House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was huawei.


Expropriation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.


Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, in my opening remarks, I referred to the fact that there is still a comprehensive land claim going on with the land where Parliament is situated.

In terms of expropriation as it applies to first nations, the Expropriation Act actually excludes matters dealing with first nations' land. There are specific exclusions referring to those types of situations, but I thank the member for his interesting question.

Expropriation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I was interested in hearing what the member had to say about the bill because when I first heard about it, I was a bit miffed. I wondered what the member opposite was trying to accomplish. Honestly, after listening to the member, I am still not convinced about what she is hoping to accomplish.

With the many things she talked about, a question comes to my mind: Where is the example? When has the federal government, in the last 50 years, done the type of thing the member is hoping to stop it from doing? Does she anticipate that future Conservative governments might change the way we have been doing things over the last five decades or so? I am not perfectly clear on this.

These opportunities we get to debate a private member's bill or a motion are very rare, which I know the member opposite is aware of. I looked at the substance of this bill and listened very closely to the member. I must say that it is the first time I have heard her make a presentation in a kind of legal format with details. Still, I did not get the kind of clarification I was hoping to receive.

When I think of the issues of expiration and expropriating properties, there is always a willing buyer or a willing seller. That is what we have seen throughout Liberal administrations. The member talked about wanting to mandate hearings. Hearings take place. There is a great deal of consultation that takes place as well.

The member seemed fixated on the climate change issue. Many of her Conservative colleagues are what we would classify as climate change deniers. They do not recognize the reality of how the world is evolving with regard to climate change. She has incorporated that into the bill.

She talked about climate change and restoring natural habitat. These issues are no doubt relevant, but I do not see any connection between this and what the member is hoping to accomplish with the bill.

Whether it is in national governments, provincial governments, municipal governments or elsewhere, dealing with indigenous-related issues, property issues and these types of things takes place on an ongoing basis. Generally speaking, it is usually for very admirable reasons that this takes place.

To what degree are the concerns expressed by the member somewhat misplaced? I am trying to figure out where there might be that national example that has made the member so upset that she felt it was necessary to bring in legislation about it. I could not think of anything. As the member can see, there is a limitation to the number of questions she is able to provide answers for. She has my email address. Maybe after the debate she can email me and cite an example in the last 50 years where the bill would have been applied. I think that would be very helpful.

As a society we continue to move forward, and one of the things we have witnessed is huge investments in infrastructure. Even Stephen Harper at times recognized the value of infrastructure, and land was designated. We saw large patches of land taken into consideration for building a highway. In this regard, the former administration looked at building Canada Way. No doubt there would have been issues regarding the land, but we always find there is a willing buyer and a willing seller.

Discussion and hearings do take place. I think of the municipalities. My city has plan Winnipeg. People sit around a table and talk about what they envision the city will look like many years from now. The National Capital Commission does a fantastic job in Ottawa as do councillors. We can talk about the billions of dollars that the government has committed to building infrastructure, supporting our economy and communities and recognizing the value of doing so.

No doubt there will be opportunities for different types of discussions. People will witness individuals selling their land and different levels of government will end up purchasing it to accomplish something either in the short term or long term. I do not see what the member seems to be so concerned about.

When we talk about natural habitat, hundreds and thousands of acres in the Prairies have returned to that natural habitat. The member might be surprised to know that nothing has really changed in legislation to accommodate that. It is almost as if the member is trying to get a fear out there but it is just not there. I do not quite understand why she would want to do that.

When it makes sense and when there is that willingness to make it happen, why would someone oppose it? More and more, society as a whole is recognizing that different levels of government have an important role to play when it comes to our environment.

It seems to me that the member, and possibly the Conservative Party, needs to be more sensitive to the issues of our municipalities and provincial jurisdictions. Even those Progressive Conservative provincial jurisdictions have to overcome these issues along with the federal government. We, and I will concede it, have a very ambitious plan when it comes to developing our economy. When we talk about our economy, we also recognize that we need to talk about issues such as our environment, sustainable development, and work with indigenous people, leaders and other stakeholders, including provinces and municipalities.

No doubt there will be opportunities well into the future for us to have that forward-thinking plan for where Canada as a nation will be in 20 to 50 years from now. I do not share the same concerns the member opposite has, based on what we have seen in the past. In fact, if we were to have a generalization from the population as a whole, we would see a wide spectrum of support for issues such as recognizing the reality of climate change and the importance of restoring natural habitat where we can.

I would encourage the member to send some specific examples from the national level to my email account. I can assure her, I will read them very carefully.

Expropriation ActPrivate Members' Business

November 17th, 2020 / 5:45 p.m.


Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise this evening to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about Bill C-222, which would amend the Expropriation Act.

