Evidence of meeting #215 for Finance in the 42nd 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

Maude Lavoie  Director General, Business Income Tax Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Trevor McGowan  Director General, Tax Legislation Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Charlene Davidson  Senior Project Leader, Financial Crimes Policy, Financial Systems Division, Financial Sector Policy, Department of Finance
Samuel Millar  Director General, Corporate Finance, Natural Resources and Environment, Economic Development and Corporate Finance, Department of Finance
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. David Gagnon
Darryl C. Patterson  Director, Corporate, Insolvency and Competition Policy Directorate, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Department of Industry
Tolga Yalkin  Director General, Consumer Product Safety Directorate, Department of Health
Colin Stacey  Acting Director General, Pilotage Act Review, Department of Transport
Sara Wiebe  Director General, Air Policy, Department of Transport
Joyce Henry  Director General, Office of Energy Efficiency, Energy Sector, Department of Natural Resources
André Baril  Senior Director, Refugee Affairs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Michel Tremblay  Senior Vice-President, Policy and Innovation, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Ariane Gagné-Frégeau  Procedural Clerk
Karen Hall  Director General, Social Policy Directorate, Strategic and Service Policy Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development
Hugues Vaillancourt  Senior Director, Social Development Policy Division, Social Policy Directorate, Strategic and Service Policy Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

You can call me Pierre.

He's correct. There is a lot of reporting in the legislation.

My friend, Tom, is proposing the specific number of houses built, so we have the actual units, the end result. Am I right?

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Yes.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

One of the problems with government is that we celebrate how much money we're spending and how many reports we're writing, but we don't actually report on what results it all has achieved. Mr. Kmiec has said, “Look, you're telling me this is about building houses. How many houses did you build?” Often, government doesn't like to report on hard results, because so much of the money in these trickle-down government policies just gets gobbled up by bureaucracy and very little actually gets to the people who were its intended beneficiaries.

A great economist once said that a policy should not be judged by its intentions but by its results. We'd like to see those results reported.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

I believe you wanted in, Mr. Kmiec.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

I've actually read those reports and they're not as consistent across the board, year to year. This would be providing a requirement for CMHC to report those numbers exactly, using these four metrics right here.

Time and again, you've heard me at committee ask officials, and the CEO of CMHC.... Then I asked the Department of Finance officials about that $100,000 number, about shared equity mortgages. Nobody could really figure out where it was coming from, until I asked the question at the public accounts committee. I finally did get an answer from the CEO on where they got the number. That's why, on these numbers, I want it reported back.

I'll also remind you of the Auditor General's fall report, which lambasted the government for being concerned only with big dollar amounts as achievements. The Auditor General's report, which was an across government look, accused the government of measuring success by dollars shovelled out the door. If we're going to shovel money out the door in the vast volumes the government is intent on right now, I think the minimum we could ask is that they report back on what they did with the money, beyond just press releases and pretty documents that are really marketing documents the CMHC and others do.

This would be a required amount of information on the NHS, so that we have it, as parliamentarians, and every document tabled in the House of Commons gets that sessional paper number. It's extremely easy to find thereafter through the Library of Parliament. Otherwise, it's quite difficult.

Government documents on Crown corporation websites routinely get taken down. I know this because I have come across broken links from older documents that are no longer available. I think this is the minimum requirement, things like, “unit upgraded, renovated and modernized”.

We saw a fiasco with one of your parliamentary secretaries inflating the numbers, for which she was called out. This would avoid that situation. It would provide clarity to all members of Parliament, regardless of party. Then we would know what's going on, and there would not be a reliance on what I call marketing documents, which may or may not have that information within them. More transparency is always a good thing.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 313 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 314 agreed to on division)

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you, gentlemen.

Now we'll turn to division 20, which would enact the poverty reduction act.

There are a couple of officials to come forward.

Ms. Hall is the Director General, Social Policy Directorate, ESDC; and Mr. Vaillancourt is the Senior Director, Social Development Policy Division, ESDC.

(On clause 315)

We'll start with amendment NDP-13. If it's adopted, NDP-17 cannot be moved.

Mr. Dusseault, do you want to speak to that?

5 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Of course. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to inform you in advance that there are a series of amendments to come regarding the proposed legislation, the Poverty Reduction Act, in its current version, before the amendments.

