music business, if no one listens, you don't get paid. If your music doesn't reach an audience, that has a spillover effect that affects concert ticket sales, the uptake of songs by performers, the incorporation of music in audiovisual productions and the entire value chain. Apart from financial aspects, this concerns our culture. Our cultural sovereignty is in question.

Online undertaking have no financial interest in promoting, recommending or supporting a diversity of cultural expression. For them, cultural standardization is less complex and more profitable.

This is nothing new. We have been protecting our diversity of cultural expression with statutes and regulations for decades, and we must continue to do the same. The CRTC's regulation operates in the traditional environment, and it is high time it was adapted to the digital environment.

Bill C‑11 is a good piece of legislation and should be promptly adopted.

The web giants and opponents of the Broadcasting Act are exercising enormous pressure to create flaws in the bill. We must not yield to the platforms' lobbyists, who use misinformation and try to mislead.

The portions of Bill C‑11 concerning social media broadcasting activities should not be amended further. As you know, the text of Bill C‑10 was adopted by the House of Commons, but contained no social media exception in clause 4. The criticisms were heard and Bill C‑11 featured the return of that exception, but in a way that remains acceptable to us.

Any further change to the text of clause 4 could create a loophole for social media that will be felt by all broadcasting undertakings. It must be understood that TikTok competes with YouTube, which competes with Spotify, which competes with radio. The act must apply fairly to all undertakings or else it may be obsolete as soon as it is passed.

Some say the text lacks clarity, but the bill's opponents are focusing their attention on a single pixel to distract us from the big picture. The text of the bill is not limited to clause 4. The Broadcasting Act sets forth clear objectives and provides many guardrails. Any attempt to revise too many elements in the bill would stiffen the Canadian broadcasting system and rob it of the flexibility it needs to adapt to the rapid changes in our sector. The CRTC must be given the means to exercise adequate regulation over the web giants' broadcasting activities.

However, we are in favour of moderate amendments to Bill C‑11. We support the amendments proposed by the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, particularly so that the use of Canadian talent is equivalent for Canadian and foreign undertakings solely under paragraph 3(1)(f) and so that the CRTC's orders are subject to appeal to the Governor in Council.

We are also in favour of a public hearings process for the making of orders so that the CRTC is required to demonstrate that Canadian broadcasting policy objectives have been achieved. The maximum amount of potential penalties must be increased in the administration of administrative monetary sanctions in the event the act is contravened. It would also be desirable that the CRTC demonstrate transparency as a general rule.

Bill C‑11 should be quickly passed. The process has been dragging a very long time.

I will be pleased to answer your questions.

Thank you.

May 18th, 2022 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Thank you for that.

You mentioned policy direction from the government. In advance of Bill C-10—well, I guess Bill C-10 never did pass, but in advance of the committee's discussions of it, there was a policy directive issued. I just want to confirm that you have not yet received a policy directive from the minister in relation to Bill C-11.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 10:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise to speak to this bill, the online streaming act, which we know amends the Broadcasting Act and makes consequential amendments to other acts.

At the outset, I want to state, as my colleague, the member for Perth—Wellington, did in his excellent remarks on this bill, my support for those sections of it that would see major international companies pay their share and invest in Canadian content. However, my remarks will focus on the impact this bill would have on the rights of all Canadians.

First, I will give a recap. When the first iteration of this bill was introduced in the last Parliament, it did not capture the attention of many Canadians. In fact, at second reading the bill was simply passed on division and referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for review. Then, during the clause-by-clause deliberations, the Liberal members of the committee voted to remove an important safeguard of Canadians' freedom of speech. Canadians began to take notice, and started to loudly voice their opposition to this amendment and, by extension, to the bill's passage.

It bears repeating that the clause the heritage committee removed was a substantial clause that the justice department, in its opinion of the bill, made specific reference to as being necessary for the protection of the rights of Canadians.

It is baffling to me that the government, in particular the Minister of Canadian Heritage, along with his allies in the NDP and the Bloc party, could not see why millions of Canadians became opponents of this bill overnight. I believe that Canadians rightly suspected that this was not a case of the Liberals, together with the Bloc and NDP, just having a difference of opinion, but rather knowing that Bill C-10 infringed on their fundamental rights. They did not care that it did so.

