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

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Paulette Senior  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation
Rahul O. Singh  Executive Director, GlobalMedic
Vivian Krause  Researcher and Writer, As an Individual
Jesse Brown  Publisher, CANADALAND, As an Individual
Michelle Kovacevic  Assistant Deputy Minister, Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Evelyn Lukyniuk

12:35 p.m.

Publisher, CANADALAND, As an Individual

Jesse Brown

I don't attempt to.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Okay. Fair enough.

Now, in terms of the $64,000 that was paid by WE, through her agency, to Margaret Trudeau, was that money paid back to ME to WE?

12:35 p.m.

Publisher, CANADALAND, As an Individual

Jesse Brown

According to WE Charity, this was a billing error. Our documentation shows that if it was a billing error, it was actually a series of many billing errors, because payments were in the realm of $7,500 speaking fees split into two payments. If you think of $64,000 in payments, that suggests many, many errors.

I'll also point out to this committee that, as we've reported, up until June 26, I believe, WE Charity was telling the public that they had made no payments—neither from their for-profit company nor from their charity—to the Trudeaus at all. To their later statement that when they realized these billing errors, they reimbursed the money, it logically follows that they realized these errors when Canadaland showed them that we knew about these errors, at which point—I'll give them the benefit of the doubt—they reimbursed their charity.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

This will be your last question, Michael.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

We've seen a lot of money going back and forth between WE and ME to WE, and also from ME to WE to WE. It's WE's position that in the end, WE has come out on top.

Could you discuss or explain donations compared with contributions, and how in fact WE may not have come out on top, in the end?

12:40 p.m.

Publisher, CANADALAND, As an Individual

Jesse Brown

As Canadaland reported, based on our interview with Kate Bahen of Charity Intelligence, when ME to WE—the company—moves resources to WE Charity, it is as a mixture of money, time and products, and because ME to WE is a privately held company, we don't really have much insight into what that mixture is. However, when WE Charity moves charitable funds raised in our schoolrooms and elsewhere to the Kielburgers' private company, it's as cash.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We will now turn to Ms. Koutrakis, followed by Mr. Fortin.

Annie.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to all the witnesses before us this afternoon. My questions will be addressed to Ms. Senior.

I'm personally committed to helping women and girls in general, and particularly during the pandemic. I was so pleased that our government was able to provide much-needed funding to women's shelters and sexual violence centres, including to organizations in my own riding of Vimy in Laval, Quebec.

Ms. Senior, I want to begin by drawing attention to a few statistics on the students who applied to the CSSG program. It has been noted in the media as well that 64% of the applicants for the CSSG identified as visible minorities, that 23% were from rural Canada, and 10% were from the LGBTQ2 communities.

Clearly, this is an incredibly inclusive program that has worked to create opportunities for groups of Canadians who have been traditionally under-represented. I'm extremely saddened that there's been a delay in rolling out this much-needed program to students, to the not-for-profit organizations and to the end-users who are the people who need it the most.

Can you share your thoughts on why programs such as the CSSG are so important to women and girls, and especially to those who identify as visible minorities or who belong to the LGBTQ2 community?

12:40 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

Thank you for the question.

I can't speak about details of that program, because we were not among the folks who signed up to participate, and that's because of our work. Our work is really focused on supporting women's organizations, particularly during COVID, which were experiencing increases due to gender-based violence during the pandemic.

I mentioned the statistics around that. The Canadian Women's Foundation has had 30 years of granting, so we have deep experience in this, and we've been able, over the past 10 years or so, to partner with the government on a number of different initiatives.

For this particular time that we're in, we were able to secure funding that would then be distributed to hundreds of organizations across the country—first, the sexual assault centres. Then, we are currently in the midst of distributing funds to gender-based violence organizations, which, as you know, have experienced significant setbacks in their ability to do their work effectively while being able to support and provide services and programs to women in need.

