An Act to amend the Department of Employment and Social Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (Employment Insurance Board of Appeal)


Carla Qualtrough  Liberal


Second reading (House), as of Dec. 14, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-37.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Department of Employment and Social Development Act to, among other things,
(a) establish the Employment Insurance Board of Appeal to hear appeals of decisions made under the Employment Insurance Act instead of the Employment Insurance Section of the General Division of the Social Security Tribunal; and
(b) eliminate the requirement for leave to appeal decisions relating to the Employment Insurance Act to the Appeal Division of the Tribunal.
It also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.


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.

May 6th, 2024 / 3:55 p.m.
See context


Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Bill C‑37 has been introduced, but its study is being delayed.

May 18th, 2023 / 7:55 p.m.
See context


Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Bissonnette, in your opening remarks, you talked about the Employment Insurance Board of Appeal. My understanding is that Bill C-47 basically replicates what was in Bill C-37 with respect to the appeal board. We know that a real appeal mechanism is needed.

I gather that you support the same proposal, but you think the details need improving. You feel that the hearings should take place in person and that the chairperson shouldn't be involved.

Would you mind explaining that again?

May 2nd, 2023 / 11:35 a.m.
See context

Robert Lalonde Director, Individual Payments and On-Demand Services, Benefits and Integrated Services Branch, Service Canada, Department of Employment and Social Development

Good morning and thank you. I am Robert Lalonde from Service Canada.

Effectively, the legislation in Bill C-47 is exactly identical to Bill C-37, which was tabled in December.

Budget Implementation Act, 2023, No. 1Government Orders

April 21st, 2023 / 12:15 p.m.
See context


Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C‑47, the 2023 budget implementation bill.

This Wednesday, the House unanimously passed Bill C‑46, which does two things. It doubles the amount of the July GST cheque, called the grocery rebate, even if there is no GST on groceries, and it unconditionally transfers $2 billion to the provinces for health.

When the government introduced Bill C‑46, my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I wondered why the government was doing that. The GST credit is issued in July. Introducing the bill on Wednesday and quickly passing it will not speed anything up. The same is true for the health transfers. We know that Ottawa is not providing sufficient funding for health care. The bill included $2 billion, and it was fast-tracked. That is fine, but we did not understand why the government did that. We figured that it was probably trying to set a trap for the Conservative Party.

However, on seeing Bil C‑47, I was thrilled. We were thrilled. We understood why the government presented Bill C‑46 on Wednesday, with its $2 billion for health and $2 billion for the special GST credit payment. Essentially, Bill C‑47 duplicated this. The government tabled Bill C‑46 and we passed it, thinking that the government would delete the corresponding amounts from Bill C‑47, the budget implementation act, but it did not.

This approach is unprecedented and historic. When it tabled the bill, the government announced it had good news. It told us it wanted to do a little extra for health. It announced $2 billion on Wednesday, and then $2 billion in Bill C‑47, given that it did not remove the clause that had been passed in Bill C‑46. The same thing goes for the GST credit, a payment totalling $2.5 billion. Bill C‑47 contains another payment totalling $2.5 billion.

I was therefore extremely surprised and pleased to see that those measures are back in Bill C-47, which is before us today. The government did not remove them from the omnibus bill, despite the fact that Bill C-46 was passed earlier this week. With Bill C-47, the provinces will therefore receive $4 billion rather than the announced $2 billion and the less fortunate will receive a second cheque, ostensibly for groceries.

We are taking this on good faith. We are assuming that the government did not make a mistake here, that it is really saying that the less fortunate should receive a second cheque to help them deal with inflation and that the $2 billion for health care is to be doubled because so little funding has been provided for that. I commend the government's approach on that. I cannot presume that this is a mistake, even if it is completely unprecedented. There was no press release or communication from the government to announce this good news. It was really after we had passed Bill C-46 that we saw the text of Bill C-47 and realized that the government had doubled these two support measures. We are really delighted about that.

Of course, given the needs in health care, the government is not doing enough. The $2 billion is not enough. The agreements reached with the provinces do not meet the needs. In early 2015, the federal government was funding 24% of health care spending even though it should have been funding 50%. We have learned that the government will still be funding 24% of health care spending 10 years from now. That is not enough.

This speaks to the question of the fiscal imbalance. While the federal government continues failing to carry out its role, despite the additional $2 billion, it is buying up jurisdictions. I would remind members that dental care is a health care issue, which is a provincial jurisdiction. As I was saying, this speaks to the fiscal imbalance. Why is the government not adequately funding provincial health care systems and buying up areas of jurisdiction by creating a new health care program?

That is unacceptable, and we will continue to demand that the government carry out its role in health care and that it respect jurisdictions.

