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

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Chair, Canada's unemployment rate stands at 13.7%. That's the highest it's been in almost four decades. Many industries, like travel, hospitality and tourism, are getting crushed.

We rely on a lot of hospitality and tourism in my riding of Niagara West. Can the government tell us what their plans are to help the travel, hospitality and tourism industry that so many of my constituents depend on?

12:50 p.m.

Ahuntsic-Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Mélanie Joly LiberalMinister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for his important question.

I had a good conversation with the mayor of Niagara Falls recently, and we believe in the importance of the tourism sector. That's exactly why we've extended the wage subsidy until the end of August. There is the CEBA loan, the $40,000 loan. There is also spending through FedDev in my colleague's region. If he has clear, specific projects in the tourism sector that he needs help with, I would ask that he please come and see me and have a conversation.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Chair, the message from the president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Perrin Beatty, and also other industries, is that we need a clear and coherent plan from this government because there's a whole hodgepodge of regulations and confusion about what's going to happen through the strategy.

What I've told the government is that we need a strategy to reflect local conditions that is consistent and has a clear timeline so that businesses can begin to open safely and with confidence.

What is the government doing to make this happen?

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, we absolutely agree. It is important for businesses to have an understanding of the programs that we've put in place. We have been consulting with businesses on the appropriate way to extend the wage subsidy so that we can continue to support businesses as they turn towards a safe restart. We've also looked very carefully at how we can ensure that the programs that we've put forward—

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll go back to Mr. Allison.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Chair, this government has come way short of meeting the Canadian demand for personal protective equipment. Some equipment procured from overseas has been substandard and couldn't be used. Because of the shortage, in my riding of Niagara West, dentists have to pay up to 10 times the amount for an N95 mask.

Compared to early March, when will the government finally begin to produce enough PPE in Canada to meet Canadian demand?

12:50 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Chair, I'd like to thank the honourable member for his question.

We have mobilized over 700 Canadian companies to help them retool and rescale their efforts to make more personal protective equipment in Canada as part of a made-in-Canada initiative. We're going to continue to work with industry to build up domestic capacity.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Global News is reporting that Canada is struggling to secure a reliable source of PPE.

What's the evidence of this? We know that the government procured 10 million substandard N95 masks that couldn't be used. Masks were sent back to suppliers for having flaws. We received mouldy swabs to be used in COVID-19 tests. Planes are arriving empty that should have been filled with PPE, and we received less than 5% of our total order of gloves.

It's clear that Canada needs to rely on Canada for PPE. When will this government finally begin to take PPE equipment issues seriously and make enough in Canada to meet demands by Canadians?

12:55 p.m.

Oakville Ontario

Liberal

Anita Anand LiberalMinister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Chair, the honourable member's questions were tainted with inaccuracies.

Regarding the flights that returned from China without federal cargo, Air Canada did reimburse the federal government for that amount. In addition, with regard to the N95 masks that were referenced, the Government of Canada will not pay for masks that it does not use. Furthermore, as my colleague Minister Bains just stated, we are mobilizing and retooling the domestic industry. Over half of the face shields that we have received were produced in Canada.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

At a time when the Prime Minister has ordered Canadians to stay home and businesses to remain closed, at a time when Canadians have had to say goodbye to their relatives over Skype, at a time when Canadians are not allowed to get married, at a time when Canadians are being fined for taking their kids to the park, at a time when restaurants are being fined $800 for allowing customers to eat outside and not being socially distanced, in these times, the Prime Minister's son attended a mass gathering with thousands of people while not socially distancing.

Mr. Chair, why is it that there seems to be one set of rules in this country for some people but a different set for the Prime Minister? Why the double standard?

12:55 p.m.

Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Patty Hajdu LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Chair, as the member knows, this country has been gripped with the need to stand up with one another to fight the experience of racism that so many Canadians live with and that so many of our American cousins live with.

As the member knows, local public health sets advice for regions that he specified, and I would encourage all Canadians to check with local public health advice before they resume activities.

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Now we'll go to Mr. Chiu.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Many Canadian veterans are noticing that medical providers are increasing their costs. Everything is more expensive these days, including medicine, etc. It can take upwards of a year for Veterans Affairs to adjust their rate scale to compensate, and they do not allow for retroactive reimbursement. What are the government's actions to alleviate this hardship for our men and women who stood guard for this country, our veterans?

June 10th, 2020 / 12:55 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Chair, the fact is that when we inherited the government, Veterans Affairs needed a lot of support from government. In fact, at that time, we invested $10 billion to make sure that Veterans Affairs was put in place and that we could provide the appropriate supports for veterans, like the pension for life, the centre of excellence on PTSD and the chronic pain centre of excellence. All of these things are so important.

We have to realize that with government previously—

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go back to Mr. Chiu.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Minister, for answering—or responding—to my question, although that really did not provide an answer, in my humble opinion.

Part of the side effect of spending hundreds of millions of dollars is inflation. My constituents in Steveston—Richmond East are overwhelmingly finding this government's support for seniors inadequate. The opposition has put forward clear proposals, such as a one-time tax-free withdrawal being allowed for an RRSP or a RRIF. So far, the government has not taken any action on this.

Why is the government ignoring suggestions to help Canadian seniors?

12:55 p.m.

King—Vaughan Ontario

Liberal

Deb Schulte LiberalMinister of Seniors

Mr. Chair, I want seniors to know that they are not alone. To help preserve their registered retirement income fund assets, we are reducing minimum withdrawals by 25% for 2020. We're also providing direct financial support so that seniors can get the help they need now. As the market is volatile during this time, we continue to look at all ways that we can best help seniors during this difficult time.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Chair, the Hong Kong government has arrested 9,000 civilians just in the past year. This is equivalent to the arrest of 42,000 people, proportional to Canada's population.

It is anticipated that more unjust incarcerations will occur as Beijing imposes the national security law in Hong Kong. Has our government started preparing a list of names for Magnitsky-style sanctions, yes or no?

1 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Chair, as we have said, we and our allies are deeply concerned with Beijing's decision to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. With hundreds of thousands of Canadians living in Hong Kong, we have a vested interest in its stability and prosperity, the foundations of which are Hong Kong's relative autonomy and basic freedoms. The proposed law would also undermine the one country, two systems framework.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

I thank the minister for responding. Again, however, words are not enough. It's time for action, because the Chinese embassy has said, in response to Canada's expressed concern, that they deplore, reject and condemn our response and our concerns thus far.

What are the conditions for this government using Magnitsky sanctions should China continue to incarcerate Canadians and jeopardize the human rights of its citizens?

1 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Chair, we have been very clear. We will continue to encourage all parties to engage in peaceful and meaningful dialogue to address the legitimate concerns expressed by the Hong Kong population.

Canada will always support and promote freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press around the world.

1 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Chiu, we have about 22 seconds, so you have time for a very quick question and hopefully a very quick answer.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Okay, here's a quick question.

The Communist Chinese government has lied about COVID-19. They have issued statements against Canada and they have yet to release the two Canadians being held hostage. My constituents are concerned over this.

When will this government listen to Canadians and call for a stronger, more effective and truly independent international investigation into COVID-19's origin?

1 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The honourable minister has 22 seconds or less, please.

1 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Chair, we are dealing with a global pandemic, COVID-19. It is critically important that all countries in the world work together in a transparent, open and respectful manner so that we understand what is going on and how we can bring it to an end as quickly as possible.