Evidence of meeting #20 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

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, I can tell you what the right way is.

Don from Burnaby sent me a note saying he's an arts worker and there is no forecast for his job to be reopened. He is now dependent on the CERB. He wants to go back to work, but there's no work. He sent an email saying he's faced with a “grim reality”—his words—and he's frightened that if the CERB runs out, and it is planned to run out at the end of this month, then he will have no way to afford to make ends meet. Will the Prime Minister extend the CERB so Don does not have to live in fear?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Chair, as I said, and as we have been saying from the beginning, we will continue to be there to support Canadians who need it.

The member opposite is not actually looking at the fact that we are proposing three significant helps for Canadians this afternoon. We are proposing to help Canadians with disabilities, to expand the wage subsidy for more businesses and to create flexibility for the CERB. He doesn't even want to debate those things. He doesn't even want to be voting on them. Will the NDP allow us to move forward on these important measures for Canadians?

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, let's talk about those measures.

One of the things we asked the government to do five weeks ago was to bring in help for Canadians living with disabilities. Now the government's plan is only going to help 40% of Canadians living with disabilities. Will the government commit to helping all Canadians living with disabilities and propose a plan that will do so?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Chair, the NDP leader seems to have decided that rather than help 40%, or a significant portion, of people with disabilities, he wants to help none of them, because he's not going to allow the debate to move forward on this bill. That's unfortunate. We're always happy to look at how we can do more. We have demonstrated from the beginning that we want to do more for Canadians. I look forward to working with the NDP. I am hoping those members change their minds and allow us to have an important debate this afternoon.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, I appreciate that the Prime Minister accepts that his plan only helps 40% of Canadians living with disabilities. Let's talk about the 60% who aren't being helped. They are veterans living with disabilities, those who receive CPP and those who receive disability payments. Often it's the poorest of Canadians living with disabilities who won't be helped with the plan the government is proposing. Will the government help all Canadians living with disabilities?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Chair, our proposal will help 100% of Canadians who receive the disability tax credit, including many veterans. The fact is that we are there to support the disability community. We are there to support Canadians with disabilities. Why is the NDP not allowing us to move forward on debating and voting on this important legislation?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Singh, we have 43 seconds for a question and an answer.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, that's the exact problem with the Liberal proposal. It's a tax credit approach, which excludes the vast majority of Canadians living with disabilities. That is the wrong approach. We made it very clear that if the government extends the CERB, if it ensures there are no penalties on those who are desperately in need of help and if it helps all Canadians living with disabilities, we will move forward. Will the government do that?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Chair, as I have said from the beginning, we look forward to continuing to work with the members opposite to keep moving forward to help Canadians. However, we need the opposition parties to actually choose to help Canadians and not to play political games. I hope we're going to be able to actually have a debate and a vote on this important legislation this afternoon.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We're now going to take a short pause to allow staff to change up in a safe way respecting COVID-19 procedure.

The floor now goes to Mr. Rayes.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Chair, can the Prime Minister tell us whether we will have an economic update by the end of June?

June 10th, 2020 / 12:45 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Morneau LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

It is of course very important to be transparent. When the situation is stable, we will have—

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Once again, the floor goes to Mr. Rayes.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Chair, most of the provinces in Canada are working on tabling economic updates by the end of June. Why is the Liberal government unable to do so as well?

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

I understand the importance of transparency and that is why we are trying every day to explain our investments to Canadians and to continue to be transparent with them.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

The Liberal government announced hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending during the pandemic, but it still refuses to provide an economic update in order to be transparent with Canadians.

In times of crisis, monitoring the situation is more important than ever. I repeat my question: why does this government not want to table an economic update by the end of June, when the provinces are doing so?

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Every day, we explain the economic situation, our investments, the changes we are making, and our programs to improve the situation of Canadians during the pandemic. We will continue our approach to being transparent.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

The Parliamentary Budget Officer himself does not understand why the federal government cannot deliver an economic update when the provinces can.

Why are the government and the minister defying the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is an independent officer and is requesting an economic update?

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

We will continue with our approach, which is one of transparency. We know that it's very difficult to make projections given the very dynamic nature of the situation. We think our approach of providing information daily is appropriate and we will continue to be transparent about our investments.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

That is incredible. When we listen to the minister and the Prime Minister talk, you would think we were in the pesky “terrible twos” phase that children go through, when they keep saying no, no, no.

I find it funny that the provinces are able to table an economic update in a crisis situation. The opposition parties are asking for it, as are experts and officials. When the time comes for the government to listen to the scientists, it has no problem doing so. However, if people do not think like the government, it ignores them.

The provinces are doing it, the opposition parties are calling for it and the Parliamentary Budget Officer is calling for it. Why will the Minister of Finance not table an economic update so that all members of Parliament can do their verification work?

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

I will continue to provide daily information on our measures and investments. Projections are clearly very difficult to make. However, when the situation is more stable, we will be able to provide more information to Canadians. In the meantime, we will be adapting to the situation on a daily basis and making sure that we have the information we need to make our decisions and to make sure that Canadians understand our situation.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Rayes, you have 45 seconds left.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Chair, one month ago, the Prime Minister announced with great fanfare that the eligibility criteria for the $40,000 emergency loans for businesses would be more flexible to help self-employed entrepreneurs and businesses that pay themselves dividends to have access to them.

However, as of today—it has been four weeks since that announcement—businesses are still banging their heads on the doors of their financial institutions. They do not have access to the information because it is not available on official websites. In addition, even senior officials confirmed to me during a technical call on June 2, last Tuesday, that this information would not be available for several weeks.

Can the Minister of Finance, who says he wants to act quickly to help our businesses, explain why, after four weeks, it is still not possible to get the information the Prime Minister promised us from his doorstep?

12:50 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mona Fortier LiberalMinister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been listening and responding to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.

In fact, we have even announced the expansion of the program's eligibility criteria to include many owner-managed small businesses with payrolls of less than $20,000. The new criteria have forced financial institutions to adapt to be able to provide this program to new applicants.

We are working around the clock to ensure that we are able to promptly provide small businesses across the country with the assistance they need.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will now proceed to Mr. Allison.