Evidence of meeting #168 for Finance in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was canada's.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Morna Ballantyne  Executive Director, Child Care Now
Brendan Marshall  Vice-President, Economic and Northern Affairs, Mining Association of Canada
Sarah Watts-Rynard  Chief Executive Officer, Polytechnics Canada
Michael Gullo  Senior Director, Policy and Public Affairs, Railway Association of Canada
David Snider  Director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation
Richard Rémillard  Board Director, Startup Canada
Peter Fragiskatos  London North Centre, Lib.
Victoria Lennox  Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Startup Canada
Blake Richards  Banff—Airdrie, CPC
Kim Rudd  Northumberland—Peterborough South, Lib.
Victor Wong  Member, Tax Committee, Railway Association of Canada
Keith Newman  Board Member, Canadian Health Coalition
Chris Roberts  National Director, Social and Economic Policy Department, Canadian Labour Congress
Andrew Van Iterson  Manager, Green Budget Coalition
Charlotte Bell  President and Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Industry Association of Canada
Paul Davidson  President, Universities Canada
David Al-Aidroos  As an Individual
Carolyn Webb  As an Individual
Sana Musa  As an Individual
Alain Trépanier  As an Individual
Roy Goodall  As an Individual
Stéphane Laviolette  As an Individual
Mary Patricia Blum  As an Individual
Jean-François Tardif  As an Individual
Duncan Black  As an Individual
Edidiong Ekanem  As an Individual
Jean-Pierre DeBeaumont  As an Individual

4:50 p.m.


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'm going to throw out a few questions and I'll see if we get to them all or not.

I want to start with a comment for the Railway Association. In summer 2015, VIA Rail committed to an additional early morning train on the north main line between London and Toronto going through St. Marys and Stratford. It's now fall 2018 and that still hasn't happened. I'm not going to ask you to answer on behalf of VIA Rail. I just want to put that on the record, because those of us in our community, in St. Marys and Stratford, are still waiting for that early morning train to be implemented as was promised by VIA Rail at the time.

I want to start with Polytechnics Canada. You mentioned in your submission the importance of work-integrated learning. We see that so often. You mentioned as well the importance of linking it to federal programs. You used the example of the innovation superclusters.

I'm curious as to whether there's been any discussion thus far with ISED Canada, with the department, on making that linkage happen. If so or if not, how do you foresee that working within the supercluster? What role do you think polytechnics would play within a structure like that?

4:50 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Polytechnics Canada

Sarah Watts-Rynard

We have ongoing discussions with the people at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada about our thinking. Certainly we're talking to them about the economic strategy tables and superclusters, and less so probably about the work-integrated learning, but we're seeing that coming out of those initiatives sectors are identifying skill shortages. If that is the case, then we have to find ways of making the connection between those sectors that are facing skill shortages and those students who are looking for opportunities.

We see an opportunity to make government a leader there, to be able to start saying, as part of our initiatives, that we want to start participating in work-integrated learning, because we think that's a good way of trying to reach the goal of giving every student access to economic opportunities in different sectors.

4:50 p.m.


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Thank you so much.

To both the Mining Association and the Railway Association, in your opening comments, you mentioned the U.S. tax reforms and the challenges those create on the Canadian side of the border.

One of the suggestions brought up, I believe, by the Railway Association was about the accelerated capital cost allowance, writing off capital cost purchases at the full 100% in the first year. I know in the past, prior to 2015, the allowance in the first year was 50%.

I'm curious as to how you would foresee that. I know you mentioned the full 100%. Do you see this as a permanent tax allowance? Do you see this as a short-term project of one or two years? How long do you foresee that happening?

Also, I wouldn't put you on the spot to estimate the cost of this across all sectors, but obviously this would likely be something we would apply to more than just the railway sector. I'm wondering if you foresee a ballpark cost of that within your industry.

For the Mining Association as well, can you foresee the impact this would have on the mining industry?

We will start with the Railway Association.

4:50 p.m.

Senior Director, Policy and Public Affairs, Railway Association of Canada

Michael Gullo


I may defer the ACCA question to you, Victor, if that's okay.

I would be very hesitant to try to predict what type of investment uptick this could create. I would just underline that we argue that the railway business is the most capital intensive business in the country. Right now we invest nearly 18% to 20% of our revenues, or over 50% of our net income every year, back into the infrastructure not as a running expense but as a capital expense. I think any tax reform that can help support that level of investment is going to lead to increased investments and be positive for competitiveness and economic growth.

4:55 p.m.