The concept of expropriation is not new in the history of humankind, nor is it new to Canada. Expropriation has been used since ancient times and has led to the development of organized societies. In Quebec, the right to property is protected by section 6 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which states:

6. Every person has a right to the peaceful enjoyment and free disposition of his property, except to the extent provided by law.

Quebec civil law has its roots in French law, which, since 1789, has recognized the right of the state to expropriate in the interests of the public, under certain circumstances.

This principle was later incorporated in the Napoleonic Code. It was then adopted by the Civil Code of Lower Canada and then taken up in article 952 of the Quebec civil code.

Canada's first expropriation law dates back to 1886. It was followed by the Expropriation Act of 1952, which was in force until 1970. This act did not contain any provisions for compensation and did not require the Governor in Council to provide reasons for the expropriation. This is unacceptable. It reeks of past imperialists imposing their views with no regard for anyone. This disregard for the public was rectified in 1985.

Expropriation is not a pleasant thing to go through or, I would imagine, to enforce. Mistakes were made in the past. For example, expropriations made to create Forillon National Park caused a great deal of suffering. Then there were the expropriations made to create the Mirabel airport, which also caused significant trauma.

Government of Quebec expropriations in the 1960s shut down villages in the Lower St. Lawrence and the Gaspé. My grandmother, Cécile Gagnon Vignola, worked for Operations Dignity to support the victims of these expropriations.

This is not about unfounded expropriations. It is specifically about expropriations caused by natural disasters or by the need to protect the environment, especially the most fragile areas. The bill before us today does not deal with compensation procedures, but rather with reasons that can be given for an emergency expropriation. Two sections would be amended in much the same way. Sections 10 and 19 have a subsection added to limit the Governor in Council's emergency expropriation powers. To my knowledge, these powers, although limited, have not been used in recent years.

These added subsections stipulate that the Governor in Council will no longer have the right to order emergency expropriations in the very specific case of restoration of former natural habitats or climate variability. In other words, the Governor in Council may make emergency expropriations except in cases involving the environment and climate change.

Accepting such changes would be as irresponsible as saying that the environment is not important, that climate change is not having an impact, or worse, that it does not exist. Some will argue that it is not up to the government to decide where people should move or resettle. In some cases, however, it is clear that government intervention is necessary. People, who are only human, sometimes cannot see past their personal interests and have no long-term vision, no intergenerational vision.

It is time to relearn how to take care of our environment, the place where we live, and to do so not only for ourselves, but also for the people who will live after us.

I have two examples that illustrate why this bill is unacceptable.

Because of record flooding in 2019, the Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac dike collapsed, resulting in the emergency evacuation of 6,000 of the village's 18,000 residents. A total of 800 homes had to be evacuated. It is important to point out that the municipality is largely built in a flood zone and protected by the dike because, as humans, we think that we can stop the force of nature. It was necessary to act quickly to raise the height of the dike, limiting the view of the lake from some homes and thus decreasing their property value.

Had Bill C-222 existed in Quebec in 2019, the height of the dike could not have been raised. As a result, the municipality would have flooded year after year for the simple reason that some residents would prefer to have a view of the lake rather than be protected. That also means that, year after year, the homes of these residents would have flooded and the government would have had to take action to move them out of the flood zone, house them, compensate them and so forth. All these costs are paid out of taxpayers' money, so this is not just a problem for the owners. It is the entire population that has to pay more taxes to cover such costs.

Then there are insurance premiums that go up every time there is a natural disaster and not just for the people affected, but for the entire population too. Protection of private property, which is an important right, also has repercussions for the entire population. It is therefore important to allow the government the right to legislate or make emergency decisions in the interest of the entire population and not just in the interest of certain individuals.

What is more, in the 1960s, if we had tried to see beyond the end of our noses, no one would be living in a flood plain. This would have been banned from the start. Disasters like the one in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac or the big storm that went through the Lower St. Lawrence in December 2015, if I am not mistaken, where homes and garages were carried away by the river because they were built too close to the water, would not have happened. Building homes in those locations would have been prohibited.

Caring for our environment means caring for our food sources and for our economy in the long term. Looking beyond our immediate needs means thinking about future generations. The bill includes an indirect element that would allow the Governor in Council to decide that a person cannot build a house in a given location. That is indirect expropriation. It is important that we keep this possibility.

I am thinking of marshes in particular. When a builder sees a marsh, he fills it in, builds condos and thinks that everything is great. However, without an understanding of the geology and geomorphology of the area and the structure of marshes, we may not realize that marshy areas still sink even after being filled. Consequently, foundations crack, then owners turn to the city or the builder for compensation. Add to that the legal bills. Once again, the entire population pays.

Therefore, it is not just an environmental issue. It is also an issue of fairness for the entire population. We should not have to pay for the decisions made by one or two individuals who make personal choices.

Expropriation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-222. In the summary of the document for the bill, it states:

This enactment amends the Expropriation Act to provide that the power of the Governor in Council to waive the requirement for a public hearing in respect of an objection to the intended expropriation of an interest in land or immovable real right may not be exercised in certain circumstances.

