Evidence of meeting #19 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

Tako Van Popta Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Can the minister confirm whether the government is planning on adding digital contact tracing to its tool box to fight COVID-19? If that is the case, will Canada's privacy laws protect Canadians' privacy?

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Madam Chair, we're exploring innovative solutions from all sectors of the economy to fight COVID-19, including data and digital technology experts.

Let me be clear that Canadians' safety, well-being and privacy are top of mind

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tako Van Popta Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair. I'll move on.

My riding of Langley—Aldergrove is in metro Vancouver's TransLink service and, like transit authorities across the country, it is really hurting these days. It didn't qualify for the wage subsidy. Thankfully, the provincial government came to the rescue, but still TransLink is losing $50 million a month.

Can the government confirm it will help Canadian transit authorities?

1:05 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mona Fortier LiberalMinister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance

As you know, our government has stepped up to provide direct relief to businesses while at the same time trying to find other ways to support municipalities. We will continue to work with provinces to make sure our businesses and transits are supported.

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tako Van Popta Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

I don't know if that was an answer to the question, but I'll move on.

I have a question about the government's loan program, the $40,000 loan for small businesses to create liquidity. Many small businesses are falling through the cracks. A couple of residents in my riding, Michael and Darryl, told l me that they check off all the boxes except for one: They don't have a business account, apparently.

Will the government commit at looking at that program again to get rid of that unnecessary obstacle?

1:10 p.m.

Markham—Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Mary Ng LiberalMinister of Small Business and Export Promotion

We have expanded the eligibility for this important loan that is helping many small businesses across the country. About 660,000 businesses are being helped. Yes indeed, we are working on a solution so those businesses that have a personal bank account will be helped through this loan program.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tako Van Popta Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

I'm happy with the answer, but I would like to know from the minister when that will happen. I told Michael and Darryl that I would try to have an answer for them when they got back to Langley.

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

I want to thank the honourable member for his strong advocacy for his small business owners. I can assure him that we are working with the financial institutions literally around the clock so that we can get that solution out to those small business owners.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tako Van Popta Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

I'd still like to know when that would happen.

We heard the Prime Minister talk about flexibility for the CERB program. Will the government come with the same spirit of flexibility to programs that are supposed to help small business owners stay afloat through this crisis? Saying when would be a really good answer.

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Madam Chair, I think that the record will stand for itself. We have made a couple of changes to this loan program, precisely by listening to our colleagues here on all sides of the House and also by listening to business owners themselves. We're really pleased to expand the criteria for CEBA, and we will ensure that this gets out to those small business owners as soon as possible.

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Acting Chair (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Mr. Therrien, you have the floor.

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

Madam Chair, the Liberal Party of Canada has dipped into the wage subsidy, when it raked in $8 million last year and $3 million this year. Everyone knows that it isn't in trouble.

Let's start with the principle of communicating vessels. The wage subsidy money that the Liberal Party has taken will go into its election funds. My question is simple. Will this party tell the worker who lost his job during COVID-19 that the taxes he paid, even though he is not a Liberal, will go into the Liberal Party of Canada's election fund?

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

From the beginning, our government has made Canadian workers and families a priority. The wage subsidy does just that. It is designed to help employers to protect the jobs Canadians depend on and to rehire workers who have been laid off. We will continue to provide this support to employers to ensure that jobs are protected until the end of August. We are continuing to ensure that workers are protected during this crisis.

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

This is similar to the principle of double-dipping. This party told us it was taking $210,000 a month in wage subsidies. That's $630,000 that it will put into its election fund. It's going to spend that money. Once it's been spent, the party will receive a 50% reimbursement from the Chief Electoral Officer. That's double-dipping.

Does this party know that during a pandemic, double-dipping doesn't follow the public health guidelines?

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Madam Chair, our message to Quebeckers and Canadians is clear: no matter who they work for, our government supports them.

The wage subsidy is intended to help workers throughout the economy to get through this crisis. To date, more than 2.5 million employees across the country are supported by the wage subsidy. This ensures that they can continue to count on a decent income during this unprecedented challenge. Our government is there for Canadians, and it will continue to be there for Canadians.

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

Madam Chair, I'm going to talk about another principle, the glutton principle. When you try to feed a glutton, you end up running out because a glutton always wants more. It's the same thing with the Liberal Party. They have raked in $210,000 a month, which is $630,000 in three months. The Liberals thought they could get more money by extending the wage subsidy.

Does that bother you?

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Madam Chair, last week, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of employers across the country to see how the wage subsidy was helping them to support their employees. They told us very clearly that we need to keep it in order to support employers and protect jobs across Canada.

We'll continue to do so. Already, more than 2.5 million employees across the country are supported by the wage subsidy. We won't discriminate between workers.

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

Madam Chair, the minister went to the Minister of National Revenue to find out how not to answer questions. She's very effective in her ineffectiveness.

We've seen the principle of communicating vessels, the principle of double-dipping and the principle of the glutton.

Under the “full stop” principle, will the Liberals pay back the money they've taken from taxpayers, when their party is one of the richest in Canada?

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Again, I think it's clear that the Canada emergency wage subsidy has been a support and a help for employers and, more importantly, for protecting jobs across the country. Over 2.5 million employees across Canada are protected by this wage subsidy.

We'll keep doing it.

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

It's a bit disconcerting.

I'll ask a simple question.

Does the Liberal Party still have principles?

June 9th, 2020 / 1:15 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

The Liberal Party of Canada is built on the principles, ideas and values of sharing, respect for others and economic development for the benefit of others. Those are the principles of the Liberal Party.

I can repeat them if my colleague asks me another question.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Acting Chair (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Your time is up, Mr. Therrien.

We'll now go to the next member.

Ms. Koutrakis.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Madam Chair, I'll be sharing my time with the hon. member for Nepean.

The COVID-19 pandemic crisis and its impact on the economic situation of many families has left many Canadians food insecure. Thousands of food banks and organizations such as community kitchens across the country have stepped up to the challenge of meeting the basic needs of many families across the country.

I'm thinking of Meals on Wheels services like the one at the SCAMA centre in Chomedey in my riding of Vimy. This community service and assisted living centre provides, among other things, over 30,000 hot meals at home each year and allows nearly 350 seniors to stay safely in their homes.

It's inspiring to see these organizations go above and beyond to serve a broader clientele, while protecting the health of all. Right now, even though the economy is gradually recovering, food banks and community organizations still have a lot to do.

Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food inform the House what the government is doing to support these organizations?

1:15 p.m.

Compton—Stanstead Québec

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Madam Chair, I thank Ms. Koutrakis, the hon. member for Vimy, for her question.

The COVID-19 crisis has left many Canadians food insecure. To help them, thousands of food banks and community organizations have taken on challenges that are each far more complicated. We're here to help them.

In fact, we announced $100 million specifically to help food banks. Today, I'm pleased to announce that we are launching the second call for proposals for the local food infrastructure fund. This program, which is part of our food policy, is a $50 million fund. To date, this fund has supported 362 projects across the country for a total value of $6.6 million.

The program aims to support the strengthening of local food systems. Organizations are eligible for a contribution of up to $250,000 over three years for projects led by community-based organizations that strengthen local food systems.

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Acting Chair (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

We will go to Mr. Arya.