Evidence of meeting #33 for Finance in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was pandemic.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Steven Grenier  President, Association des camps du Québec
Benoît Fontaine  President, Chicken Farmers of Canada
Joe Belliveau  Executive Director, Doctors Without Borders
Daniel Bernhard  Executive Director, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
Kevin Neveu  President and Chief Executive Officer, Precision Drilling Corporation
Michael Wood  Partner, Ottawa Special Events
Alan Shepard  President and Vice-Chancellor, Western University
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. David Gagnon
Michael Laliberté  Executive Director, Chicken Farmers of Canada
Jason Nickerson  Humanitarian Affairs Adviser, Doctors Without Borders
Katherine Scott  Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Nina Labun  Chief Executive Officer, Donwood Manor Personal Care Home
Megan Walker  Executive Director, London Abused Women's Centre
Vicki Saunders  Founder, SheEO
Melpa Kamateros  Executive Director, Shield of Athena Family Services

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Absolutely.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

It's your last question, Karen.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

I'm going to switch it over to Western. Thank you very much.

Thank you very much for coming. I'm a proud student of Western as well, and from London and that area.

I just have a quick question. What are you going to do?

I recognize that you said that 50% of those students coming are international students. They know how much they bring to that school and how much they offer.

What are your plans for transitioning, especially when we look to September and the ability of many of them to return? Will they be able to get back to classes? If classes are only going at 30% capacity virtually, do you fear they may not come to Canada? What are some of your concerns?

4:30 p.m.

President and Vice-Chancellor, Western University

Alan Shepard

Maybe I misspoke because our student body is 15% international.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Yes, it's 15%.

4:30 p.m.

President and Vice-Chancellor, Western University

Alan Shepard

It's not 50%.

We've planned a couple of things. One is that we acknowledge that they may not be able to get here physically until January, and the government is working with all universities around how we might start study permits for them in September in their home countries. Keeping in mind that a lot of the embassies and consulates around the world are closed at the moment, it's very complicated.

Yes, we do have some concerns. All universities in Canada are worried about this, recognizing that international students are big business for Canada. They bring in about $8 billion a year in GDP. It's a significant amount.

We're also planning for the fact that we might have to quarantine them when they first arrive. We have some facilities on campus where we could house people for a couple of weeks. We'll be urging them to arrive a bit early in Canada so they can get that taken care of before they enter our community to be safe.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Perfect.

Thanks very much.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you both.

I do want to come back to either Mr. Fontaine or Mr. Laliberté on one of Karen's questions.

On the 129 million birds that will be coming from the United States, what percentage of the Canadian market will they take up or supply? What percentage of the Canadian market will the U.S. now have?

4:35 p.m.

President, Chicken Farmers of Canada

Benoît Fontaine

First, we're talking about 129 million kilograms, not 129 million heads. We mustn't confuse heads with kilograms.

Second, 62.9 million kilograms have been set aside out of a total of 129 million kilograms. This is roughly 50%, and it amounts to 10.8% of the Canadian volume. For every kilogram of chicken that a person consumes, 100.8 grams come from elsewhere, and half of this certainly comes from the United States. This has created a major breach in supply management, which is very harmful to it. Supply management exists in the 10 Canadian provinces and is a solution for Canada's rural economy.

June 2nd, 2020 / 4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Are you saying it's 18% of the market in total they will have, just so I'm clear?

4:35 p.m.

President, Chicken Farmers of Canada

Benoît Fontaine

The total access is 10.8%.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

The Americans will hold 10.8% of our market. Thank you.

We'll turn to Ms. Koutrakis and then we'll go to Mr. Ste-Marie.

Annie.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My questions today will be for Doctors Without Borders. On your website there's an article and your organization mentions that initiatives launched by the United Nations, the G20 and the WHO to improve access to PPE have fallen flat without a form of regulatory power imposed on individual countries and manufacturers.

Can you describe the regulations you are proposing in more depth? How will they work to ensure the equitable distribution of PPE? Will they have an impact on Canada's production and distribution of PPE?

4:35 p.m.

Executive Director, Doctors Without Borders

Joe Belliveau

Thanks for the question.

I'll defer to Dr. Nickerson on that one.

4:35 p.m.

Dr. Jason Nickerson Humanitarian Affairs Adviser, Doctors Without Borders

We, like every other medical organization around the world today, are trying to access the same variety of medical supplies and PPE: surgical masks, N95 masks, respirators, gowns, gloves, all of these things. I think where we've found ourselves collectively in the world today is with a realization that this is in fact an entirely unregulated global market.

