Evidence of meeting #8 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 funding.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Noon

Nipissing—Timiskaming Ontario

Liberal

Anthony Rota LiberalSpeaker

I call this meeting to order. Welcome to the eighth meeting of the House of Commons Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic. Today's meeting will, of course, be taking place by video conference.

Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When you are ready to speak, please activate your mike and when you are not speaking, please make sure that your mike is on mute, as it makes it easier for everyone.

I also remind hon. members that, if they wish to speak in English, they must choose the English channel and if they wish to speak in French, they must choose the French channel. If they wish to use both languages, they must change the interpretation channel to correspond to the language they are using.

In addition, I ask hon. members to address their remarks to the Chair. They must speak slowly and clearly at all times in order to help the interpreters. I cannot emphasize that enough. The interpreters work hard: they have to listen to what members are saying and then interpret their words. That is not always easy, especially when members reply to a question quickly or ask a question quickly.

Finally, we strongly recommend that those who are going to speak use a headset. We would be grateful for that. Yesterday, I noticed that almost everyone was wearing a headset and that everyone who spoke was wearing one. Hon. members and the interpreters are grateful to them for that.

We'll now proceed to ministerial announcements. I understand there are no ministerial announcements today. We'll proceed then to the presentation of petitions for a period not exceeding 15 minutes. I would like to remind the honourable members that any petition presented during the meeting of the special committee must have already been certified by the clerk of petitions. Our first petition goes to Mr. Julian.

Mr. Julian.

Noon

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

It's a pleasure for me to present a petition on motion number M-1, regarding the green new deal, on behalf of dozens of residents of Toronto and Scarborough, Ontario. They're joining their voices to the thousands of Canadians who have signed this petition thus far. All of them are calling on the Government of Canada to address this climatic emergency with the ambition and urgency required on behalf of present and future generations. Reconciliation with indigenous peoples and the recognition of inherent rights must be at the heart of Canada's approach to addressing the climate emergency. The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to support my motion M-1, a made-in-Canada green new deal that calls on Canada to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to take bold and rapid action to tackle the climate emergency and address worsening inequalities at the same time, and to support workers impacted by the transition to a clean and renewable energy economy that will create well-paid jobs across Canada.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go on to Mr. Longfield.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's a pleasure to have my house as part of the House of Commons or the House of Commons as part of my house. Last night I was asking my wife for permission to speak. I think this is getting a little bit too far into my homeland, but it's great to be here and thank you for giving us the opportunity.

I have two petitions today. One of them also is for motion M-1. Mr. Julian will be glad to hear that people from Guelph are also signing on to that petition. We have 263 signatures on motion M-1, which is looking at creating a made-in-Canada green new deal as part of our climate change and social change discussions going forward.

I also have a second petition signed by 108 people in Guelph around electoral reform. That's still an issue within Guelph that people would like us to be looking at and addressing. There is a group in Guelph that's proposed a local proportional representation idea that they would like us to consider as a government.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Now we'll go on to Mr. McKay.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's always a pleasure to see you, virtual or otherwise. Congratulations on your impending birthday.

I have two petitions to present.

The first one is from some concerned Somali Canadians who are concerned about the increasing violence in their homeland. They're asking that the House of Commons adopt a resolution condemning the encouragement of violence through incitement, hate, foreign payments, supporting hate and hostility by militias that may cause instability in a peaceful and stable Somaliland.

The second petition is from 41 signatories from the Canadian Federation of University Women in Scarborough. They're calling upon the government to introduce a bill that would require all judges to take training in sexual assault law, as it is a promise made by the Liberal Party in the last election.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now move along to Mr. Fergus.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I am very pleased to present a petition on behalf of 553 residents of Hull—Aylmer. It asks the Government of Canada to introduce a bill to protect us from massive purchases of Canadian medications, to prevent those medications from leaving our country, and to avoid potential shortages, or interruptions in supply.

This petition was started by a veteran in my constituency, Jocelyn Démétré. His wife suffers from a serious illness and needs the supply of medications to be uninterrupted. They are concerned. There is some unrest in the United States and some Americans have said that they should perhaps come to buy their medications in Canada. That is why they are proposing this petition.

