I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to the first meeting of the House of Commons Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, April 20, the committee is meeting for the purpose of considering ministerial announcements, allowing members to present petitions, and questioning ministers of the Crown, including the Prime Minister, in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today's meeting is taking place by video conference, and the proceedings will be made available on 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.
I would like to remind members that as in the House or in committee, they should not take photos of their colleagues or film the proceedings today. Before we begin, I would like to make a brief statement.
In 1972 a radio station challenged its listeners to a contest of completing the following sentence: “As Canadian as...”. The winning entry, submitted by 17-year-old Heather Scott, was “As Canadian as possible under the circumstances.” This strikes me as an excellent description of how we as a people have been adapting and coping with many of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic here in Canada.
Here, in the House of Commons, members and their staff, as well as employees of the House administration, Library of Parliament and Parliamentary Protective Service, prove every day that our parliamentary democracy continues to operate.
The House of Commons prides itself on its ability to marry tradition and innovation. It is both a careful steward of parliamentary history and precedent and a forward-looking institution. This week, thanks to the remarkable work of the people I mentioned earlier, members are coming together to carry out our parliamentary responsibilities. We will be meeting both virtually, as we are today, and in person in the chamber. While we are mindful of the procedures and practices that govern the proceedings of the House of Commons and its committees, the meeting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic marks a new chapter in our progression. There may be technological challenges as we learn to navigate this less familiar work environment, but I'm confident that our proceedings will be as Canadian as possible under the circumstances.
I will ask you to keep that in mind and, in order to facilitate the work of the interpreters and ensure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few rules to follow.
Interpretation in the video conference will work very much like in regular committee meetings and in the House. You will have the choice at the bottom of your screen of Floor, which is “off”, or English or French.
Interpretation in this video conference will work very much like in regular committee meetings and in the House. You have the choice, at the bottom of your screen, of either floor, English or French.
Before speaking, please wait until I recognize your 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 while you're speaking. Some of us may remember walkie-talkies; some of us older folks here today will. That's how it will work. If you keep the bar down, it's taking what you're saying. The minute you let go, it comes off. I would like to remind honourable members that if you want to speak in English, you should be on the English channel.
If you want to speak French, you should be on the French channel. Should you wish to alternate between the two languages, you should be on the floor channel, so “off”. Please try to transition slowly between languages.
Please direct your remarks through the chair.
Should members need to request the floor outside their designated speaking times, they should activate their mike and state that they have a point of order.
If a member wishes to intervene on a point of order that has been raised by another member, they should use the “raise hand” function. This will signal to the chair your interest to speak. In order to do so, you should click on “participants” at the bottom of the screen. When the list pops up, you will see next to your name that you can click “raise hand”.
Please speak slowly and clearly at all times.
When you are not speaking, leave your mike on mute.
The use of a headset is strongly recommended.
If you do not have one, please contact someone here in Ottawa, and we can have one sent to you.
Should any technical challenges arise, for example, in relation to interpretation, please advise the Chair immediately by raising a point of order, and the technical team will work to resolve them. Please note that we may need to suspend during these times.
If you get accidentally disconnected, please try to rejoin the meeting with the information you used to join initially. If you are unable to rejoin, please contact our technical support team.
Before we get started, please note that in the top right-hand corner of your screen is a button. You can use that to change views. “Speaker View” allows you to focus on the person currently speaking. “Gallery View” allows you to see a larger number of participants. You can click through the multiple pages in the gallery to view and see more participants.
Before we begin, today is April 28, and we mark the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured in the workplace. It is a day on which we pause to remember those who lost their lives in their workplace and those who are left to mourn their loss.
This is also a day when we are reminded just how important workplace health and safety are, in the hope that, one day, we will no longer have to mourn the loss of workers in our country.
I ask members to take a moment of silence in remembrance of them.
[A moment of silence observed]
We will now proceed to ministerial announcements.
A minister of the Crown may make a short statement. A member from each of the recognized parties, as well as a member of the Green Party, may then comment briefly in response.
The honourable Minister of Health.
Ms. Hajdu, please unmute your microphone.