Equally troubling was how the Liberals rammed Bill C-10 through the House without allowing a full debate at the heritage committee. The many outstanding concerns that had been expressed by experts, parliamentarians and Canadians went unaddressed. In fact, the shadow minister at the time, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, made the following observation: “Weeks ago, the Trudeau Liberals secretly withdrew the section of their own bill that protects individual users’ content.”

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

March 28th, 2022 / 12:50 p.m.
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Green

Mike Morrice Green Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to have the opportunity to speak in the House again with respect to Bill C-8, now at report stage. I would like to start by sharing that I intend to continue to support Bill C-8, as will my colleague for Saanich—Gulf Islands, which she shared when she spoke last week. The bill has much in it that we both continue to appreciate, such as funds for rapid tests, money for ventilation for schools, and delays on loan repayments for small businesses at a time when they need those the most.

With respect to the Conservative motion that is proposing several amendments, I do not intend to support them because they would remove many of these same items, including the school ventilation improvements, the ventilation tax credit for businesses and a tax credit for school supplies for teachers. That being said, I do want to raise a red flag that my colleague for Saanich—Gulf Islands and several others have raised with respect to the allocation, or even a double allocation, of funds. As she shared, I expect this was done with the best of intentions, but it is also important for us to be mindful of it.

In Bill C-8, there is $1.72 billion allocated for rapid tests. There is also $2.5 billion for rapid tests in Bill C-10. Last Thursday, in the supplementary estimates, we approved the allocation of another $4 billion for rapid tests. As the Parliamentary Budget Officer has called out, it seems to be that there is at least, if not double spending, a double allocation of this $4 billion for rapid tests. Certainly, with respect to Parliament reviewing this legislation, we both see it is important to address this, so that there is some measure to ensure that those funds are only spent once.

With the rest of my time with respect to Bill C-8, I would like to talk about what I see as the ambition gap in this legislation. In the fall economic statement, and in the legislation to bring it forward, there is so much more that could have been done to really meet the moment we are in.

I will start with the housing crisis that many colleagues have spoken about. In Kitchener, it is significant. There has been almost a 35% increase in the cost of housing in the past year alone. On Friday afternoon, I spoke with a neighbour of mine. Nick is a young person who shared with me, as many others have, that not only does he not expect that will he ever be able to buy a home, but when it comes to staying in Kitchener he does not expect that he will continue to be able to afford rent. He was just so concerned. That is as a result of a market that has increasingly become commodified. This is a market designed to provide a commodity for investors, when we should be focused on homes being places for people to live in.

In Bill C-8, as members know, the underused housing tax is being introduced, but it has also been diluted from what we know has worked in other jurisdictions. Vancouver is an example. In Vancouver, it is a 3% tax that applies to everyone. As a result, that measure has started to have an impact. It has reduced the number of vacant homes by 25%. It has reintroduced 18,000 units back on the market and it has generated tens of millions of dollars for affordable housing.

We can compare that with what we know is in this legislation. Not only is it not 3%, but it is down to 1%. I think there are fair questions to be asked about whether, even if it was broadly applied, a 1% tax would meaningfully change the behaviour of those who have begun to commodify the market and pull housing off the market simply to speculate on its value.

It is not only that. We also have exemptions everywhere: on every citizen, every permanent resident and every Canadian corporation. The list goes on and on. I think there are fair questions to be raised. Certainly, on its own, it would not be enough, but would this measure meaningfully shift and be a helpful contribution? At this time, in terms of ambition, this could have been the housing economic statement. It could have been the time we said that we have great ideas that have worked before, such as co-op housing, for example. Back in the 1980s, when we invested in co-op housing, we were able to build thousands of new rental co-op units.

Of course, when that is not in statements like this, it is less and less the case today.

It could have also been the time when we could have said we were going to put in meaningful measures to move away from the blind bidding process and move toward investing in public and subsidized housing with really bold and visionary measures to make progress on the housing crisis. If they are not here, I aspire to seeing more in the budget that we are expecting over the coming weeks.

