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Votes

Dec. 16, 2021 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-2, An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19
Dec. 2, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-2, An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19

December 13th, 2021 / 11:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

As far as the cultural sector is concerned, this is definitely going to help the organizations, cultural businesses and others. The part that is also necessary, which is not through Bill C-2 but what we're doing now, is to help the gig workers, the independent workers. It's absolutely necessary, and we're doing it right now.

December 13th, 2021 / 11:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Adam Chambers Conservative Simcoe North, ON

We also had some information last week about the hiring recovery benefit. It has a very low take-up, with about 10,000 approved applications.

If we're trying to convince people to re-enter the workforce, should we be concerned? In Bill C-2, we're asking to extend the Canada hiring recovery benefit program, but we're extending a program that seems to not really be that effective.

December 13th, 2021 / 11:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Adam Chambers Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Thank you.

You mentioned encouraging people to get back into the workforce, but we also heard testimony last week about the severe labour shortage and the challenges for many stakeholders, in particular those in some of the industries we're talking about today, of finding people who are available to work once they open back up. In Bill C-2, we don't really see much of anything with respect to labour shortages and trying to help these organizations find workers.

Do you have any comments on the labour shortage?

December 13th, 2021 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

We decided on a series of measures to help the cultural sector, Bill C-2 being one of them, going directly to organizations. The other one, through consultations with the organizations, and also at the recommendation of a lot of those associations—I'm talking about ACTRA, the UDA and others—was that maybe working with them would be the best way to do it.

December 13th, 2021 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

In our platform, we have provided $50 million for financial assistance for self‑employed workers. Bill C‑2 has a lot of things for cultural businesses and associations and so on, but the financial assistance for self‑employed workers should be about $50 million. Again, we haven't finalized this support measure, and we're still working on it.

December 13th, 2021 / 11:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

We're moving quickly, but through Bill C-2 you also have money that is going to the organizations and cultural businesses so that they will be able to keep those people. That is touching a lot of people in the cultural industry. For those who are not touched by this, there is the program that we're talking about that is coming very soon.

December 13th, 2021 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

We had many discussions with finance, of course, to make sure that the cultural sector would be included. This is why associations, groups and cultural businesses will have access, as you know, to what's provided by Bill C-2—the wage subsidy to 75%, the rent subsidy and in any other event, in case of lockdowns, the rest of Bill C-2.

We're going one step further internally. You don't need legislation for that. We have the programs to do it. We will go one step further to make sure that we're there for our independent workers.

December 13th, 2021 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you.

I hear what you're saying, but I see a lot of gaps in the service. I'm really worried about what that impact will be on this particular arts, culture and heritage sector.

Could you talk to the committee about how your department was consulted about the structure of income supports in Bill C-2 in order to best serve the workers in this particular industry?

December 13th, 2021 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

We know, as you mentioned, that before the pandemic, there were about 678,000 workers. It went down to about 606,000 workers, so about 70,000 workers are left. Some of them, though, can benefit from the different programs in Bill C-2, and some of them are independent.

I'm talking about self‑employed workers.

What we're doing within Canadian Heritage is to help those independent workers, but to answer your question, 70,000 jobs were not recuperated.

December 13th, 2021 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you to the minister and his officials for being here today to talk about this very important issue.

I'd like to follow up a bit on what my former colleague spoke about. We know that the arts, culture and heritage sector represents about 673,000 jobs in the Canadian economy. They're important jobs. The government has also really made it clear that Bill C-2 is the last set of pandemic income supports they will be offering.

We know that the arts and culture sector is one of the last to recover. Do you know around how many arts and culture workers were still using the Canadian recovery benefit on October 23?

December 13th, 2021 / 11:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

We've always known that there was a significant need in the cultural sector. However, as you already know, Mr. Champoux, we sometimes help artists through various programs such as the Canada emergency wage subsidy, or CEWS, because these programs enable them to keep their jobs.

You rightly referred to self‑employed workers. We'll help them by creating a program to supplement Bill C‑2. This bill will help organizations, cultural businesses and so on. However, at the same time, we don't need a bill to implement our plan, because we'll use existing programs. We're working with the Union des artistes, or UDA, and others to quickly put together a program that will help self‑employed workers by giving them money directly.

December 13th, 2021 / 11:25 a.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for joining us today, Minister Rodriguez. I also want to thank your esteemed colleagues. As my colleague said earlier, they do an excellent job at the Department of Canadian Heritage. We always greatly appreciate your efforts. We hear nothing but good things about you.

Minister Rodriguez, you spoke earlier about the programs that the government has implemented to assist the cultural sector since the start of the pandemic. Last year, at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, we conducted a study to understand how the pandemic was affecting the cultural community in particular. The study found that the programs in place were helping the cultural community, but that the money wasn't getting to the self‑employed workers and the artists. In other words, the industry, production companies and theatres were receiving assistance, but the artists, self‑employed workers and technicians weren't obtaining any of the money and assistance that they needed.

As you know, the figures are quite alarming, and we're noticing this more and more. That's why we specifically asked for the continuation of assistance programs such as the Canada recovery benefit, or CRB, for the hardest‑hit sectors, including the cultural sector. Obviously, we saw that self‑employed workers in the cultural sector aren't covered by Bill C‑2. I have a question for you, Minister Rodriguez, but it could also be addressed to the deputy minister.

When did you find out that the cultural sector, artists and self‑employed cultural workers wouldn't be protected by Bill C‑2?

December 13th, 2021 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Thank you for the question.