Further on in the bill, the Expropriation Act cites two examples of where that right to waive the requirement for the public hearing may not be exercised. It is in “restoring historical natural habitats or addressing, directly or indirectly, climate variability.” That, in essence, is the bill before us this evening.

I have enormous respect for the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. I disagree with her vehemently on many issues, but I certainly respect her hard work in the House of Commons. She is one of the deans of the Conservative caucus. That being said, I will not be supporting this bill.

I am going to cite the two reasons given in the Expropriation Act for why there should be an inability for the Governor in Council to waive the public hearing requirement. The first, as I mentioned earlier, is the restoring of historical natural habitats.

The origin of this is of course the devastating floods that took place in 2017 and 2019 in Renfrew County. I think all of our sympathies and thoughts are with the many people in that region who suffered losses during that time. Hundreds of homes were damaged and many were destroyed. The 2017 and 2019 floods were absolutely devastating for the region.

That is why this legislation purports to waive the Governor in Council's ability to override public consultations. When we look at the reasons behind the flooding, often cited as a result of IJC actions, we can actually see that there is a difference between what is promoted by the bill and what actually happened on the ground.

Doug McNeil wrote an independent review of the 2019 flood events in Ontario. This was commissioned by a Conservative government. A Conservative member of course would agree with the recommendations and the conclusions in that regard.

Doug McNeil said, “some believe that the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) operation...has a negative impact on...Ottawa River flooding.” He goes on to cite in the report that was filed with the Conservative government that the IJC actions had absolutely no bearing on flows of the Ottawa River. There are indeed, though, things that had an impact on those devastating floods. They are cited in the report as climate change and impacts of a changing climate. Those are cited repeatedly in McNeil's reports.

The first item that is cited in the Expropriation Act simply does not hold water, if members can excuse a pun in that sense. The reality is that the IJG, very clearly from the report of the Conservative government, did not have an impact of the devastating floods that impacted so many people in Renfrew County and in other areas.

There is a second item that is cited in the bill and that is climate variability. Climate variability, as members are well aware, is not the same as the climate change crisis and the climate emergency that the House has already ruled on and that we are currently in. I will come back to that in just a second.

The member, who I respect but who disagree with vehemently, has stated in reports that she has actually filed with her local riding that there are alarmist claims about man-made global warming. These are scientific facts about the impacts of climate change and the impacts of the climate emergency. The good people of Renfrew County are not immune from the climate emergency we are seeing around the planet.

As I cited earlier, we saw two devastating floods that impacted hundreds of homes and hundreds of homeowners in the area around Renfrew County in 2017 and 2019.

In British Columbia, in two of the last four summer seasons, we have literally not seen the sky. The impact of forest fires due to climate change completely shrouded the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. When I was a child, I can remember incredibly blue skies throughout the summer in the Lower Mainland of B.C. This has been impacted by climate change. The reality is that climate change has not just had an impact on the quality of life for the people of Renfrew County or the people of British Columbia. We have seen the devastating impacts of climate change around the world. These are undeniable. We cannot talk about climate variability. We cannot make, as the member has said, alarmist claims about man-made global warming. The climate emergency is upon us. People around the world are living with it, and people around the world are saying that governments need to step up now to stop the climate emergency. They need to step up and make the transition to clean energy.

The impacts of two of the last four flood seasons in Renfrew County are very similar to impacts of two of the last four summers on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Many other regions of Canada can cite similar impacts. This summer we saw the western United States ablaze. The impact of that smoke was even felt in southern British Columbia. The many forest fires that were ravaging the western United States, because of the impacts of climate change, blew that smoke right into the Salish Sea, the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island as well.

We know that those impacts are being felt. We know that the economic impacts are also being increasingly felt. The cost to the Canadian economy this year will be $5 billion. We know that amount is going to increase each and every year. Within a couple of decades, projections say that the cost to the Canadian economy from climate change will be $50 billion a year.

We have to take action. I would suggest it is not by adopting Bill C-222, which talks about climate variability, but it is actually by taking action to help people in Renfrew County and to help people across Canada and around the world. That means we have to stop the incredible support of $12 billion that is given to the oil and gas sector. Canada now is in a very sad race with Saudi Arabia, in terms of the egregious amount of support that is given to oil and gas CEOs, yet we have not seen any investments made for energy workers. I am part of the energy sector. I came out of the Shellburn Oil Refinery in Burnaby, British Columbia, so I have worked in the oil and gas sector. There have been no provisions made, either by the Conservative governments in Alberta and Saskatchewan or by the federal government, to actually transition energy workers from the fossil fuels that are helping to provoke climate change to clean energy that would help to address the climate emergency and bring down the egregious levels of greenhouse gas emissions we are seeing literally burning our planet.

