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

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Mr. Chair, June is ALS Awareness Month, and 79 years after Lou Gehrig died from ALS little has changed. There's still no cure, and those with ALS typically die within five years of diagnosis.

On June 21, Canadians will gather virtually to raise funds for ALS Canada in the Walk to End ALS. In Halton, normally we meet each year at Bronte Creek Provincial Park on the May long weekend to raise funds for ALS Canada. This year I will virtually join Tim's Titans, a team formed to honour Tim Robertson, my friend who died in 2016 after living with ALS for 13 years. I have a T-shirt, with a picture of Lou Gehrig, that says, “Great Player...Lousy Disease” and “Tim's Titans...Great Team! ALS...Still a Lousy Disease.”

Join me on June 21 for the virtual Walk to End ALS to raise funds to support patients and their families and for ALS research.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now continue with Ms. Khera.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Chair, on Saturday our community stood and marched in solidarity against anti-black racism. The peaceful protests that we're seeing across the country and around the world were not triggered by an isolated incident. They are fuelled by decades of ineffective action against something that is so insidious and deeply entrenched in our history, systems and institutions. For us, that is the racial inequality faced by Canada's indigenous and black communities.

Anti-black racism is real. It exists right here in Canada, in our communities, including in Brampton. It exists when racialized students at McCrimmon Middle School are called “McCriminals”. It exists when a shocking report exposes the Peel District School Board's failure to work fairly with the black community. It exists when D'Andre Campbell, who was fighting mental illness, loses his life at the hands of the police.

It is clear that we need reform. We need to dismantle the systems that allow this privilege and oppression to take form, and address the unconscious bias plaguing our institutions.

We'll need to be bold, and the time to do that is now.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Mr. Lloyd.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Mr. Chair, a few months ago I rose in the House on the eve of our closure due to COVID-19. I told Canadians we must not give in to fear, that we would carry on and get through this crisis stronger than ever.

Today, in this city and across Canada, Canadians are enjoying a beer on their favourite patios. Businesses are reopening, jobs are returning and our lives are starting to feel a bit normal again. Canadians pulled together, and because of that we did not see the devastating death toll that many had predicted.

Life may be returning to normal, but unfortunately, here in this chamber of democracy, the people's voices continue to be shut down. There is no good reason for Parliament to be suspended today. In the words of my grandfather, it's time for the Liberals to get with the program and bring back the House.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will now proceed with Ms. Jones.

June 16th, 2020 / 12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Chair, from in-person learning to virtual classrooms, COVID-19 has drastically changed the lives of students across the country, especially those in post-secondary education who are worried about covering costs like tuition or rent this coming fall.

Our government recognized that students should not have to worry or put their futures on pause during this difficult time. That's why last month the federal government introduced the Canada emergency student benefit.

If you're a high school student headed to a post-secondary school, or a current post-secondary student or a recent graduate, you can receive the Canada emergency student benefit every four weeks and have the financial support that you need to save for school. We also doubled Canada student grants and loans, enhanced the student loan program, increased supports for indigenous post-secondary education and introduced the Canada student service grant for those who wish to pursue it.

Our government is here to help all students get the support they need to pursue their future goals successfully. I wish them all the very best, and I wish all of you, my colleagues and those across Canada, a very happy National Indigenous Peoples Day, which is coming up on June 21.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

I want to remind the honourable members to keep to their 60 seconds so that we don't go over the time. I'm sure it would be a lot easier for everyone if we stuck to that limit.

We will now go to Mr. Aitchison.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Aitchison Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Chair, I rise today to once again implore the government to do something about the horrible lack of access to and crazy cost of rural Internet service. Right now, too many areas of my riding have no access to rural Internet service at all, and those who can get service are paying through the nose. I've even heard constituents say that during this pandemic, they are having to choose between feeding their kids and educating them.

Over the last few weeks, Conservatives have been consulting with rural Canadians, and the results are in. My constituents are tired of fancy political promises. They are frustrated beyond belief by the new challenges created by this pandemic. They are absolutely fed up with having their pleas ignored.

All we want is affordable and reliable Internet service. Is that too much to ask of the government?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Mr. MacGregor.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Chair, these last few months have been incredibly challenging for the residents of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, who have been forced to deal with the economic and social consequences of COVID-19. The pandemic has laid bare the inadequacies of our social safety net, the weakness in our supply chains and the dependence of our society on essential workers, who often work long hours for low wages, putting themselves and their families at risk. We've also been forced to confront the systemic inequality, poverty and racism that continue to hold so many people back from achieving their full potential.

I will not dishonour the sacrifice that so many have made during this time by allowing us to go back to the status quo that got us here in the first place. I will not apologize for demanding that the most vulnerable in our society get the supports and opportunities they need to live with dignity, and I will not relent from pushing my political colleagues to summon the courage necessary to implement policies that lead to environmental, economic and social justice.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

I now give the floor to Mr. Blaney.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Chair, here is a beautiful story, the story of a woman from Bellechasse, a courageous young mother from Saint-Malachie, Marie-Christine Goupil.

With three children, including the eldest daughter with a disability, and realizing that her daughter with a disability had special clothing needs, she decided to go into business to meet the needs of other parents who, like her, were facing their child's clothing challenges.

