Evidence of meeting #12 for COVID-19 Pandemic in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was report.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

I call this meeting to order.

Welcome to the 12th meeting of the House of Commons Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

This will be the first hybrid meeting of the committee. Some members will be participating via videoconference and some will be participating in person. This follows the order made by the House on May 26, 2020.

Members who have already participated in a virtual meeting of the special committee may actually not notice any change, except for the fact that some members are also participating from the floor of the House.

An additional rubric, that of statements by members, was also added to the proceedings of the committee.

In order to ensure that those joining the meeting via video conference can be seen and heard by those in the chamber, two screens have been set up in the chamber on either side of the Speaker’s chair. Sound amplification for virtual interventions will be available, and members in the chamber can listen to the floor sound or interpretation using the earpieces on their desks.

Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. Please also direct your remarks through the Chair. Thank you.

For those of you joining via video conference, I would like to remind you to leave your mike on mute when you are not speaking. Also, please note 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 change the channel to the language that you are speaking each time you switch languages.

Should members participating by videoconference need to request the floor outside their designated speaking times, they should activate their microphone and state that they have a point of order. Those in the chamber can simply rise in the usual way. Please note that today's proceedings will be televised in the same way as a typical sitting of the House.

Next we'll move on to ministerial announcements.

I understand that there are no ministerial announcements today, so we'll move on to petitions.

We'll be presenting petitions for a period not exceeding 15 minutes.

I would like to remind members that any petition presented during a meeting of the special committee must have already been certified by the clerk of petitions.

For members participating in person, we ask that they please come and drop the signed certificates off at the table once the petitions are presented.

First on our list for presenting petitions is Ms. May, who is joining us virtually.

May 27th, 2020 / 12:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Chair, what an honour to be the first voice coming to you from the screens on either side of the Speaker of the House.

I speak to you from Saanich—Gulf Islands on the traditional territory of the WSÁNEC people. Hych'ka Siem.

I'm presenting a petition, number 431-00215, and it has been certified. The petitioners call on this House to take note of the fact that Canada is the only country with a universal health care system that does not include the provision of necessary prescription medications. They note that the system across Canada is a patchwork that leaves three million Canadians unprepared and uninsured to be able to purchase necessary medications. They call on the House assembled to put in place a system of universal national pharmacare, bringing down the cost of drugs through bulk purchasing.

I think I'll call that a summary, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The next petition will be presented by Mr. Genuis.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'm pleased to be presenting two petitions before the committee today.

The first petition is in support of Bill S-204. This Senate public bill, been put forward by Senator Salma Ataullahjan in the Senate, would make it a criminal offence for someone to go abroad to receive an organ for which there has not been consent. It also has a mechanism by which somebody could be deemed inadmissible to Canada for being involved in the horrible practice of forced organ harvesting and trafficking. This bill has been before various Parliaments for over 10 years, and petitioners are hopeful that this Parliament will be the one that finally takes action to address forced organ harvesting and trafficking.

The second petition is put forward by folks who are concerned about Bill C-7, particularly the efforts by the government through Bill C-7 to remove vital safeguards that are currently associated with Canada's euthanasia regime. Petitioners are not happy about the fact that the government is trying to eliminate the 10-day reflection period and remove other safeguards that only four short years ago the government thought were essential for the euthanasia and assisted suicide system that they were putting in place. The petitioners call on the government to address that, and they are not supportive of these particular efforts to remove vital safeguards from that regime.

Thank you very much.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Is anyone else presenting petitions?

Seeing none, we'll move on to statements by members.

We will now proceed to Statements by Members for a period not exceeding 15 minutes. Each statement will be for one minute. The first will be from Mr. Samson.

Mr. Samson, you have the floor.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Good afternoon, everyone. It's an honour to be presenting an S. O. 31.