Victor Wong Member, Tax Committee, Railway Association of Canada

The tax rate in Canada right now is about 27%. At this point in time most of our track work writeoffs are at 5% in the first year and 10% in the second year. Roughly, the cost would be about 27% of whatever the spend would be.

4:55 p.m.

Vice-President, Economic and Northern Affairs, Mining Association of Canada

Brendan Marshall

If this committee sees fit to recommend that the Mining Association and the mining industry get an ACCA and that the Railway Association doesn't, I would be okay with that, just so we're clear, Mr. Nater.

There are two things. I think the ACCA is an important potential tax measure to stimulate investment, but it's not a silver bullet. For the mining industry in particular, our sector has been falling behind internationally in a tax-competitive space for a number of years. We would encourage the members of this committee to take into account broader options and not put all their eggs in one basket.

Some of those options would include phasing out the dividend withholding tax which Canada has while other jurisdictions don't. We have options to alleviate. Canada has a 50% capital gains tax whereas a number of our competitor jurisdictions also do not require that tax for those types of transactions. We would love to see the mineral exploration tax credit extended from having a one-year renewal to having a three-year renewal to provide a greater level of certainty for investment in that space.

With respect to the U.S.—

4:55 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

I'm going to have to cut you off there, unfortunately, unless you want to wrap it up. We'll give you another 10 seconds.

4:55 p.m.

Vice-President, Economic and Northern Affairs, Mining Association of Canada

Brendan Marshall

Thank you. Ten seconds is great.

With respect to the U.S., I think we're seeing a much more acute competitiveness concern.

Would this be an open-ended measure? I would imagine that even if you wanted to, you would never get that through Finance Canada. You would probably be looking at a five-year period, bookending on when the U.S. reform is likely to be revisited.

4:55 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

Thank you for that. I thank all our witnesses for coming forward today. We'll suspend, and we'll start up again in five minutes.

5 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

Welcome, everybody, to the finance committee. We have votes coming up, so we would like to move immediately to our witnesses for this second round.

We are hearing from: Keith Newman, from the Canadian Health Coalition; Chris Roberts, National Director of the Social and Economic Policy Department at the Canadian Labour Congress; and Andrew Van Iterson, Manager of the Green Budget Coalition.

From the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, we have Charlotte Bell, president and chief executive officer. From Universities Canada, we have Paul Davidson who is president and Wendy Therrien who is director, external relations and research. Thank you so much for being here for our pre-budget hearings.

We will start with Mr. Newman from the Canadian Health Coalition.

5:05 p.m.

Keith Newman Board Member, Canadian Health Coalition

Thanks very much.

The Canadian Health Coalition is a national public advocacy organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of public health care. Our membership includes organizations representing health care workers, nurses, retirees—I'm one of them—churches and trade unions, as well as coalitions in 10 provinces and one territory. I'm a member of the CHC board. I have a masters degree in economics from McGill University, and I am a constituent of Mr. Fergus who is sitting over there.

The CHC supports the implementation of a national universal public drug plan, as proposed by the HESA committee earlier this year. We ask the finance committee to recommend financial support in the 2019-20 budget for its implementation. Today I would like to focus on some of the financial and broader economic reasons for our support.

Some of you may be aware that currently, prescription drugs are provided through a patchwork of more than 100 public and an incredible 100,000 private plans, a system rife with high prices and excessive administration costs. Drugs should be included in medicare just like doctors and hospitals. A universal public plan would consolidate bargaining power at the national level and lead to lower prices through bargaining with pharmaceutical companies. Countries similar to ours with single-payer pharmacare, including Sweden and the U.K., spend only about two-thirds what we do on prescription drugs. We would achieve similar savings.

In 2016, if we had had a public drug plan, employers would have saved a remarkable $9 billion in that year alone. Every year, year in and year out, employers would save about almost $10 billion. A reduction in costs of this magnitude would enhance the competitiveness of Canadian businesses. The automobile industry has pointed out the value of public health care covering doctors and hospitals to its Canadian facilities. Pharmacare would add significantly to that advantage.

I would just like to note that the burden is not only financial. A public plan would also allow businesses to focus on running their firms rather than managing and bargaining drug coverage for their workers. From a business perspective, I have to tell you that an officer of a very large company once told me how she supported a public plan, because rather than deal with pressing business issues, she often had to deal with employees unhappy with the company's drug plan. She had no knowledge in the area, of course—how many of us do?—whereas a public plan would have specialists who could determine which drugs to cover based on the evidence. I would add that these specialists should be free of financial or other conflicts.