In terms of this ambition gap, at a time when this House has affirmed that we are in a climate emergency, should not every economic statement focus on taking substantive, transformational action on the climate crisis? I certainly believe that to be the case. In Bill C-8, of course, the word “climate” is not mentioned even once. Instead, we see talk of more and more subsidies for oil and gas. Sometimes they are introduced under different names. The most recent one we are expecting is a new tax credit for carbon capture and storage, a tax credit that some are estimating could be worth up to $50 billion in this new subsidy for a solution that has already been subsidized significantly over past decades and only leads to 0.001% of reduction in global emissions.

As so many academics and scientists have called out, this is not a climate solution, so we need to be mindful of both what is not here as well as what could have been here and should be here going forward. We could take that $50 billion and invest in proven climate solutions, such as incentivizing homeowners to move forward on retrofits to their homes and businesses. Whether it is electric vehicles or high-speed rail, we could be mobilizing funds at the scale of a green new deal and at the pace that scientists tell us is required, and not to hold on to some faraway net-zero 2050 but to address what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us is required, which is the possibility of 1.5°C being the highest increase in global average temperatures at a time when we are already at 1.1°C. Yes, this is an emergency. As a result, I wish every economic statement we see in this House would have a stronger focus to give us te best chance of ensuring that our nieces, nephews, kids and grandkids have the possibility of a safe climate future.

Finally, I will close with respect to another gap in ambition, and that is with respect to mental health. We know the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, the Royal Society of Canada and so many in my community and across the country are calling out to address the significant gaps in mental health. We know there are significant wait times for young people in particular. As is the case for so many challenges we face today, this situation was present before the pandemic and has only been accelerated and made worse. This was another opportunity missed to increase the amount of health transfers from the federal government to equip provinces and territories to have the resources they need. If we are going to say the words “mental health is health”—as we all should, because it is true—then we should also be allocating the funding to ensure that we follow through and that across the country the resources are there to treat mental health as such.

In closing, I will continue to support Bill C-8. While I am disappointed that the ambition is not there for some elements, that does not take away from the fact that there are measures and funding that would go a long way in my community, and I want to continue to see those measures advanced.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

March 25th, 2022 / 12:20 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise again today.

I want to begin by acknowledging that we are all on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Nation and express our deep appreciation for their patience as we remain on unceded territory. Meegwetch. We need to re-establish in every speech, at every opportunity, the ongoing demands of reconciliation, and it has to be more than a land acknowledgement.

Today, I stand to speak at report stage on Bill C-8, a bill I support and which I have spoken to at previous stages in this place. Report stage gives us an opportunity to look at where we are on the verge of the bill passing and going forth to the other place. Some concerns have arisen, and I want to address those because I would like to know from the government that there is a plan to address issues that surfaced from the hard work and diligence of the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

I also want to reflect, as we have this opportunity at report stage, when we are more than two years into a pandemic, to perhaps look at some of the elements that are at a higher level of abstraction in the bill before us, but which are related. Nothing will be off topic, but I do want to reflect on where we are now two years into the pandemic.

First, let me address what Bill C-8 is, just as a quick refresher. This is a bill in seven parts exclusively in response to COVID-19 at various aspects: its health impacts; the essential equipment that we need, such as rapid testing; and impacts on different sectors, including schools, businesses, individuals and workers. It is one more of the many, many bills we have seen since we started down this road March 13, 2020, when this place adjourned because we realized we were in a global pandemic and we could not continue meeting as we had. Since that moment on March 13, 2020, we have in this place, generally by unanimous consent, approved tens of billions of dollars of relief similar to what is in the package before us today in Bill C-8, which I support.

We have things like rapid tests, ventilation for schools, delays for small business for when they have to start repaying loans. It is a package with which I think all of us in this place are now very familiar. One thing was surprising, and I want to dive into it a bit because the citizens of Canada need to know that we are paying attention to the billions of dollars we pass in this place, and that was a certain redundancy, which the sharp-eyed people at the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer noticed. It is in relation to spending for rapid tests, which again, I support.

There is $1.7 billion for rapid tests found in Bill C-8. There was $2.5 billion for rapid tests found in Bill C-10, and then there was the $4 billion in the supplementary estimates that we have also passed. The question is this: Are we paying more than once for rapid tests? The answer is yes. The money is allocated, at least $4 billion, twice. I see an alarmed parliamentary secretary looking my way, yet Yves Giroux, our Parliamentary Budget Officer, has confirmed that there is in fact more money allotted than is needed.