We've seen it right from the start in helping to maintain jobs. For example, what Bill C-2 is doing is still helping those industries with the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy. This applies to the cultural sector, one of the sectors that was the most hit by the pandemic. When you think about it, after the tourism sector, I think it's the cultural sector that's been the hardest hit. It's there, through those programs, to help the organizations and associations.

What we're also trying to do directly through my department is to help the self-employed through direct funding. This is what we're working on at this moment with the foundations, guilds and unions.

December 13th, 2021 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Thank you.

I was really pleased when you highlighted in your opening remarks that Bill C-2 already has a lot of support for artists and those in the cultural sector. It was important for you to point that out, because when we have these debates in the House, people often forget that there is actually quite a bit of support there.

I have a question for you. Why do you think it's important to have so many different funding streams for arts and culture, and how have we seen these programs meeting the needs of workers and organizations?

December 13th, 2021 / 11 a.m.
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Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning, committee members and colleagues.

First, congratulations on being elected and on being appointed to this important committee. I also want to thank you for inviting us to appear today to discuss our government's support for the cultural sector during the pandemic.

The hundreds of thousands of workers in the sector, including 158,000 professional artists, are vital to our economy and society. Our government has known this for a long time. We've always been there for them, and we'll always support our arts and culture sector and our heritage.

To understand the scope of all that has been accomplished, you must think back a bit to 2015. At that time, the cultural sector had just gone through a decade of budget cuts, and we said enough was enough. That's basically what we told Canadians. Under a Liberal government, our culture and our languages would be protected from now on. That's what we've done. As soon as we were elected in 2015, in the 2016 budget, we started to reverse the budget cuts.

One of the first things we did was to reinvest $675 million in CBC/Radio-Canada. That same year, we announced the largest increase in history to the budget of the Canada Council for the Arts. We also invested in Telefilm and the Canada Media Fund. I could go on and on, Mr. Chair, but long story short, we made the biggest reinvestment in our culture in the history of our country.

When Canada began to feel the full impacts of COVID-19 in March 2020, the culture and heritage sectors were among the first and hardest hit. Many in the creative industry found themselves with little or, quite often, zero income.

We immediately understood that we had to help the cultural sector quickly. Time was of the essence and there wasn't a moment to spare.

I would now like to take the time to thank all the employees of Canadian Heritage and its portfolio agencies. Despite the pandemic and its challenges, they were able to quickly respond to the urgency of the situation.

We responded right away with a $500-million emergency support fund for cultural, heritage and sports organizations. It was delivered in record time and protected many jobs. The results speak for themselves: 77% of people said it helped them stay in business, and 95% of them were satisfied with the speed of the program.

The Liberal team has always been an ally of the cultural sector. We said that we would reinvest, and we did. We said that we wouldn't leave anyone behind during the pandemic, and we kept our word. Now we're telling people that we'll be there to help them hang on until the economy fully recovers, because this hasn't happened yet. People in the cultural community across the country know that they can count on us.

It should be noted that, as a result of the plan implemented by my colleague, the Minister of Finance, our recovery is very strong. However, the recovery isn't equal for everyone. Not everyone is benefiting from it in the same way. I'm thinking in particular of self‑employed workers in the cultural sector.

Even though most Canadians have acted responsibly by getting vaccinated and taking the necessary precautions, several sectors of the industry will need time to return to pre‑pandemic levels. There's still a gap.

That's why, in the 2021 budget, we made a historic investment of $1.93 billion to help the arts and culture sector join the recovery. I think that's important.

We've created several emergency assistance programs to support our creators, our festivals and our various institutions.

Mr. Chair, once again, I could go on and on, but I don't think you want that.

Let me focus on what's ahead of us.

On January 31 and February 1, we'll hold a summit on the recovery of the arts and culture sectors. During this summit, we'll focus on medium‑term and longer‑term solutions and priorities.

We're working with the Deputy Prime Minister on a key commitment in the Liberal plan presented to Canadians during the campaign.

We said that we would create a transitional program tailored to self‑employed and independent workers in the industry. That's what we'll do.

We're currently working with artist associations, guilds, unions and all sector organizations to create the program as quickly as possible.

They're telling us—and I think they also told the committee—that this step is extremely important and necessary. They want it done quickly, but more importantly, they want it done right. This is my top priority at this time.

I'm relieved to hear my colleagues talk about this issue. During the election campaign, the Liberals were the only ones who talked about transitional support for self‑employed workers in the sector. I must say that I was concerned.

Today, I'm pleased to know that my colleagues are asking the government to fulfill its own commitment. I can tell you that we'll do just that. This shows that we aren't alone. This is a good move for our workers and our culture.

I want to thank all my colleagues for their enthusiasm and support for our plans to help the cultural sector, our artists and our craftspeople.

In closing, I consider it important to take concrete steps and to act together.

In Bill C-2, there are very important measures for our arts and culture sector. For the hardest-hit organizations and for the people in the cultural sector, these are essential measures to help them pay up to 75% of wages and rent. This includes live performances and exhibits, museums, heritage sites, cinemas, festivals and others. Bill C-2 also contains measures that will help these organizations hire more people.

Our creators need it. They need the support provided in this bill right now. I know my colleagues from all parties are serious about supporting workers in the cultural sector, and I'm counting on them to make sure that Bill C-2 moves forward without any further delay.

On behalf of all our workers, everyone involved in culture, I'd like to ask my colleagues to quickly pass Bill C‑2.

These people were there for us during the pandemic. They made us laugh, they sometimes made us cry, and they often made us think. We've been there for them too. Now it's time to take the next step together.

I will now take your questions.

Thank you.