It's a pleasure to participate in our first virtual meeting. I think the last time we met, we didn't expect to see each other this way. I'm glad to see you all, even if it's remotely.
I call this meeting to order. Welcome to meeting number seven of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. Pursuant to the orders of reference of April 11 and April 29, 2020, the committee is meeting for the sole purpose of receiving evidence concerning matters related to the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order of reference of April 11 also stipulates that only motions requesting or scheduling specific witnesses can be considered by the committee and that such motions shall be decided by way of a recorded vote. As you know, today's meeting is taking place by video conference and the proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. So that you are aware, the webcast will always show the person speaking rather than the entirety of the committee. In order to facilitate the work of our interpreters and ensure an orderly meeting, I will outline a few rules to follow.
First, interpretation in this video will work very much as in a regular committee meeting. You have the choice at the bottom of your screen of either floor, English or French. When you intervene, please make sure that your language channel is set to the language you intend to speak, not the floor. This ensures the best sound quality possible for our interpreters, which is very important.
Also, before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When you are ready to speak, you can either click on the microphone icon to activate your mike or you can hold down the space bar on your laptop or computer while you are speaking. When you release the bar, your mike will mute itself, just like a walkie-talkie, or for truckers, a CB radio.
I would also like to remind you that all members and witnesses should direct their comments to the chair. Members who need to ask for the floor when it's not their turn to ask questions should activate their microphones and declare a point of order. If a member wishes to speak in response to a point of order raised by another member, he or she must use the "raise your hand" function. By doing so, they will signal to the chair that they wish to speak. To do so, please click on "participant" at the bottom of the screen. When the list appears, you will see next to your name that you can click on "raise your hand".
Speak slowly and clearly, and make sure your microphone is off when you are not speaking. As you know, we strongly encourage you to use a headset. If your headset has a microphone that hangs down, make sure it doesn't rub against your shirt during your speaking time.
In the event of technical difficulties, if you have difficulty hearing the interpretation or have been disconnected by accident, inform the chair or the clerk immediately and the technical team will try to resolve the problem. Please note that we may have to suspend work during that time to ensure that all members can participate fully.
Can all participants click on the top right side of their screen to ensure that they have an overview? This way you should be able to see all participants in a grid. This way, all participants will be able to see each other.
I don't know if everyone's had a chance to do it, but we should be able to see everyone. We should see one person in every little square. It should stay that way, so we know everyone is there.
Finally, just as we usually would in a regular meeting, we will suspend in between panels or sections of the agenda. There are a great deal of resources involved in the holding of virtual meetings so because of that the start and end times are currently set by the whip of all recognized parties, in consultation with the House of Commons administration. I will therefore ensure that the committee meets and finishes on time especially when there are other committee meetings following our own.
With that, we are ready to begin. I would like now to welcome our witnesses for this meeting.
For today's meeting we have from the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Mr. Chris Forbes, deputy minister. Welcome to our committee, Mr. Forbes.
Also from the Department of Agriculture we have Frédéric Seppey, assistant deputy minister, market and industry services branch. Welcome, Mr. Seppey.
From the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, we have Colleen Barnes, vice-president, policy and programs. Welcome, Ms. Barnes.
I would remind members that the complete sitting will be in public. There's no mechanism to sit in camera yet in virtual meetings. Even though we might cover some business at the end, everything will be in public.
Let's go to our witnesses. We'll start with Mr. Forbes for 10 minutes.