I will quote the Parliamentary Budget Officer speaking in the other place:

When we asked questions about the intended use of this funding, it was to procure rapid tests for COVID-19 and to distribute them to provinces and then to Canadians. When we [the Parliamentary Budget Office] asked why try to have it go these two different routes to get to the same end, the government responded that it wants to get the funding as soon as possible, so they’re trying this through Bill C-10 and Bill C-8, as well as Supplementary Estimates (C). They will use whichever authorities come first to procure these tests. However, they have already started procuring these tests, so they are doing some risk management should the spending not be approved. That seems to be the reason why they are pursuing the two different approaches.

The discussion in the Senate then went on to discuss if would we spend $4 billion twice, or would there be some way of stopping the additional approvals once the tests are purchased? I do not really feel I have an answer to that question in this place.

I am still voting for Bill C-8. I want to make sure we get the rapid tests. I want to make sure we know what we are spending the money on, but I would also like to register now in this place, especially to government members, that we want to make sure there is some mechanism in place to avoid spending $4 billion twice. It appears from the Parliamentary Budget Officer's questioning of the government that this was not by accident, but I would like to flag that I have never seen it before, and I think it is quite unusual to approve spending $4 billion twice to make sure we get it once.

With that, I want to turn to a key area I think is, at a higher level of distraction, a problem with our federation. I am not proposing ways to fix it, but I want to flag it. It has been the reason we failed to meet our climate targets. I do not mean just recently; I mean over the last three decades. It is a reason why, I think, we have been less effective as a country, and I am not speaking of a particular government or political party, than we could have been in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. My thread on this is that, spoiler alert, I do not think the provinces and the federal government work particularly well together. They should, and we must.

I note that on COVID-19, eight dollars out of every $10 spent on COVID relief came from the federal government. We passed that in this place. Collectively, we did that. However, there was the speed with which we acted. The federal government might have been ready to act on numerous occasions, but the provinces were not, and if the action was in an area of provincial jurisdiction, we were delayed.

I definitely know this is the case on the climate emergency. Ironically, the European Union, which is made up of more than two dozen independent separate sovereign nation states, has done a better job than our federal government, our 10 provincial and three territorial governments, all together in one country, being able coordinate, negotiate and come up with a shared solution.

Leaving the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the European Union went back to home base and within weeks had negotiated a global agreement, global meaning all the EU countries in a bubble, on who would do more cutting of greenhouse gases and who would do less, so they could achieve the target they collectively negotiated. They are now collectively about 40% below their 1990 levels of emissions. Canada is about 20% above our 1990 levels of emissions, and I think a lot of this is because of federal-provincial tensions and a failure of collaborative leadership. I do not know how else to put it.

In the case of the ventilation for schools, which is my thread here, I worked all summer of 2020 on an idea I got for how to get kids back to school safely. I thought about it, and I thought of all of these tourism facilities, as I am very committed to the tourism sector, such as convention centres and hotels, that were vacant because of COVID-19. They would like to be able to put people to work. We had schools that would have overcrowding if kids went back to school. I wondered why we could not take the places that were empty because of COVID and allow schools to take place there. Then they would have had a lot more air and a lot more ventilation. It might have worked. I started talking to people, like the brilliant Paul Nursey, who heads Destination Greater Victoria. I started talking to people who run convention centres. They said they loved the idea and that it could work.

I will fast-forward to how many people and groups I got involved: People for Education in Toronto; the Tourism Industry Association of Canada; the Canadian Teachers' Federation, the union that was negotiating and talking to other levels of government; and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities gave me the time of day too. We started thinking we could put this together, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of this nation and her staff were interested in the idea. The one place I could not get any pickup at all, where I could not get anyone to pick up the phone and call me back, was the provincial ministry of education, and no one was going to go anywhere with this idea unless the provincial minister of education signed on.

Now we have here in Bill C-8 one of the things I was trying to address in my completely ad hoc volunteer way to try to get something to happen, and we are now approving ventilation for schools. That is provincial jurisdiction. We should have acted on that a year or more ago, and in my opinion, the reason we are approving it now in the federal Parliament, as opposed to much sooner, is that we could not get the provinces on board.