House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was universal.

Topics

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, other countries around the world have started to flatten the growth curve of the coronavirus by implementing tangible decisions to stop the transmission. The Liberals decided not to impose mandatory screening at airports. They have decided not to impose mandatory quarantine procedures. They have decided not to implement any restrictions on travellers entering into Canada.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister inform the House: what evidence has the government based these decisions on?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, let me start by assuring Canadians that Canada's public health system is outstanding and our public health officials are doing a terrific job on the ground. The health and safety of Canadians is our number one priority and our government is guided in all of its decisions by advice from medical professionals and by scientists. Enhanced screening and detection processes are in place at all international airports, at land crossings and at ports. We are constantly evaluating the measures in place and the developing international situation.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, major sports organizations like the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and the National Hockey League are taking concrete measures to protect their athletes and fans against the coronavirus. American, Italian and Chinese authorities have implemented strong measures. The Government of Quebec has taken extraordinary measures, such as cancelling any gathering of more than 250 people. Unfortunately, here in Canada, we are still waiting for a plan to protect our border and manage large gatherings.

When will the government present a plan for both of these scenarios to comply with the recommendations from the World Health Organisation?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to address all Canadians.

We are fortunate to have an outstanding health care system and fantastic health care professionals. We need to continue to listen to medical experts, who are telling us that the situation will get worse before it gets better. They also say that Canada is well-prepared.

Our government will do whatever it takes.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the World Health Organisation has declared a global pandemic and has called on all countries to take concrete action in response to the situation. Aside from the border and large gatherings, the Prime Minister announced that it would be easier to access EI, but that does not help workers who lose their jobs as a direct result of the coronavirus. We are talking about thousands of Canadians and Quebeckers.

We would like to know when the government will announce concrete measures to support workers whose employers are directly affected by the coronavirus. The measures that were announced unfortunately do nothing for those individuals.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our government is aware that the coronavirus is having a significant economic impact around the world and in Canada. We know that we must support Canadians who may not be able to work because of illness or quarantine. We reduced the two-week EI waiting period so that there is no waiting period. We are committed to extending EI benefits. We will continue to monitor the economic situation, and we are poised to take more steps.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I also wish to convey our best wishes to Ms. Grégoire for a speedy recovery.

This morning, the National Assembly of Quebec expressed all Quebeckers' concern over the coronavirus when it unanimously called on the Government of Canada to implement a meaningful testing protocol for the coronavirus, or COVID-19, for everyone entering Canada by giving border services personnel the tools they need. We have already lost far too much time.

Will the government respect the unanimous will of Quebec? What will it do to immediately tighten border security?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, allow me to speak directly to the situation of the Prime Minister and Ms. Grégoire Trudeau. The doctor's advice to the Prime Minister is to continue daily activities while self-monitoring, given he is exhibiting no symptoms himself. However, out of an abundance of caution, the Prime Minister is opting to self-isolate and work from home until receiving Ms. Grégoire Trudeau's results. I thank hon. members for their kind wishes.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question anyway.

Municipalities are telling us that border security measures are inadequate. This has been confirmed by first responders, by customs officers and by travellers themselves. Today, Quebec's National Assembly unanimously declared that border controls need to be stepped up. That is quite a lot of people telling us there is no border protocol.

Will the government finally implement robust control measures for all people entering Quebec and Canada?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the health and safety of Canadians is our top priority. We are following all of the evidence-based public health advice. We have stepped up screening activities, and detection processes have been introduced at all international airports, land crossings and points of entry. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.

HealthOral Questions

March 12th, 2020 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, our thoughts are also with Ms. Grégoire and all victims of the virus.

The Liberals' announcement about COVID-19 leaves workers out in the cold as usual. Staying home is not an option for people without sick leave. They may lose their pay and maybe even their jobs.

Almost 60% of Canadian workers do not qualify for employment insurance. Therefore, if we want to ensure the virus does not spread, people have to be able to stay home if they are sick and still pay their rent.

When will the government guarantee that all workers who have to self-quarantine get the financial support they need to feed their families?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are very aware that the coronavirus is having a significant economic impact around the world and in Canada. We know that we must support Canadians who may not be able to work because of illness or quarantine.

That is why our government announced this week a $1billion coronavirus response package. That package does include significant measures to support workers who need to miss work because they are ill or are in quarantine.

Now, of course, as the situation develops, our government will be monitoring it and is poised to take more steps.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the Liberals really understand the issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic does not affect everyone equally. Many cannot call in sick and still collect a paycheque. Many of these people are women and come from marginalized groups. They work in the service industry and on the front lines.

It is in everyone's best interest that they have the ability to self-quarantine if they need to. What is taking so long? These are real people who need real solutions and the promises made will not do it for those people. Therefore, when is action going to happen?

