House of Commons Hansard #33 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, in order to change the criteria to include groups of individuals who are not working but who have not stopped working for CERB, legislative changes would be required. In order to create a threshold of income under which individuals would remain eligible for the CERB, regulatory changes would be required.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, the legislation that created the Canadian emergency response benefit has that someone must cease working due to COVID-19 to access the benefit. However, the Liberal MP for Malpeque has instructed seasonal workers and students who have lost their jobs to apply anyway. Also, the finance minister's own communications and issues manager has given contradictory direction to those who have not lost their jobs to consider applying anyway.

Is this just confusion or is the government instructing people to violate the law and apply when they are not eligible?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, a key cornerstone of this benefit is the quick way in which we can get it out and we are relying very heavily on the honesty of Canadians to do that. There are integrity measures built into the front, namely the requirement for a social insurance number, and there are integrity measures built into the back.

We are asking Canadians to honestly attest that they meet the eligibility criteria as I laid them out and I would hope that no one is suggesting that Canadians do not honestly reply to those questions.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, I also hope that the government is suggesting that people follow the law.

Can the minister confirm whether she has sought clarification as to when Parliament would have to be recalled for any legislation? We have members of Parliament who would like to know.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, we do not know at this point if legislative amendments would be required, so it would be premature to even speculate when the House would have to resume, if at all.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, the minister mentions speculation. I asked the minister earlier about whether she would need to have legislative changes in order to be able to deliver what the Prime Minister said. She said there would have to be.

When we were last here, I asked the Minister of Employment if seasonal workers were included under the CERB. She said that they were. We now know that they are not. Was she mistaken when she spoke or was there a policy change to exclude the seasonal workers?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, I will first clarify my last answer. If we want to change the law so that somebody who is not working because of CERB, then we need a legislative change. If we want to create a threshold of income under which somebody can still qualify for CERB, we need a regulatory change. It is not apparent given the unanimous consent motion today that we will have to make legislative changes.

With respect to seasonal workers, I apologize for any confusion I may have created in the past, but we are looking at and we have committed in this House today to ensure that seasonal workers will indeed be covered.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, we now know that anyone who applies for the CERB, regardless of eligibility, will get it.

Is it the government's plan to conduct audits on millions of people to determine who got it and who should not have? What will be the consequences of defrauding the taxpayer?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, I am very hopeful and confident in the integrity and truthfulness of Canadians in this time of crisis. As I mentioned, we have built in integrity measures at the front and the back end. Based on social insurance numbers, we can track if someone receives a benefit and also receives a T4. We can track if someone receives the benefit and gets a second payment accidentally. There will be a certain amount of integrity measures in the weeks, months and year to come.

Quite frankly, I do not think that there are Canadians out there, in this time of need, spending a lot of time trying to defraud the government.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Chair, it is an immense privilege for me to be here today to stand up for the people of my region, Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, but also for all business owners in Quebec. As a business owner myself, I understand their reality and their concerns.

Many people across Canada have questions about the issues that job creators are grappling with during this crisis, as well as the new reality that they will face after the crisis. After speaking with many business owners, I am now prepared to question the government about the effectiveness of the measures put in place.

I want to thank all the MPs' staff for doing such an incredible job over the past few weeks to help Canadians deal with all of this. I also want to thank the front-line workers serving the public in my own riding and across Canada.

Many of my constituents do not qualify for the CERB because they have a part-time job. There are volunteer firefighters and municipal elected officials who could miss out on $2,000 a month because they are earning $150 or $200.

On Monday, April 6, the Prime Minister promised he would fix this problem, floating the idea of expanding the CERB to include people working 10 hours a week.

Is that happening, yes or no?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Delta B.C.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough LiberalMinister of Employment

Mr. Chair, I can assure the House that we are committed to finding a threshold under which Canadians can continue to work and receive the CERB. We are working out those details now, and I am grateful for the input of all parliamentarians to this effort. I can assure the member as well that honoraria, such as that received by an emergency responder or a firefighter, will indeed be either exempt or not counted as employment income to a certain threshold, but again, we are working out those details.

