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

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Madam Chair, in all cases similar to Mr. Gauthier's, the Government of Canada, through its consular services, tries to do the best it can under the circumstances. This file is still active.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

The House recognized on February 18, 2020, that the 15 weeks of sickness benefits provided by employment insurance were insufficient.

Citizens who became ill before March 15 are now without help. They are being denied the CERB because they didn't lose their jobs because of COVID-19. They are being denied EI regular benefits because they are unable to work. In addition, some citizens are waiting for surgery, which is being delayed because of COVID-19.

Is the government letting these people down?

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

No, Madam Chair, that's absolutely not the case.

Of course, we understand that people who are no longer receiving EI benefits should have access to the CERB. We have committed to extending the emergency sickness benefit to 26 weeks. We're working with everyone here to make that happen. We're taking into account the needs and circumstances of all citizens in our efforts to help Canadians.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

I've called on the Minister of Economic Development several times to be more flexible in establishing these programs, so that they are better adapted to the realities of the regions. Recently, it was the SMEs in Montreal that were monopolizing the funds earmarked for the regions.

When will the Liberal government listen to the needs of regions like Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean?

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

I thank my colleague for the opportunity to announce the good news that was mentioned on Radio-Canada this morning, namely, $71 million more for the regions of Quebec.

Of course, we're here for the regions. I will be happy to work with my colleague to ensure that the CFDC in his region can support businesses. We have to support businesses in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and across the country.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

I think that's a canned speech.

According to a survey conducted by the Université de Trois-Rivières in Quebec, the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region is apparently the most economically affected by COVID-19. We have many projects, but they depend on the government's leadership to be carried out.

Our region has forestry, the aluminum sector, GNL Québec, tourism, the Port of Saguenay, Davie Canada, a military base and a tax centre. It's all here.

We know we'll have to get the economy moving again soon. When will the government act to help our region?

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

Every day, we act to help my colleague's region. I've had good conversations with Promotion Saguenay. I've also spoken several times with various stakeholders in my colleague's beautiful region. We will always be there for them.

I'd like to tell my colleague that there will be other announcements to support the economic development of the beautiful region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. I will be happy to work with him to achieve good results.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Sustainable forestry development is at the heart of the economic development of Canada and for Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

Canadians have reason to be proud of the use of the boreal forest in the fight against climate change. Currently, our innovative forest industry is experiencing many problems, and on top of that, there is the COVID-19 crisis.

Who will defend our forestry workers?

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

Of course, we believe in the importance of regional economic development. That's why we're always there to defend our forestry workers.

I will also be pleased to work with my colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, who is very familiar with the matter and who knows the challenges faced by the various businesses in the forestry sector, as well as the employees.

We will always be there to support employees and create more jobs across Quebec and the country.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Acting Chair (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Ms. Sahota is next. Go ahead, please.

June 10th, 2020 / 1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

We continue to see significant gaps in the Liberals' programs. There are still people who are falling through the cracks and being left behind. We are hearing from women who are pregnant or who have just given birth and are being left out or told to go back to work.

When will this government stop letting Canadians down?

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

We know that there are many situations of Canadians who are about to or are just going on maternity or parental benefits who might not have access to their EI benefits due to not having accumulated enough time for COVID reasons. We're working very hard to make sure, as we did for fish harvesters, that we support all Canadians in these situations.

I look forward to advising Canadians of our approach on this very soon.

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB

Madam Chair, that simply isn't good enough.

This is something that has been brought to the government's attention for months now, and still nothing has been done. These families deserve answers now.

Had the government conducted a GBA+ analysis, they would have discovered this prior to rolling out inadequate programs for women. Why wasn't a GBA+ conducted?

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

I can assure everyone in this House that we are very aware and deeply concerned about the disproportionate impact of this pandemic on women and girls.

We are working hard to ensure that everyone has the supports they need. As we move forward, we are, as I said earlier, taking into consideration improvements to the EI system, the wage subsidy and the future of CERB. All these play together as we work to provide a comprehensive forward-looking support package for Canadians.

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB

Madam Chair, might I remind my honourable colleague that this Prime Minister said that every piece of legislation would go through a rigorous GBA+?

Why was it not done?

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Madam Chair, I can assure the member that we absolutely took into account the needs of women as we developed the CERB. I can tell you that women are benefiting significantly from this benefit.

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB

Madam Chair, it is a simple question, and I will ask again. Why was GBA+ analysis not conducted for the COVID-19 relief programs?

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Madam Chair, as I said, the needs of women and girls were taken into consideration every step of the way, from the beginning, as we worked to provide a comprehensive suite of support for Canadians across the country.

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB

Madam Chair, if that's the case, then how did you miss these gaps?

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Madam Chair, I can assure the member that we didn't miss gaps. We, from the beginning, looked to support as many people as possible. As we moved from supporting workers to supporting students to supporting seniors, and today to supporting people with disabilities, we are ensuring that everyone is covered by our measures. As this pandemic evolves and as we move into economic recovery, of course we're going to make sure that women in particular are supported in our measures.

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB

Madam Chair, the minister needs to take the responsibility here. These women and families deserve answers. This is a real problem happening right now.

You said you would conduct GBA+ analysis on all policy measures moving forward. Where is the assistance for these expectant mothers?

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Madam Chair, I take responsibility. I'm very proud of how many senior women we have supported with our measures, how many women received the GST credit, how many women who lead families received the CCB one-time payment and how many women with disabilities will receive the disability support if we have all-party consent today.

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Acting Chair (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Ms. Sahota, may I remind you to please direct your questions through the chair?

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB

Madam Chair, I will ask again, hoping for a straightforward answer from this minister. Why was a GBA+ analysis not conducted on the COVID-19 relief programs?

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

My goodness, Madam Chair. I'll say again how important it was from the very beginning that we took into account the needs of women and girls, and as we move forward into the economic recovery phase, how completely we make women at the core of every decision.