In my opinion, this title betrays the Government of Canada's lack of ambition with respect to the problem of poverty, since it aims to reduce it rather than eliminate it. Several witnesses also said that the government's targets were not ambitious enough and that we should pursue the primary objective that has been adopted internationally, which is to eliminate poverty and not just reduce it.

If the government had enough ambition, it would change the title and the provisions that flow from it, of course, and change the word “reduction” to “elimination”.

Amendment NDP-13 is intended to correct this. The amendments that follow are aimed at the same thing. We had some difficulty identifying all the occurrences of the word “reduction” in the bill, but the same objective remains: to give the government more ambition. Obviously, some of this was missing when the bill was drafted.

You will notice that many of the upcoming motions are designed to ensure that the word “elimination” is found everywhere.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Sorbara.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I also want to thank my colleague Mr. Dussault for his amendment.

Thank you for this amendment, Mr. Dusseault.

First of all, with regard to the poverty reduction act, our government for the first time in our country's history is introducing legislation that would see a large reduction in poverty from coast to coast to coast. In fact, since we have come to office, 825,000 Canadians have already been lifted out of poverty as stated by Statistics Canada. This legislation demonstrates the government's utmost commitment to continue to reduce poverty and continue to improve the lives of all Canadians.

I would be voting against the amendment that the member has brought forward. It is not aligned with our government's commitment. As such, we do not support the amendment.

As stated in the legislation, by 2030 we are committed to a sustainable goal of reducing poverty by at least 50% for at least half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.

Thank you very much.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

I remind people that officials are here if there are any questions for the officials.

Mr. Dusseault.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Clearly, the government just confirmed its goal is to reduce poverty instead of eliminating it. It's unfortunate that there's a lack of ambition from the government in just wanting to reduce it instead of eliminating it. I think it's very unfortunate today that they're keeping that goal instead of wanting to eradicate poverty.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay, the point's been made.

We'll vote on NDP-13.

May 27th, 2019 / 5:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

I would like a recorded vote.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

All right.

Madam Clerk.

5:05 p.m.

Ariane Gagné-Frégeau Procedural Clerk

Madam Bendayan.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Yes.

Is this on the NDP amendment? I thought it was on the clause, not on the amendment. I apologize.

My vote is no on the amendment.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Can you switch your answer?

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Yes, she can, if she realized that she thought she was voting on something else rather than what she was voting on.

The vote from Ms. Bendayan is no.

(Amendment negatived: nays, 8; yeas, 1 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The amendment is lost.

On PV-3, I know the representative from the Green Party is not here, but it is deemed moved, so it is on the floor if somebody wants to speak to it.

Mr. Longfield, go ahead.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

I think this relates to the previous amendment as well where we're reflecting the United Nations sustainable development goals, and she's put some language in to that effect. I think it looks good. It's consistent with what we're trying to do to align ourselves with international progress against poverty.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Are there any further comments?

Mr. Dusseault.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Chair, I have an identical amendment. It is amendment NDP-19, I believe.

No, I'm mistaken; it may not be identical.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay, but you're on the right path is what you're telling us. Is that right, Pierre?

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

It resembles it very much, but it is not identical.

That's too bad. I hope the government will also vote in favour of amendment NDP-19.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We'll vote on PV-3.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

Next is NDP-14. If this one is adopted, NDP-15 cannot be moved due to a line conflict.

Mr. Dusseault.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Indeed, Mr. Chair, you are getting ahead of me.

I was going to say that the series of amendments I am proposing are intended to correct the deficiency that has been identified by witnesses. This gap affects the measurement tool used to establish the official poverty line.

In the bill, we propose the market basket metric. This question was the subject of extensive discussions and debates, and opinions were divided.

If my amendments are adopted, there will be others, all of which are aimed at correcting this deficiency.

My first proposal is to slightly modify the notion of “poverty line”, which would be called the “official poverty reference line”. My goal here is to strike a balance between the government's proposal that the poverty line be based on the market basket metric, and what some witnesses have proposed, which is to abandon that metric outright and find another one.

A formal poverty reference line would be a better representation of how the poverty line should be understood. In light of this change, the definition and all consequential provisions would then have to be amended. This baseline would allow the poverty rate to be measured, and progress towards the targets to be assessed.

Although minor, this change would improve many things, according to the IRIS research institute, located in Quebec.