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

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Chair, the desired number of daily tests for COVID-19 is set at 60,000. However, on Monday the Prime Minister admitted that this far into the crisis, we're only administering 26,000 per day.

What is stopping the government from reaching the desired 60,000-test mark?

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Chair, as the member opposite notes, testing is an important strategy as part of our multi-layered strategy to get Canadians back to work and our economy reopened.

The testing capacity right now is about 20,000 a day across the provinces and territories. There are a number of reasons that testing may not be at the level of 50,000 to 60,000 a day, but we are working with provinces and territories to make sure they have the equipment they need and have the strategies in place to reach those goals.

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We'll now go to Mr. Soroka, from Yellowhead. Go ahead.

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Chair, in my riding of Yellowhead I have the beautiful Jasper National Park and the town of Jasper. They are heavily reliant on tourism, which is now non-existent. Each year they pay land rent for municipal purposes such as roads, parks and cemeteries. They have been told that the land rent will be deferred until September, but they still cannot afford it.

Will the minister help the towns of Jasper and Banff, the only two municipalities in Canada that pay land rent to the federal government? Will the government eliminate the land rent for this year?

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable Deputy Prime Minister.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

I thank the member for that question. The member is very lucky to represent the amazing town of Jasper, one of the most beautiful places in Canada.

We are very aware of the challenges that municipalities across the country are facing and we are very aware of the particular challenges that the tourism sector is facing. We are working closely with municipalities across the country to support them.

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

I was hoping for a yes or a no, but I guess I have to take it.

Mr. Chair, meat-processing capacity has been a major concern since before the COVID pandemic. Now what can go wrong has gone wrong, and we're facing massive backlogs in the beef and pork sectors. Producers have told the minister to stop dragging her feet and support the industry.

Will the minister commit to announcing immediate relief to address the processing crisis in Canada?

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We will recognize Ms. Bibeau, the honourable Minister of Agriculture.

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I agree that the food processing sector is facing a huge challenge right now, because many of their employees became sick and they have had to put in place better measures to protect their workers. Some of them had to close for a few days to a few weeks to get better organized, and it has had a significant impact on our ranchers and our producers.

I can assure you that we are having constant conversations to find the right mechanisms to support them.

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Animals are being euthanised on this government's watch, not because of disease but because of lack of action. We're wasting food when experts are warning of a global food crisis. Some of the industry-proposed measures, such as a set-aside program, which was effective in the past, have been on the minister's desk since December.

How bad does this crisis need to be before the government acts?

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Chair, we fully recognize the health concerns of workers in meat processing plants and the efforts being made by processors to protect their staff. These efforts have a significant impact on our farmers and ranchers, and we know that.

The business risk management programs are already there to support the farmers. I know that we are working with the provinces to make them work more quickly. I can assure my colleague that we are working with the sector to find the best mechanism quickly.

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has come out with an agri-food emergency preparedness plan that focuses on the government's insufficient attention and capacity with regard to the long-term security of Canada's food supply chain amid this global pandemic. They say that immediate action is needed, yet we've seen no plan by the minister or the government to address these concerns.

When can we expect to see the plan for emergency preparedness for the agriculture and agri-food sector, and will the government take seriously the recommendations before it?

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Chair, we do take all these recommendations very seriously. I am in constant consultation and discussions with the representatives of the different sectors because we want to find the best way to support the sectors since their challenges are different.

They can already access the business risk management mechanisms. For example, under AgriStability it's possible for the farmers right now to get an advance payment. We are working with the provinces to see how we can use AgriRecovery for different sectors. There are already different ways there to support them, and I remind my colleagues that we have increased the loan capacity of FCC to support them as well.

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

There is time for a very short question, 15 seconds or so, Gerald.

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Chair, the $40,000 that the Canadian emergency business account is providing is insufficient for livestock producers. For example, one pork farmer told me he qualified for CEBA. It fed his hogs for only two days.

Hog prices have crashed as of March 25. COVID-19 is disrupting food supplies.

Is the government going to announce a program geared specifically to agriculture?

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Chair, we have announced significant programs to support businesses in general, small, medium-sized and large businesses. We are working right now to see where the gaps are for the agricultural sector. We will come back with further measures as soon as we can.

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable member for Perth—Wellington, Mr. Nater.

April 29th, 2020 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Chair, on September 27, 2015, Marco Muzzo got behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking. His decision cost the lives of Daniel, Harry, Milly and their grandfather, Gary.

Jennifer Neville-Lake was initially told she couldn't even give a victim impact statement, and then was allowed to do it by phone.

Even during COVID-19, does the minister believe that a phone call is adequate for a Parole Board hearing to let someone free after serving only one year for each life that he took?

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The Minister of Public Safety, Mr. Blair.

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Chair, I would join the member opposite in expressing my very sincere condolences to Ms. Neville-Lake on the loss of her children and her father. I want to assure the member and Ms. Neville-Lake that protecting Canadians is a top consideration in all Parole Board decisions.

It's also important to understand that day parole is an important part of the process of gradual supervised release, and these decisions are not subject to any political direction. They are made by the Parole Board independently according to specific criteria set out in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

As I've said, the ability of victims to participate in these hearings has been addressed by the Parole Board.

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Chair, processing issues were already an issue before COVID-19 hit, especially for the beef and pork sectors. The beef sector has proposed a set-aside program. It's supported by our opposition party. It's supported by the industry.

Will the minister commit to a set-aside program?

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The Minister of Agriculture.

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Chair, I can assure my colleague that this is one option we are looking at very carefully.

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Chair, the Cargill facility in Guelph processes nearly three-quarters of all beef in eastern Canada.

Can the Minister of Agriculture confirm that there are adequate CFIA officials to maintain that plant?