Those are the actions, and that is the kind of bill, that I would certainly be willing to support. These would tackle the efforts that many people are undertaking around the world to address the climate emergency. That is what I would be prepared to support. That would be something that would address the concerns of the very good people of Renfrew County. I know the area well and I know they understand that there is a climate emergency and that our governments, both provincial and federal, have to take action. I will be voting against Bill C-222. I believe that we need to take action in the climate emergency, and I hope that we will see further private members' legislation that will actually address something that the government at the moment seems unwilling to address.

Expropriation ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Madam Speaker, if the last speaker were to come to Alberta and Saskatchewan, there would be an opportunity for him to look at the great work being done there to combat greenhouse gases and all the other things that are happening within the industry. That would be helpful. Perhaps then the rhetoric would be a bit more logical.

My family fled oppression in the disputed area of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in 1870 to come to America, a land healing after having just gone through a devastating civil war. Because of issues arising from one of the Oklahoma riots, two of the sons ventured north to Canada's Northwest Territories to farm in what was eventually to become Alberta. As members can imagine, the issue of property rights and freedom runs deep in my family.

Other pioneers in our central Alberta community arrived from the far reaches of the world. Many of these new neighbours were from war-torn communist countries and cherished the fact that once and for all they could breathe freely, knowing their hard work and commitment to their family and community would be respected and that their ownership of property would be honoured.

Each of us, all 338 members of Parliament, need to remember the dedication and sacrifice that those who came before us showed and endured. Sadly, there are still some situations where governments have extraordinary powers that are easily abused. This is why I am so honoured to speak to Bill C-222, an act to amend the Expropriation Act regarding the protection of private property. I want to congratulate the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke for bringing this important legislation forward. I know she is also a passionate advocate for the defence of property rights in Canada.

We play several roles as elected members. I cannot think of many functions that are more important than working to safeguard the property rights of our constituents. Property rights form one of the most important cornerstones of our society and our economy. There are some among us who like to equate the notion of rights with individual liberties or freedoms to do whatever we want. Property rights are not only paramount as part of our tradition, but are essentially the foundation for all other rights as well.

We often like to equate the notion of free speech with the ability to say whatever we want, which is true to an extent, but as we know there are limits to this axiom. The possibility of severe harm because of hateful views is but one example. This right to free speech does not apply when we are trespassing on someone else's property. There must remain a fundamental degree of respect for the owner of that property. We have seen situations like that in the past. In the same vein, the right to freely associate is not the right to associate anywhere we want to. We do not have the right to freely associate on private property. We can do so in a public space or a space we own. The bottom line is that there are generally no such individual rights or liberties beyond the property rights that a person may have.

This is why I say that property rights are so vital. It is certainly one reason why standing up for the property rights of our constituents is such an important part of our job.

In my riding of Red Deer—Mountain View, we know about the value of property and the importance of property rights. Many of my constituents are farmers or ranchers. They put food on the table for their own families, as well as for millions of families across Canada and around the globe. In many cases, they grew up on a farm, as did I. They know the value of a hard day’s work. They understand the importance of taking care of what they own, of living frugally and responsibly, or of saving hard-earned money to make a down payment on a house, a new farm building or to expand a herd or the size of their farming operation.

The same is true for our local business people. They work hard for years so that they can save enough money to expand their business, look for new clients, hire more workers to keep their business growing and hopefully have something left for their family in retirement.

As elected members, we must stand up for and proudly say that we will help protect the property and the property rights of our constituents. This is why the bill that we are addressing here today has such significance.

We have always heard that property rights are not protected under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is different from other countries, such as the U.S. where property rights are constitutionally protected. Under the Fifth Amendment of the American Constitution, no private property may be taken for public use without just compensation and without the due process of law.

In contrast, what we are seeing here in Canada is a disturbing trend towards what is referred to “regulatory”, “de facto” or “constructive” taking of private property. This happens when governments use their statutory powers to regulate or restrict the property rights of an owner without acquiring title to the land as being adversely affected. The landowner feels the impact of the regulations as if the land had been expropriated. Put another way, the government can strictly regulate land, limiting its value and what a landowner can do with it, without triggering procedures in the legislation.

A “de facto” or “regulatory” taking means that a property owner is normally not entitled to compensation. What is worse is that we see many examples in jurisdictions across Canada where the government has actually misled the owner and the public about the intended use of a property in order to circumvent the need to pay a landowner compensation, choosing to follow the regulatory taking route rather than following the rules under federal or provincial expropriation laws.

If a government changes the designation of a property to avoid compensation under expropriation statutes and then subsequently redefines the designation for future use, this avoiding of higher compensation is an abuse of power. Bill C-222 seeks to remedy this type of situation and remove uncertainty from the existing legislation as to whether owners must be compensated for certain types of takings.