Last week, she presented her Handy clothing collection on the show Dans l'œil du dragon. It was a very emotional moment for the audience and the dragons. They were so touched that they decided to give her the amount she wanted without diluting her shares.

The video of her presentation has already been viewed over 1 million times on social networks. Marie-Christine Goupil has discovered a passion for entrepreneurship and has moved and inspired many people with her passionate and courageous attitude.

Congratulations, Ms. Goupil, your example makes us proud.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Blanchet, you have the floor.

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I lend my voice to the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, whose message is as follows:

There have been no fewer than 14 reports and conclusions of commissions of inquiry since 1967 highlighting major problems in relations between law enforcement agencies and indigenous people. Each time, the conclusions have been overwhelming and highlight a disturbing reality.

The justice system has failed indigenous people. Are you going to respond, as you too often do, by moving on to the next one, or are you going to do what we expect you to do, which is to recognize that the justice system discriminates against indigenous people and that we have no less right to security than the rest of the population? In three months, police interventions have claimed more victims among our members than the pandemic. But it is not enough to simply take a knee and denounce racism. It's about standing up and taking action.

Those are the words of Ghislain Picard.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now continue with Ms. Harder.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Over the last few months, Canada's democracy has been disregarded and an autocracy has been resurrected in its place. By refusing to hold regular parliamentary sittings, Mr. Trudeau is sending a strong message to the Canadian public that he alone is the one who matters. In 2014, he professed that “Canadians want their Members of Parliament to be effective voices for their communities in Ottawa, and not merely mouthpieces for an all-too-powerful Prime Minister.”

As it stands, however, he has shut down Parliament. Effectively, he has stripped us, the opposition, of our privileges and our powers. Sadly, Mr. Trudeau has become the all-too-powerful Prime Minister that he once warned against. A government that does not allow for effective opposition is not functioning in the best interest of Canadians; it is operating in the best interest of itself and, even more so, the interest of the Prime Minister.

Canadians deserve to flourish in a democracy, not merely survive under the autocracy that this Prime Minister has created.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go on to Ms. Zahid.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I would like to recognize the work of Agincourt Community Services Association and its tireless executive director, Lee Soda, who have been serving our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under more pressure than ever, their staff and volunteers continue to serve a community whose need was great even before the crisis. Their food bank helps over 4,000 people weekly. They have opened outdoor washrooms and hand-washing stations for vulnerable communities and are delivering groceries and other essentials to vulnerable seniors.

ACSA is a bridge between those who can help and those who need help, and they are just one example of how our community has come together to meet this challenge. There are restaurants and businesses donating meals to front-line workers, residents answering the call to stock the food bank shelves and neighbours looking in on the vulnerable and isolated. I am so proud of our community's spirit. Scarborough is strong.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now proceed to the questioning of ministers.

Please note that we will suspend the proceedings twice in order to allow employees who provide support for the sitting to replace each other safely.

The first question goes to the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Scheer.

12:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Chair, for months Conservatives have been pointing out flaws in Liberal government programs that are preventing Canadians from getting the help they need. The Prime Minister has refused to make these very technical changes to get more help to Canadians who need it. For example, on the wage subsidy, more than two-thirds of the money allocated for that program has lapsed because businesses don't qualify.

I have a simple question. Will the Prime Minister change the program to allow companies who have made acquisitions to access the wage subsidy to keep more people working?

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Chair, from the very beginning we knew that as we rolled out measures, we would need to improve them and tweak them, and that's exactly what we've been doing over the past three months. We needed to make measures happen quickly for Canadians, and we did that. But we continued to improve them, to make additions and amendments so that more people could get the help they needed, including with the proposed legislation last week that expanded the reach of the wage subsidy to more businesses. Unfortunately, the Conservatives didn't even want us to debate that particular piece of legislation.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Actually, Mr. Chair, it was the Liberals who said no to the motion to allow this Parliament to sit to debate that motion, and even in that legislation they refused to allow businesses who have made acquisitions to access the program.

Now, when we look at the rent relief program, it is so difficult to apply for it that many landlords are refusing to bother, leaving even more small businesses to fall through the cracks. In fact, of the $3 billion allocated to the rent relief program, only $39 million has been paid out. That's less than 2%.

Now, the Prime Minister is still using talking points from April. It's now June and he has refused to fix these programs and has successfully talked out the calendar on the days that the House of Commons could meet to discuss these programs. When will he make these changes to get more help to Canadians who need it?

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Chair, throughout this pandemic, we have constantly been updating and expanding our various programs. We recognize, in conversations with the premiers, how important it is to make sure that we're working together, the provinces and the federal government, on issues like rent subsidies where commercial rent is indeed a provincial jurisdiction. Many provinces have moved forward with the eviction bans that are necessary to go along with this, and we'll continue to work with provinces to make sure that we're getting Canadians the help they need.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Chair, Canadians cannot wait. He has run down the clock on parliamentary sittings and he still refuses to make these changes to get more help to Canadians.

Today, we learned that Telus has installed Huawei technology in downtown Ottawa. There are over 80 sites across the national capital region with Huawei technology installed. Some of these sites are very near sensitive government institutions, like government departments, the National Research Council, RCMP headquarters and the Bank of Canada. How long has the Prime Minister known that Huawei technology has been installed in the Ottawa area?