Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-2.


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

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-2Routine Proceedings

December 10th, 2021 / 1:10 p.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, back in October, the Prime Minister talked about why we needed to continue to support our communities. Supporting communities means healthier communities.

The Prime Minister talked about Bill C-2 back in October. In essence, it is the first real bill. We also have Bill C-1, although I do not know exactly what its contents are offhand. However, in my books, Bill C-2 is the most important bill. That is why it was listed as the first priority coming in, and opposition members have known about it for many weeks, going on months now.

December 10th, 2021 / 1:10 p.m.
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Jake Stewart Conservative Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Of course, all questions will be through the chair.

I would like to thank the witnesses for being here today. We had a motion, and as a committee we felt it was really important for the CRA to have representation here. Over the course of the past week, we've had a very difficult time getting answers to questions. We know that the finance department, and all of our witnesses previously, couldn't tell us where the money that will be used is coming from. FINTRAC was here and let us know that they were not consulted with the drafting of this new bill, even with respect to their warning CRA, yourselves, in the summer of 2020, of the potential that these benefits could be defrauded.

On behalf of my constituents today in Miramichi—Grand Lake, number one, I hope we can break the streak and get some answers today. What role did CRA play in drafting the last emergency response bill related to the pandemic, the one previous to Bill C-2?

December 10th, 2021 / 1:05 p.m.
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Assistant Commissioner, Assessment, Benefit and Service Branch, Canada Revenue Agency

Frank Vermaeten

Good afternoon, everyone, and good afternoon, Mr. Chair.

I'm having some technical difficulties, as are some people in the agency today, so hopefully you can hear me loud and clear.

Thank you for the invitation to appear before this committee today to provide you with additional information regarding the support of the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, in delivering the Government of Canada's COVID‑19 emergency support benefits.

With me today are several of the assistant commissioners of the agency—namely, Cathy Hawara of the compliance branch, Marc Lemieux of the collections and verification branch and Janique Caron of the finance and administration branch.

Mr. Chair, over the past 20 months we have delivered support to both Canadians and businesses through several emergency support benefits, including the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the CEWS; the Canada emergency rent subsidy, the CERS; the Canada recovery sickness benefit, the CRSB; and more. I am proud to say that these benefits have been instrumental in Canada’s economic recovery. In fact, the CEWS has helped more than 5.3 million Canadians keep their jobs, with over $97 billion in support already paid out through the program to help employers rehire workers and avoid layoffs.

Additionally, the CERS has helped more than 215,000 organizations with over $7 billion in support for rent, mortgage and other expenses.

The Canada recovery sickness benefit has delivered over $829 million to 750,000 Canadians. This benefit has provided income support to employed and self-employed individuals who were unable to work because they were sick, needed to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or had an underlying health condition that put them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.

Mr. Chair, that is why the Canada Revenue Agency will be proud to continue to administer COVID-19 supports and benefits should Bill C-2 be approved. The proposed legislation would continue to provide targeted support where it is needed to those Canadians and Canadian businesses that are most affected by COVID. In fact, this proposed legislation would extend until May 7, 2022, the Canada recovery hiring program that was introduced in budget 2021, and would provide a subsidy of up to 50% to eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10%.

This extension would help businesses continue to hire back workers, increase hours and create the additional jobs Canada needs for a robust recovery. This bill would also deliver targeted support to businesses still facing significant pandemic-related challenges.

Additionally, this proposed legislation would support individuals who are affected by illness or family obligations through an extension of the Canada recovery caregiving benefit and the Canada recovery sickness benefit, as well as by establishing the Canada worker lockdown benefit to provide income support to eligible workers who are directly impacted by a COVID-related public health lockdown.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that the CRA's mandate is to administer tax, benefit and related programs, and to ensure compliance, thereby contributing to the ongoing economic and social well-being of Canadians.

For this reason, the agency remains committed to supporting Canadian businesses, as we have since the beginning of the pandemic, by putting Canadians at the centre of everything we do. CRA employees are very proud to have supported millions of Canadian workers and businesses, following our “people first” philosophy.

Thank you, Mr. Chair. We would be happy to answer your questions.

