Evidence of meeting #21 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

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

I'll call this meeting to order.

Welcome to the 21st meeting of the House of Commons Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

A reminder to all members that in order to avoid issues with sound, members participating in person should not also be connected to the video conference.

For those joining via video conference, I would like to remind you that when you're speaking you should be on the same channel as the language that you're speaking.

As usual, please direct your remarks through the chair.

I understand that we don't have any ministerial announcements today.

We'll go on to presenting petitions.

I would like to remind members that any petition presented during a meeting of the special committee must have already been certified by the clerk of petitions.

For members participating in person, we ask that they please come and drop the signed certificate off at the table once the petition is presented.

Our first petition will be presented by Mr. Genuis.

Noon

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'm pleased to be presenting a petition in support of Bill S-204. It's a bill in the Senate that would make it a criminal offence for someone to receive an organ that has been taken by force from an unwilling patient. This is a practice that we know happens in certain places.

For instance, in China there is a well-established series of events that has led to forced organ harvesting and trafficking happening there, with the consent of the government. Many people are concerned about this gross violation of human rights.

I hope that we'll be able to get support to quickly pass Bill S-204. Petitioners are calling on all members to support the swift passage of this bill to address this horrific practice.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Mr. Davies.

Noon

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm honoured to present petition E-2492, signed by over 3,000 Canadians who note that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic hundreds of thousands of critically and chronically ill patients, including children, seniors and veterans, are at risk of losing access to medical cannabis.

The petitioners are calling on the federal government to recognize the provision of medical cannabis as an essential, constitutionally protected service so that all activities involved in preserving patient access qualify as essential services throughout the current pandemic and beyond.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will continue with presenting petitions.

Seeing none, we'll now proceed to statements by members.

The first statement will be presented by Mrs. Brière.

Noon

Liberal

Élisabeth Brière Liberal Sherbrooke, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank the businesses that registered for the Sherbrooke recovery forum, which I organized in co-operation with the Sherbrooke chamber of commerce and industry.

The forum, held last Thursday, gave us the opportunity to discuss and find solutions to help our businesses restart to their full potential. It was also an opportunity to hear testimonials from SMEs that have been able to innovate during the crisis. Mohamed Laaroussi of E2 Metrix, for instance, found an ingenious, inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to transform water into a disinfectant.

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank my colleague the President of the Treasury Board and Jean-Guy Côté of the Institut du Québec for agreeing to speak at the event, which was a great success. Our government provided our SMEs with the necessary levers to overcome the pandemic.

Thanks to the ingenuity of people in our region, I'm confident we'll have a dynamic recovery.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll go on with Mr. Kelly.

Noon

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Chair, on Tuesday, MPs from all parties of the finance committee unanimously passed a motion calling on the government to fully fund the Auditor General. Massive pre-COVID spending, a failing infrastructure program with 20,000 projects unaccounted for, new Crown corporations with giant budgets and unprecedented COVID support programs have vastly increased the Auditor General's workload.

Yesterday the Minister of Canadian Heritage said that if the Auditor General needed more money all he had to do was ask. Mr. Chair, he's already asked. The Auditor General has repeatedly asked for an additional $11 million. They've been asking for this money since 2018 and the government keeps saying no. Now, the Auditor General has stopped working on performance audits and for two years in a row has testified at the public accounts committee that the Office of the Auditor General doesn't have enough money to do its job.

This government is hiding from Parliament and it's hiding from the Auditor General, while hundreds of billions of dollars are being rushed out the door.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Mr. Van Bynen.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Van Bynen Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Newmarket—Aurora has been the proud home of the York region pride parade for the past four years, and while we won't be waving flags, spreading love and embracing inclusion and diversity as we walk along Main Street this year, we'll be celebrating Pride Month from home.

I want to thank York Pride for making digital pride happen this year to celebrate safely and virtually as we continue to face this pandemic. After all, pride is much more than a parade. It's about providing a safe place for diversity and individuality, encouraging acceptance and inclusivity, and recognizing the contributions of LGBTQ+ people in our community. These are values that we must uphold beyond Pride Month.

I want to wish a happy Pride Month to the LGBTQ+ communities in Newmarket—Aurora, across York region and all of Canada.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Ms. Larouche has the floor.

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

A family in Shefford has experienced something extraordinary. The Casavant-Marois family decided to support the cause of sick children.

Showing resilience after the arrival of their second child, born prematurely at 30 weeks of pregnancy nearly 13 years ago, the family wanted to pay it forward and give thanks for being able to welcome Jeremy.

The family decided to embark on a wonderful adventure to celebrate health and enjoy every moment. The parents had planned to cycle with their children for a year, to travel across Canada to the West Coast and then down to Cuba.

This sizeable challenge was a great opportunity to provide the members of this family with meaningful memories, and to allow them to meet people, to discover new corners of the continent, to learn languages, to open their minds to new customs and to discover their hidden strength. It was a return to the roots of simplicity and humanity, but COVID-19 hastened their return. They still partnered with Opération Enfant Soleil to raise donations. I was supposed to welcome them when they arrived, but I couldn't do it.