The goal is to protect private property by ensuring that governments follow the rules of due process. Bill C-222 seeks to remove uncertainty from the existing legislation as to whether owners must be compensated for certain types of so-called regulatory takings.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, one of the most important functions that we perform as elected members of this place is to protect the property rights of our constituents. I know that I want to leave a legacy for future Canadians where property rights are protected. We have come too far as a free and caring nation. We have been the beacon of hope for immigrants from all over the globe. We must continue to ensure that property rights are treated honourably.

Bill C-222 would take us one step further in working to protect the property rights of our constituents by ensuring that the government follows the rules of due process when it comes to expropriating land. I therefore encourage all hon. members to support its speedy passage.

Expropriation ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


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

The time provided for consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

SeniorsAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.


Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, Canada has over 11,000 deaths from COVID-19. It is the equivalent of a jumbo jet filled to capacity crashing every single week since the pandemic was declared in March. While some people, like the Premier of Alberta, have dismissed these deaths because those dying from COVID-19 are mostly seniors, I would like to remind the premier and everyone in this House that our seniors are not disposable.

If a jumbo jet crashed today, we would be shocked. If another went down next week and the next and the next, we would not just shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh well, they were old.” We would be outraged. We would demand change. I am outraged and I am demanding change.

The thousands of seniors that we lost to COVID-19 did not have to die. They are dead because we failed them. How many more thousands of seniors must die before we finally fix our long-term care system, before we finally decide to actually care for our elders?

Our long-term care system was already in crisis before COVID-19 hit. Decades of privatization have shifted the focus from caring for our seniors to creating profits for shareholders. Care and profits are two oppositional forces. The only way to wring profit from long-term care is to cut the care itself, to cut the people providing the care, to cut their wages, to cut the time spent providing care and to cut money from the design and maintenance of the homes themselves.

This is not news to anyone. Over the summer, we had study after study reveal exactly what went wrong in long-term care during the first wave of the pandemic. Was anyone surprised when those studies concluded that for-profit homes had larger COVID-19 outbreaks and more deaths of residents from COVID-19 than non-profit and municipal homes?

From the Royal Society of Canada to the Canadian Armed Forces, we heard about the horrific conditions in long-term care homes that led to military interventions in Quebec and Ontario. This information should have allowed us to prepare for the second wave of the pandemic, but it did not. We are now deeply into the second wave of COVID-19 and we seem to have learned nothing.

In my riding of Edmonton Strathcona, 83 of the 90 residents at the South Terrace Continuing Care Centre have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen of those residents have now died and 80 staff members are sick with COVID or have tested positive for the disease. The list goes on: 61 have died at Carlingview Manor, 31 have died at the Montfort Long-Term Care Home, 51 have died at Forest Heights Long-Term Care Home, 39 have died at Maples Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, 36 have died at Humber Valley Terrace and 21 are dead at McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary.

All of these long-term care facilities are owned by one very large corporation: Revera. In fact, Revera owns more than 500 long-term care facilities worldwide and it is not the only for-profit with large COVID-19 outbreaks and daily deaths now numbering in the hundreds. Revera is unique because Revera is owned by the Canada pension fund and its board is appointed by cabinet. Revera homes are being ravaged by COVID-19—

SeniorsAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.


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

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health.

SeniorsAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Dartmouth—Cole Harbour Nova Scotia


Darren Fisher LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, that is a very important question.

All Canadians deserve access to high-quality health care that is safe and effective. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has revealed long-standing issues in long-term care facilities that have prevented some of Canada's most vulnerable populations from accessing this level of care.

COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities have led to a high number of infections and deaths across Canada. Canadians in long-term care deserve better. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has been collaborating with provinces and territories to support and protect vulnerable Canadians, including those in long-term care facilities.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Canadian Armed Forces members were deployed in long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec to help control the spread of COVID-19. In the summer, the Canadian Red Cross transitioned to take on this role, and it is now supporting provinces and territories facing outbreaks in long-term care facilities.

To support front-line workers, including those in long-term care, up to $3 billion in federal funding was offered to provinces and territories to provide wage top-ups for low-income essential workers. Long-term care employees have been prioritizing the health and safety of residents through a very uncertain time. This needs to be recognized.

In order to help restart the economy while making Canada more resilient to COVID-19, a safe restart agreement was reached with the provinces and territories. This agreement included $740 million in federal funding specifically aimed at infection prevention and control measures for vulnerable populations in long-term care, home care and palliative care. It is clear that the impacts of COVID-19 are far from over. The number of outbreaks and infections in long-term care facilities continues to increase across the country.

This emphasizes that while we have taken many actions to support vulnerable Canadians throughout this pandemic, it has not yet been enough. We must, and we will, do more.

While we will continue to take every action possible to protect Canadian residents in long-term care facilities, we must also look into the future and commit to making changes so that all vulnerable Canadians are protected, and are receiving the health care they deserve well after this pandemic.