Mr. Chair, while I have your attention, I would like to emphasize something. Yesterday, the hon. member for Carleton presented a petition on which I worked with him. Very honourably, he apologized for presenting a petition when I was the one who had it certified. I am grateful to the hon. member for having pointed out my interest in that petition.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Thank you, Mr. Fergus.

Ms. May, the floor is yours.

12:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. It is an honour to have an opportunity in our virtual Parliament, and it certainly is lovely to see the faces of so many friends.

The petition I'm honoured to present today deals with an issue that we've become sharply aware of during the pandemic, which is that so many workers on the front lines, so many workers who are underpaid, are women. This petition calls for legislation at long last to ensure pay equality and pay equity and to make sure that women in Canada are treated absolutely as we are—equals.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The next petition will go to Mr. Johns.

May 14th, 2020 / 12:10 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

This petition couldn't be more timely given that it is on the morning of the announcement for independent fish harvesters, which overall was a good announcement, Mr. Chair.

This petition is about licensing and the inequality of licensing in British Columbia. With so much corporate and investor ownership of licences, we want to make sure that government, in that funding, makes sure that it goes to those who need it. and not those who don't.

The petition is with regard to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which provided 20 recommendations to government last May. The consultations with independent fish harvesters, community organizations and industry identified the need for transparent fishing licensing and quota ownership. It is currently not known where the benefits are, or if fishery resources are truly flowing. Some of them are foreign owned, and we don't even know who owns the fish licences.

Right now this is certainly more important than ever. Many of the fish harvesters are locked into agreements based on last year's prices, and they're going to be bankrupt before they even leave the dock. We're disappointed that this wasn't addressed. They're calling on the government to commit to a timeline and a plan that respects and addresses the 20 recommendations laid out in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans report entitled “West Coast Fisheries: Sharing Risks and Benefits”. They're hopeful that the minister will actually take action for this season and make sure that there is more sharing of risks and benefits here for independent fish harvesters.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Very good.

Those are all the petitions for today.

We will now proceed to questions to ministers.

The first question goes to Mr. Albas.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

How many people have received the CERB but should not have received it?

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. minister has the floor.

Do we have someone who is on mute?

12:10 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Excuse me, Mr. Chair.

Sorry, I was on mute.

Our government's priority is to respond to the needs of Canadians during this economic crisis, a crisis greater than any other our generation has experienced.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

How many persons, Mr. Chair, have received the grant who do not deserve it?

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, our priority is to support Canadians in the deepest crisis that we have experienced since the Second World War. This is what we will continue to do.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, earlier this week we learned that the government has been ignoring fraud in the CERB, and today we learned that public servants have been told that eligibility has been thrown out the window. How many people have received the CERB who are not eligible for it?

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, more than seven million Canadians have received the CERB, and I am delighted to be able to say that. Our country is experiencing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Our government is here to help, and we are proud of that.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, yesterday the Minister of Employment said on CBC that it was not 200,000 people, so the government must know the number.

Will the government give Canadians a clear answer today?

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, I will give Canadians a clear answer. Of course, instances of fraud will be looked into carefully. I also want to say to the member opposite that we trust Canadians. Canadians have shown tremendous resilience, tremendous dedication to the common good in this crisis, and I trust Canadians in accessing our benefits.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, we're talking about cases where people are not eligible or are, in fact, engaging in fraud. Now, the CERB website says clearly that people cannot leave their jobs voluntarily and apply.

Why did the employment minister and the Prime Minister tell public servants to ignore the law passed by Parliament that states that people are only eligible for the CERB if they stopped working because of COVID-19?

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, the member opposite may not appreciate, as our government does, that we are experiencing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. That is why our government has acted, and it has acted with alacrity. We trust Canadians to do the right thing. Fraud, of course, will be investigated.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, memos do not write themselves. Why did the employment minister or the Prime Minister tell public servants to approve applicants who did not qualify for the CERB and are in violation of the law we passed?