Evidence of meeting #13 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 chair.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Many media organizations are struggling. The reality only makes the allegations of predatory behaviour being levied against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation even more disturbing.

I asked the minister on May 7 about these allegations, and he said he had not been informed of the allegations but would look into them.

We can't afford to have a Crown corporation using its status to try to wipe out its competitors in this country. Has the minister begun the investigation into the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and does he have any information that he can share with us here today?

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

As the member said, these are allegations, and as you well know, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is an independent body. It's not controlled by the Minister of Canadian Heritage or the government.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Well, these allegations were in the National Post on April 22. I brought this up to you on May 7 when I talked virtually.

Even more interesting, Mr. Chair, is that these allegations against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation came from an organization in the minister's own province of Quebec, so can the minister take action to address any predatory behaviour on behalf of the CBC, or can the government's friends at the CBC simply get away with anything?

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Allegations are allegations, whether they are made in Quebec, Ontario or Alberta. As I said, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is an independent organization.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

When I last rose, on May 7, the committee responsible for the government's massive $595-million media bailout package had not met. It is now three weeks later.

Has the committee met? If yes, when can the media organizations—and I hear there are only 29 publishers—expect the support promised? If it hasn't met, when is it going to meet?

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

As the member is well aware, this program is a tax-break program. In order for organizations to qualify, they had to file their income tax forms, which they have done over the last few weeks. The program is in place, and we are confidant that media organizations will receive the money by the end of the summer.

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Waugh, go ahead with a 20-second question, hopefully.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

There was $30 million rolled out to media organizations, some 1,400 organizations. Yesterday Postmedia announced another 40 layoffs.

Has the $30 million been distributed so far in this country to all 1,400 media organizations?

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Honourable minister, go ahead for 20 seconds or less, please.

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would be happy to provide the list of those 1,400 media organizations that have received funding through that ad campaign.

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will continue with Mr. Champoux.

You have the floor, Mr. Champoux.

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Chair, I'm feeling generous today, and I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères.

At the beginning of the crisis, the government called on entrepreneurs in Quebec and Canada, inviting them to set an example in the situation we are experiencing. Many of them turned to the supplemental unemployment benefit (SUB) plan to maintain the employment relationship and to preserve some security, enabling their employees to get through this difficult period with more peace of mind.

However, on May 22, despite the fact that these entrepreneurs had made sure that the SUB program would still be in place when the CERB was introduced, they were surprised. Employees were told at that time that they would have to repay the CERB because of the alleged gains they had made under the SUB program. At SOPREMA, one of the large employers in the Drummondville region, 150 employees are affected. At Bridgestone, in Joliette, 1,100 employees are affected by this decision. At Goodyear, in Valleyfield, 150 employees are affected, and there are dozens more.

Does the minister intend to correct this mistake so that employers who are able and willing to do so can treat their employees better during this difficult period?

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

When we put in place the Canada emergency response benefit, the underlying goal was to make sure that every worker who needed it had access to income support as they were losing their employment for COVID reasons. We understood that meant some workers would not have access moving forward, although let me clarify that SUB plans that existed prior to March 15 are definitely in place. We consider the fact that workers have access to $1,000 a month in addition to CERB—and we've spoken with employers about this—to permit employers to assist their employees in an equitable way.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Champoux, you have 15 seconds for your question.

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Chair, employers received absolutely no news from the government before this measure was implemented, despite the fact that they were assured that this measure would be transferred to the CERB. That's not an answer when those folks acted honestly and in good faith. They feel cheated, and rightly so.

Does the government intend to fix this mistake, which would simply be the right thing to do?

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, I can assure the member opposite that the SUB plans that were in place prior to March 15 are indeed in place now. In addition, employees who are now on the CERB as an alternative have access to $1,000 of income in addition to their CERB. We are working with employers to perhaps provide the $1,000 in lieu of the SUB plans.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will continue with you, Mr. Barsalou-Duval.

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

On April 27, Option consommateurs sent a letter to the Minister of Transport to warn him that the airlines' refusal to reimburse their customers for cancelled flights was contrary to Quebec's laws.

What is the minister going to do to put an end to this situation?

1:15 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Chair, I sympathize with the people who would have preferred to get a refund, and I understand their frustration. It is not an ideal situation. The airlines are going through a very difficult time right now. If they were forced to refund their customers immediately, many of them would go bankrupt.

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Chair, the minister sounds like a broken record.

A few hours ago, the following motion was passed unanimously: “THAT the National Assembly ask the Government of Canada to order airlines and other carriers under federal jurisdiction to allow customers whose trips have been cancelled because of the current pandemic to obtain a refund.”

What will the Minister of Transport tell the National Assembly of Quebec?

May 28th, 2020 / 1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Mr. Chair, as my hon. colleague knows, the Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled on this issue and has ruled that, in the present circumstances and in a non-binding way, it is acceptable for airlines to offer credits for up to two years. In the case of Air Canada, the credit has no expiry date.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Barsalou-Duval, you have about 15 seconds for a question.

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Chair, I find it rather odd that the Minister of Transport and the Canadian Transportation Agency are telling the airlines that Quebec's regulations and laws are not important and that they can override them. It seems to me that this is a strange way to operate. Theoretically, under the famous Canadian Constitution, which they imposed on us, that is not how it should work.

Can they uphold their own constitution?

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. minister can answer in 15 seconds or less, please.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Mr. Chair, as my hon. colleague probably knows, the Canadian Transportation Agency is a quasi-judicial body that operates at arm's length from Transport Canada and the Government of Canada.