December 10th, 2021 / 1 p.m.
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The Chair Liberal Peter Fonseca

The minister has been invited for this Monday, and also we have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.

Members, welcome to meeting number 7 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. Pursuant to the House of Commons order of reference adopted on December 2, 2021, the committee is meeting on Bill C-2, an act to provide further support in response to COVID-19.

Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of November 25, 2021. Members are attending in person in the room and remotely using the Zoom application. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. So you're aware, the webcast will always show the person speaking rather than the entirety of the committee.

Today's meeting is also taking place in the webinar format. Webinars are for public committee meetings and are available only to members, their staff and witnesses. Members enter immediately as active participants. All functionalities for active participants remain the same. Staff will be non-active participants and can therefore only view the meeting in gallery view.

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind all participants in this meeting that taking screenshots or photos of your screen is not permitted.

Given the ongoing pandemic situation and in light of the recommendations from the health authorities, as well as the directive from the Board of Internal Economy on October 19, 2021, to remain healthy and safe, all those attending the meeting in person are to maintain a two-metre physical distance and must wear a non-medical mask when circulating in the room. As well, it is highly recommended that the mask be worn at all times, including when you are seated. Proper hand hygiene must be maintained through the use of the provided hand sanitizer at the entrance to the room.

As the chair, I'll be enforcing these measures for the duration of the meeting. I thank members in advance for their co-operation.

To ensure an orderly meeting, I'd like to outline a few rules to follow.

Members and witnesses may speak in the official language of their choice. Interpretation services are available for this meeting. You have a choice at the bottom of your screen of either “floor”, “English” or “French”. If interpretation is lost, please inform me immediately, and we will ensure that interpretation is properly restored before resuming the proceedings.

The “raise-hand” feature at the bottom of your screen can be used at any time if you wish to speak or alert the chair. For members participating in person, proceed as you usually would when the whole committee is meeting in person in the committee room. Keep in mind the Board of Internal Economy's guidelines for mask use and health protocols.

Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. If you are on the video conference, please click on the microphone icon to unmute yourself. For those in the room, your microphone will be controlled as it normally would be by the proceedings and verification officer. When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly. When you're not speaking, your microphone should be on mute.

I remind everyone that all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair.

With regard to a speaking list, the committee clerk and I will do our very best to maintain a consolidated order of speaking for all members, whether they're participating virtually or in person.

To members and witnesses, when you have 30 seconds left in your questioning time, I will signal you with this paper just to keep on track.

Members, before we get started with our officials today, I will tell you that we'll be going through three rounds to give enough opportunity to ask questions on Bill C-2. I'm leaving the remainder of our meeting time for some committee business.

I would now like to welcome witnesses from the Canada Revenue Agency. We have with us Janique Caron, chief financial officer and assistant commissioner, finance and administration branch; Cathy Hawara, assistant commissioner, compliance programs branch; Marc Lemieux, assistant commissioner, collections and verification branch; and Frank Vermaeten, assistant commissioner, assessment, benefit and service branch.

Clerk, is one of the witnesses going to make an opening statement, or will...?

Okay, one of the witnesses will make an opening statement for five minutes before we move to members' questions. Who will be making the opening statement?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-2Routine Proceedings

December 10th, 2021 / 12:40 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, first, I am not an economist, but I do have a basic understanding on how an economy works. I have always found it somewhat interesting when my colleague from Carleton goes into a diatribe about all the theories out there. He does tend to have that heavy right slant.

When I go back to my days at university, I think of the economy when theorists would have the whole dog-eat-dog world type of thing. I guess I am closer to the Keynesian type of theorist in recognizing that there is time for a government to come forward and take tangible actions to support our communities.

The member made reference to the fact that I should take notes. I did take a couple of notes as the member was speaking, because I wanted to make reference to a few of the thoughts he was espousing. He talks about the money. I will elaborate on that point, maybe not from an ivory tower perspective, but rather from the perspective of how I believe my constituents would like to hear it, and that is as plain as possible, my basic understanding of it.

