Evidence of meeting #19 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was women.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Paulette Senior  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation
Angela Bonfanti  Senior Vice-President, Foundation Programs, Canadian National Institute for the Blind
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Marie-France Lafleur
Elizabeth Cahill  Committee Researcher

3 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Foundation Programs, Canadian National Institute for the Blind

Angela Bonfanti

Thank you for the question.

Should any such basic income be discussed, again I would bring up the principle of “nothing for us without us”. Oftentimes, these things are discussed and the disability community is not engaged in meaningful consultation, so I would encourage these conversations to continue, but such a program should include additional funding, for example, for the unique needs people with disabilities may incur, such as expensive adaptive and assistive technologies.

We know that assistive technologies such as a smart phone have been an absolute game-changer for individuals with disabilities, so where in that is the credit considered? It is a multifaceted issue, and we would encourage consultation—in-depth and meaningful consultation—with the disability community before it's brought forward.

3 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Has there been any consultation with your organization on this?

3 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Foundation Programs, Canadian National Institute for the Blind

Angela Bonfanti

On this particular issue—honestly, pre-COVID I'm a bit fuzzy—there has been nothing that has been long-standing, as far as I'm concerned.

3 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

I'm going to turn to Ms. Senior for a minute.

On the same question, for women with disabilities, we have a differential of support from this program. What are your thoughts on that?

3 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

Similarly, I think it's important to consult. We have been a long-time partner of the DisAbled Women's Network, which is a national network addressing issues for women with disabilities. I think it's really important to consult. I could not...and I don't think it's appropriate for me to actually say what I think. I think it's important to hear from folks who are impacted more specifically before decisions are made.

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you, Ms. Senior and Ms. Kwan.

To Ms. Bonfanti and Ms. Senior, thank you again for being so generous with your time and so thoughtful in your responses. We appreciate that you came back and answered the many questions that we posed. It will greatly aid the work of the committee.

We are going to suspend now for two minutes for you to unhook, and then we'll have the members of Parliament back for committee business.

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

We are now back in session. We're going to be discussing committee business.

Before we begin, I want to remind all members that we are still sitting in public. I would also ask you, if you want the floor, to please use the “raise hand” function at the bottom of your screen.

If I may be so bold as to suggest this, perhaps we can start with the report from the subcommittee on agenda, which circulated its recommendations electronically, I believe, earlier today.

If we could start with that, we have Mr. Albas, please.

June 15th, 2020 / 3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Thank you.

I was a bit fast to put my hand up, so if your intention, Mr. Chair, is to only have the report right now, then I'll simply suggest that I would like some clarification from you and perhaps from some of the other vice-chairs in regard to number 3, which states:

That all evidence received by the committee as part of its study of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic be deemed to have been received as part of its study of the review of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act.

I would like some clarification. Is it the intention that by this motion we could somehow utilize some of the testimony in the past and that there is some sort of effort here to limit that testimony, where we won't actually do a full study specifically on it at a future date?

I'm hoping that this is just to be inclusive of some of the testimony that we've heard in the past but that it doesn't preclude an actual full study, because, quite honestly, our work, albeit very fulfilling, is not necessarily intentional in following the order from the House that we study the CERB program. I want to hear some clarification, maybe from you and some of the vice-chairs.

Thank you.

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Mr. Albas, you're right on the mark. The goal with number 3 is that it will not be necessary to bring people back to repeat what they have already said. It's not meant to be limiting in any way. It's meant to attempt to avoid duplication.

As you've stated, this committee is required to do a full study, and we will do a full study, and for some of the things that we have already heard in connection with the work we're doing to evaluate the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to the extent that it has overlapped, we are not precluded from lifting that testimony and including it in our discussions and in our report on the evaluation of the CERB. It is in no way meant to limit the additional testimony we can hear, including from the witnesses we've already heard from.

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Thank you for the clarification.

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Ms. Chabot, you have the floor.

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Mr. Chair, I will keep my comments brief.

Your interpretation of the subcommittee meeting summary was the same.

I would also like to say to Mr. Albas that it seems clear to me our COVID-19 study and the CERB report must allow us to continue to receive witnesses.

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you, Ms. Chabot.

Mrs. Kusie, please.

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

To clarify further Mr. Albas's point, I mentioned that, during our subcommittee meeting, I as well as some other members of the subcommittee had some concerns about the report being inclusive of the entirety of the program as well as the effects of it and that therefore we did not feel comfortable proceeding with a report in its entirety at this time, given that we don't know the consequences for those who have taken the benefit but are not entitled to it, even based upon the announcement by the Prime Minister this morning that it's very possible the CERB will be extended even further, as was mentioned in the testimony today. We are really not in a position to do an entire evaluation of it as of yet.

Also, I know that we made the decision as a group to present letters to the ministers rather than do a report, since Parliament is not sitting and we have not been mandated to do a report, as other committees have, and turn it over to the House. As we continue to work through the process of the letters, we can be particular in prescribing that process, because we're slightly concerned that our time in creating the letters, although we believe there should be oversight of the entire committee, should not take so much time as to take away form the long list of witnesses we have.

Thank you.

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you, Mrs. Kusie.

Ms. Kwan, please.

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Just to confirm, from my perspective, we thought it was important to continue the work, given that we have a long list of witnesses who have yet to appear before our committee.

In terms of an interim report, the suggestion was to have perhaps a letter with recommendations to the ministers with respect to the response to COVID, and that would be an approach that the subcommittee agrees to. Then, when we complete the entire study in due course, we would be in a position to write a full report.

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you, Ms. Kwan.

Is there any further discussion on the report of the subcommittee?

Seeing none, is there anyone who cares to propose a motion to adopt the report of the subcommittee?

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

I can put the motion forward.

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you very much, Mr. Long.

I take it there's no further discussion. The motion is to accept the report of the subcommittee.

Madam Clerk, could I ask you to conduct a vote?

3:10 p.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Ms. Marie-France Lafleur

Absolutely.

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Ms. Kusie, are you in the queue for the next item, or did you have something else on this?

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

I was wondering how the subcommittee report would reflect.... Let me just read number 3 again: “That all evidence received by the committee as part of its study of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic be deemed to have been received as part of its study”.

To me, number 3 speaks to the concerns that I believe both Ms. Kwan and I had—and she can disagree with me if I'm speaking inappropriately or inaccurately for her. It's “part” of the study of the government's response and “part” of the study to review the Emergency Response Benefit Act, but it does not indicate anything about everything we have received as being completely inclusive and conclusive to the study.

I think that's fine. I just wanted to review that before we vote. I'm sorry, Mr. Chair.

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you for that.

Go ahead, Madam Clerk.

(Motion agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

Thank you very much, Madam Clerk.

Mr. Albas, go ahead, please.

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Is now the appropriate time to raise a motion for debate?

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Further to my notice of motion on Thursday, June 4 of this year, I move:

That the committee conduct a study of the Canada Summer Jobs Program; that all aspects of program operation in 2020 be examined, with comparison to previous years; that riding by riding data be examined from the government as it relates to the program; that any other aspect of the program that the committee deems necessary be studied; that the witnesses include the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Employment and Social Development Canada staff and other witnesses the committee deems necessary; that this study be completed by September 21, 2020; that the Committee present its findings to the House and that pursuant to Standing Order 109 a comprehensive response be requested from the government.

I move that now, if it's the appropriate time, Mr. Chair.