Evidence of meeting #23 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

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Other governments have managed to provide updates for their citizens and carry out their responsibilities, but of course this government has sidelined Parliament with simply a question-but-no-answer period.

Let's try something else. The forestry industry was in crisis even before the pandemic, with mills closing down and thousands of jobs lost. Eight weeks ago, Minister Freeland said, “I have had many discussions with leaders in our forestry sector and the provinces about what we can do to support the industry today.”

Meanwhile, we've had support going to the arts and we've had support going to fisheries, just to name a few, but arguably for the industry that was having some of the most numerous challenges, it has been radio silence.

That was eight weeks ago today. Can the government at least commit to releasing an updated softwood lumber transition plan before we rise?

12:50 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Chair, we remain committed, of course, to the forestry industry and seeing it through this pandemic and this very uncertain time. The expanding market opportunities program, for instance, has helped Canada's forestry sector diversify, create jobs and open new markets. We've had new construction projects that are active today, using Canadian wood in key markets like Korea, Japan, China and the United States.

Tomorrow this House will vote on our government's investment of $20.97 million for this program. It's part of our budget 2019 commitment to invest $251 million over three years, and I hope the opposition will support us in that.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

It was stated in a major newspaper this morning that this government is like a sexy sports car—”vroom, vroom, vroom”—but with a history of breakdowns and major repairs. I think that might describe what has been happening. For forestry, it has been eight weeks and there has been nothing.

There is another area that Deputy Prime Minister Freeland did talk about. We were talking about the U.S. softwood lumber duties that are being held in the United States. It's billions of dollars being held with the U.S. treasury. In April, she acknowledged that these duties are a real issue for the softwood lumber industry. What's been done since that time?

12:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Chair, Canada's forestry industry supports good middle-class jobs in communities across our country. The sector is also an essential link in the medical equipment supply chain, and we thank them for all the work they're doing.

We're aware of the immense pressures faced by this sector, especially at this time, and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and others are taking that seriously and working through this issue. As our government has said repeatedly, we firmly believe that the U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber are unfair and unwarranted, and we will pursue all means in order to—

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Before continuing, I want to remind honourable members who are at home to make sure that the boom on their headsets is down. It just makes a better pickup. We heard everything, but it was a little distant.

That's for everyone's benefit.

We're now going to continue with Mr. Deltell.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Chair, before I ask my question, I'd like to pay tribute to the Minister of Justice, particularly to his versatility. Today, he talked about forests. Yesterday, the Minister of Justice talked about Davie and indigenous affairs. Really, this minister is very versatile.

My question is directly for the Minister of Finance. I like Mr. Lametti very much, but I'd like Mr. Morneau to answer my question.

Yesterday, in a Senate parliamentary committee, the Minister of Finance half-opened the door to an economic update. Based on what he said, it seems that, as we speak, a committee of the Department of Finance is working on an economic update.

Could Mr. Morneau tell Canadians when he is going to table this economic update?

June 16th, 2020 / 12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Chair, as we know, the Canadian economy is going through a period of extraordinary uncertainty. As soon as it's possible to provide clear economic projections, we will provide a full update to Canadians.

Right now, we can say that we have supported workers, businesses and Canadians with the emergency measures we have put in place. We will continue to do so, because we need to be sure that Canadians can get through this crisis.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Chair, I thought it was too good to be true.

The Minister of Finance is opening the door, and the Minister of Small Business is closing it. We don't know when the economic update will take place, yet all across Canada, provinces are doing economic updates.

Could Mr. Morneau explain to Canadians why he is unable to give one?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Chair, since the beginning of the crisis, we have implemented the economic action plan to respond to COVID-19, and we've provided immediate assistance to Canadians, businesses and workers.

Over 2.5 million jobs were protected by the Canada emergency wage subsidy. In addition, 8.4 million Canadians—

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We are returning to Mr. Deltell.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Chair, next Friday, the Quebec minister of finance, Eric Girard, will give an economic update.

If Eric Girard can give one for Quebec, why can't Bill Morneau give one for Canada?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Chair, once again, we have been open and transparent from the outset. We have devoted our energy to support Canadians, workers and businesses.

We will continue to do so.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Chair, I cannot judge the quality of the work done by the provinces, but what I do know is that Quebec, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland have also made efforts to support their residents economically. Those provinces are able to table economic updates. Yesterday, Saskatchewan even tabled a budget.

Why is Bill Morneau unable to table an economic update for all Canadians?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Let me repeat for my hon. colleague that we are going through extraordinarily uncertain times. We have continued to be open and transparent. We have reported biweekly to Parliament on the total cost and status of the measures in our economic response plan.

Once again, as soon as clear economic projections can be provided, we will provide an update—

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Deltell has the floor.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

The minister talks about the total cost of the government's economic expenditures.

So I ask the question: so far, over the past three months, how much has the pandemic cost Canadians?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

As I said earlier, it is important to note that we have put forward measures, including the wage subsidy, which have helped more than 2.5 million—

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Deltell has the floor.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Chair, I have been trying for four minutes to get anything remotely resembling an answer, and I'm getting absolutely nothing. I am not asking questions for myself; I am asking questions for Canadians.

Why are the government and the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, not able to table an economic update when some provinces are able to?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Once again, I would like to remind my hon. colleague that we have provided interest-free loans to businesses. More than 669,000 loans have been approved.

We have continued to support businesses and Canadians during this time—

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Deltell, you have time for a very brief question.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

The only thing that distinguishes the provinces that table economic updates and the current government is political will.

Why does Bill Morneau not have the political will to tell Canadians the truth?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Once again, we have been open and transparent. As soon as it is possible to provide clear economic projections, we will provide Canadians with a full update.

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will now continue with Mr. Saroya.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

COVID-19 has sparked and spurred anti-Asian racism. These are not just racist comments online; Asian Canadians have been attacked.

What is the government doing to combat anti-Asian racism?