House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was projects.


Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Québec Québec


Jean-Yves Duclos LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Madam Speaker, I welcome the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, who is a new arrival to this House. We look forward to working with him and to supporting his constituents.

My question is this: How does he interpret the fact that in the last four years, this government approved four times as many projects as the previous Conservative government in its last four years?

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Madam Speaker, I talked to municipalities in my riding, and while I was a mayor for part of the last Parliament's term, I saw that dollars were not getting to the front line. I am not sure if they are going to members' ridings on the government side or larger urban centres, but I am speaking from my background as a rural mayor in my previous role. I see some colleagues on this side of the aisle here, such as the members for Parry Sound—Muskoka, Simcoe—Grey and Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. They also saw these challenges in their previous roles. The dollars are not getting there.

The applications are coming in, but they are being delayed and stalled. We can look at the Morrisburg streetscape project or at my neighbouring riding in eastern Ontario, the township of North Grenville and the town of Kemptville. It has been years and years of waiting. The municipality has applied and asked for the dollars and the provincial government has given the okay, but it has just been silence for eight months.

There is no need for these delays. If the dollars are there, put the dollars out and let us get shovels in the ground. I will say in a bipartisan way that I believe we can be better and smarter in terms of the timelines.

We are now almost in February. It would be great if these projects were approved today with a nod of the head and an agreement was signed. I am sure we can make that happen. However, even now, to get the budgets finalized and get the RFPs out and the shovels in the ground, we are seriously jeopardizing another year of projects getting started in a lot of rural municipalities that I see.

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board said that the government deserves a lot of credit for all of the new projects. However, we should be mindful that it was the Conservative government that actually added an inflationary measure and legislated the gas tax so that every year there would be more money for important infrastructure. That is something that was put in place.

The government talks about its Canada summer jobs program, but what it did was take two weeks off each individual job and then funnel that money to be able to say, “Look how much more we are doing.” We cannot safely take the words and rhetoric of the government seriously. We have to look at results.

Could the member tell me what he would like to see as a former elected municipal mayor? What concrete measures does he want to see from the government moving forward?

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Madam Speaker, I spoke before about timely responses to infrastructure requests from municipalities and the lag that is happening, the delays and the lost construction seasons. Simply from a bureaucratic aspect, when projects are applied for, there are often technical asset management plans. Municipalities plan for years in advance at the request of federal and provincial governments to get those projects all in order and all in line. There are many ways we can do this. Again, it is about providing predictable funding.

A line that I always use is that a lot of these announcements are about a mile wide and an inch deep when they come. There is flash, there is substance, there are the photo ops. There are all those things, but getting the dollars there is something we can certainly improve on.

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec


Anthony Housefather LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

As we all know, we are in a minority Parliament, and in a minority Parliament, Canadians are looking for us to co-operate across party lines. We all say that. That involves efforts on all sides and it involves efforts on opposition day motions. I have been listening to the debate this morning, and it seems that in a lot of ways we are talking past each other. The substance of the motion is that:

...the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to immediately conduct an audit of the government’s Investing in Canada Plan, including, but not be limited to, verifying whether the plan lives up to its stated goals and promises; and that the Auditor General of Canada report his findings to the House no later than one year following the adoption of this motion.

I have no issue with the substance of this motion. I have not heard any speaker this morning have any issue with the actual substance of the motion, which is for the independent Auditor General to look into infrastructure spending and issue a report to the House. That should be the goal of the motion.

However, there is a preamble that is not part of the motion but is included with it. The preamble is:

That, given the Parliamentary Budget Officer posted on March 15, 2018, that “Budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes to the government’s $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan” and that the “PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist”, the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to....

That is not part of the substance of the motion, and in fact those selective quotes from the March report are belied by what happened afterward. In light of those comments, Infrastructure Canada and other federal departments worked with the PBO staff to provide updated data and results, and an updated report was issued in August of 2018.

The revised report found that the Government of Canada was delivering on its commitments to make historic investments of more than $180 billion in public infrastructure over 12 years to grow the economy and create jobs for Canadians. It also said that the government identified the vast majority, 95% of its infrastructure investments, and found that the infrastructure spending “raised the level of real GDP” in Canada.

