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

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

I just want to remind the honourable members to place their questions and their replies through the chair and not directly to each other.

The honourable minister.

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Actually, when you cut $400 million from a program that needs provincial contributions, it's very hard to get all of the provinces and territories back to agree on new—

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

We'll try again.

Mr. Chair, when the AgriInvest program was first established, one of its benefits that was promoted was that it could be used as a retirement savings plan for farmers. The other benefit was that farmers could invest in their businesses. It has now come to my attention that the government doesn't want to financially assist farmers until they use up all of the money in AgriInvest. At the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, a witness from Quebec said that AgriInvest is for farmers to invest in their businesses; it is not a bailout.

Is Minister Bibeau asking farmers to use up all of their AgriInvest money and be destitute before she will help them?

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Chair, we are doing a lot to support our farmers in different ways, but the business risk management programs are meant to support farmers in times of need, and AgriInvest is one of the four major programs.

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Soroka, you have 45 seconds remaining.

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The government has put $50 million into the AgriRecovery program to pay for feed so producers can hold back cattle until slaughter plants can take them. With processing capacity not even at 60% and Alberta feedlots full and backlogged for months, before this backlog can be cleared, the spring-born calves will be coming to market this fall. With very little room in the feedlots, price in the fall calf run will be very low.

Is the minister aware that this is going to happen, and what is the plan to help ranchers with the lower calf prices this fall?

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Chair, yes, we are doing even more than the business risk management programs for the meat industry. As you said, we have put in place the AgriRecovery program for the meat sector. For the beef sector and the pork sector, it's a $50-million fund, and also $77.5 million to support the processing industry.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll go on to Mr. Reid.

June 9th, 2020 / 1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to confirm whether it's the case that at a meeting later this week, the Prime Minister will be proposing to the premiers that wherever the RCMP is contracted to serve as the provincial police force, body cams should be used by all officers on patrol.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The honourable minister.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

There is a very important discussion taking place, not only within the RCMP but in policing right across the country, about how to improve systems of accountability and oversight and to provide the best possible evidence of events as they transpire. For the police services for which the government is responsible, we have made a commitment to do that.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Was that a yes, that it will be brought up at that meeting later this week?

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Thank you for the opportunity to finish my answer.

The Prime Minister has made it very clear that for the premiers of the provinces and territories, who are actually responsible for policing in their respective jurisdictions, this is an important discussion that he intends to raise with them as well.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Chair, my understanding is that for the type of cameras proposed, the installed cost is about $4,000 per officer. There are about 20,000 front-line RCMP officers across the country, so this suggests a total cost of perhaps about $80 million to set up body cams across Canada.

Are those numbers roughly accurate?

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

No, they're not, actually, because not every individual would require his or her own camera. We are looking at patrol circumstances where the presence of a camera can provide valuable evidence and provide enhanced accountability for the officers. I would point out that it's particularly acute in some of our indigenous and remote communities, so that's where we'll be looking first—

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Chair, there are about 5,600 RCMP patrol vehicles across the country. Would it be correct to use the $4,000 figure, times that number of vehicles, giving us about a $20-million to $30-million cost?

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Of course, the member raises another secondary but very important issue of in-car cameras. Many of our patrol cars are already equipped with such devices.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Body cams are an excellent technology. Given the Prime Minister's newfound enthusiasm for the adoption of this excellent life-saving technology, may I be so bold as to suggest that it might be appropriate, after four years of my persistent questioning on this subject, for the government to also install automated external defibrillators in every one of the 5,600 RCMP vehicles?

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

I'm aware of, and commend the member for, his strong advocacy on that. I too am experienced in the use of these devices. I believe they can save lives. There are, of course, issues of cost and jurisdiction that need to be addressed, but the member's advocacy is very valuable.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I hope the advocacy of the House of Commons as a whole is also valued.

On January 21, 2018, the House of Commons unanimously voted “That...within twelve months...the government should follow the example of other Canadian police services and act to save hundreds of lives each year by equipping all RCMP vehicles with...defibrillators...”.

That was over 24 months ago. Why has the government failed to act on the unanimous advice of the House of Commons?

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

I again thank the member for his strong advocacy on this. It's an issue that is under discussion with the RCMP. There are a number of operational issues that need to be addressed within the police service, and priorities made on the expenditure of funds, but we are aware of the strong support of the House for this measure.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

The priority of funding is an excellent question, Mr. Chair. It will cost approximately a billion dollars to renovate Centre Block. I believe that's accurate. It will cost $5 million to put these AEDs, defibrillators, into all police cruisers. This would save 300 lives per annum. Is the cost of saving 300 lives per annum—one half of 1% of a billion dollars—more or less important than renovating Centre Block?

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

I certainly wouldn't want to debate the member on the value of a human life. I believe it is very important that we do everything necessary, and our first responsibility is the preservation and sanctity of life. There are a number of important operational considerations that the RCMP will undertake.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Reid, you have 30 seconds.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

I'm wondering if [Inaudible--Editor] within the 24 months that took place since this matter was raised unanimously in the House.

I have this question for the minister. There are 5,600 RCMP vehicles. It would cost $5 million to save 300 lives per annum. A defibrillator lasts about 10 years and saves on average during its 10-year lifespan one life per every 1.7 defibrillators installed. Is this or is this not a priority that the Prime Minister will deal with by the end of this year?