Evidence of meeting #38 for Finance in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was airports.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Brian Kingston  Vice-President, International and Fiscal Issues, Business Council of Canada
Scott Chamberlain  Director of Labour Relations, General Counsel, Association of Canadian Financial Officers
Brian Emmett  Chief Economist, Canada's Charitable and Nonprofit Sector, Imagine Canada
Monique Moreau  Director, National Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Laurell Ritchie  Co-chair, Inter-Provincial EI Working Group
Pierre Cadieux  Vice President, Federal and Quebec Governmental Relations, Restaurants Canada
Daniel-Robert Gooch  President, Canadian Airports Council
William Miller  President, Canadian Association of Radiologists
Carl Weatherell  Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Mining Innovation Council
Sahir Khan  Executive Vice-President, Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy
Jean Robitaille  Senior Vice-President, Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, Canada Mining Innovation Council
Nicholas Neuheimer  Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association of Radiologists

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thanks to both of you.

Mr. Ouellette.

September 29th, 2016 / 4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Thank you very much, Chair.

I realize that this might be an unusual question that I'm going to be asking, but nonetheless I'm going to proceed. From your field of expertise, I wonder if you would be able to offer your thoughts on what your organization is doing concerning indigenous peoples, and what you feel, if you believe you have the capacity, the government should be doing concerning indigenous peoples in Canada.

That's a question for everyone. I guess we can start with Mr. Cadieux.

4:45 p.m.

Vice President, Federal and Quebec Governmental Relations, Restaurants Canada

Pierre Cadieux

Again, I come back to the youth aspect. Indigenous communities have a serious problem with youth employment. I think we can offer solutions there. We would look forward to working with the federal government, with specific programs, to hire and train youth in our industry. It's about as simple as that.

It's the source of first jobs for youth. It's a fantastic business ground to learn basic business and trade skills, and what have you.

We are there with you. We would like to collaborate.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

I just want to offer a comment.

Ownership is also really important. Obviously, I don't expect an answer today, but in the long term, I'd like you to consider, perhaps, how you would get indigenous people to own businesses—not just simply in the restaurant, in the back, those things, but ownership—so that they can be entrepreneurs as well.

I'll move on to Ms. Ritchie.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

That's a very good point.

4:50 p.m.

Co-chair, Inter-Provincial EI Working Group

Laurell Ritchie

First of all, our organizations are advocacy groups for paid employees. We would not be necessarily looking at issues of ownership and so on.

We do look—especially in a city like Toronto and in some of the other large urban centres—at what happens to people off-reserve who end up in poorly paid employment and aren't getting sufficient hours. Certainly, in many communities, that would include a lot of indigenous folks.

We were strong advocates of getting rid of the 910-hour rule, and that's one of the wins along the way, but there is a long way to go for people who end up, for one reason or another, in precarious and low-paid work, and that would certainly include a lot of indigenous workers.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Ms. Moreau, go ahead.

4:50 p.m.

Director, National Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Monique Moreau

I think you've hit the nail on the head, in terms of what we can do to encourage entrepreneurship, whether that's for indigenous members or the country or Canadians as a whole.

We have some ideas that we think would facilitate that and make it easier to start a business, to reduce the financial obligations of a business when it is complying with CRA and with various government organizations, and then to grow that business by creating an environment where it can hire.

As an organization, we have certainly, in the last two years, focused on expanding our membership to include not just indigenous entrepreneurs, but also entrepreneurs from other marginalized components of society.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We have to wrap this up fairly quickly.

You wanted to go back into it for a minute, Mr. Cadieux.

4:50 p.m.

Vice President, Federal and Quebec Governmental Relations, Restaurants Canada

Pierre Cadieux

Yes. I just had an afterthought.

Because of my responsibilities in Quebec, I just want to underline the fact that we are working with L’Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec to look at how we are going to approach indigenous communities.

I salute Senator Charlie Watt, whom I am about to meet, and the Makivik Corporation, a very entrepreneurial group.

We will be moving forward on that chapter, and I would like to keep you informed on that.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Emmett, did you want to add anything?

4:50 p.m.