This commitment has been supported through the Speech from the Throne delivered in September, and our government has announced the target of creating new national long-term care standards. These standards will support vulnerable populations in long-term care facilities, helping to ensure residents receive the highest quality of care no matter where they reside across this country.

We will also examine additional measures for personal support workers who do an essential service by helping the most vulnerable in our communities.

Finally, as we know, many seniors and vulnerable Canadians wish to receive home care services so that they can stay in their homes longer. We will, therefore, take additional actions so that this also can be possible. As long-term care is primarily a provincial and territorial responsibility, our government will work closely with provinces and territories to implement these commitments.

No matter the level of government, we all have a common goal. That is to support the health and safety of our vulnerable Canadians. We must explore all measures to increase the resilience of those facilities and to help prevent these tragedies from reoccurring.

SeniorsAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, with all due respect, I appreciate the member's comments but we still have seniors who are lying for hours or days in their own feces, who are developing bed sores, and who are dying alone of COVID or dehydration.

We need more than just words. We need more than just a throne speech. We need a long-term care act that guarantees standards of care for our seniors: an act that holds provinces accountable, that provides funding for long-term care, that takes profit out of care, including with Revera, and that ensures that the workers who are caring for our seniors earn wages that reflect the value of their work.

Will the government finally lead and finally act instead of just talking? Will the government do the right thing now and create a national long-term care act to protect our seniors?

SeniorsAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I have outlined many actions that we have taken to respond to the issues in long-term care facilities, but I want to take a moment to describe just one more.

In order to better support long-term care facilities, during the fall of 2020 the federally funded Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute launched an initiative called “LTC+”, which aims to spread promising practices in preventing and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on long-term care and retirement homes.

Participating teams received seed funding from CFHI to support needed improvements, access to training sessions and materials, and coaching on the implementation of the program's key components. Currently, there are about 300 long-term care and retirement homes participating in this initiative or in the process of registering.

Now and in the future, we are committed to helping to ensure our most vulnerable Canadians receive high-quality health care that is safe and effective.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am raising an issue today in our Adjournment Proceedings that I originally raised on October 2 in question period and again on November 5.

Tragically, in that intervening time the government did nothing to address the concern I was raising and it is a matter that has now had a significant change for the worse, in that the U.S. government has now approved seven years of naval testing activities in the habitat of our southern resident killer whales. We are now in a position where I am not asking the government just to take action, but to remedy its failure to take action when the comment period was open.

Here, in brief, are the facts: The U.S. Navy proposes to run offshore testing throughout the extent of the Pacific offshore from Alaska to California, of course including the waters of the Salish Sea and the critical habitat of one of our most iconic endangered species. The southern resident killer whale population is now down to 74 individual animals, and they are threatened by many things.

They are threatened by lack of food supply and from the failure to take action. It was 14 years, just to make note, between when the species was identified as endangered and when a recovery plan came out. We know we need to protect their supply of chinook salmon. That is their favourite food. They are starving.

We know they need to be protected from ship strikes and increased shipping activity, yet the current government is pushing ahead with the now taxpayer-owned and funded Trans Mountain pipeline with an increase in tankers in their waters. We know they are threatened by ship strikes of other vessels, including not just ship strikes but the intrusive activity of whale-watching vessels. We created a sanctuary zone for the whales but we have not enforced it. That is in the area around Saturna Island, Mayne Island and Pender Island. It is not being enforced and their so-called sanctuary, which is the size of a postage stamp, and their habitat are being intruded upon without penalties and without fines.

Here is what a responsible government would do. I am going to quote from a letter from an elected official who said, “Simply put, [this jurisdiction] considers the level of incidental takings of marine mammals in [these naval exercises] to be unacceptable.” The governor of the State of Washington, Governor Jay Inslee, wrote those words in July 2020, urging the U.S. government not to approve these naval tests.

In response, Canada has said nothing. Every time I have raised it on the floor of the House of Commons, every time anyone in the media has asked any minister in the current government, we are told, and this is the talking point and I am sure we will hear it soon, that the southern resident killer whales are important to Canada and we will work with our partners, that being, I guess, the U.S. Navy, while they conduct sonar tests, while they use torpedoes, while they detonate bombs and they use underwater drones. These activities could not make matters worse for our population of southern resident killer whales.

We should have been taking a strong stand, telling the U.S. Navy what the governor of Washington told them: This is dangerous for our whales. What they call “incidental takings”, as many as 243 incidental takings of key requirements for the southern resident killer whales over seven years, are completely unacceptable.

Therefore, I put this to the minister in debate tonight: What will we do to take this up with the incoming president-elect? Can we put this on the list of things where Canada needs action from the U.S.?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.


Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Madam Speaker, our government is committed not just to the protection of our southern resident killer whales, but to actively investing in restoring their populations.