For households, if a public drug plan had been in effect in 2016, savings would have totalled $7.1 billion in just that year, once again, year in and year out. These numbers are according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. When premiums are included, it's $7 billion. People can invest that money in themselves or their small businesses or pay down debt.

In this case, the leadership of the federal government will be critical and must contribute a significant [Inaudible—Editor] to the program to induce the provinces to participate and to follow national standards. The CHC believes that the federal government should fund at least 50% of pharmacare. When medicare began 50 years ago, the federal government covered one half of the cost of doctors and hospitals, and it should do the same today for pharmacare.

Net new spending by the federal government would be rather modest given that it currently spends almost $3 billion on prescription drugs directly, as an employer, to first nations and others, and indirectly—and this is the largest part—through tax credits. Should money happen to be needed to be raised for pharmacare, it should come from small increases in personal and corporate income taxes, the fairest sources of taxation. An increase in the GST should not be considered. That would be both unfair and unpopular. A positive new program should not be associated with it. Might I add—and I would like to underline this three times—nor should a payroll tax on workers or employers be considered. Such taxes amount to a tax on jobs, increase their costs and hinder job creation. The competitive advantage of lower costs for employers would be negated by a pharmacare payroll tax.

To sum up, I'd just like to say that public health care can be thought of as part of Canada's social infrastructure, just as bridges, roads, ports and railways are part of our physical infrastructure. Efficient and fair drug coverage will add to our country's overall productivity and competitiveness. It will lead to a healthier population and less time away from work. It will reduce the burden on the health system caused by, it is estimated, 100,000 needless admissions to hospital every year resulting from non-adherence to required medication due to cost.

5:10 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

Thank you very much, Mr. Newman.

Now we will go to Chris Roberts, National Director for Social and Economic Policy at the Canadian Labour Congress.

5:10 p.m.

Chris Roberts National Director, Social and Economic Policy Department, Canadian Labour Congress

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon, committee members. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I'm here on behalf of the Canadian Labour Congress, Canada's largest labour central, advocating on behalf of three million workers in Canada.

I want to spend the time I have available today focusing on several priority areas for the labour movement: pharmacare, child care, good jobs and the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Our first recommendation is that the Government of Canada commence planning in budget 2019 to implement a national universal single-payer pharmacare program in Canada in conjunction with the provinces, territories and indigenous communities. Not only would a universal single-payer pharmacare program improve the health outcomes of Canadians and save billions of dollars in prescription drug spending, but it would also strengthen competitiveness by lowering employers' labour costs and improving labour mobility.

Canada's existing patchwork prescription drug system provides uneven and inequitable access to medicines, based on place of residence, employment status, income and age. The current system is also extremely wasteful and inefficient. We pay as much as $11 billion more than we would if we had a single-payer universal pharmacare system. Currently, drug prices are about 40% higher in Canada than in countries with single-payer, evidence-based pharmacare systems. We urge the federal government to sustainably fund the universal pharmacare plan based on principles of fair and progressive taxation.

The CLC also recommends expanded investments in such productivity-enhancing programs as universal, high-quality, accessible public child care. Accessible affordable child care has been shown to significantly boost women's labour market participation and training, to say nothing of the positive impact the investments in quality early learning and child care can have later in life. The government's current child care commitments are modest and should be significantly expanded, increasing the number of child care spaces available and reducing fees, enabling higher female labour market participation in order to offset the cost of the program.

We recommend that the federal government commit to a minimum of $1 billion in the coming fiscal year and an additional $1 billion each year until total spending on early learning and child care in Canada reaches the international benchmark of 1% of GDP.

In order to address Canada's long and disappointing record of sluggish productivity growth, the federal government must put quality jobs at the heart of its agenda. Labour market and social policies should systematically restrict precarious work and the exploitation of vulnerable workers. The federal government should strengthen labour standards and lead the way in improving job quality by ending contract flipping in airports and federally regulated workplaces, the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, and employers' ability to discriminate in pay and benefits based solely on employment status. I'm thinking here of part-time, temporary and contract workers. It should also reinstate the federal minimum wage at $15 an hour and implement a robust, proactive pay equity regime to close the gender wage gap.

Having ratified ILO convention 98, the government should improve access to collective bargaining for workers who want to form a union, and replace tied work permits, which currently shackle vulnerable migrant workers to their employers, with open work permits and a path to permanent residency. Budget 2019 should also include funding for increased labour program inspectors to enforce compliance with federal labour standards and for the additional staffing and enhanced training of health and safety officers necessitated by Bill C-65.