He talked about where the money came from. I hear those types of things from members opposite, and no one uses them more than the member for Carleton. It is important for the people, who might be following this debate, to understand that the member is the finance critic for the Conservative Party, meaning the Conservative Party takes its lead from its leader sometimes on finance issues and at other times from the member for Carleton.

I do not say that to scare people. I say it because people should recognize why the member for Carleton says things. There was a time when the Conservative Party did not exist. There used to be a Progressive Conservative Party and the Reform Party. The member for Carleton would fit in quite well with the Reformers.

It is interesting to see the contrast when the leader leader trying to say the Conservatives are moderates or somewhat moderates. After all, that is why the Conservatives flip-flopped on the carbon tax issue, and that upset a lot of the old Reform members. That is why members of the Conservative Party, members of the caucus in particular, have a certain appreciation and respect for the member for Carleton, because his job is to keep that party to the right. He does a pretty darned good job of doing keeping them on the extreme right. Some of them applaud and I do not blame them for that, if that is their basic principle.

The member for Carleton talks about government expenditures and how wasteful they are. I would argue that government expenditure is a good thing. That how we support real people and businesses. That is why governments brought in programs during a very difficult time, not just in Canada but around the world. It was a global pandemic. This government recognized that we did not need to take the approach to economics that the member for Carleton would take. We needed to think about government spending that would support Canadians, small businesses, to have the backs of Canadians. That has been a first priority of the Prime Minister, the cabinet and Liberal members of Parliament from day one.

That was one of the reasons we went into an election, and were given a renewed, stronger mandate. The plan that we provided to the House of Commons is, in fact, supported by a vast majority of Canadians. Only a good portion of the Reform element of the Conservative Party calls into serious question why the government has made these expenditures. We should think of the consequences had we not provided the support, had we not listened to what Canadians wanted, had we not done the consultation that was so critical or had we not worked with the different levels of government, the non-profit organizations and many stakeholders, including health care workers and so many others. What would have been the alternative?

What would have happened if we had focused our attention on the Conservative Party's ideas, in particular the finance critic's ideas? We would not have had programs like the CERB, which provided millions of Canadians financial support during the pandemic, financial support that put dollars in their pockets so they could pay their bills, whether it was their mortgage, rent, utility bills or to put the food on their tables.

The Conservatives, led by the member for Carleton, repeatedly talk about the deficit, that right-wing element of the Conservative Party. Yes, the CERB program did cost a considerable amount of money, but had we not invested in that program, imagine the suicides, the family breakups, the costs resulting from mental health and the impact it would have had on our economy. Those are the reasons the Prime Minister acted quickly in making the statement that we would have the backs of Canadians and we would be there for them.

Let us think of the business supports we provided over the last 18 months. In particular, let us focus on our arts community and small businesses. The wage subsidy program allowed employers the opportunity to keep employees working. It ensured that many thousands of jobs would still be there when we recovered. We have been proven to be correct with that program.

We can think of the rent subsidy program. How many small businesses would not be here today had the government not provided support in the form of rent subsidy. The bills continue to come in, the suppliers still want to be paid and landlords still want to be paid. That program provided tangible support for workers and sick pay. These things made a difference and helped Canadians.

When we went to the polls back in September, Canadians agreed with the Liberal plan. That is why we are on the government benches. They agreed with the progressive policies that we had put in place. That is why a majority of Canadians supported parties that understood how important it was for government to continue to play a role in supporting people, whether they were seniors, people with disabilities, other vulnerable Canadians, Canadians who were losing jobs or Canadians trying to keep their businesses afloat. These are the types of things that really matter, and progressive parties in the House did well as a result.

What is Bill C-2? It is an extension of the programs I just finished talking about in one form or another.

Around this time last year, I would have been standing in this place, saying that the Conservative Party was playing a destructive role in the chamber. I am not surprised that the member for Carleton and the Conservative Party has decided to bring forward this motion, which proposes to divide the Bill C-2. The bill went to committee on December 2.

However, by literally dividing the bill into two bills, this is another way the Conservatives feel they can slow down legislation, possibly preventing it from being passed. What is next if this motion passes? Are they going to suggest that we need to strike up more committees to meet on these issues? Is this yet another indication from the official opposition that it wants to frustrate the legislation? Do the Conservatives not realize the cost of this legislation not passing?

