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

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to come back to the subject of our seniors. Not all seniors live in a CHSLD or in a luxury private residence. Many are still living at home, but are having trouble making ends meet. The percentage spent on housing far exceeds the recommended maximum of 30% of the personal budget. The cost of groceries is increasing, along with the cost of medication, not to mention the costs that seniors incur by paying other people to carry out tasks that they can no longer do on their own for various reasons.

This shows that seniors also have expenses in times of crisis. The $110 monthly increase in the old age security pension starting at age 65 would help seniors. They're entitled to decent housing, whether they live in community, social or affordable housing. The signature of an agreement between the federal government and the Government of Quebec on housing would probably help many people in these times of crisis.

Does the government plan to make some concessions so that Quebec can also access the national housing strategy funding, if that funding is still available? Our seniors have the right to age with dignity without going broke.

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable Minister of Middle Class Prosperity.

April 29th, 2020 / 1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Chair, I greatly appreciate my honourable colleague's question.

Seniors and pensioners need more services and support during this COVID-19 pandemic. I want to remind seniors that we're here and that they won't be alone during this crisis.

I said earlier that we're helping to protect the financial security of seniors through a number of measures. However, I also want to emphasize that we're helping seniors obtain essential services and items such as groceries.

We've invested half a billion dollars to help seniors in this time of crisis. We've invested $350 million in charitable and not-for-profit organizations; $9 million in the United Way of Canada; and $100 million in food banks and local food organizations. We previously invested $50 million in projects under the new horizons for seniors program.

I can expand on this if there are further questions.

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We have time for a brief question.

Ms. Larouche, do you have a second very brief question?

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Help from organizations is fine. However, seniors also need money that goes directly to them. We're asking for a $110 monthly increase in the pension starting at age 65 to avoid creating two classes of seniors.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable Minister of Middle Class Prosperity.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

We're taking concrete steps to ensure that the Canada pension plan and old age security benefits on which seniors rely continue to reach them without delay and that new applications will be processed as quickly as possible.

We'll work with all levels of government to ensure that seniors have the support that they need.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Resuming questions, the honourable member for Châteauguay—Lacolle, Madam Shanahan.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'll be sharing my time with the honourable member for Vimy.

I'm very proud and impressed by the efforts made and the goodwill shown by farmers across Canada and, of course, by the farmers in my constituency, Châteauguay—Lacolle, during the COVID-19 crisis.

A large part of my constituency is located in what we call the “gardens of Quebec,” where we find the renowned black earth of the Jardins-de-Napierville.

Since the start of this crisis, I've also had the privilege of seeing the dedication of our producers and of being able to refer their questions and concerns to the government with regard to the arrival of temporary foreign workers, the additional costs generated by the mandatory isolation of these workers and the risk of launching agricultural production in the middle of this crisis.

Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell us about the measures implemented by our government to support our producers for the 2020 season and, at the same time, to ensure local production and food security for all Canadians?

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The honourable minister.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We know the extent to which foreign agricultural workers are essential to the country's food security. I want to reassure all Canadians that very significant measures have been implemented to ensure that these workers aren't vectors for spreading COVID-19.

First, we're making sure that the workers are symptom-free before they leave their country. When they arrive in Canada, they're brought by private transportation to their place of residence. The employers are responsible for giving them proper housing so that they can comply with all the rules of the strict 14-day isolation period. To help employers provide these services, we're giving them a lump-sum of $1,500 per foreign worker.

I can assure you that we're stepping up our efforts to help the food sector meet its labour needs and that we're providing some financial support to the sector.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We go to honourable member Madam Koutrakis.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm pleased to be back in the House. I want to thank the people of Vimy for their patience and co-operation during this pandemic and to assure them that we'll get through it together.

I'm very pleased that the government has mobilized Canadian industry in this war against COVID-19, as we did during the world wars. Several biotech companies in my own riding have joined the battle. I thank them for responding to the call to action.

Given the critical importance of medical equipment, supplies and tests, can the Minister of Public Services and Procurement comment on our progress in mobilizing Canadian industry to meet domestic demand and even the export of these life-saving products as a means of fighting the coronavirus? What business and employment opportunities do these mobilization efforts create for Canadians?

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We go to the honourable Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Ms. Anand.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Anand Liberal Oakville, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank my colleague. The industry and suppliers have really stepped up to the plate. A team of procurement specialists is actively assessing the responses as they come in.

Canadian business has totally stepped up. We have seen Canadian businesses from across the country motivated to produce domestic supply right here at home. Whether we're talking about Stanfield's in Nova Scotia, Medicom in Quebec, Spartan in Ottawa, Thornhill Medical in Toronto or Fluid Energy in Alberta, Canadian businesses from coast to coast to coast are stepping up to make sure that Canadian front-line health care workers have the PPE and other equipment they need to keep Canadians safe.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We have time for a brief question. Ms. Koutrakis, you have about 15 seconds.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Does the minister agree that if we were fully self-sufficient, it would take the pressure off keeping the stockpile fully stocked and up to date?

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Anand Liberal Oakville, ON

We are working hard, Mr. Chair, to make sure that we have domestic supply in place for many years to come. We are operating with complementary supply chains at the current time, ensuring that we have a flow of goods coming into Canada and being produced right here in Canada so that front-line health care workers have the PPE they need for years to come.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We'll now take a brief pause so that the audio console operators can switch places.

We'll now resume with the honourable member for Peace River-Westlock, Mr. Viersen.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Over the past few days, flooding in the communities of Fort Vermilion, Fort McMurray and Garden Creek has required emergency mass evacuations. These families and communities have already suffered through repeated attacks on their livelihoods in the oil and gas industry and the economic devastation of COVID-19, and now the loss of their homes.

Can the Prime Minister confirm that his government has a plan to assist the flood victims in Fort Vermilion, Fort Mac and Garden Creek?

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Minister Blair.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

I thank the member opposite, Mr. Chair, for that very important question. Like him, all of our thoughts are with the Canadians affected by flooding as well as the first responders who are working hard to keep people safe.

We are very mindful of the situation in Fort McMurray. I've reached out and spoken to Mayor Scott from Fort Mac and Minister Madu about the situation. We have offered the government's help. We are mobilized and ready to respond. No formal request has been received at this time, but we stand ready to help when called upon.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Chair, some farmers and small businesses in my riding are finding out that they're not eligible for the Canada emergency business account because they don't have payroll or T4 summaries. Other businesses don't have an account with CRA.

Can the Prime Minister confirm that the CEBA will be adjusted to ensure that farmers and small businesses don't fall through the cracks?

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Ms. Ng, the honourable Minister for Small Business.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

I want to thank the honourable member for that question. Whether it's the farming business or the small business, everywhere in the country, in all communities, they're essential and really important to us.

We'll continue to listen to those businesses and those farming businesses. The work isn't done. One of the things I did hear loud and clear from businesses, though, was that they needed support in rent. We are helping in that regard and other measures.