We agree with the substance of the motion. Government members are simply saying that the preamble, which is not actually part of the substance of the motion, is misleading, and we have asked that the preamble be removed.

It would seem to me that in a minority Parliament where we are all trying to co-operate, in the same way that the government should make efforts to co-operate with the opposition, the opposition should say, when we all agree with the substance of the motion, “Okay, the preamble is no big deal. We believe this; you believe that. Let us get to the substance of the motion.”

I again call on my Conservative colleagues and my other colleagues in the House to revisit the amendment that our parliamentary secretary for infrastructure proposed earlier today so that we can unanimously agree on the substance of the motion, which I think we all agree to. I hope my colleagues will consider that. I know they are all reasonable people. I hope they will think about it, talk among themselves and come back.

I am pleased, though, to talk a little bit about the infrastructure investments that we are making as Canadians and as a government. We understand the need to take action to protect our environment and build sustainable communities that provide all Canadians with a good quality of life, good jobs and, most important of all, a bright future for our kids. Infrastructure is key to this, because it can help us plan for the future. That is why we introduced the historic long-term Investing in Canada plan.

Our plan is based on three key objectives: creating long-term economic growth, supporting a low-carbon, green economy, and building inclusive communities. To do this, we committed to invest in five main infrastructure priorities: public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation infrastructure, and rural and northern communities infrastructure.

Today I would like to focus on how the government's investments in public transit infrastructure and green infrastructure are benefiting Canadians in their communities from coast to coast to coast.

As I mentioned, our government has made supporting a low-carbon green economy, building inclusive communities and protecting the environment top priorities. Investing in clean, resilient infrastructure that helps reduce emissions, helps move to a net-zero carbon economy and protects people from the impacts of climate change is the right thing to do. It also happens to make financial sense. It is a win-win-win.

That is why we are working together with provinces, territories and municipalities to encourage innovation transportation projects that will create low-carbon communities and position Canada as a leader in clean technology. It is clear that switching to zero-emission public transit options helps reduce greenhouse gases and emissions. That is why Infrastructure Canada is providing $25.3 billion in federal funding to provinces and territories for their public transit projects through the Investing in Canada infrastructure program. That is also why we have committed to invest in 5,000 zero-emission buses. Beginning in 2023, we will be directing all new federal public transit funding to zero-emission options.

While we work with our partners towards that goal, we are continuing to deliver results under our funding programs. To date we have helped purchase more than 3,800 new buses and refurbish approximately 4,900 others. We have funded improvements or construction of nearly 15,000 bus stops and shelters, which are better protecting commuters from the elements. We have helped make over 580 transit stations more accessible so that people can make their connections in good time and we have rolled out more energy-efficient buses and invested in light rail projects to reduce carbon emissions. That includes the City of Guelph's green public transit projects that my colleague talked about earlier. These projects will replace 35 diesel buses with long-range electric battery buses as well as install on-route charging stations. The funding will also help to purchase an additional 30 electric buses and build a new bus storage facility fitted with electric charging stations.

It includes $12.6 million for Victoria, B.C.'s, new handyDART operations and maintenance facility. The handyDART bus service provides accessible, door-to-door shared transit for riders with reduced mobility, handling more than 390,000 trips annually through greater Victoria. Not only will this facility accommodate double the current fleet size, but it is also the first LEED gold standard B.C. transit facility in B.C., meeting a standard that recognizes best management practices to reduce waste of all kinds.

Investments through the Canada Infrastructure Bank in new projects in Montreal, such as the Réseau express métropolitain, or REM, and the Contrecoeur port, will increase productivity, reduce pollution, transportation and commute times, and, ultimately, get people and goods to where they need to go faster.

These investments in sustainable transportation are all making positive changes that will strengthen our communities, support economic growth and build a greener future.

We also know that investing in resilient infrastructure that can protect against or withstand climate impacts is critical to helping communities get back on their feet and back to business faster after an extreme weather or disaster event. It is also basic yet effective asset management. The costs of climate change impacts are significant and increasing. Property and casualty insurance losses in Canada averaged $405 million per year between 1983 and 2008, but jumped to $1.8 billion between 2009 and 2017.