This spring has been a difficult one for Nova Scotia and the communities of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. While residents have banded together to tackle the challenges presented by COVID-19, we have also had to mourn the passing of three remarkable local women: RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson, well known by many in Cole Harbour and the surrounding areas; our own Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, who was based out of 12 Wing Shearwater; and Captain Jenn Casey of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

All three women died in the line of duty in separate tragic events while serving our country. These three brave women, who served with honour on land, at sea and in the air, represent the absolute best of us. Heidi, Abbigail and Jenn were inspirational and will not be forgotten.

Thank you.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Next we'll go to Mr. Bezan.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Canada needs a prime minister who will create jobs and opportunity, but instead we have a prime minister who is piling up crippling national debt. Yesterday the PBO predicted the federal deficit this year will hit over $252 billion. That is almost equivalent to an average year of government spending before the Liberal government. After five years with this debt, Prime Minister, Canada's national debt is set to hit $1 trillion, with almost nothing to show for it. Industries from coast to coast are either closed or are struggling.

Canadian workers need and deserve a prime minister who supports our energy sector and gets our natural resources and agriculture products to market, who supports small business and will make our tax system encourage job creation and growth, and who will bring advanced manufacturing jobs to Canada and keep the automotive industry growing. Most importantly, we need a Conservative prime minister who will get the government finances under control after the massive debt left by this prime minister.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Next we'll go to Mr. Anandasangaree.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Mr. Chair, I speak today with a very heavy heart. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we've seen a disproportionate number of deaths in long-term care homes.

I'm thankful for the Canadian Armed Forces who were deployed to the Altamont care home in my riding and four other facilities across the GTA. The CAF have brought forward horrifying allegations in the operation of these homes. They include residents being given expired or improper doses of medication; not being cleaned or changed for a prolonged period of time; being forcibly fed, causing choking; being bed-bound for weeks; receiving inadequate nutrition, and much more.

Mr. Chair, I call upon Premier Ford to place these five homes under a mandatory management order and to appoint a third party manager to address and rectify these violations. I also call upon the Premier to undertake an independent public inquiry into the tragedy we face in long-term care facilities across Ontario. Finally, Mr. Chair, we need to work with the provinces and territories to set national standards of care for the most vulnerable in our society. We can and must do better.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We have a point of order.

Go ahead, Ms. May.

12:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I hesitate to interrupt colleagues, but I'm concerned about the petition practice, which, as I understand it, is to summarize a petition but not make a speech. I felt one of our colleagues was trespassing on our usual rules.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

I will remind honourable members that when a petition is presented, we're expected to give a précis and make it as concise as possible. Thank you.

Mr. Champoux, you have the floor.

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Chair, I would like to recognize the resilience of Quebeckers concerned for their jobs or their businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.

They need us to plan for after the crisis, and we must do so now. To do so, we need the proper information. We need to know the status of the public finances. That is why the Bloc Québécois is demanding that the government present an economic update, and that it do so before June 17. This is not about making a spectacle. Everyone knows that the deficit will be huge. We had to provide the people with support and we all agree on that. But we have to know to what extent. We also have to know where we are starting from so that we can plan where we are going. This is about respecting the public, because they are the ones who will be paying the bill.

In closing, I would like to remind the government that one group is not really contributing to the public purse at the moment. I am talking about the tech giants, the GAFAM group, that have never before been used to the extent that they are now, and that are still not paying a cent in tax in Canada. The Liberals promised to correct this injustice. Now is a great time for them to do so.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Ms. Sidhu.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Mr. Chair, this week is National Paramedic Services Week. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Peel region police, paramedic and firefighting services for keeping Bramptonians safe.

In my riding, organizations have stepped up to help our community. Organizations such as the Khalsa Aid Society, the Interfaith Council of Peel, the Brampton YMCA, the Prayer Stone Peoples Church, Unity in the Community, Ste. Louise Outreach Centre, Knights Table, the Yogi Divine Society, Vraj Community Service, Regeneration Brampton and many more have made our community stronger during this difficult time.