Finally, in order to stimulate business investment while meeting Canada's carbon emission reduction targets, the federal government should be much more ambitious with respect to investing in economic transformation for environmental resilience and sustainability. This means a much bolder plan of public investment in environmentally resilient infrastructure, renewable energy, public transit, and energy efficiency in home and building retrofits. An integral part of this plan must be continued investments in just transition measures to assist workers, their families and their communities affected by climate change and climate change policies.

Thank you very much. I look forward to any questions you might have.

5:15 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

Thank you very much, Mr. Roberts. You were under five minutes. I appreciate that.

We'll move to Mr. Van Iterson from the Green Budget Coalition.

5:15 p.m.

Andrew Van Iterson Manager, Green Budget Coalition

Mr. Chairman and honourable committee members, thank you for inviting the Green Budget Coalition to speak to you today.

Active since 1999, the Green Budget Coalition is unique in bringing together the expertise of 21 of Canada's leading environmental and conservation organizations as members, supporters and volunteers, and includes groups from Ducks Unlimited to Greenpeace.

The Green Budget Coalition's mission is to present an analysis of the most pressing issues regarding environmental sustainability in Canada, and to make a consolidated annual set of recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities.

Over the past week, we mailed each of you copies of this document, in English and French. It's the Green Budget Coalition's detailed recommendations for budget 2019, with five feature recommendations that I would like to highlight today.

Before doing so, I would like to reiterate the Green Budget Coalition's appreciation for budget 2018's investment of $1.3 billion to create and manage protected areas and recover species at risk. I would also like to reiterate the Green Budget Coalition's strong, long-standing support for taking credible, responsible action on climate change, particularly for implementing an effective price on greenhouse gas emissions. This is a measure that has broad support within Canada's business and environmental community.

For budget 2019, the Green Budget Coalition recommends that the Government of Canada prioritize actions to advance the following five recommendations collectively, with the potential to create notable economic, health and environmental benefits for Canadians, and offering many synergies amongst them: toxics and pesticides, fossil fuel subsidies and non-tax supports, sustainable agriculture, freshwater management and oceans.

First, we recommend tackling toxics and pesticides to protect the health of Canadians and our environment by providing regulatory departments—Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Health Canada—with sufficient resources to meet and enforce their current and anticipated federal legislative requirements related to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and the Pest Control Products Act for managing toxic substances including pesticides.

Second, regarding phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and non-tax supports, we recommend that the government continue progress on aligning fossil fuel tax policy with the government's climate change objectives through increased transparency and reporting, a credible peer review process, defining what “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” means, and a phase-out timeline for remaining subsidies and non-tax support.

Third, to deliver on Canada's commitments to sustainable agriculture, the Green Budget Coalition recommends investing in agri-environmental programs, research and development, and food loss and food waste prevention programs. This would make Canada a trusted global leader in sustainable food production and improve the agriculture sector's sustainability, resilience and competitiveness.

Fourth, to deliver 21st century management for freshwater protection, the Green Budget Coalition recommends addressing water challenges due to climate change and changing land use with improved data collection, restoring aquatic habitat, reducing land-based run-off of nutrients and pollution, and balancing hydroelectric development with river connectivity and flow.

Fifth, for conserving the biodiversity and health of our oceans, we recommend investing in long-term, stable funding to support Canada's domestic and international commitments to ocean co-management and conservation, ocean governance, and a blue economy, as well as addressing fisheries stock assessment, aquaculture research and ocean plastic pollution.

Last, in our document we also outline a number of complimentary recommendations relating to environmental science, data management, carbon pricing, international climate financing, allocating the costs of climate change, arctic ship fuels, zero emission vehicles, home and building energy efficiency, community ownership of clean energy, bird conservation, plastic waste, and first nations drinking water and waste water.

To conclude, I would like to thank you again for inviting me to speak here today. I look forward to your questions. I would happily meet with you individually with the coalition at another date.

Thank you.

5:20 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

Thank you.

You were also just under five minutes—a very impressive panel. It's a first. We've had people respecting time very effectively.

I now give the floor to Ms. Bell, from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.


5:20 p.m.

Charlotte Bell President and Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Industry Association of Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Now the pressure is on. I have to stay under five minutes. I'll talk fast.

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and honourable committee members. On behalf of the tourism industry, thank you for your invitation to participate. By the way, today is the eve of World Tourism Day, so it's very timely.