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our government is absolutely aware of the economic impact of the coronavirus. We are also aware of how important it is to ensure there are no economic barriers to Canadians doing the right thing, which is staying home if they are unwell. I want to thank all Canadians who are doing that.

This week our government announced a $1 billion coronavirus response package. That is just a first economic step. It does include measures to support workers who need to stay at home. We are monitoring the situation and we will continue to act with alacrity.

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Alleslev Conservative Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the World Health Organization declared the global COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Today the organization's director-general recommended a four-pronged strategy: first, prepare and be ready; second, detect, prevent and treat; third, reduce and suppress; and fourth, innovate and improve.

The scale and speed of transmission around the world is of grave concern to Canadians. What proactive measures is the government taking to implement this strategy to combat COVID-19?

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Patty Hajdu LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has outlined many of the steps we are taking and in fact have had as a strategy since we first noticed those outbreaks in Wuhan so long ago. It is hard to imagine that we are here now.

It was very encouraging to hear a member from the opposition get up and use his S. O. 31 to talk about the fact that as Canadians, we are all going to have to pull together. This is a public health crisis that we have not seen in recent times. All of the measures the member opposite said are important. We have been working in all those four critical areas, and I am happy to report more as time goes on.

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Alleslev Conservative Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, more needs to be done. All around the world major events are being cancelled and companies are proactively taking action to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The NBA and the NHL have suspended their seasons. The International Olympic Committee is considering hosting the Olympics without spectators. Major companies like CIBC, Royal Bank and BMO are finding ways to introduce social distancing.

Will the government show leadership and introduce telework for federal employees?

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Québec Québec

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's question.

Speaking as President of the Treasury Board, as a government, we have a responsibility not only to work with public servants, but also to ensure that they have a safe workplace that protects their health and the health of their loved ones and co-workers.

That is why the Treasury Board has very clear directives to ensure that, when the time comes, the appropriate services and arrangements will be available to Government of Canada employees.

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I asked the Prime Minister about the urgent need for additional screening measures at our airports.

In his answer, he reassured Canadians by saying that our airports are well prepared. A few hours later, we learned that passengers on flights returning from Italy were simply given a fact sheet on the coronavirus.

The Premier of Quebec is asking everyone who is returning from abroad to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days.

Could the government put more screening measures in place for all travellers coming from abroad?

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the health and safety of all Canadians is of the utmost priority and remains our priority.

Based on the advice and leadership we have received from our excellent public health officials, the CBSA has implemented enhanced screening and detection processes at all our international airports, as well at our land border, ferry and rail ports of entry. Our officers observe and question every traveller who may be a risk to Canada, including those coming from tier three regions. In addition, they are also conducting an initial screening of travellers who are symptomatic, referring all who are experiencing such symptoms to public health staff for further examination.

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the United States announced serious measures to protect the public. One of those measures is a ban on flights from Europe for the next 30 days.

Here in Canada, travellers on flights from Italy are coming right into the country without being screened. We learned yesterday that a passenger on one of those flights, a person from Quebec's Eastern Townships, has COVID-19. Canadians are worried.

Is the government satisfied with the existing measures to protect Canadians?

HealthOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, let me assure the member opposite that we are in regular contact with our allies and international partners around the world to discuss issues of mutual concern regarding the safety of our citizens and the safe and efficient movement of trade among our countries. We will continue to monitor the situation clearly.

However, let me assure the House that we have very effective and enhanced screening and detection measures in place for all persons travelling from affected regions. For all who enter our country and may be symptomatic, they are quickly referred to our public health officials, who are doing an outstanding job of keeping Canadians safe.

HealthOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister said that between 30% to 70% of Canadians could become infected with COVID-19. These numbers are alarming, especially with the growing seniors population and many Canadians with underlying health issues being directly at risk.

Is the minister confident that Canada has a sufficient supply of beds, ventilators, testing kits and general supplies to keep Canadians healthy and safe?

HealthOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Patty Hajdu LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, as late as this morning, I had a conversation with my provincial and territorial partners, who are working diligently to make sure their health care systems are ready. That is the intent behind the $500 million that was part of our announcement yesterday, which is to make sure they can rapidly access money.

We are obviously working together on this. We know there may be more. We stand by the provinces and territories as they prepare their health care systems.

HealthOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are starting to see community spread of COVID-19 in British Columbia. The NBA, major league baseball, NHL and others have suspended their seasons. Large events are being cancelled and governments across the world are shutting down to avoid spread.

The minister has said between 30% and 70% of Canadians may become infected. What is the government doing to show leadership and encourage social distancing to prevent further community spread?