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

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

We are working with the provinces. There are different practices in each province. We're working to serve in a coordinating role as a repository of information for best practices so that they can be shared across provinces. We're also looking at specific suggestions that provinces have made with respect to reforming the criminal law.

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Many owners of small businesses in my riding, and indeed in all of our ridings, are suffering right now and have received absolutely no help from this government because of technicalities.

Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister indicated the government was looking to expand access to the Canada emergency business account to include to those who operate their businesses out of a personal bank account. This is something that we've been calling for over the past several weeks, and businesses cannot wait any longer.

Can the minister tell me what we should be telling our constituents about those who are caught up based on a technicality and are not able to access this important measure?

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank the honourable member for that really important question. I want to assure the small business owners in his community and all across the country just how important they are and how difficult a time this is for them. We absolutely understand. We are hearing you and we are working as hard and as fast as we can to make sure that those business owners get access to this very important support.

I would like to highlight, though, that owners of 650,000 small businesses across the country are getting the loan support. Of course, there is more to do, and we will keep working hard for those business owners.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

The lack of access to high-speed Internet remains a major issue across my home province of New Brunswick. This is a significant barrier to rural economic development. It impacts the quality of life of rural constituents. The lack of progress and transparency on rural Internet is frustrating for residents, for municipal leaders and for small business owners who are already suffering due to COVID.

When will a new plan for rural Internet be introduced, and how quickly can we expect it to be deployed?

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Mr. Chair, our government has a plan to connect Canadians to high-speed Internet. To date, we've set aside investments to connect a million households, and there's more work to be done.

We will be announcing our next steps to connect more Canadians through the universal broadband funds in the days to come. I look forward to communities across the country benefiting from federal investments and the private investments that our investments will bring.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

On the issue of commercial rent, how is the government going to ensure that business owners whose landlords still refuse to participate in the government's program receive the support that they need to stay open at this time?

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, as the member knows and would understand, rent between small business owners and landlords is a provincial jurisdiction. That said, we've moved forward to try to ensure that there's a process so that those landlords and the commercial tenants can work together to come up with a solution that will work for both. We're seeing landlords—

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Ms. Atwin.

2:20 p.m.

Green

Jenica Atwin Green Fredericton, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Nicholas Gibbs, Colten Boushie, Tina Fontaine, Alain Magloire and Breonna Taylor were not all born on the same side of the border, but they all lost their lives at the hand of the same cruel enemy: racism.

We cannot, here in Canada, think higher of ourselves when we are reading the headlines of our neighbour. We cannot ignore our history, past or present.

The final report from the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls stated that indigenous women and girls have faced a Canadian genocide.

In 2018 a report revealed that a black person was almost 20 times more likely than a white person to be fatally shot by the Toronto police, and a 2019 report exposed systemic bias among the Montreal police force against black and indigenous people.

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter.

I am asking the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, as per her mandate, what exactly our government intends to do now to fight racism among its institutions. If the anti-racism secretariat has in fact been established, what priorities have been actioned?

2:20 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalMinister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

I would like to thank the member for that very important question.

I will state that it is essential that we all work together, not only during this challenging time but during the times that come out of it. On the comments that were shared earlier, this is another life lost that should not have been lost.

Yes, the anti-racism secretariat has been established. This is a resource not only for Canadians but also for government agencies to better the way in which we do work internally as well, including advancement opportunities. We know that the decision-making table does not reflect the diversity of our country. That's exactly why we came out with an open, transparent, merit-based appointment process: so that we can see the country's diversity reflected at the decision-making table. There is a lot more work to do.

I can assure the member and all Canadians that my eyes are open, my ears are open and I am an ally. I will work as hard as possible to be that voice at the cabinet table. I cannot experience what it is to be a black Canadian, but I can tell you that your voices will be represented and they will be heard. I see you.

2:25 p.m.