Back on October 21, the Prime Minister indicated that the government had targeted business support programs, that it wanted the Canada recovery hiring program; create the tourism and hospitality recovery program and hardest-hit business recovery program; and establish the Canada worker lockdown benefit. The Prime Minister wanted to see the House of Commons act on this quickly. That is why it was no coincidence that when we were back in the House, literally, Bill C-2 was the very first piece of legislation. A good way for the government to express its priority is by the first piece legislation it presents.

When we first were elected in 2015, the first legislation created the framework for the tax break for Canada's middle class. It was also the legislation that established the need for an additional tax on the wealthiest 1% in our society. Interestingly enough, the Conservatives voted against that legislation. At the time, that was our priority; it was our piece of legislation.

We can look at what is happening around our country today. If we go back to the press conference the Prime Minister held on October 21, what will we find? If members do want to believe me, they should consult their constituents. Every region of the country is concerned about COVID-19. Everyone in the country wants to see a higher sense of co-operation taking place on the floor of the House of Commons. How is dividing such a critical piece of legislation, which, in essence, encapsulates in good part what is on the minds of Canadians, going to help in getting it passed through the House?

The bill went to committee back on December 2, and the committee already has had six meetings, and I think today is its seventh meeting. What is the real purpose of this Conservative Party motion today? We were supposed to be debating the throne speech, which deals with another aspect. It is the plan on how we continue to move forward.

The content of the throne speech, which we are not debating now because of this silly motion, highlighted the fact that we are still dealing with COVID-19 and that we still need to do what we can to minimize its negative impacts. Canadians realize it and have stepped up to the plate. I believe 86% of Canadians over the age of 12 are now fully vaccinated.

We recognize the strong leadership role that each of us has to play, but let us also recognize the important role that our communities have played. An 86% fully vaccinated community is a healthy community. We can still do better. We can still get more people fully vaccinated, but until we have achieved that optimum level we need to continue to be there in very real ways.

Some of our communities could be significantly hit into the future because of coronavirus mutations. That is one of the reasons why there is an important lockdown measure. We want Canadians to know that in the House of Commons, at least among the New Democrats, Bloc, Greens and Liberals, people understand that we need to have progressive measures in place to support real people and ensure that our communities are healthy into the future.

By investing and by supporting communities, we will all benefit collectively in the long run. Had the government of the day followed the Conservative Party, in particular the Conservative finance critic who is worshipped by many within the Conservative caucus, the programs that we have today would be in question. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we would not have had the types of progressive programs that we have today.

As a result of those programs, we are in a far better position to recover, and we see that in the numbers. We actually have more people back and employed than we had pre-pandemic: far more on a per capita basis than the United States and other countries. The reason for this is because the government supported Canadians and businesses. Businesses were able to survive and people were able to overcome the biggest issue of the pandemic, specifically vaccination. Canada has led the world because there has been a team Canada, except for the Conservative Party, here on the Hill that has consistently talked about the importance of being fully vaccinated. As much as possible we have provided programs that would make a difference and would provide the disposable income that would save jobs and save businesses.

I would ask the Conservative Party to rethink its motion, and maybe put the member for Carleton's economic theories on hold for a while. Let us see if we can pass this legislation as it is out of committee.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

December 10th, 2021 / 10:55 a.m.
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Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne Québec


Sherry Romanado LiberalDeputy House Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I listened intently to the speech by my colleague across the way, and one thing that jumped out at me was when he mentioned that we were here to legislate to fix problems. I agree. However, I think we have demonstrated that over the last six years, whether it was with medical assistance in dying or finally banning conversion therapy.

I would like to know if the member opposite will be supporting us with respect to Bill C-2 to make sure we are fixing the problem of the gaps currently being experienced because of COVID-19.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

December 10th, 2021 / 10:45 a.m.
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Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Madam Speaker, it has become more and more apparent that this is a Liberal government that has run out of steam and run out of ideas. We are now nearly three months away from what was supposed to be, in the Prime Minister's words, “the most...[consequential] election since 1945”, yet Canadians still have little clue about what direction the Liberal government is taking our country. Canadians can be forgiven, I think, for a profound sense of déjà vu as they read the latest throne speech delivered by the Governor General. In many ways, it reads exactly like the throne speech from 2020, so much so that Canadians are wondering just why we needed to have an unnecessary, reckless and expensive $600-million pandemic election.