As everyone here knows, the political system that was adopted in 1867 was a federation. Although Sir John A. McDonald wanted a legislative union with an all-powerful Ottawa, the compromise was a federation where each level of government would be equally sovereign, with its own areas of jurisdiction. With this government, which is underfunding health care and always trying to buy jurisdictions, we are left with a legislative union. This is not the spirit of the federation. Instead, it is predatory federalism, as a former Liberal health minister in the Quebec government once said.

Let us talk about the dental care program. We expected to see the new dental care program that had been announced in the budget in Bill C-47. Instead, the program that was announced last fall is being retained, but union members are being told that they will not have access to it. Bill C-47, which is before us today, issues directives concerning dental care. People who have group insurance are being told that, because they are unionized, they will never have access to this coverage, that they are not eligible for the program. This sends a clear message to unions and union members. That is what is new about dental insurance in Bill C-47.

This is a mammoth bill of over 400 pages, and it amends 59 statutes in addition to the Income Tax Regulations. It is huge and affects so many different sectors. I will come back to that shortly.

Normally, a budget implementation bill is supposed to implement the budget so as to put in place measures that were announced. However, something quite surprising was hidden near the end of the bill, and it is not a budgetary measure. I am referring to division 31, on royal titles. I will read an excerpt. Here is what it is written in the budget implementation bill:

The Parliament of Canada assents to the issue by His Majesty of His Royal Proclamation under the Great Seal of Canada establishing for Canada the following Royal Styles and Titles:

Charles the Third, by the Grace of God King of Canada and His other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.

What does that have to do with the budget? This is not the right place to do that. What does that kind of language have to do with democracy in 2023? I wonder. Obviously, the Bloc Québécois does not share that approach. Why hide it at the end of a budget implementation bill?

The Speaker often reminds us never to disrespect His Royal Majesty, by the grace of God. Is slipping this clause in at the end of the budget implementation bill not tantamount to disrespecting His Royal Majesty, Charles III? I am just wondering. Obviously, in light of past decisions and the procedures of the House, I understand that I cannot ask the Speaker to remove this clause. The request would have to come from the government, and obviously, I implore the government to make it.

I have more to say about the monarchy. Right now, as soon as the government makes an appointment by order in council, which it certainly seems to be doing here, parliamentarians can call the appointee to appear before a parliamentary committee in order to examine that person's qualifications. Given that Bill C‑47 proclaims “Charles the Third, by the Grace of God King of Canada and His other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth”, what could be more appropriate than to call him to appear so we can examine his qualifications before finalizing his appointment?

That is a question that needs to be asked, and I am asking it here. In my opinion, division 31 on the monarchy does not belong in this budget implementation bill.

In the budget, there is an important division on the allocation of $80 billion in funding over 10 years for the green economy. We expected to see details on how the tax credits, the refundable credits, would work, but there is nothing in there about that. It is our understanding that this should involve negotiations with the interested parties. However, Bill C-47 gives us an idea of how the government intends to manage those amounts, and it is very worrisome. Through a legislative amendment, the government is creating two institutions that will be responsible for administering the amounts it plans to invest. This money will be removed from parliamentary oversight. Unelected officials will be responsible for selecting the projects that receive support but will not be accountable to anyone. There are no clear criteria.

Is that a good approach? Is it a good idea to give billions of dollars in taxpayers' money to people who are not accountable to anyone? Does that not just open the door to the arbitrary granting of subsidies based on ties with these anonymous decision-makers and the political stripes of the proponent?

Those are questions that I have.

Parliament wants accountability. Members are here to represent the people. When the government decides to use the resources it collects from the people, even if it is to invest in the transition, there needs to be accountability. That accountability is owed to the House and to the committees that report to the House. The approach set out in Bill C-47 will not provide for that accountability. There will be no accountability, and we find that very concerning.

For years, we have been asking that the government stop subsidizing oil companies. Will this money make that happen? That worries us. Think of all the subsidies that go to the nuclear industry. Is Canada's nuclear industry an example of green energy? I think not. Is that what the small modular nuclear reactors are going to do? There is also carbon capture, and so on. These are the questions we have, and we have not gotten any answers. In committee, I questioned the Department of Finance and they said they would tell us how the money would be spent. After two or three reminders, we are still waiting for answers. It is very worrisome.

Today is Earth Day. Bill C‑47 contains very little on environmental protection. It includes an amendment to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that will encourage oil companies to take their time tackling climate change. At present, the carbon tax paid by major emitters is available to fund green projects in the province where it was collected. If oil companies do not propose any green projects, they lose this money at the end of the year. This approach encourages them to move quickly.

However, Bill C‑47 encourages them to take their time. If the bill passes, the money will be set aside for future use. The government is ensuring that oil companies will not lose any money if they do nothing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. We know that municipalities lose their infrastructure funds if they do not complete their projects by the end of the year. However, oil companies lose nothing if they do nothing. Is this double standard acceptable? I obviously believe it is not. The answer here is clear.