Green

Jenica Atwin Green Fredericton, NB

Mr. Chair, it has been four years since the settlement payment for sixties scoop survivors was approved. That resolution hasn't taken place. The pain continues. Why is it that the 12,500 class members who have been determined eligible still haven't received the payments they are owed? These people deserve justice without any delay, especially in light of COVID-19 and the added pressures facing communities.

Can the minister confirm exactly when these survivors will receive the interim payment?

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

Thank you very much.

Thank you for your advocacy on all these truly important things. As you know, because of the exceptional circumstance of COVID-19, the class counsel, with the support of Canada, was seeking direction from the courts to issue partial payments to the class members with a valid claim.

On June 1 the Federal Court granted that order. A similar motion is before the Ontario Superior Court. Once granted, eligible class members can expect to receive partial payments of $21,000 over the coming weeks. Canada welcomes the Federal Court's—

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go back to Ms. Atwin.

2:25 p.m.

Green

Jenica Atwin Green Fredericton, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Eighty per cent of people who are diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, will die within two to five years of receiving the diagnosis. The pandemic has made it more difficult than ever for these people to access medical appointments and treatment. They do not have the luxury of time. They want to live and to share moments with their families and their loved ones. The lack of urgency to approve new trials and therapies in Canada directly impacts the life expectancy of people with ALS.

Can the Minister of Health commit to taking leadership on this file, removing the barriers to accessing these promising treatments and therapies, and ensuring that the costs of these treatments will be covered?

June 2nd, 2020 / 2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Thank you very much for the very important question. We know that people living with ALS and their families struggle immensely every single day.

Of course the member opposite has my commitment to work with the community and with manufacturers of drugs that are promising for ALS to expedite approval in a safe way that protects the health of Canadians but also provides treatment in an affordable way for all Canadians.

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Mr. Green.

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, I can't breathe and I'm tired, and today we've heard a lot of progressive words from the Prime Minister, but he hasn't really said anything. If the Prime Minister will not provide leadership in this House, will anybody from his cabinet here today commit to taking concrete steps to address anti-black racism?

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Chair, yes, we do commit. That's exactly why we will listen more. We will acknowledge that racism is alive in Canada. We know we must do better. However, I also need the member to recognize that this work has started. The open, transparent, merit-based appointment process is resulting in the decision-making table better reflecting Canadians.

We recognize the UN international—

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will go back to Mr. Green.

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, will the member then commit today to make it a legal requirement to collect race-based data across all the ministries?

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Chair, the recently announced immunity task force is providing disaggregated data to decision-makers, because decisions need to be based on science and evidence. Yes, I will work across all departments to ensure that data is better collected.

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, that's not a legal requirement.

It is also not lost on the black community that the former Toronto chief of police, the architect of this country's largest profiling program under the guise of street checks or carding, was made this country's Minister of Public Safety by this Prime Minister. As the tragic consequence of the unlawful, unconstitutional and racist practices in Toronto, black people are 20 times more likely than non-black people to be murdered by police.

Does the Minister of Public Safety now admit that the police practice of street checks and carding is in fact a significant factor in Canada's systemic anti-black and anti-indigenous racism, and will he act to immediately end it today?

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Chair, let me be very clear. First of all, every Canadian is entitled to bias-free and culturally competent policing.

I know from experience that there is nothing more corrosive to the relationship of trust that must exist between the police and racialized communities than the issue of racism or the biased influences of those decisions.

Mr. Chair, racial profiling is not only abhorrent and unacceptable, it's in fact unlawful. It's contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and it's contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

We are working diligently within all of the federal agencies under my purview to ensure that all officers receive training on culturally competent and bias-free delivery of service. We remain committed to creating a diverse workforce that truly reflects and respects the diverse people of this country.

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Nobody knows better through experience about the corrosive practice of street checks than I do.

Will the minister now apologize to the black community for the harm caused under his tenure as chief of police?

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Just to be very clear, Mr. Chair, I actually worked with the diverse communities of Toronto for nearly four decades. I worked with extraordinary leaders from the black community and I learned extensively from their lived experience.

We worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of all of the people in all of our diverse communities.