To be sure, there are some important points in the throne speech, such as fighting the pandemic and getting Canada back to normal. There are promises to address reconciliation with first nations, to take action on climate change, to strengthen the middle class and to grow the economy. These are all important promises, but when we look at the record of the Liberal government, particularly over the last three years, we see a lot of talk, but little action. Conservatives believe that the purpose of winning elections is so we can legislate to fix problems and seize opportunities for our country. For the Liberals, it is the other way around. They legislate and make promises so that they can win elections and seize opportunities for themselves.

This abdication of leadership has led to a country that is dealing with more than one crisis, where the government can say the right thing, but action is rarely forthcoming. One columnist recently wrote that the Prime Minister is the return of the infamous Mr. Dithers character. Someone who has “hit the ground running at a sloth-in-slow-motion speed.” This is no longer the government of idealists elected in 2015. It is a government that desperately wants to hold onto power, divide and conquer Canadians, and take the bare minimum of action required to safely remain in government.

This has resulted in a terrible situation in our country, where very real problems are not being addressed with the seriousness they deserve. In the throne speech, I was disappointed to see little or no mention of the significant issues Canadians care about right now. For example, in Canada, we are undergoing the most significant period of inflation since I have been alive. For decades, Canadians could rely upon fiscal and monetary policy that maintained an inflation rate close to 2%. This meant that Canada’s economy could grow at a solid rate, while ensuring that prices for goods did not drastically increase. Now we are seeing very significant increases across all sectors, with food, fuel, housing and vehicles all seeing steep jumps in prices.

One recent report also indicated that almost every investment asset class, when calculating for inflation, is returning a net negative real return. The consequences of letting inflation run at these levels will impact families for generations to come. It will mean less money saved for retirement, more resources dedicated to just the essentials and less resources for achieving Canadians’ dreams. It will mean eroded standards of living for retirees on fixed incomes, who will look at the value of their nest eggs shrink as the money supply expands exponentially. The government promises that it will find a way to make Canadians whole, but we saw the consequences in the past of government trying to control wage and price inflation. It only exacerbated the problems further.

The most significant actions that have worked historically to address runaway inflation have been for the government to get its fiscal house in order and for the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates. These are bitter pills to swallow for Canadians who have grown used to massive government largesse and artificially lowered interest rates. The Liberals, I fear, will try and win politically by forestalling this inevitability by increasing spending and allowing the Bank of Canada to let inflation run even higher, thus forestalling the need for increased interest rates.

The consequences of this will mean exponentially more pain for Canadians in the future as the government loses its ability to finance deficit spending and the Bank of Canada loses its ability to control inflation. Canadians deserve a government that will make the tough choices to ensure future generations can have a better life than the one we have. I know from hitting the doors in my community that the cost of living was top of mind for many families. Canadians need to see leadership from the government and they are not seeing it right now from the Liberals.

There is also nothing in the throne speech to comfort the anxiety of my constituents in Alberta. In my region, we rely on the agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, and service sectors to put food on the table. On the agriculture front, there was only one mention in the Speech from the Throne, and that was about creating a Canada water agency. What about a plan to ensure that Canadian farmers can continue to access world markets? What about a plan to address the rising cost of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer and fuel, which are threatening global food security? These are serious issues, but there was no mention of them by this government.

Where is the plan to fight the Americans on the unjust doubling of softwood lumber tariffs? Where is the plan to ensure that our oil and gas sector can continue to sustain our economy for generations to come while reducing and eliminating greenhouse emissions?

I see company after company from Alberta pledging billions of dollars in combined resources to implement revolutionary and effective carbon capture technology. Where is their willing partner in the federal government? Where is the tax credit for enhanced oil recovery, which will sustain new, low-carbon jobs and investments for decades to come? It is not to be found in the throne speech. Instead, we just see ideological talking points and promises to shut down our jobs and our industries.