Chief Economist, Canada's Charitable and Nonprofit Sector, Imagine Canada

Brian Emmett

I would just say that equity, inclusion, and respect for the environment are areas that charities specialize in and that we have in common with aboriginal people. Many charities are run by aboriginal people, dealing with the problems of aboriginal people.

At the national level, which is where I work, we are actively seeking to recruit board members from the aboriginal community and generally raise the profile of aboriginal issues, in terms of our priorities.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Chamberlain, go ahead.

4:50 p.m.

Director of Labour Relations, General Counsel, Association of Canadian Financial Officers

Scott Chamberlain

As long as we are investing in infrastructure, the bulk of that infrastructure investment should be to provide clean water and housing with dignity for indigenous peoples. Opportunity comes from having food on the table, having clean water, and having a safe place to live. The investments that Canada is prepared to make should be made. The lion's share should be made to our indigenous communities. We have a long way to go to recognize the indigenous communities as a full partner.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Kingston, please give a quick comment.

4:50 p.m.

Vice-President, International and Fiscal Issues, Business Council of Canada

Brian Kingston

Thank you. A number of companies that we represent, particularly in remote communities—and I'm thinking about the mining sector in particular—do employ a number of indigenous people. I think anything that can be done, though, to improve programs that promote education, training, and support, but also indigenous businesses in the supply chain... Some companies have programs like that, but again, anything that could be done would go a very long way.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

And just—

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Robert, we're going to have to cut you there. We're well over. Leona has the floor.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

I appreciate it. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Leona.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Leona Alleslev Liberal Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

Good day, and thank you very much.

I'm not normally a member on this committee, so it's a real gift for me to be here. I want to thank each one of you because I've learned a great deal from your presentations.

I also have two questions, one for Mr. Kingston and one for Ms. Ritchie.

I wanted to say, of course, that we have the lowest to debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. We've committed to bringing that down over the next five years and at the same time making considerable investments in infrastructure. I wonder if you would not consider that a strong and comprehensive message or fiscal signal.

On the topic of infrastructure, I have basically three questions.

You defined that we need to prioritize projects that have a direct and measurable impact on the Canadian economy. How you would measure the current state? What criteria would you use to ensure that those are direct and measurable impacts? Are there specific big rail, road, or airport projects that your members feel would make a significant impact in the short term on the growth of the economy?

4:55 p.m.

Vice-President, International and Fiscal Issues, Business Council of Canada

Brian Kingston

On the fiscal point, we're not against fiscal stimulus by any means, we just would like the government to have a very clear target. Yes, the government has said we'll decrease the debt-to-GDP ratio, but that could be by 0.01%. If you set a target, it's a fiscal anchor, and then that drives decision-making around budgeting decisions. That's our point there, but we fully support fiscal stimulus when it's done in productivity-enhancing projects. On that, on infrastructure spending, we would like to see an independent entity created to actually prioritize these projects and come up with a system that can evaluate which investments will have the biggest impact.

I'll give you an example of one, and this kind of relates to my trade comment. Port Metro Vancouver is looking to expand the Roberts Bank Terminal. That will help facilitate trade to growing Asian markets. That's the type of project I mean when I say productivity-enhancing.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Leona Alleslev Liberal Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

I would ask you, if you are willing at some point, to please give us your opinion on what the criteria would be for that independent organization, and whether there any other large projects.

4:55 p.m.

Vice-President, International and Fiscal Issues, Business Council of Canada

Brian Kingston

One thing I would note is that there hasn't been enough research done in Canada on the multiplier effect of fiscal stimulus, particularly around infrastructure. There are different multipliers that are put out by different economists, but I think some research there to determine what would have the biggest impact broadly on the Canada economy would be extremely valuable for everybody.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Leona Alleslev Liberal Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

Outstanding. Thank you.

My second question is for Ms. Ritchie.

I was very interested to hear you state how we need to make EI a little bit more robust and ensure that it address precarious temporary and part-time jobs. I wonder if you could give me some thoughts on how we might go about doing that.

We have, by any guess, sometimes almost a third of our workforce not considered employees, and therefore they don't fall under that category. They are are contract workers or whatever. What would that look like? Would there would be different EI rates perhaps for those who are full-time employees, from a company perspective, versus those who are part-time or contract because perhaps, by definition, they would be more precarious? Do you have any insight into how we might implement a broader system in that regard?