I also have to address the report that came out yesterday from our brave Canadian Armed Forces. Like many Canadians, I was shocked by this report from the long-term care centres, including one in my riding. The examples of abuse described in the report are unacceptable. Our seniors deserve dignity and respect.

We must find a solution. We need to fix this.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Mrs. Stubbs.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Chair, Canada's oil and gas sector is in crisis, made worse by five years of bad policies, red tape and barriers to pipelines. Just in the last two months, we saw the largest production cut in Canadian history. Active rigs dropped by 92% and tens of thousands of oil and gas workers lost their jobs, adding to the 200,000 since 2015. Energy is Canada's biggest investor, and exporting could lead the recovery if there are actions, not just words.

On March 25, the finance minister promised help in hours or days, not weeks, but he's letting Canadians down. Sixty-three days later, small oil and gas companies still can't apply for BDC loans, and last week's large employer loan terms are predatory, with interest rates escalating to 14% by year five. Those are payday loan rates. The required stock options being at record lows could make the government the largest shareholder. That's not emergency assistance; it's pandemic profiteering.

Programs can't help workers if businesses can't or won't actually get the support. The Liberals' death-by-delay tactics are doing exactly what foreign activists in other countries want: to shut down Canada's oil.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Ms. Bessette, the floor is yours.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lyne Bessette Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Chair, in times of crisis, we stick together.

I can state that this is certainly the case in Brome—Missisquoi. In the last weeks, I have been calling volunteer action centres in my constituency so that they can tell me their news.

I would like to take the time that I have to highlight the work that community organizations are doing tirelessly in my constituency. The crisis has made us realize the extent to which food banks and meals-on-wheels can not only relieve hunger, but also relieve thousands of shut-in seniors of their loneliness.

Let me also highlight the devotion of the volunteers giving generously of their time, particularly the initiative of Mabel Hastings in the volunteer aid centre in Mansonville. Like me, she sends out a daily newsletter to keep the public informed about the many resources available for their support.

COVID-19 is bringing out the best in our community and I am certain that, together, we will get through it.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will go to Mr. Virani.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, during the COVID-19 pandemic I have been inspired by the courageous work of so many essential workers. I want to thank everyone on the front lines for keeping us safe, keeping us fed and keeping our communities functioning.

I want to make special note of one particular essential health care worker, a woman who is a quarantine manager with the Public Health Agency of Canada. I have personally seen her working tirelessly over the past three months to keep all of us safe. That woman is my wife, Suchita Jain.

Suchi, I love you, I am very proud of you and I thank you for all of the sacrifices you are making.

I want to highlight another woman from my riding of Parkdale—High Park, Rachelle LeBlanc. She is a local designer. When the pandemic broke, she saw the need for protective barriers for small shops in Parkdale, so she set about collecting donations. She then put her design talents to work and started designing free-standing protective shields. Rachelle's team has now delivered 25 free COVID protective shields to small shopkeepers in Parkdale, and the team is on track to building 100 more. It's the compassion of Canadians like Rachelle that gives meaning to the phrase “we are all in this together”.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Godin, you have the floor.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Chair, the school year has been shattered and our graduating classes must be proud of what they have achieved amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young men, young women, be proud of your accomplishments! You can believe in the future. Keep learning. It will give you tools that will serve you all your lives. What you have achieved in this extraordinary year will set you apart from the others. I invite you to be inspired by that and turn it to your advantage.

The current government has the obligation to promote the values that will lead you to become involved in your communities. Your willingness to learn or to work makes you into better citizens. Knowledge and experience are irreplaceable and invaluable. I implore this government, which is unaware of the damage it is causing, to immediately announce all the positions that have already been approved under the Canada summer jobs program. Urgent action is needed. Let us have confidence in our organizations, our companies, and let us support our youth, a rich resource that we must equip and motivate.

I congratulate all the young graduates in the beautiful constituency of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will now go to Mr. Fergus.