This endangered species has cultural significance for indigenous people as well as for coastal communities in British Columbia, all British Columbians and people right across the country. Obviously it is completely unacceptable for any harm to come to our precious killer whales. It is important for British Columbians and all Canadians to understand the significant measures and investments we are making to restore this species and to improve their habitat.

With 74 individual southern resident killer whales remaining and a population that has declined, despite the recent addition of a new calf, it is more essential than ever that we work in collaboration with all stakeholders to recover the species. I had the opportunity to work directly with some of Canada and the United States' top experts in this field when we held our southern resident killer whales symposium only a couple years ago, and this has led to many strong initiatives.

For the last five years our government has taken unprecedented steps across many different ministries to aid in this recovery. This includes regulatory changes, such as those seen in the Fisheries Act and the Oceans Act, which have to date increased our total marine protected areas by more than 14 times since 2015.

Building on the $1.5-billion oceans protection plan and the $167.4-million whales initiative, our government has committed an additional $61.5 million to help deliver on further measures to protect and recover the southern resident killer whale. These investments contribute to additional research, monitoring and management measures to support the mitigation of the primary threats to the southern resident killer whales.

As well, in May 2020, the Government of Canada announced enhanced management measures to further support the protection and recovery of the southern resident killer whale. These management measures build on efforts from past years. They focus on increasing prey availability, reducing physical and acoustic disturbance and addressing contaminants through a variety of initiatives.

Measures introduced this year reflect advice from first nations, the southern resident killer whale technical working groups, the indigenous and multi-stakeholder advisory group and from public consultations. As a transboundary species, the need for cross-border collaboration is critical. The Government of Canada appreciates the ongoing close co-operation with the governments of the United States, Washington State and British Columbia. Through this co-operation, we have reinforced our commitment to work together to mitigate the threats to the survival and recovery of the southern resident killer whale and to maintain a long-term strategic plan for their recovery.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration led the review of the proposal by the United States Navy to conduct training and testing activities in their waters, from November 2020 to November 2027. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is engaged with our U.S. counterparts on this matter to ensure a common understanding of the planned activities and mitigation measures, with particular attention being paid to the southern resident killer whale.

NOAA has indicated an adaptive management component to the final rule that was issued and has demonstrated a willingness to work collaboratively on this file. This allows for the consideration of new information over the course of activities and the consideration of modifications of mitigation and monitoring measures. Our close partnership has proven successful in the past and it will remain important that we continue to work to help ensure that we both protect and restore this endangered and iconic species.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am afraid, as predicted, that was a pathetic response. I am very sorry the parliamentary secretary could not find it in his talking points to say that the government would raise this with President-elect Biden, that it would take up the fact that the State of Washington thinks that what the U.S. Navy is proposing to do and what NOAA has shamefully signed off on is acceptable. It is unacceptable.

We have recent evidence, which the parliamentary secretary should know because I have raised it in the House, that the tests by NATO off the coast of Scotland last month also led to the death of whales stranded. Bottlenose whales were found along the shores, affected by the sonar from the testing of the NATO military.

With 74 animals critically endangered, we should know that we are not doing enough. The government needs to stop patting itself on the back and start protecting our southern resident killer whales.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Terry Beech Liberal Burnaby North—Seymour, BC

Madam Speaker, the assertion the member has made that our government is doing nothing is simply incorrect. Our government is not only committed to the protection of our southern resident killer whales, but fully dedicated to the recovery of this iconic species. We have taken significant steps to address key threats to their survival and recovery, and have invested more than a quarter of a billion dollars in protections, habitat restorations and legislative changes.

As it is a transboundary species, I believe the co-operation of the United States will be critical to our shared efforts, and of course we are engaged in those conversations. The department is engaged with NOAA on this matter to ensure a common understanding of the planned activities and to ensure that our whales are kept safe.

Message from the SenateAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


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

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bill, to which the concurrence of the House is desired: Bill S-1001, an act respecting Girl Guides of Canada.

This bill is deemed to have been read the first time and ordered for a second reading at the next sitting of the House.

Official LanguagesAdjournment ProceedingsAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, this evening I would like to raise a very important matter with respect to official languages. I raised it on October 29, when the Commissioner of Official Languages sounded the alarm about Canadians having difficulty obtaining services in their language in a crisis situation, that is to say during the pandemic.

It was not the first time that the Commissioner of Official Languages spoke about this situation. Unfortunately, we heard a lot of talk about finding solutions, but saw little action from the Liberal government.

That day, the minister told me that the purpose of the report was to provide more information and that the Commissioner of Official Languages noted that the government reacted quickly at that time. However, we see that little was done, and shortly thereafter, we regrettably learned what Liberals in government think of the French language in particular. I will say it in French because it is important.

A Liberal member said in committee, before the Commissioner of Official Languages, that she had heard on several occasions that the French language was declining in Quebec. She said she did not want to call it a myth, but she had to see proof to believe that.

