Evidence of meeting #16 for Agriculture and Agri-Food in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was money.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Marc-Olivier Girard
Chris Forbes  Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Colleen Barnes  Vice-President, Policy and Programs, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

I did it intentionally. I'm going to give everybody else an extra minute; it will take us to the hour after the third round.

6:30 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

Can I respond, or no?

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

No. You can respond on that line if somebody else wants you to.

6:30 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Mr. Drouin, you have the floor for six minutes.

June 10th, 2020 / 6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I feel generous. I will allow you some time to respond to that particular question.

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

There you go.

6:30 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

Thanks.

We did two things.

We did some modelling a couple of years ago on the overall impacts of the carbon price as best we could, and those are on our website.

In the specific case of grain drying, we've done some internal modelling, but the results that are quoted come from submissions from a number of groups: the Grain Farmers of Ontario, Keystone Agricultural Producers in Manitoba, APAS in Saskatchewan and the Government of Alberta. The estimates are slightly different, and that's why we came up with a range. It's grain farmers. There's no broader number of farms included there.

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Thank you for that response.

My question will be for the CFIA.

I've noticed in the supplementary estimates (A) that there's $20 million allocated. I'm wondering what that $20 million will be used for.

6:30 p.m.

Colleen Barnes Vice-President, Policy and Programs, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Thank you for the question, Mr. Chair.

As the minister noted in her remarks, the processing sector was going through difficulties, but now they're coming back. They're trying to get through the backlog of animals that arose as the processing capacity went down.

The agency is going to be using the investment to pay for extra shifts and overtime so that we can keep the processing plants moving and clear the backlog. It's also going to let us hire back some retirees and get some surge capacity into the agency so that there won't be a bottleneck with these extra shifts, and we can also make sure that we're taking care of our own employees at the same time. We're going to be using some of the resources to work with the provinces to share inspection capacity. Sometimes they need us to help them, and sometimes they're able to help us out.

6:30 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline Desbiens Bloc Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Chair, sorry to interrupt the witness. We absolutely need the French interpretation.

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

You can't hear the French interpretation. Is that right, Ms. Desbiens?

6:30 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline Desbiens Bloc Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

That's right.

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Mr. Clerk, can someone look into this?

6:30 p.m.

The Clerk

Yes, we can look into this.

6:30 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline Desbiens Bloc Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

I think that the network issue is widespread.

6:30 p.m.

The Clerk

Yeah, it's as though a spell was cast on the meeting. I'm not sure whether we can control it.

I'll check with the technical team.

Mr. Chair, is the meeting suspended?

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

It isn't, but I'll suspend it now.

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

We'll resume the meeting.

Mr. Drouin, you have the floor for five minutes.

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'll start with a question for Ms. Barnes from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Since time is valuable, I'll then turn the floor over to my colleague.

Ms. Barnes, you spoke about working with the provinces and their inspectors. Could you describe the type of collaboration in place since the emergence of COVID-19?

6:40 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Programs, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Colleen Barnes

Sure. We've been working with the provinces to make sure that we can share capacity. Provinces have meat plants, and there are federally registered meat plants as well. Given that we're trying to work together in this space, we are reaching great agreements so that our inspectors can go to the provincial plants and the provincial inspectors can come to ours. That involves a bit of training on both sides so that we can make sure everybody knows what they have to do in a plant. That's a big area of collaboration.

Another one is in the area of meat shortages. We have been working closely with the provinces when there is a shortage of meat. We've now put in place a protocol that would allow meat from provincially regulated establishments to move between provinces. That way, if we ever have a shortage, we have another source of supply.

Those are two big areas of collaboration.

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Thank you.

Mr. Chair, you can now give the floor to my colleague.

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Drouin.

That's very generous of you.

Now we'll go to Mr. Lawrence, for at least five minutes.

Go ahead, Mr. Lawrence.

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Thank you very much.

I would like to turn back to my colleague's questions on the carbon tax.

First off, the minister said that the cost of the carbon tax was between $200 and $800. Many of our producers have said that it's more in the neighbourhood of $2,000, $5,000 or even $8,000. These are respected organizations.

Could you explain the discrepancy?

6:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

Thanks for the question.

My take, without having looked at individual producers' bills, and looking at the averages and the overall numbers we got from some of the producer groups, and also from our own work, is that this is probably a question of the average. There will obviously be people who are above and below the average.

When we talk about numbers, we've often talked about them in terms of a share of operating expense, because obviously a larger farm is going to have higher operating expenses and higher costs.