Evidence of meeting #2 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.

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On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

If a bank wants to take advantage of the programs and is engaged in tax avoidance, is it excluded?

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The Right Honourable Prime Minister has the floor.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

We are going to ensure that we support workers across the country who need help. At the same time, we are going to continue the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance by ensuring that there will be consequences for all those who might wish to defraud the system.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Blanchet, the floor is yours.

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

I am not convinced that Canadians and Quebeckers who are concerned about this are any more reassured.

Now I have another question for the Prime Minister.

Can we agree that the effects of this pandemic are being felt indiscriminately by everyone 65 years of age and older? In terms of the management of the pandemic, there is no difference between 65 and 75 years of age. Do we agree on that?

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The Right Honourable Prime Minister has the floor.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

We recognize that, in general, seniors are the most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. With the additional costs for the delivery of food and medication, those who do not have the money for the equipment they need and who are already struggling to pay their rent because of their low income will be facing greater challenges than those who are financially comfortable.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Singh.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, my question is very simple.

Will the Prime Minister commit to guarantee, as other countries have done, including France, Denmark and Poland, that if a company is registered in a tax haven, that company will not receive public support—yes or no?

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Chair, since 2015 we have made significant investments in the CRA to fight against tax avoidance and tax evasion. This is something we've taken very seriously as a country, and there will always be strong consequences for anyone who avoids paying their fair share of taxes.

At the same time, we've been investing to ensure that Canadians get the supports they need, regardless of whether they work for small or large companies.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, I'm going to take that as a no.

I asked very clearly if a company that is registered in a tax haven will get help—yes or no—and we got an evasive answer. I'm going to ask again very clearly.

Other countries have done this. Poland has done it. Denmark has committed to it. France has committed to it. Very simply, if a company is cheating the public of paying its fair share by using legal tax havens, will this government commit today to say, “No, we will not give them public health money if they are cheating the public of contributing to our economy, to our society”?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

The work we've done from the very beginning has been focused on helping Canadians: Canadians who work for small businesses, Canadians who work for large businesses, Canadians who work for franchises and Canadians who work for mom-and-pop shops. We know that COVID-19 has caused people across the country in different sectors, in different industries, to lose their paycheques. Our focus has been on making sure that people get the help they need to pay for groceries and to pay for their rent, regardless of the size of company they work for.

At the same time, we continue to be very severe on tax avoidance and tax evasion. We will continue to invest in the Canada Revenue Agency to make sure there are consequences for people who avoid paying their taxes.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

It seems as if the government is more concerned with students getting more help than they need, than the $25 billion of lost revenue due to offshore tax havens. It seems more concerned about families receiving more help than they need, than about ensuring that companies such as Loblaws don't get away with not paying $400 million in taxes. Why does the government take this approach? It's so concerned about denying help to people who are in need, but it allows businesses to get away with not paying their fair share.

Why are the government's priorities so mixed up?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

I'm sure the honourable member isn't suggesting that someone who works as a grocery clerk at Loblaws shouldn't get support from the government because of the behaviour of their head office. We will continue to pursue tax avoidance and tax evasion with all the tools of this government, because we take very seriously that everyone pays their fair share of taxes.

At the same time, we are going to continue to deliver significant help for students, for seniors and for workers right across the country.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Canada is losing billions of dollars each year because of tax havens. The government is going to have to pay Loblaws $1.8 million because our tax rules allow companies to bypass the rules of the game. However, that does not concern the government. What concerns it is that students may be receiving too much money and staying at home. I don't know if the Prime Minister is aware, but $2,000 per month barely covers basic needs.

Why is the government choosing to make life more complicated for students rather than attacking large companies who are exploiting our system?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The Right Honourable Prime Minister has the floor.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

What concerns the government is ensuring that workers, students, and Canadians receive the assistance they need. That is what we are working on and that is why we have proposed emergency assistance for students.

But we did not stop there. We recognize that students need jobs. That is why we have improved the student summer jobs program and we are going to create 76,000 additional jobs for students. We are also going to recognize volunteerism, with sums from $1,000 to $5,000 for students. We are significantly increasing tuition fee assistance for students.

We are here to assist those in need. That is our priority. Our priority is substance, not politics.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Scheer.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to split my time with Monsieur Rayes.

Mr. Chair, the Prime Minister just said that it would be highly unlikely for a Canadian company to have received approvals in either the European Union or the U.S. for testing kits without having received approval here in Canada. I would like to draw his attention to a company called BTNX, which has been approved to sell their testing kits in the U.S. under section D of the FDA's “Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019 During the Public Health Emergency”. They are based in Markham.

Can the Prime Minister explain why BTNX has received approval in the U.S. under the FDA but is still waiting for Health Canada approval for testing kits?

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

I thank the member opposite for highlighting an excellent case of an innovative Canadian company that has moved forward with a world-class product. We will ensure that it goes through the proper expectations and qualifications in Canada, because we will not be giving up our sovereignty to the United States or to any other country. We will ensure that the products we approve in Canada are safe for Canadians. We have seen other countries take very different approaches that we would not recommend in Canada. We are going to ensure that, every step of the way, what we do is safe for Canadians.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Rayes, the floor is yours.

April 29th, 2020 / 12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Since this crisis started, we have been sensing some friction between the federal government and the provinces, more particularly Quebec.

On April 23, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Health hinted that seniors' residences could become a "national project in the long term”, even making reference to the Canada Health Act. Then, on April 25, the Prime Minister tried to clarify his remarks by saying that he had no intention of becoming involved in areas of provincial jurisdiction. Given the current pandemic, I feel that the last thing we need is a constitutional crisis and a federal government trying to interfere in provincial responsibilities.

I would therefore like to allow the Prime Minister to tell us clearly that he has no intention of becoming involved in matters of provincial jurisdiction such as the health care system. I am specifically thinking about seniors. I am also thinking about the issue of residences and long-term care facilities, the CHSLDs, which is already complex enough to manage for the Government of Quebec.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The floor goes to the Honourable Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Pablo Rodriguez

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I feel that my colleague has been able to see from the beginning that the federal government has no intention of interfering in provincial responsibilities, but it does want to collaborate with all provinces.

This is particularly true in the case of Quebec, which is experiencing an extremely difficult situation. We only have to think about our seniors and what is happening in the CHSLDs. We are collaborating with Quebec and I am in regular contact with a number of ministers. The Prime Minister, all my ministerial colleagues from Quebec and myself are speaking with our provincial counterparts and we are working together for the common good.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Rayes, you have the floor.