The particularities of how we manage our supply chains require us to be able to operate independently in order to react quickly and to get medical supplies into places that, frankly, are logistically quite difficult, places like South Sudan, Central African Republic and so on. The precise mechanism that's needed at a global level is still very much to be determined. We are effectively calling for some form of regulation of this market to ensure that it is not only a small subset of wealthy countries that can afford to pay, that have access to these supplies, but that it is in fact an equitable distribution and allocation to all countries, including those where we work. We very much are struggling to make sense of these global supply chains that are under incredible amounts of stress, just in the same way that Canada is as well.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Dr. Nickerson, what can the Canadian federal government do to support the regulated global trade of PPE during the pandemic? Is there a role that multinational institutions should be playing in regulating the distribution of PPE as well?

4:35 p.m.

Humanitarian Affairs Adviser, Doctors Without Borders

Dr. Jason Nickerson

Yes, absolutely. The Canadian government has taken great steps to be able to increase local production of things like masks, gowns and so on. Understandably, that's being done because there is some variety of market failure. I think the important thing to recognize and certainly to avoid is that this does not descend into a nationalism where every country is only producing the supplies that are needed to meet domestic demand.

As Mr. Belliveau mentioned, the pandemic doesn't end here until it ends everywhere. As the Canadian government looks at increasing the capacity to produce these supplies that are in short demand globally, I think it's incredibly important that it does so with the view of ensuring that needs are met, certainly at home, but also that needs are being met internationally so that our teams and health care professionals around the world are able to access these supplies.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you.

My next question is to Mr. Bernhard of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. I was listening with interest to your comments and your responses to my colleagues on the finance committee and I'd like you to speak a little further on Facebook and Google. What structural changes do you recommend to prevent the domination of Facebook and Google over Canadian journalism, specifically?

4:40 p.m.

Executive Director, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting

Daniel Bernhard

The establishment of a fair playing field is incredibly important. There are a number of measures. Forcing them to pay for the content that they use is definitely a key measure and an easy one that can be enacted right now. Following the lead of Quebec and Saskatchewan in requiring them to collect sales taxes on their products is something simple that can happen right now. Corporate income tax is another matter.

A last matter that I would say is this: Facebook profits by claiming to be a neutral platform, and as a result they allow all manner of content that is actually illegal to pass through. We're talking, for example, about hundreds of thousands of images, every day, of child sexual exploitation, and those are just the ones that are reported. There's been extensive documentation of this. This is content that their competitors that are in the same business would be shut down for. I think if we are a country of laws, we should start to apply them. I think if we did apply them, we would find that Canadian journalism organizations are actually quite efficient in ensuring that the content that gets through is safe and legal. If Facebook, as a competitor in the business, were held to the same standard, I think the marketplace would look quite different.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We'll turn now to Mr. Ste-Marie, followed by Mr. Julian. They'll have two and a half minutes each.

Is it Mr. Ste-Marie, or is it Mr. Brunelle-Duceppe?

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

It's me, Mr. Chair.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Go ahead, Alexis.

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

My question is for Mr. Fontaine.

How has the closure of restaurants and hotels and the suspension of cruises affected the supply chain in your sector?

4:40 p.m.

President, Chicken Farmers of Canada

Benoît Fontaine

The effects have been extremely swift. Forty per cent of our market disappeared overnight—no pun intended. Consumers went to the grocery store to purchase other products. We could conduct a survey on the screen. Many of us have eaten very few chicken wings, or none at all, for example, in the past month. When we go to festive places, hockey games or other events, we eat a great deal more chicken. It's a festive food.

For example, no one bought wings for two weeks, whereas people bought whole chickens. There was a huge break, which happened very quickly. The stocks of some pieces were increasing and the stocks of other pieces were disappearing, because people were no longer consuming the same product, in the same place, for the same reason.

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you for your response. It's very helpful.

There's a great deal of uncertainty with regard to COVID-19. This adds to the financial stress that producers were already facing after the ratification of the CPTPP. Producers have lost a significant market share at the national level. You said that earlier, and you even put a number on it. We've been waiting for over a year for the government to announce programs to strengthen the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the sector.

Where do things stand with regard to the negotiations on compensation for losses and the negotiations on trade agreements? Can you tell us this?