That's what I could speak to in terms of the student program. Mr. Singh may have more information about it, but that is the work that I can speak to as the Canadian Women's Foundation.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Is your organization experiencing challenges in attracting volunteers because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

12:40 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

Well, what I've heard specifically from the grantees we fund across the country is that, in their response to addressing COVID, they experienced setbacks in being able to utilize the services of volunteers, for a number of reasons. One is around safety precautions, being able to access PPE, and being able to have only those within their places of service who could directly serve their clients. While they may be able to use volunteers, being able to pivot quickly to figure that out was something they needed to do.

We haven't had organizations say to us that this has been in the top 10 or top five issues they're contending with, because when you're dealing with issues around gender-based violence, you want to be able to respond quickly to make sure folks get access and make sure women can leave abusive situations to be able to enter shelters or other kinds of gender-based organizations.

That's what I could speak to. I couldn't speak to matters with respect to volunteers.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

I know that your foundation, as you mentioned in your testimony, does very critical work for women, and we have seen the disproportionate impact this crisis has had on women, as per your testimony and so many other witnesses before the committee before today.

As we turn towards recovery, what additional steps would you like to see the government take to make the recovery inclusive, beyond the three recommendations that you mentioned in your testimony?

12:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

We feel that this is a critical moment, particularly for the women's sector, but the charitable sector overall. It's important that we recognize the contributions that the charitable sector makes to this country. Were we not around, we would have a very different society and very different impact in terms of matters around poverty and so forth.

For us, it's important that we have healthy, vibrant organizations. Core funding is critical to that. We need to be able to build better. We need to be able to establish a new normal for charitable organizations that is mindful of the issues that are really impacting the lives of women, people living with various multiple barriers and racialized people, as you mentioned, LGBTQ2S people, and people on the non-binary spectrum, people who are living in poverty and migrant workers.

There's a whole group of organizations that really need to be supported, and organizations that we and others fund and are working with are the ones that deliver these services. We need to really be stabilized. We need a stabilized fund investment that will ensure that we can continue our services.

A lot of these organizations, whether they're our grantees or not, depend not just on the staff but on the supporting structures around them. We are a national network of organizations that we convene from time to time to talk about how to best improve our services. We've heard from them that they need to be able to have stabilized funding in order to continue their work.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you, all.

We'll turn to Mr. Fortin, followed by Mr. Angus.

I don't believe Mr. Fortin is there.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We'll go to Ms. Gaudreau.

Go ahead.

12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Good afternoon.

My first question is for Ms. Senior.

Ms. Senior, I listened carefully to your comments. What you are doing is highly commendable. I have a few simple questions for you.

I am trying to establish whether there is a connection. Were you contacted by the WE organization?

12:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

No, we were not.

12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Okay.

In the course of its activities, has your foundation ever received a government grant?

July 22nd, 2020 / 12:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

Yes, we have. As I mentioned in my previous comments, we are an organization that has been established to provide grants. We are a national network of women's organizations across the country, so we've been able to pivot quickly to direct funds to the sector, particularly to gender-based violence organizations across the country.

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

How much federal government funding have you received to date?

12:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

We've received $13 million to date in two separate pots of funding, one to distribute to sexual assault centres, which we were able to do in a matter of three weeks to 93 organizations, and then most recently, in the past couple of weeks, $10 million to distribute to gender-based violence organizations, which we are in the midst of doing. We've already been able to distribute to over 200 organizations, and counting.

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Thank you, Ms. Senior.

I now have a few questions for Mr. Singh.

Mr. Singh, you talked about the mechanisms and so on. Let me give you a few moments to tell us more, since you had very little time earlier.

12:50 p.m.

Executive Director, GlobalMedic

Rahul O. Singh

On the mechanisms that I was referring to, do you mean the $350 million or the other two grants?

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

I'm talking about the other two grants.

12:50 p.m.

Executive Director, GlobalMedic

Rahul O. Singh

So the summer jobs and WE Charity.