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Evidence of meeting #58 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was authority.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Wendy Zatylny  President, Association of Canadian Port Authorities
Michèle Biss  Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty
Janice Gray  Manager, Lottery, Canadian Cancer Society
David Macdonald  Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Gerry Gaetz  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Payments Association
Tom McAllister  Chief Executive Officer, Ontario, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Mostafa Askari  Assistant Parliamentary Budget Officer, Economic and Fiscal Analysis, Library of Parliament

10:30 a.m.

President, Association of Canadian Port Authorities

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

The port of Montreal is not at 100%. The port of Toronto is not at 100%. I don't think the port of Vancouver is at 100%. So in order for your statement to be correct, they'd have to be at 100% capacity now and trying to get more business that they can't get.

10:30 a.m.

President, Association of Canadian Port Authorities

Wendy Zatylny

The challenge with that statement is that ports become extremely inefficient at much less than 100% capacity. They tend to become inefficient at around 80% to 85%.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Thank you for that.

I have to take exception, Ms. Biss, to your explanation of what clauses 172 and 173 do. Let's be clear. There's not going to be any change whatsoever in social welfare services given to asylum claimants or refugees. Yes or no?

10:30 a.m.

Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty

Michèle Biss

These clauses will give provinces the option to do that.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

I'm going to explain that in a minute. Will there be any changes to asylum claimants or refugees?

10:30 a.m.

Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty

Michèle Biss

If the provinces decide to impose a minimum residency requirement because it won't affect their CST, it could.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

No, it can't. Clause 173 looks after that. That's the exception to the minimum residency requirements for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, protected persons who are not permanent residents, within the meaning of subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and victims of human trafficking who hold a valid temporary resident permit.

It's more than a little disingenuous when you say that. I just want to correct the record.

10:30 a.m.

Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty

Michèle Biss

Could I speak to that?

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Let me finish. Let's look at what this proposed legislative change does here.

It amends the federal-provincial fiscal arrangements to allow provinces and territories to introduce a minimum period of residency with the exceptions of those individuals whom I already listed. Currently they cannot do that because if they impose minimum residency that's clawed back from their transfer payments. So this gives them the jurisdiction that they already hold without losing any federal transfer payments. This is a correct and proper thing to do. This is not an improper thing to do.

Clauses 172 and 173 amend the legislation, allowing the provinces to put in whatever requirements they wish to put in and at the same time—and I want to say it again—with the exceptions of Canadian citizens, permanent residents, protected persons, refugees, and victims of human trafficking.

What is wrong with this system? You cannot lump them all together. Refugees, people who are victims of human trafficking, asylum claimants—that's not changed.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

A brief response....

10:35 a.m.

Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty

Michèle Biss

To clarify, what's important in the bill is what groups of people are left out there. What the bill reads is that it's people who have been successful so far in their refugee claims. When a person arrives in Canada as a refugee, and they have to wait for those three to four months for their determination to be made, they are a refugee. They might be unsuccessful later on in their claim, that's true, but those who are waiting for their refugee determination to be made are considered refugees.

If a successful refugee determination is made, it recognizes that they are refugees, not that they become one at that moment.

November 18th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

No, what it actually allows is those who are abusing the system, false refugees or fake asylum claimants, to lose their social assistance.

10:35 a.m.

Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty

Michèle Biss

What about those people who will be successful in their claims?

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

They are looked after—

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Okay. It's unfortunate that we are out of time. We'll have to have this debate carry on elsewhere.

Thank you, Mr. Keddy.

We will go to Mr. Brison for five minutes, please.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you very much.

I'll start with Ms. Zatylny from the port authorities. I'm told that Canadian pension plans are active in investing in transportation infrastructure and ports in other countries. Is that your understanding as well?

10:35 a.m.

President, Association of Canadian Port Authorities

Wendy Zatylny

Unfortunately, I am not aware of that. I can't comment, sir.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Are you aware of other countries that are using pension plans to modernize port facilities?

10:35 a.m.

President, Association of Canadian Port Authorities

Wendy Zatylny

I have heard, simply anecdotally, that there are other countries that are doing that, yes.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Australia, I understand, is one of them. There's also the emergence of pension plans, not just in Canada but globally, playing a more active role through public-private partnerships investing in modernizing infrastructure. I would be interested in your organization's view of that and the potential, given that Canada has probably the greatest concentration of expertise in the design, construction, and financing of infrastructure in the world, that's resident in Canada with our pension funds. I'd be interested in your organization's views on harnessing that expertise to build and modernize port facilities and other transportation infrastructure here. Does your organization have a view broadly on the use of institutional or pension fund money as investment to build and modernize infrastructure?

10:35 a.m.

President, Association of Canadian Port Authorities

Wendy Zatylny

Frankly, sir, it is not an area that we have considered specifically. However, given again that Canada's port authorities are remarkably adept at putting together multi-partner funding models, I think opening that up to include other investment sources that would fit into the business case of a particular project would be a positive thing.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

One of the impediments to Canadian pension plans playing a bigger role in financing projects in Canada is the size of projects. One of the things your organization could consider is that potentially the federal government could work with municipal governments, and other groups who have infrastructure that needs to be modernized, to bundle projects in similar asset classes.

The point with bond yields being at historic lows, and real interest rates being negative, is that we have a historic opportunity to engage smart money in the long-term investments required to modernize our infrastructure. So I agree broadly, but I'd be interested in perhaps having a meeting sometime to discuss some of those opportunities.

Back to this. Further to Mr. Keddy's questions, and I think he used the term false asylum seekers, some of these people would have children, so even if you had somebody who was pursuing asylum dishonestly, and potentially as an individual abusing the system, would these include a significant number of parents and people with children?

10:35 a.m.

Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty

Michèle Biss

Yes, absolutely. I think, again, it's fundamental to remember that we're talking about the first few months after a refugee claimant arrives in Canada, while they're waiting for their refugee determination. The bill does not distinguish between people who will be successful or unsuccessful simply because you can't determine it at that point in time. It's people who are vulnerable. It's people with children. It's many people who will later be successful with their refugee claims.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

The point is that children potentially could be, I would assume, unintended victims of the denial of provincial social assistance to refugees.