The words “just transition” have become a nightmare for Albertans. Many people in my riding lost their jobs when coal-powered plants were phased out a few years ago. Communities and workers were promised by this Liberal government that they would have compensation and a just transition. The last promise in the 2019 budget said $100 million for coal communities.

Well, we have not seen any funding from this Liberal government, and it has been two years. Folks in my area know exactly what a “just transition” means. It means fewer jobs, less prosperity and more “just inflation”. It is time for the Liberal government to take co-operative action with the oil and gas sector to ensure the prosperity of all Canadians, not just those who are represented by Liberal MPs.

The Speech from the Throne also failed to address the elephant in the room in Canada right now. One of our most important institutions has been on the news on an almost daily basis, and not a lot of it has been good news. I am talking, of course, about the Canadian military and the numerous scandals that we have seen.

As someone who represents a large military community and CFB Edmonton, I know that my constituents are extremely proud of our Canadian Forces members, but every day they lose confidence when they see the Liberal government fail to act and fix problems. An institution as important as the Canadian military deserves far more attention from this government than it received in the throne speech, where it was not even mentioned once. Sadly, this is just another case of the Liberal government failing to tackle the important issues that Canadians want to see solved.

The Liberals' rhetoric has, yet again, failed to match the reality of action. When the Prime Minister said this was “the important election since 1945”, he clearly was not talking about its importance to Canadians. Instead, he was talking about its importance to his own ambitions for a majority government.

We are seeing bills being passed today that would have been, and could have been, passed if we had not had an election, such as Bill C-2, Bill C-4 and Bill C-6. We see legislation that was passed with unanimous support, like Bill C-3 last night, which fulfilled the promise from all the way back to May 2020 to implement paid sick leave.

This is legislation the Prime Minister said would be implemented without delay, but it took a year and a half to produce a mere page of legislation. In fact, it was not even important enough to merit its own legislation. It had to be merged together with a Criminal Code amendment. We are seeing a recycled throne speech. I praise the government for its commitment to recycling, but the throne speech largely repeats the promises and agenda of the government from last year in 2020.

It is clear, as I said at the beginning of my speech, that this Liberal government has run out of steam and out of ideas. Canadians are growing more disappointed each and every day as they see the priorities they talk about around their kitchen tables with their families every night not being reflected in the policies and action of this government. I hope for the sake of all Canadians that this government can get its act together.

The EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

December 9th, 2021 / 8 p.m.
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Toronto—Danforth Ontario


Julie Dabrusin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled that the member opposite would like to speak about the economy. Around the world, governments, including Canada, are taking immediate action to address the omicron variant. Earlier this week, Canada announced strong action at our borders and in regard to testing and entry. This is another reminder that all Canadians who can, should get their vaccines as soon as possible. There is no more important economic policy for Canada today than finishing the fight against COVID.

Today's renewed COVID fears are also a reminder of why the measures in Bill C-2, which provides targeted personal income and business supports, are so urgent and essential. Over the last 20 months, Canadians have faced tough times. Various health and safety precautions have caused financial and emotional distress for many people, not to mention those who have also had to care for or who have lost loved ones at the same time.

Across the country, many businesses have had to close, some temporarily and others permanently. The majority have experienced reduced revenues, even when they were open. This has translated into many people losing their jobs or having their hours reduced. That is why when the crisis hit, the government rapidly rolled out a full range of effective, broad-based programs under the economic response plan with much needed support for individuals, businesses and communities to see Canadians through our country's greatest economic shock since the Great Depression.

In terms of its scale, Canada's economic response, including budget 2021 investments, was one of the largest and most expeditious among G7 countries. It helped engineer a near-term economic turnaround at a faster than anticipated pace compared with some industrialized countries. This support has worked. Many businesses are now safely reopening. Employment has recovered to pre-recession levels and of the three million jobs that were lost at the peak of the crisis, all have now been recouped, faster than any other recession. Canada's economic recovery is well on track and the pandemic economy is fading from view.