That is why, through the disaster mitigation and adaptation fund, we are investing in projects like the flood protection project in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Once complete, this project will help protect over 27,500 residents within a 12 square kilometre area. The city says it will reduce the number of people directly affected by future flooding by 83%. It is also expected to provide long-term savings in recovery and replacement costs.

As we have seen here at home and around the world, we need to tackle these climate change events more efficiently and more effectively. We know that building resilient infrastructure is less costly than repairing it after a disaster.

We know that infrastructure is important to all of us, to all of our communities, to all of our ridings across the country, and we know that we can do it in a way that respects taxpayers' dollars and protects and enhances our natural environment for generations to come.

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to what my colleague said about collaboration among the various parties regarding the amendment proposed by the Liberals this morning. I would like to explain. We cannot remove the very specific terms used in the current motion because they refer to a very specific incident.

In March 2018, the Parliamentary Budget Officer was unable to get an answer to his questions. He was unable to account for $7 billion in infrastructure spending or investments. Five months later, the government found $7 billion to spend on infrastructure. That is a major problem when it comes to the management of public funds. That is precisely why we are asking the Auditor General to start his research in March 2018 so that we can find out what happened at that time.

It is not true that, by changing ministers, the government was able to distribute $7 billion like that in just five months, especially since that money was certainly not spent, invested or sent to the communities during that period.

I want to ask my colleague whether he recognizes the relevance and validity of the motion. Will he vote in favour of it as it is currently worded?

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, I agree with the substance of the motion, as I said.

What I object to is the misleading language in the preamble that selectively quotes one or two sentences from the entire report. However, in August 2018, the Auditor General released a revised report with contradictory information.

As I said to my colleague and to everyone else, we agree with the substance, but the preamble should be amended, as it has nothing to do with the substance, so that everyone can support it. Then we would all be able to vote in favour of the motion. It is that simple.

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am interested to know more about the amendment that is proposed to today's opposition day motion. I have not stated on the record that I plan to vote for the opposition day motion. I am curious to know what the amendment might bring to it. I would appreciate it if the parliamentary secretary would take the opportunity to explain it further,.

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, what I said is that the substance of the motion is that the House call on the Auditor General to do something. That is what the motion is asking for. We all agree to do that. What we object to is misleading language in the preamble that selectively quotes from one report of the Auditor General and does not recognize that a second report was issued with contradictory information.

If we really want to all agree to the substance of the motion, we can by a simple amendment to remove the objectionable words in the preamble. Then we would get a motion that everybody agrees to. That is the substance of what is trying to be achieved. Why would we not all agree to that?

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, I have to ask again, is the parliamentary secretary really going to make the preamble the issue of contention? To me, it makes no sense to do that about a simple preamble.

I would like to hear the member explain rationally why, if the motion itself is something he agrees with, he is getting hung up on the preamble.

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, one thing that has frustrated me over my last four years in Parliament has been when a motion has been put forward that has been deliberately designed to have one of the parties vote against it, because the party cannot agree with something that is totally outside the substance of the motion.

We all agree on the substance of the motion, but the motion asks members on the government side to agree with a negative statement about the government, which is contradicted by other further positive statements in a subsequent report. If we all agree with the substance in either direction, and I will invite the member to point to me when that happens in the reverse, we should get rid of the preamble which means nothing to the substance of the motion and just deal with the substance of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to this motion, but before I do that, I would ask for your indulgence to mention the passing of an individual in my riding, Jack Armstrong, who passed away last week. Jack was an extremely dedicated individual who cared so much about politics, but was rarely ever partisan. He spent a lot of time volunteering on campaigns, but would just as likely volunteer on a Conservative campaign as he did for my Liberal campaigns on a number of occasions. Jack will truly be missed as will everything he offered to my community. Indeed, I miss him a lot having had the opportunity to work so closely with him.

As we talk about this motion today, I will take the opportunity to pick up from where the parliamentary secretary left off. I appreciate his sharing his time with me. What we are seeing today with this opposition motion is a new approach from the opposition, and I really do respect and appreciate it.

