Evidence of meeting #37 for Health in the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was children.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Lynne Tomson  Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Branch, Department of Health
Stephen Lucas  Deputy Minister, Department of Health
Nadine Leblanc  Senior Vice-President, Policy, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Right. We have the answer. It is very clear.

Minister, you are also the Minister of Equity. At present, under your program, in Quebec, a senior who is very poor, single, and living only on their old age security pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement, has an annual income of $20,500. They are not eligible for your benefit.

Is that your definition of equity? Is that what equity looks like where you come from?

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen Liberal York South—Weston, ON

First of all, the new minister is France-Élaine Duranceau—

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

That concerns the previous question. I have asked a new one.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen Liberal York South—Weston, ON

You asked me the question. I'm answering.

In terms of the issue of the money helping residents of Quebec....

We know that it is increasingly difficult for many Canadians to pay higher rents, or even to find housing they can afford. That is why we are bringing a bill forward that will enable us to pay $500 quickly to the 1.8 million Canadian renters who are having trouble paying their rent.

That includes, of course, residents of Quebec. This will help them as well. This already builds up on the existing Canada housing benefit agreement that we've signed with the Province of Quebec, which is already helping 145,000 households in Quebec. We have been active in providing rental supports to vulnerable Quebeckers, and we'll continue to do that with this one-time top-up.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you, Minister.

Thank you, Mr. Garon.

Next is Ms. Kwan for six minutes.

Welcome to the committee, Ms. Kwan. You have the floor.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Ministers and officials, for being here today.

First, I'd like to ask a question of Minister Duclos with respect to the dental care plan. One of the issues that's surfaced.... Constituents of mine and others have been asking about this, and I want to hear directly from the minister about it.

Indigenous children are under a different program. They're under the non-insured health benefits program. How do the provisions within this initiative measure against that? That is to say, is it the case that indigenous children under the non-insured health benefits are getting equivalent services or supports under their program?

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

Thank you, MP Kwan. That's a great question. Let me try to answer it in two pieces.

First, you are correct. The non-insured health benefits are available for indigenous children. Second, this benefit could also be available to them if—although it's unlikely—there are services that they need in addition to the NIHB, which they would need to pay for themselves. They could then ask for the benefit to cover those extra costs.

Otherwise, these two benefits are quite different, because this is an interim benefit that requires people to ask for support before they see a dentist, whereas NIHB is a dental insurance plan that doesn't ask people and doesn't require people to ask for support first, before they go and see a dental professional.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Do you anticipate, Minister, that once this program is fully in force, those under the NIHB coverage would get equivalent coverage if, under the NIHB initiative, they're not getting the same level of coverage? Is that what you anticipate, Minister?

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

I would say the top priority is to make sure that indigenous children in Canada have the dental care they need and deserve. That's the utmost priority. We will then work in a manner that makes sure that this remains the case.

We look forward to working with all members of the House, and some more in particular, to make sure that the other longer-term program is as susceptible as possible of assisting the dental health conditions of non-indigenous Canadians.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you.

I'll follow up on the dental care piece, and then I'll turn to housing.

There's the income threshold that's required. It's less than $70,000 or less than $90,000 in the space on the previous year's income assessment. If, during the course of the year, especially now, with the economy potentially being impacted by a recession, people may lose their jobs.... In the event that should happen, people lose their insurance midway through.

Is there an ability for them to access dental care?

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

Dental care eligibility is based on eligibility for the Canada child benefit. We don't have officials around this table, although Ms. Tomson would probably know more than I do. There are no officials from CRA or ESDC who would be able to detail how CCB is or is not adjusted, according to changes in yearly income in the conditions you described.

Go ahead, Ms. Tomson.

5:10 p.m.

Lynne Tomson Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Branch, Department of Health

Yes, I know there are adjustments. I just don't know the regularity with which they are done under the child benefit. We can get that for you later on this evening.

October 24th, 2022 / 5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

That would be great. I assume there would be adjustments as long as there is flexibility in the program to accommodate that, because people's circumstances may well change. It sounds like there is a process with respect to that now. I'll wait for the detailed information later on tonight.

I'd like, then, to turn to Minister Hussen on the housing piece. One of the issues that come up from time to time is that, when the federal government, for example, provided pandemic support to people in need, it impacted their situation in, let's say, their GIS eligibility. First, I want to make sure that this $500 one-time benefit would not impact people's eligibility for GIS. Second, for those who might be living in a partially subsidized situation, because their situation is based on their income, when they receive this $500 injection, it would change their income—increase it by $500. As a result, their landlord, the manager of those buildings, may well increase their rent for the following year.

I wonder whether or not the minister has given some thought to ensuring that, first, measures are in place to ensure that people's GIS will not to be impacted and, second, that those who are in those kinds of housing situations are not going to see their rent increase as a result of this one-time increase in benefit.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Thank you very much for the question, Madam Kwan.

I can tell you that this benefit will not impact federal income-based benefits. We will work very diligently with provinces and territories to also ensure that recipients will not have their provincial or territorial benefits negatively impacted as a result of this payment.

With respect to the scenario you highlighted with landlords, my aim would be to make sure that, as we provide this rental support to vulnerable renters, it doesn't actually lead to an increase in their rent. We will work to ensure that's not the case. We are still looking at those different scenarios, but the one that you highlight is very important. We need to pay particular attention to that.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you, Ministers. Thank you, Ms. Kwan.

Next we have Mr. Doherty, please, for five minutes.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Minister Duclos, I have a question for you, and perhaps Minister Hussen as well.

I came late. I want to make sure that I'm hearing this correctly. I'm sure that many of my colleagues are dealing with the same as what I'm seeing in my riding. With the CERB, we have seniors and those who applied for and received CERB who, after the fact, were told that they were indeed ineligible. Now their OAS and GIS are being clawed back. Will this impact that? Are we going to experience something similar to what we are seeing with CERB?

We have seniors who are becoming very marginalized, and I want assurances from you that this is not going to be the case. What steps have been taken to ensure that?

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

Thank you for the great question.

First, it's not going to impact CERB obviously because CERB is—

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Not CERB, but the GIS and OAS....

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

I thought you had understood that. Second, it's not going to impact other benefits, because this is considered—

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

It's stackable.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

—to be a non-taxable benefit. It has no impact on the CCB, GIS or OAS.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Okay.

Minister Hussen—again, I came in late—how many affordable housing units were built in Nunavut?

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen Liberal York South—Weston, ON

The different national housing strategy programs that are working on the ground in Nunavut are varied. They have different deliverables in terms of the unit numbers, the affordability levels and the dollar—

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

I'm just looking for a number.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen Liberal York South—Weston, ON

I can get you a total number, but I can also tell you how much money we have invested in Nunavut and the different programs that have gone into—