Canada's travel economy continues to provide financial and employment benefits to this country which surpass those of many sectors of the economy. Last year alone it generated almost $100 billion in revenue and 1.8 million jobs for Canadians. Tourism is one of the few sectors that has seen consistent growth and it is projected to keep growing worldwide. Considering that almost 1.3 billion visitors travelled the world in 2017 and posted 4.6% GDP growth worldwide, tourism continues to be a bright light in uncertain times where other sectors are experiencing challenges and decline.

Our pre-budget submission points to six key recommendations. As an overarching theme, Canada needs a more holistic approach to tourism policy.

Canada's tourism sector has had to react time and time again to policies and regulations that have serious implications to the health and sustainability of this sector. This happens consistently with little or no consultation with the industry. Just this summer the Department of Fisheries and Oceans implemented new regulations for marine mammals, which have serious consequences to whale-watching and ecotourism operators, but there was very little consultation.

The implementations of the electronic travel authorization, which we call the eTA, biometric requirements for visitor visas and the unexpected cancellation of the GST rebate last year are measures that have had significant impacts on tourism, especially for small and seasonal businesses.

International travel is on the rise, with last year's record-breaking 20.8 million travellers. Yet Canada remains 17th worldwide, compared with other countries. We did well, but we can do better.

Canada's travel economy includes millions of travellers who visit each year for business meetings, study and leisure. The meetings and conventions sector alone represents $30 billion in economic activity. Travel fosters trade, and there's a direct correlation between rises in international travel and subsequent increases in export volumes. According to a Deloitte study, “each 1% increase in Canadian arrivals would generate an $817 million increase in Canadian exports.” So what can we do to maximize Canada's growth?

In terms of marketing, Canada's capital investment in tourism falls well below that of Australia, the U.S., the United Kingdom and New Zealand. As the Government of Canada continues to focus on creating a competitive Canadian export market, let's remember that tourism is Canada's largest service export, but here, too, we fall below competitors such as Australia and others. What are these countries doing better?

Canada could easily improve its competitiveness by raising Destination Canada's base funding to $135 million per year, putting us on equivalent footing with Australia. A 10% annual performance-based increase in addition to stable base funding would also improve competitiveness.

Travel is experiential. We must ensure that visitors have the best experience possible when visiting Canada. Labour shortages continue to be a problem. There simply are not enough people to work during high season to keep up with demand, and this impacts visitor experience and our ability to meet traveller needs.

TIAC has long advocated for a path to immigration. We're pleased that new immigration targets could potentially fill 85,000 of the projected 145,000 jobs shortfall between 2018 and 2035. This still leaves us with a projected shortfall of 60,000 jobs at the end of the day. This issue is exacerbated by the government's categorization of tourism jobs as low skill and by the use of broad economic regions that make foreign recruitment inaccessible.

We urge the government to help us remedy this by using industry labour need as the main determinant to access all immigration streams, regardless of skill level. We should also prioritize the tourism sector in ESDC and IRCC programming by promoting tourism career options and funding programs to train under-represented labour pools, such as new Canadians, indigenous youth and people with disabilities.

Access barriers remain a significant irritant for international travellers. Canada should streamline the visa application process, open more visa application centres, invest in innovative biometric technologies, and move low-risk travellers to the eTA to improve visa openness.

Dear members, we have the opportunity to enhance the economic performance of one of Canada's most important growth sectors. TIAC has made several recommendations in its submission which address how to strengthen Canada's competitiveness on the international stage.

Thank you very much. I hope I stayed very close to five minutes.

5:25 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

You weren't bad.

Thank you very much, Ms. Bell.

I now give the floor to Mr. Davidson and Ms. Therrien from Universities Canada.

September 26th, 2018 / 5:25 p.m.

Paul Davidson President, Universities Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on behalf of Canada's 96 universities.

I am very happy to be joining you this afternoon.

Last year I appeared before this committee in Saskatoon, where we discussed how research drives innovation and builds prosperity. Since then we've seen important and new investments in research, including the announcement of five new superclusters and historic new investments in fundamental research.

Our members are grateful for the investments that were made in the 2018 budget to improve Canada's research ecosystem.

It was great to see the recommendations of this committee see their way through to the budget in 2018.

This year we encourage the government to build on that momentum by investing in the skills and talent of Canada's young people across all disciplines. We did make a formal written submission to the committee and we were in touch with each of your offices with additional information.

In a world of disruption and constant change, our most valuable resources are our people. As we saw on multiple fronts this past summer, trade and diplomatic relationships can change quickly. Investment in people and ideas helps us navigate that change and maximize new economic opportunities.