We used to see motions that were drafted in such a way that we never even thought would pass. They usually started off with statements about the government being so horrible and the Prime Minister did this and that. That is the way opposition motions used to be presented over the last four years, but now we are seeing a new approach. Perhaps it is the minority government that is creating this sense of desire to be so diligent in how the Conservatives bring forward motions. Now we are seeing motions that actually contain substance because there is an opportunity that motions might actually pass. It is great that the opposition is now taking this new approach. Now we have the opportunity to debate substantive opposition motions. That is great.

To that end, I believe the objectives of this motion are perfectly in line with what is necessary for accountability and transparency. We need to have the kinds of reviews that the Auditor General is being asked to do in this particular motion because this is what gives Canadians the information they need to reflect on how the government is doing.

The problem that comes up, which the parliamentary secretary who spoke before me laid out very well, is when there is information put into the preamble that is, in my opinion, purposely inserted in the motion to create a scenario where the government or the governing party, in this case the Liberal Party, will not support it. The opposition is cherry-picking quotes from a report in March, which was subsequently updated and new information was provided. The report was updated to suggest that the requirements of the government were being met. Why would Conservatives even bother including a quote when they had an opportunity to quote a new report that came out later? I can only come to the conclusion that it was done intentionally to prevent a scenario where the government could vote in favour of the motion.

As a matter of fact, the Conservative member who asked the last question, and I apologize for forgetting his riding, specifically asked why the government is getting caught up in the preamble and who cares about the preamble. I could not agree more with him. As a former mayor, and I know the member for Mount Royal was as well, I can say that nobody cares about the preamble. The city clerk usually just takes everything after “Therefore, be it resolved” because that is the action item in it. That is what actually matters.

The Conservative member asked why the government is getting caught up in the preamble. That is an excellent question. Maybe he missed it earlier when we put forward an amendment to remove that part. If it had been removed, which would have been so easy to do, we would end up with a motion that everybody could support. It is not the direction, in particular everything that follows the word “That” in this motion, that we have a problem with; it is the fact that the preamble sets up a misleading scenario to suggest that after the Auditor General or the Parliamentary Budget Officer made the report in March, that was the end of it, that it ended there. However, that is not the case. More followed.

In August, an additional report was tabled that said something quite different. At that time, the Parliamentary Budget Officer conducted an independent economic analysis and concluded that the federal investments made under phase one helped grow the economy and create jobs over the first two years.

Cherry-picking this information is to the benefit of nobody really because it does not matter. What is important is that we make sure we can look beyond this unnecessary information and unnecessary cherry-picking. The opposition cherry-picked at the beginning of that motion and I am clearly doing it now with another part of that. It does not matter, so why are we getting all caught up in this?

As we talk about infrastructure projects, I am thrilled to talk about the amount that is actually being invested throughout Canada. This fund sets aside $180 billion over a 12-year period. As we know right now, there are at least 52,000 projects that have started or are under way.

Madam Speaker, I know you will be cutting me off here. I look forward to continuing after question period.

Opposition Motion—Audit of the Government's Investing in Canada PlanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

The hon. member will have three minutes and 40 seconds to complete his speech.

We will now go to Statements by Members and the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

Jim SmithStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, today I rise in honour of the late Dr. Jim Smith, a beloved and accomplished family doctor, a former Liberal member of the legislative assembly and cabinet minister for the province of Nova Scotia, a husband, brother, father and friend.

For over 30 years, Dr. Smith was a cherished family doctor to many in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

For around two decades, Dr. Jim Smith served as the MLA for Dartmouth East. His non-partisan nature, strong work ethic and compassion for others defined his political career and his life. When Dr. Jim Smith spoke, everyone listened, and it was not just because of his hilarious, sharp wit. His constituents knew they were well represented and his political opponents knew it too.

I ask all members of the House to rise and join folks from across my province in remembering and honouring Nova Scotia's faithful servant, Dr. Jim Smith.

Government ProgramsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Scot Davidson Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise once again and represent the great communities of Bradford, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King and the Chippewas of Georgina Island as the member of Parliament for York—Simcoe.

My constituents have sent me to Ottawa with one clear message: the federal government is not working for them.

Rural communities are being left behind. They have limited or non-existent broadband internet. They are faced with outrageous costs just to heat their homes.

Small businesses are struggling. There is no affordable housing to be found. Environmental projects like the Lake Simcoe clean-up fund remain unfunded.