As our government looks to secure a more prosperous future for Canadians, it is helpful to look back and consider the key measures that have helped us to get to where we are today. These include the Canada emergency response benefit, the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the Canada emergency rent subsidy and lockdown support and the Canada emergency business account. Federal support also includes significant financing for the provinces and territories through its top-ups to the Canadian health transfer, as well as through the safe restart agreement, the safe return to class fund and the essential workers support fund. All told, more than $8 out of every $10 spent to fight COVID-19 and support Canadians has come from the federal government.

In budget 2021, the government promised that if additional flexibility was required, based on public health considerations later in the year, it would continue to do whatever it takes to be there for Canadians. That is why in October, we announced the Canada worker lockdown benefit. We are working to ensure continued support to Canadians throughout this pandemic.

December 9th, 2021 / 5:25 p.m.
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The Chair Liberal Peter Fonseca

You have 15 seconds, so we're going to wrap up now.

I just want to say, on behalf of all the members of the Standing Committee on Finance, thank you to the witnesses. Thank you for your testimony, for your answers to the questions and for informing this committee on this important piece of legislation, Bill C-2. We thank you very much for all of that.

At this time, members, we are going to adjourn.

December 9th, 2021 / 5:25 p.m.
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Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Great. I understand completely.

Basically, the CRB ended on October 23. The government called an election and reconvened Parliament two months afterwards. Bill C‑2 was drafted and your organization was consulted during the process. However, as you mentioned earlier, a number of categories of artists have been excluded from the bill, especially self-employed cultural workers. Let me give you an example. In my constituency, Terrebonne, the Théâtre du Vieux‑Terrebonne used to play to full houses, but it's now operating at one third of its capacity.

We can see that Bill C‑2 has nothing for culture, whereas, as you so rightly said, we needed a program yesterday. We really want to hear about how badly we need a program, how urgent it is, and that, right now, the current program is not adequate. We need a specific timeline.

December 9th, 2021 / 5:25 p.m.
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Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have another question for you, Ms. Prégent.

Were the Union des artistes and the Fondation des artistes consulted when Bill C‑2 was being drafted?

December 9th, 2021 / 5:20 p.m.
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Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to direct my question to Ms. Grynol again. One thing we've spoken a lot about is the importance of the measures in Bill C-2 for your sector. You've articulated that quite clearly. One conversation that has come up in the committee on a number of occasions is the suggestion by some that the programs here are helping businesses, but they're not helping people, like workers.

Can you speak to the impact these measures would have on Canadian workers?

Quickly, to my mind, the reason for these measures is to help businesses prevent all the negative outcomes that you've spoken about, namely the bankruptcies, the cutbacks and everything else you've spoken about. By keeping businesses functioning and operational, it allows them to then pay workers. By subsidizing wages, we allow them to pay workers.

Can you speak to what the impact would be of the measures in Bill C-2, in your view, on Canadian workers?

December 9th, 2021 / 5:05 p.m.
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Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you very much.

Ms. Prégent, in Bill C‑2, there is a tool called the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, which applies to self-employed workers in arts and culture only if there is a lockdown order in their region.

According to the government, all industry sectors that need exceptional assistance are included in Part 1 of the bill. I am wondering whether it would make sense simply to provide access for self-employed workers in arts and culture to the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit even if there is no lockdown order in their region, because we recognize that the industry is suffering even without a lockdown.

Do you see that as a possible solution for the government?

December 9th, 2021 / 5:05 p.m.
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Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to hear more from Ms. Prégent.

Good afternoon, Ms. Prégent.

This morning, Minister Freeland came to talk to us at the committee. She said that, in Bill C‑2,the cultural industry is included in the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, which is quite broad.

Ms. Prégent, do you believe that most members of the Union des artistes would be covered or would it simply affect self-employed artists and workers in the arts generally?

December 9th, 2021 / 5 p.m.
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Heath MacDonald Liberal Malpeque, PE

We can't depend on domestic travel for much longer. We need international travel. The new variant has put an impediment in the way of that.

If your sector doesn't get Bill C-2 passed, what alternative is out there? I know there are hotels right downtown in Ottawa that are huge, nice hotels that don't have their restaurants open. I'm sure some people in this room are likely staying at at least one of them.

What is the doom and gloom if this doesn't get passed?