Evidence of meeting #15 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 indigenous.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Bill C-51 was introduced by the Conservatives and supported by the Liberals, including this Prime Minister. It declared indigenous, racial, economic justice, and environmental activists as domestic terrorists. Each province was mandated to enact anti-terrorism protocols, which became a direction for the local police to engage in the practice of street checks or racial profiling.

Given what he has said today in the House, will this Minister of Public Safety work to repeal the changes made under Bill C-51?

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Chair, I will repeat for the member opposite that racial profiling and bias in the delivery of policing service is not only unacceptable and abhorrent but unlawful. It's contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; it is contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act. It cannot ever be tolerated in policing in any place in Canada, but we learned from the lived experience of black and indigenous communities, who tell us that this is still their lived experience, so there is a great deal of work left to do.

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

It is now Mr. Champoux's turn.

Mr. Champoux, you have the floor.

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Chair, I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Joliette.

Supplementary unemployment benefits, or SUBs, give employers the opportunity to enhance their employees' employment insurance benefits when they need to temporarily lay them off. A number of companies, including Soprema in Drummond, have done so with the guarantee that the government would maintain the SUB terms when employment insurance is converted to the CERB.

However, surprise, surprise, when the employees applied for the CERB in May, they found that they did not meet the criteria because the amount of SUBs they have received exceeded $1,000, the CERB income limit. In addition, they must reimburse the CERB because they found that they were not eligible for it.

So, what does the Minister of Finance intend to do to correct his error?

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will pause for a second. We have a point of order on the floor. Go ahead, Mr. Green.

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I posed the most important question. I had 10 seconds left by my count on my time before I was cut off, and I would appreciate, given the seriousness of the conversation here today, if the honourable Minister of Public Safety will please answer the question: Will he apologize to the black community for the irreparable harm that was caused by the racist process of street checks and carding?

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The way I work it is that if there are 15 seconds or less, we go on to the next one, because it's not really enough time to ask a question and get an answer.

I will move on to Mr. Champoux. He did ask a question, and we'll let Ms. Qualtrough, the honourable minister, answer.

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, SUB plans that existed prior to March 15 are very much alive and in place for companies, employers and their employees.

The CERB allows employers to top up an employee's wages to the maximum of a $1,000. As was said, Mr. Chair, in order to deliver this important critical benefit to Canadians, we had to go outside of the EI system. That decision was made, and as a result, eight million Canadians are being helped.

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Chair, SUBs do not have an employment insurance cap. Employers can contribute as much as they want, and they were assured that this would be the case with the CERB. Otherwise, they would have opted for another program.

Let me put my question to the Minister of Finance again, in the hope that he will be the one to answer it.

When does he intend to fix this error?

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

I thank the member for his question, Mr. Chair.

As we can all appreciate, delivering a benefit of this magnitude as quickly as possible to as many Canadians as possible, both those who were EI eligible and those who were outside of EI, resulted in our having to take some decisions to streamline processes and the system. SUB plans are available for employers—

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Ste-Marie, you have the floor.

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Chair, I will continue on the subject of supplementary unemployment benefits.

Let me remind everyone that Service Canada has entered into agreements with companies and is not honouring them. The victims are thousands and thousands of workers who have to reimburse the Canada emergency response benefit, as my colleague just explained.

I also have the question my colleague from Drummond asked: why is the government not doing the same thing it does with employment insurance and not counting the benefits paid out as part of earned income? It is simple.

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, as legislated, we needed to set up a straightforward, simple benefit to deliver to as many people as possible. The nuance and sophistication of the EI system was not available to us. As a result, as I said, eight million Canadians are getting the CERB. Service Canada is working with each and every employee who is in a repayment situation. We do not want to put anybody in a more difficult situation.

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Chair, the truth is that the government has forgotten the thousands of workers covered under a supplementary unemployment benefit agreement. We are talking about mothers and fathers. When the government rolled out its Canada emergency response benefit, it was overwhelmed and it forgot about them. The government can fix it right here, right now.

Does it want to do that?

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, let me clarify that employees who were covered by a SUB plan prior to March 15 are indeed covered by that plan. We're working with employers to make sure that their workers have this benefit, regardless of whether or not the CERB is in place. Those who accessed EI after March 15 have been streamlined into the CERB process, and their employers can help them with up to $1,000 a month.

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Chair, we really do not have the same information. Agreements were signed before March 15 for subsequent periods, but there was an agreement with Service Canada.

Companies have tried to contact Service Canada by telephone, but no one is answering. They have tried by email, but no one is replying either. The companies have decided to honour their part of the contract and pay out the SUB. However, the government says that, after the fact, it changed the rules that had previously applied, and it is no longer honouring its agreement.

As I understand it, the government does not want to straighten out the situation, and that is unacceptable.

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Chair, I want to reassure the honourable member that we have moved quickly to deal with the unprecedented volumes at Service Canada. We have set up a 1,500-agent call centre to help people through the CERB, as well as redeploying 3,000 additional staff to make sure that people are helped through the EI process.

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Now we'll go to the next question, which is from Mr. Redekopp.

June 2nd, 2020 / 2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As of December 31, 2019, the total number of pending veterans' disability benefits applications had already grown to over 46,000. These are the most recent public figures. What is the current total number of pending veterans' disability benefits applications before Veterans Affairs?

2:35 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs

I am sorry, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I thank my honourable colleague for the question and for giving me the opportunity to respond to the Parliament of Canada from my home in Midgell.

As I indicated earlier in the House of Commons, I can assure the member that one of my major priorities is to make sure that we deal with the backlog and that the veterans of Canada receive the benefits they truly deserve and need.

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Those 46,000 applications from December of 2019 represent over 30,000 individual veterans. These are men and women who are suffering. How many individual veterans are currently caught in the backlog?

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

I again thank my colleague. The fact is that service delivery and providing support to our veterans are of course my top priorities.

As you understand, with this pandemic there are some difficulties, but we are processing the same number of decisions daily. Our—

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will go back to Mr. Redekopp.

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

On March 10, we learned that the average time that a veteran was waiting to have their disability benefit application processed had grown to 32 weeks.

What is the current average time a veteran is waiting to have their disability benefit application processed?

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Chair, as I indicated, what we're doing is working to make sure that we streamline the process, make sure that some of the applications can be done automatically. Some cannot, because we have to make sure that what's provided to the veteran is adequate for the disability they—