That might have been said by a member from another province, but no, it was a member from Quebec who made that statement in committee. She even asked the Commissioner of Official Languages what he thought was contributing to the decline of French in Quebec. However, when she used the word “decline”, she used air quotes, suggesting that there was no decline of the French language in Quebec. This raises many questions about the importance this government places on the protection of minority languages in this country.

If we take a closer look at the shortcomings Mr. Théberge pointed out in his report of October 29, we can see that he was quite critical. There were shortcomings attributed to the federal government and others to certain provinces such as Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The Liberal government was lambasted by the 100 complaints related to COVID-19 that the commissioner received.

At the beginning of the pandemic, francophones noticed that, during the press conferences given by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Minister of Health, information was mainly shared in English. Although the commissioner believes that the government finally struck a better balance between the two official languages in its press conferences, he still felt there was reason to sound the alarm. He said that he was sounding the alarm with regard to the failure of federal institutions to respect their official language obligations in emergency situations. He said that these institutions operate mainly in one official language, with the other relegated to secondary status.

That is very worrisome, particularly since we are in the midst of a pandemic and the situation is urgent. It is important that all parliamentarians be aware of this issue and that we contact every department to ensure that everyone can obtain—

Official LanguagesAdjournment ProceedingsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


Official LanguagesAdjournment ProceedingsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Madawaska—Restigouche New Brunswick


René Arseneault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Official Languages)

Madam Speaker, it goes without saying that official languages are at the heart of who we are as a country and that respect for our official languages is vitally important to our government, including in times of crisis.

Our commitments aim to deliver federal services in accordance with official languages obligations, as well as to create and maintain a work environment that is conducive to the use of English and French.

Our government's commitment to official languages could not be clearer, as evidenced in the most recent throne speech. We are working as quickly as possible to find appropriate solutions to any shortcomings that have been identified.

For example, I would like to remind my colleague across the way that in the early hours of this pandemic when we saw some gaps, such as in the labelling of certain essential products, our government made sure that crucial information was available to Canadians in the official language of their choice. The Commissioner of Official Languages did acknowledge that.

One thing is clear: The COVID-19 crisis exposed a number of challenges we need to overcome, especially when it comes to communications with and services to the public. The federal public service adapted, and practices evolved very rapidly.

Innovative practices were introduced, and we expect them to remain in place and have a more permanent influence on how the public service does things. These include decentralized work organization, new communication needs, the use of digital collaboration platforms, and so on.

As the way we work changes dramatically, respect for official languages is not just the Government of Canada's obligation; it is a priority on which hinges the effectiveness of our pandemic response.

As our government pursues its commitment to modernizing the Official Languages Act, we will need to consider these evolving dynamics in order for the act to remain relevant.

I commend my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable, and I want to assure him and all members of the House that we will keep working closely with the Commissioner of Official Languages and his officials to protect the language rights of Canadians and public servants in this unprecedented time.

We believe Canadians are proud to know that they have the right to learn and speak their official language and to make it a part of their identity. The same goes for the public service. As Canadians and as Acadians, we also recognize that French and English are at the very core of our identity and that they are tools we can use to build bridges between us all.

Our government and public servants are taking proactive measures to ensure respect of our two official languages. We react quickly and firmly to compliance issues and remind federal institutions of their official languages obligations.

Our government took note of the report of the Commissioner of Official Languages and will look at it with great interest.

Official LanguagesAdjournment ProceedingsAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his response. He is obviously very active in the official languages file.

There is no shortage of problems. As a member of Parliament, I have sent a request to a minister's office and got a response in English only. I had to fight to get a response in French.

The Commissioner of Official Languages reported that every complaint having to do with emergency situations under his purview since 2014 stemmed from a failure to provide communications and services in French. One MP patently trivialized the fact that French is in decline in Quebec.

I think it is time to make amends. Can my colleague tell us when the new version of the Official Languages Act will be tabled, as promised in the Speech from the Throne, which he mentioned a few moments ago?

We are waiting for this legislation to find out whether the Liberal government is serious about protecting French in Quebec and official languages across the country.

Official LanguagesAdjournment ProceedingsAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable for that good question.

For starters, I remind my colleague that this is a historic first. In the throne speech, the government said that it wanted to protect official language minority communities and also acknowledged that it has the responsibility to protect and promote French not only outside of Quebec, but also within Quebec. Never before in the history of this country has a government made such a commitment.

In response to my colleague's question, a bill to modernize the act will be coming soon. It will be strong and robust, it will deliver on all of the expectations of language communities and it will also follow the recommendations of the throne speech. I also hope to see this happen as soon as possible, but there is a lot of work to be done and we are in the middle of a pandemic.

Everyone is waiting on the edge of their seats—

Official LanguagesAdjournment ProceedingsAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


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


The motion that the House do now adjourn is deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:47 p.m.)