Still on the subject of transition funding, today we learned that Volkswagen is going to get $13 billion to build a plant in Ontario. The Conservatives were right to ask how much each job created would cost. We know that a transition is needed, but we are wondering why the green economy and batteries are going to Ontario. We thought Quebec was at the forefront given the subsidies and the entire ecosystem we have in place. Why did this project not go to Quebec? Why is Quebec not getting its share? We have questions for this government.

The infrastructure put in place does not allow for accountability, and that is unacceptable. Another unacceptable aspect has to do with EI. As we know, the Employment Insurance Act requires that the EI fund not run a surplus or deficit on average over seven years. Since it ran a huge deficit during the pandemic, it must run a huge surplus every year in the years to come.

Last year, the government grabbed nearly $2 billion that belonged to employers and workers. We are talking about unionized workers. The same thing happened again this year, and the budget calls for another $13 billion to be taken away by 2030. Barring an amendment to the Employment Insurance Act to shift the pandemic deficit to the consolidated fund, we are talking about $17 billion that the government intends to take from the pockets of EI fund contributors. This means that it will be impossible to reform the system to make it more accessible. There is nothing in Bill C-47 to prevent this tragedy. It is unacceptable.

The government has been announcing employment insurance reform since 2015. The announcement is understandable. Six out of 10 workers who lose their job do not have access to EI. The system is broken. Bill Morneau told us, at the beginning of the pandemic, that EI would not help people to keep buying groceries, that the system was no longer working and that it needed to be replaced. They brought in CERB, which was flawed and more expensive. They are still trying to recover some the money owed to them and so on. This story is not over. We need a new system and fast. The government has been talking about this since 2015, but there is still nothing. There is nothing for eliminating the pandemic deficit, either. Increases are going to keep climbing and the system will continue to work poorly.

Let us talk about other aspects of employment insurance. EI should be able to rely on a real appeal mechanism. What we understand from Bill C‑47 is that the appeal board is the same as the one in Bill C‑37. We will look at the details, but we want to reiterate that we need a real appeal mechanism. This extends by one year the measures for the targeted areas during the spring gap, but 60% of people who lose their job still do not have access to it.

We are talking about a 400-page document that amends 59 statutes and the Income Tax Regulations. It has 39 divisions. The Prime Minister promised not to do that anymore. When we get this, we are given a tight deadline in which we have to go through it all, try to understand the legislative language, which is really difficult, consult with all of the stakeholders in Quebec who might be affected to see what they think, and analyze it all. That is a lot. It is very difficult. The government promised in 2015 not do to this anymore. Once again, it is going back to its old ways. We are going to continue looking into this further to see what else might be hidden in there.

Let us look at some examples. The bill enables the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to increase the deposit insurance coverage limit by $100,000, an amount decreed by regulation by this government, but only for one year. In April 2024, he will no longer have that power. Why? Do the Liberals want to introduce another bill? What is this about? We need to look into it. Is the paper version that was given to us as parliamentarians the right version?

Last year, I worked with the paper version only to realize in the end that several dozen pages were missing. I asked the Speaker about it and he told me that the digital version takes precedence over any other. Why bother printing it then, if it is not the right version? That is worrisome.

We are obviously concerned about regional flights, which are very expensive. The increase in fuel prices has pushed the price of flights even higher in the past few years. Instead of proposing measures to make regional flights more affordable, Bill C‑47 would considerably increase the airport security tax. The cost of both international and regional flights will increase. We think this is wrong.

Despite all the pages, measures and laws, there is nothing for seniors or for housing even though the current situation requires that we provide support for seniors and housing. There are many things missing in this bill.

March 27th, 2023 / 4:35 p.m.
See context


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

I'd like to turn for a moment to Mr. Hallan, who cares deeply about this issue and has been working closely with Don Chapman and others.

Would he be opposed to amendments or changing the laws to ensure that those who are second-generation born who have been affected as a result of Bill C-37 are able to have citizenship conferred to themselves and to their children? Would Mr. Hallan be opposed to that?

February 7th, 2023 / 5:05 p.m.
See context


Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

That's great. Thank you.

In some respects, it's surprising that we don't have this information, considering that your government has just tabled Bill C-37, which this review led up to. I would have thought everyone would have been more prepared to answer those questions. We'll go on to something else.

Minister, in September 2022, you told the House, in Parliament, that Parliament would know the government's vision for EI by the end of 2022, and that time has now come and gone. This is creating a lot of uncertainty. It's a lot of stress for working people as well as businesses in terms of both what they may need to pay and who may be accessing it. When will the plan be announced?

Department of Employment and Social Development ActRoutine Proceedings

December 14th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Delta B.C.


Carla Qualtrough LiberalMinister of Employment