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.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has the floor.

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

We are offering hope and action. In terms of action over the years, our government has invested more than ever in official languages, not to mention respect for both official languages, francophones and anglophones.

My fellow member, whom I respect and quite like—we work together and negotiate every day—is trying to pick a fight.

There isn't one, however, Mr. Chair. We are working equally hard for the well-being of all francophones and anglophones across the country.

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We will now go to the honourable member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, Mrs. Block.

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Chair, according to a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Medical Association, Canada's physicians are calling for the government to be more transparent regarding the supply of PPE. Can Minister Anand tell us how many units of PPE are needed to meet the national demand for medical purposes?

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Anand Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Chair, with regard to transparency, I am pleased to announce that as of last week, we are putting up a weekly indication of our PPE procurements on the PSPC web page, which is available for everyone to see, showing quantities ordered and quantities received in Canada for use by front-line health care workers.

In terms of burn rates, which the honourable member mentioned, this is very difficult data to obtain. We are seeking to obtain it so we can further enhance our efficient procurement.

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Chair, for our purposes today, could the minister please tell us how many N95 masks have been ordered and how many have been delivered?

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Anand Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Chair, in terms of N95 respirators, we have procured or ordered 155.4 million. We have received 5.3 million masks in Canada as of Friday of last week. That number is increasing, as we have had a number of flights into Canada from China.

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Chair, I appreciate that these numbers are now being posted on a weekly basis.

While we have been, rightly, focused on procuring PPE for the health care system, as noted earlier, conversations are now beginning to take place across the country on how to safely start opening our economy. What measures has the Minister for PSPC put in place to ensure that Canadian businesses will have access to PPE for their employees when they begin to safely return to work?

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Anand Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Chair, I thank the member opposite for the excellent question. She is exactly right that we are continuing to think about the next phases of this crisis and the procurements of personal protective equipment.

My department is currently procuring a wide range of emergency supplies and services based on requirements set by public health. We are also focused on how we can help organizations regarding the needs of their essential services and the needs of PPE across Canada during the next phases of this crisis, which we are working hard to address.

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Chair, earlier the minister noted that Canadian companies from coast to coast to coast are motivated and are stepping up. Yesterday my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill asked the Minister for ISED repeatedly to quantify how many masks are being produced per day here in Canada. It's a simple question which requires a straightforward answer.

How many masks are being produced daily here at home?

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Anand Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Chair, I would like to emphasize that there are multiple supply chains operating at the same time. While we are retooling and building up domestic capacity, including in the area of masks, we are importing masks so that we can make sure that front-line health care workers have the supplies they need. It's complementary. It's continuing. We're working hard to build up domestic supply.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

For one last short question, go ahead, Mrs. Block.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will take that to mean that none are being produced here in Canada at this time. Although ministers make continuous references to strong domestic capacity, they regularly fail to quantify what is being produced here at home.

Can the minister tell us how many Canadian companies have offered to provide equipment and manufacturing capacity and how many have received funding for retooling?

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Anand Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Chair, just on the last intervention, I will say that we are procuring 335 million surgical masks and 155.4 million N95 respirators. We are making sure that Canadian health care workers have what they need while Canadian companies are retooling.

In terms of domestic suppliers, we've had over 26,000 domestic and international companies respond to our Buyandsell call-out for suppliers. We have contacted every one of them. We will be continuing to follow up to build up domestic capacity. Thank you.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Mr. Rayes, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, has the floor.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The government has launched many measures in the past few weeks to support Canadians. The Canada emergency response benefit and the Canada emergency student benefit coming down the pike are two examples. Businesses and farmers have raised questions about both measures. Some provincial governments feel that, in some cases, the measures are at odds with incentives they have put in place to encourage people to work when labour is needed.

I am not questioning the government's desire to help all Canadians, but this is what I would like to ask the Prime Minister. Before introducing these measures, did the government consult the provinces to make sure its measures did not go against provincial measures already in place? After all, the provinces are the ones responsible for getting their own economies going again.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable Deputy Prime Minister has the floor.

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd also like to thank the member for his question.

We are working closely with the provincial and territorial premiers. Every week, the Prime Minister has a call with the premiers. [Technical difficulty—Editor] What we've been able to do in responding to this crisis is work together as “Team Canada”.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Mr. Rayes has the floor.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Chair, during our 4:30 p.m. calls, one of the things we ask officials, especially those from the finance department, about is workers who have lost their jobs because their employer couldn't continue to operate in light of COVID-19. Those workers qualify for the Canada emergency response benefit and receive $2,000 a month. When their employer resumes operations, however, and calls to ask them to come back to work, according to what officials have told us, those workers can refuse even if they have no valid reason.

This is my question. If the goal is to help stimulate the economy, how is it that people are allowed to refuse to return to work without a valid reason once their employer is ready to resume operations?

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion has the floor.

April 29th, 2020 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, all of our initiatives are around maintaining a connection to the workforce for workers. One of the ways we're doing this is through the Canada emergency wage subsidy.

We know that workers who have been on the CERB and who are transitioning to the wage subsidy have some questions about whether they can even go back to work. I can assure everyone that we're working that out. We don't want to disincentivize returning to work in any way.

That being said, we cannot force workers to go back to a job. That's just beyond what we consider appropriate. We would in fact encourage all employers and workers to get back to their jobs and be ready when the economy opens up and is firing on all cylinders.

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Mr. Rayes has the floor.

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Chair, in order for companies and businesses to reopen, they are required to follow very clear health guidelines. There's no reason to question what they are doing; the various governments have already deemed it valid.

My question is simple. Public servants are telling us that we can tell Canadians who don't want to go back to work that they are allowed to keep collecting $2,000 a month unchecked. That's exactly how the officials who answer our questions every day at 4:30 p.m. put it.

Is the government okay with an employee whose employer is asking them to return to work in healthy and safe conditions to say no and continue to collect their $2,000, yes or no?

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion has the floor.