The government's out of control spending has led to billions of dollars in deficits, but communities like mine have nothing to show for it.

Under the Liberals, Canada is borrowing just to keep the lights on. Clearly, vital projects like roads and hospitals are just not being built.

People are tired of politicians who keep kicking the can down the road. I will stand up to the Liberal government and fight for my community and the people who call it home.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Humber River—Black Creek, a community with a large Vietnamese population, I rise today to bring attention to the detainment of Mr. Chau Van Kham, an Australian citizen and a retiree detained by Vietnamese authorities.

Mr. Chau is a member of the Viet Tan organization, a group recognized by the United Nations as a peaceful group advocating for democratic reform.

In January, Chau was in Saigon conducting research on human rights violations when he was detained. On November 11, 2019, Chau was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what authorities described as “attempts to overthrow the state”.

At 70 years old, many are concerned about Mr Chau's health, which has already declined since his arrest.

As a long-standing advocate for human rights, I want to call attention to the abuses and violations occurring against Mr. Chau Van Kham and denounce the actions of Vietnamese authorities against him, and to further support the Viet Tan organization's request for his immediate release.

Fernand DaoustStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to acknowledge the passing of one of Quebec's great union leaders, Fernand Daoust, who died last Thursday at the age of 93.

He dedicated 40 years of his life to fighting for workers as a member of the FTQ. As a staunch fighter for a modern Quebec, this great union leader made a major contribution to his province's social and economic development.

An ardent defender of Quebec's interests, he was named patriot of the year in 1998, made a knight of the Ordre national du Québec in 2001 and honoured by the Ordre des francophones d'Amérique in 1994. Throughout his lifetime and in everything he did, he was a passionate advocate of the French language and a champion of French in the workplace.

We extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends and loved ones, and we mourn with the extended FTQ family.

HockeyStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, sport has an incredible ability to bring us together, whether locally in our communities or as a nation watching our athletes represent Canada on the world stage.

This past holiday season was no exception to that rule, as we watched our top hockey athletes compete in three different international tournaments.

Hockey Canada sent teams to the World Junior Hockey Championship in Czech Republic, the Spengler Cup in Switzerland and the World Women's Under Eighteen Championships in Slovakia.

In all three tournaments, Canada made the final and earned a gold medal at the World Junior Championship and Spengler Cup, while garnering a hard-fought silver medal at the Women's Under Eighteen Championships.

I would like to highlight three Nova Scotians who played key roles as part of the Canadian contingent. Jared McIsaac of Truro won gold with the world junior team, while Antigonish native Alex Grant and Judique's Andrew MacDonald helped Canada to gold at the historic Spengler Cup.

I would ask that all members of the House join me in congratulating our athletes who represented Canada so well on the international stage.

Donwood Manor Personal Care HomeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to deliver my first member's statement, and I am pleased to take this opportunity to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Donwood Manor Personal Care Home, an important institution serving seniors in the North Kildonan neighbourhood of my riding.

Donwood first opened its doors in 1970 and was founded by members of eight Mennonite Brethren Churches in Winnipeg. The founders recognized the need in the community for subsidized, quality Christian care of seniors and came together to create this incredible organization.

Each time I visit Donwood, I am in awe of the compassion and grace in the quality of care Donwood provides to seniors. It is a place that enables the elderly to transition from their homes to a caring community and to age with dignity and grace.

I would like to acknowledge the dedicated work of Nina Labun, CEO of Donwood Manor, board chair, John Janzen, Brian Loewen, chair of the Donwood Manor Foundation, and the dedicated staff and volunteers.

I congratulate Donwood Manor. It is my honour to formally recognize Donwood in the House of Commons today.

Workshop Program for WomenStatements By Members

January 28th, 2020 / 2:05 p.m.


Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Mr. Speaker, in my hometown of Rogersville, we have a program called “Femmes Fortes”.

Two years ago, a comment made by a recently widowed woman really bothered a municipal employee. She had mentioned that since her husband's passing, she felt powerless and useless, and she realized how much she had depended on her husband to take on traditionally male tasks, such as car repairs, carpentry and the like.