Kassandra, Sébastien, Julianne, Jérémy, Mary-Ann and Zack, thank you for inspiring us. Every dollar counts, and together we can improve the living conditions of many children throughout Quebec.

I thank the donors who encouraged them.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We're continuing with Mr. Scarpaleggia.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Chair, Montreal's west island is known for its civic spirit. I would like to highlight three volunteer-driven organizations that have rallied to support the community during this challenging time.

Prior to COVID-19, Katy Johnston was getting ready to open a non-profit workshop called FabZone to make 3D printers and sewing machines available to the community. She quickly changed gears, organizing volunteers to make free PPE for CHSLDs, hospitals and other centres.

Another group called Protection Collective is using 3D printers to produce face shields for front-line workers with the help of sterilized assembly space donated by satellite maker MDA.

Finally, a group called Trash Talk founded by Lucas Hygate to clean up litter in local spaces has adapted to offer grocery delivery to seniors and others who are homebound.

Thank you to the dedicated volunteers of these three organizations for all they are doing to keep us safe at this time of pandemic.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Deltell now has the floor.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Eighty years ago today, Canadian soldiers, including those from the Royal 22e Régiment, were posted to Hong Kong to defend freedom. The citizens of Hong Kong remember this and are grateful. That's why a group from Hong Kong decided to donate medical equipment to Canada to fight the pandemic.

Under the patronage of my colleague from British Columbia, the honourable member for Steveston—Richmond East, thousands of products have been distributed out west, in Ontario and in Quebec.

For example, on Friday, May 29, I saw that 26,000 three-ply masks, hundreds of protective jackets, hundreds of goggles and many other things were distributed in the area around the old capital.

I'd like to acknowledge the co-operation and collaboration of the public health authorities in Quebec, and I thank the honourable member for Chauveau, Sylvain Lévesque, for facilitating the process.

Above all, I thank these generous donors from Hong Kong. Canadians will always be grateful to them.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We are continuing with Mr. Robillard.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Yves Robillard Liberal Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Chair, in recent decades, food banks have become an integral part of the lives of many citizens. They do a tremendous amount of work for our communities year-round, and especially in these times of pandemic.

I'm thinking in particular of the various food banks in my riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, which have worked hard to meet the growing demand from the people of Laval. In fact, several food banks have had to combine a decline in the availability of food with a steady increase in requests for assistance. More than 800,000 people a week use these food banks.

I'd therefore like to take this opportunity to appeal to the solidarity and generosity of all Canadians and to encourage them to make donations. It's a crucial gesture to ensure the survival of our food banks.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Dhaliwal.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Mr. Chair, in Surrey—Newton, DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society empowers newcomers to build a better life in Canada. For over 40 years, DIVERSEcity's specialized services have been invaluable to thousands of individuals and families trying to find their way in a new country.

I am proud to now announce that DIVERSEcity's building resilience for a sustainable recovery program has been approved for nearly $2.2 million in funding under Health Canada's substance abuse and addictions program.

With a focus on culturally appropriate assistance, substance use and mental health treatment will now be offered in the multicultural mosaic that is in Surrey.

Mr. Chair, I want to acknowledge and commend DIVERSEcity for providing critically important services to our community, and I wish them the best of luck with their program.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Ms. Gallant.

June 11th, 2020 / 12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Chair, I'm pleased to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke residents in keeping the COVID-19 virus at bay and out of the region.

So far there has been one death attributed to the virus. The few cases registered were brought into our area, which is a real concern in rural areas such as ours.

In my riding, people are afraid, but not of catching the virus. They are worried about having no job to return to. They are concerned about losing their homes. Family businesses already stressed by more government regulation and the carbon tax are now faced with the prospect of having to close their doors permanently.

In the absence of a federal budget and no plan to reopen the economy, the public has lost confidence in this government. Canadians know the longer the federal government keeps us in lockdown, the worse the coming recession will be.

It's time for democracy to resume and for Parliament to return.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will now continue with Ms. Vandenbeld.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Chair, as Canadians turn inward to focus on the COVID-19 emergency, we must not forget about human rights abuses around the world.

I joined a virtual meeting of MPs from around the world, hosted by Parliamentarians for Global Action, to establish a parliamentary rapid response team, a network of MPs who will speak out when MPs elsewhere in the world are arrested or face violence or rollbacks of democracy.

Urgent action alerts have already been issued regarding the Malaysian government, which has closed Parliament to avoid a vote of confidence. Another alert was issued yesterday on the intimidation of parliamentarians in El Salvador.

Consider, when putting on your COVID-19 face masks, the MPs around the world who are literally silenced, jailed and isolated just for speaking out on human rights.

Parliamentarians are on the front lines of democracy. Working together, we have a very strong voice.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Martel has the floor.