Our first set of recommendations is about equipping young people with the skills they need to compete in the 21st century. That's why we've joined our partners on the Business/Higher Education Roundtable and 25 other organizations to call for all post-secondary students to have valuable work-integrated learning experience.

We also see an urgent need for more of Canada's young people to have an international study experience. Last fall a groundbreaking report called “Global Education for Canadians: Equipping Young Canadians to Succeed at Home and Abroad” noted that business and civil society leaders are warning that Canada is not preparing its young people to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

In previous years I've talked about the importance of attracting international students to Canada, and that remains important. International students contribute more than $15.5 billion to Canada's economy—more than the export of wheat, more than the export of softwood, and as much as the export of auto parts. International students are drivers in communities across Canada, large and small. Canada's universities have met our target for attracting students five years ahead of schedule, but the percentage of Canadian students who have an international experience—a year abroad, a term abroad, or a work study experience internationally—has not changed in decades. We have to do better.

I also urge this committee to take action on the chronic underfunding of student financial aid for indigenous students. Now is the time for the government to act on its budget 2017 commitment to address the needs of indigenous students who want to pursue post-secondary education. We all know that a university degree opens a pathway to a brighter future for indigenous students and their communities, yet only 10.9% of indigenous people have a university degree, compared with the national average of 29%. Canada must do better.

Canada's universities have embraced the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report and have made important progress on improving students' access to success—and I hope to get some questions in that regard—but indigenous students need increased direct financial aid. More support is needed for student services, such as gathering places and elders on campus, to help indigenous students complete their education and achieve their full potential.

We also recommend the government expand support for programs that work, like Indspire's building brighter futures. Some of you may have been with Chief Roberta Jamieson yesterday at the Indspire awards. There is incredible potential in this country and huge need.

Our final area of recommendation links the investments in students and people to Canada's research and innovation agenda, because investing in people and ideas also means supporting research talent and the places where discoveries are made. We must remember that investments in research are investments in students.

Just last month I was in Halifax, where I met a student named Jaime Wertman. Jaime started out studying philosophy but got hooked on biology. She's now pursuing her Ph.D. by doing research with zebra fish to improve the prognosis for children with cancer. Jaime credits that background in philosophy for making her a better researcher. Jaime's path has been shaped by working alongside leading-edge researchers throughout her studies. Today about 56% of undergraduate students have opportunities to work with top researchers. We need to increase that number.

The skills those students learn are the skills employers need: problem-solving, teamwork, and analytical and communications skills. While real progress has been made on supporting research talent, I want to draw your attention to important unfinished business.

Specifically, the 2018 budget spoke to the need to increase support for graduate scholarships and fellowships, and we look forward to progress there in the next budget. To support Canada's talented researchers in doing their best work, Canada needs to invest in world-leading research and training environments. This can be achieved through significant, multi-year increases to the research support fund, as recommended by the Fundamental Science Review.

In a world that is evolving quickly, urgent measures must be taken for young Canadians.

I want to thank this committee for your work. I know. I've seen you in Saskatoon. I've seen you in New Brunswick. I've seen you on budget night. I see the difference you are making in the lives of Canadians. I thank you for your work and I ask for your support on these important investments for young people.

5:30 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

Thank you very much.

The bells are ringing. Do I have unanimous consent to continue for another 20 minutes?

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


5:30 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

Terrific. Do I have unanimous consent to move to a five-minute round instead of seven minutes?

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


5:30 p.m.


The Vice-Chair NDP Peter Julian

Great. We will go to Madam Rudd.

5:30 p.m.

Northumberland—Peterborough South, Lib.

Kim Rudd

Thank you very much, all of you, for coming tonight.

I don't know where to start. I have five minutes and so many questions.

I'm going to start with Mr. Roberts and the CLC.

You noted in your brief that you support a national seniors strategy. You talk in the brief about food security, among other things. You talk about home care, which we all agree is very important. I just want to remind everyone that a couple of things have happened. We put in the first Canadian poverty reduction strategy ever, which is something I'm very proud of, and we also have $40 billion over 10 years for housing, affordable and attainable housing, as well as seniors housing and more.

The other thing you mentioned, which I just reiterated, was the home care piece. Last year we reached an agreement with the provinces and territories on $11 billion over 10 years for home care, community care and mental health. When you mention these things in your brief, are you looking at an expansion of those programs or do you have anything specific that you're wanting to let us know you'd like to see in addition?