That employee, Angèle McCaie, then proposed her “Femmes Fortes” project to the municipal council. In response to suggestions made during a meeting, more than 30 workshops were organized, including workshops on self-defence, woodworking, car repairs, menopause, anxiety, physical fitness and gardening.

Mr. Speaker, just know that if you ever drop by my community of Rogersville, you are sure to meet some “Femmes Fortes”, some strong women.

Rotating Teachers' StrikesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on an issue that is of top importance to Davenport residents, and that is education.

Over the last couple of months there have been rotating strikes in Ontario and this labour dispute is having a negative impact on our children and their education.

Education contracts expired in August 2019, and teachers' unions have not been able to reach an agreement with the Ontario government over their wages and the future of education in our province. Teachers have legitimate concerns about the future of education in terms of class size, online courses and proposed cuts within the system.

Parents are equally concerned about the impact of the strike on their kids, including missed learning days, in addition to the future of education in the province.

I want to encourage the Ontario government and the minister of education to immediately return to the bargaining table to address these issues and to bargain in good faith.

The future of all Ontario students and their education depends on it.

Neil PeartStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, Neil Peart died a few short weeks ago, but he left a legacy of music on a nation and world of fans who revel in the challenge of air drumming to the best of Rush.

For 40 years, Neil Peart had us lost in the lyrics that would bring images of the Limelight, being caught up in the Spirit of Radio and the life and conflict of the Subdivisions.

Peart's lyrical adventure led us away from his world-renowned drum kit to motoring on highways and back roads. He rode his motorbike as a healing highway for his loss and pain which he wrote about, taking us along for the ride.

Neil Peart's legacy is more than one of books, albums or hundreds of performances. Though he lived a private life, he shared his heartache and exhilarated us with his performances.

With every beat of his drum, with every lyric he wrote and with every story he told, Neal Peart will forever and always be Closer to the Heart of Canadians. May he rest in peace and may God bless his family and friends.

FirearmsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Alex Ruff Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, despite being a veteran infantry officer fully trained on a number of prohibited and restricted firearms, I am required by law to complete both the Canadian firearms safety course and the Canadian restricted firearms safety course should I want to own a restricted firearm. I successfully completed both courses over the last few weeks.

These courses are integral to knowing about firearms safety and to ensuring Canadians safely store and use firearms. They would also be incredibly valuable to any member in the House drafting firearms legislation. I trust that all members working on this legislation have taken or will take these courses, including the Minister of Public Safety.

In my home riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, hunting, farming and sport shooting are a way of life. I have been hearing from many of my constituents that they are deeply concerned about the proposed Liberal firearms legislation, via an order in council, without any debate in the House. Forcing law-abiding Canadians to follow even more laws will not reduce urban gun crime and fails to address the real problems of gangs, illegal smuggling, drugs and poverty.

As a newly elected MP, I am here to solve problems, not create new ones.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, many Canadians are currently celebrating the lunar new year, a celebration of family and togetherness, marking good fortune during this Year of the Rat. I would like to extend these wishes of health and prosperity to all.

However, during this time, we must also take a moment to remember and honour the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

In 2014, I visited the place of unimaginable suffering, and I am still affected by this experience. I mourn the victims of this tragedy and I encourage Canadians to be conscious of other human rights abuses taking place globally.

In Canada, we are safe, free to celebrate the diversity of our cultures, our faiths and appreciate our differences. Many abroad are unable to do so and it is our duty to serve as the global example of multiculturalism.

In this time of celebration and remembrance, I encourage others to be conscious of such simple freedoms as well.

Child CareStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I still remember the desperation I felt when I could not get my little guy into a quality affordable licensed child care space. It is no joke. The wait lists were so long that I was not offered space until he was eight, yet this is the reality for so many working families.

We know investing in child care is good for the child, for the family and our economy. Every dollar invested in child care is returned threefold in the economy.

For decades, the Liberals have made endless promises on child care programs, yet we have seen little real action, let alone a quality, universal, affordable, accessible system. In this new minority Parliament, words are not good enough.

Budget 2020 needs to have a significant increase in investments to at least $1 billion annually, so families with children under five and elementary school-age children who need before and after school care can access them.

Federal investments can build on what the B.C. government has done, based on the $10 a day model, saving families upwards of $1,000 a month. No more pretty words; it is time for action.