Once again, as was mentioned before, I appreciate how much feedback we have received on these measures.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Chair, I am thinking of seasonal workers.

Many seasonal workers are close to exhausting their EI benefits. Even if they wanted to work, they will not have jobs waiting for them in the spring, because of COVID-19. They were not able to work, but they were not forced to stop working because of COVID-19.

Can my colleague tell me how these people are supposed to get through the next few weeks?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, I can assure my colleague that we are working very hard to ensure that seasonal workers have access to the CERB.

We have yet to confirm the details, but we have made that decision. We will include seasonal workers very soon.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Chair, I would like to ask the minister when seasonal workers will be eligible and when that will be announced.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, we need to make a change.

There is a regulatory change that needs to happen, and that would, under the first emergency response act, have to be signed off by three of us. We are working hard to make sure that happens quickly.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Chair, in the agricultural sector, dairy producers are having to dump their milk down the drain because restaurants and institutions, most of which are closed, are not ordering it. Pork producers may have to have some of their pigs put down because COVID-19 means meat packers are working with reduced staff and cannot receive and process all those carcasses.

What is the government's plan to help the agricultural sector?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Markham—Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Mary Ng LiberalMinister of Small Business

Mr. Chair, the measures we have put forward are to help exactly that entrepreneur, that business, that farmer. Making sure they have the adequate funding through the small business loan is one way they could get that bridge funding to help them through this very difficult period. We are going to continue to make sure we are working with those farmers and indeed with all enterprises in this country.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Chair, how is the government going to help very small businesses whose payroll is less than $50,000?

I am thinking of chiropractors, hairdressers, barbers, massage therapists and so on. I am a business person too, so I feel qualified to talk about this. Businesses with a million-dollar payroll qualify, but I know of others that will not qualify but need the $40,000 loan.

How will the government be answering questions from those businesses?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Mr. Chair, small businesses, as we all know in this chamber, really do make up the backbone of the Canadian economy. Small and medium-sized businesses make up 99% of all of our businesses in the country. Making sure that we are listening to and helping these businesses through this very difficult period is what we are here in this chamber to do and what we have been doing, such as making sure that they are able to access the $40,000 small business loan interest-free so that they can weather through this difficult period.

Also, helping them keep their costs low during this period, like deferring the GST, the HST and customs duties, is going to help those very businesses weather this very difficult period. We know that helping to keep employees together with their employers is going to help them weather this period so that we can get on that road to recovery when it is safe to do so.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lianne Rood Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Chair, the government has been promising a review of business risk management programs since 2015. Farmers need immediate assistance as they are facing a cash flow crisis while trying to buy their inputs for this year's crops. Measures offered thus far have only put them further into debt.

We know the government has recommendations and solutions in front of it. When are we going to see BRM reform to support this industry?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Morneau LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Chair, we know how important the farm sector, the agricultural sector, broadly, is not only to our economy but especially to Canadians at a time like this. It is for that reason we have done a number of things. Most importantly, we have taken off the previous limit on Farm Credit Canada to give access to credit to those organizations, to those farmers, and we will continue to think about measures that we can take to support farmers during this particularly challenging time.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

April 11th, 2020 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lianne Rood Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Chair, agriculture and food need to be deemed an essential service to protect our food supply chain. Last week, Public Safety Canada made an announcement on essential services but stated, “These essential services and functions are advisory in nature. This guidance is not, nor should it be considered to be a federal directive or standard.”

Why is it not mandatory to ensure federally regulated employees, like CFIA inspectors, continue working and our food supply is protected?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Chair, guaranteeing our food supply is absolutely essential, particularly at a time of a global pandemic. In terms of designating what are and are not essential services, it is incredibly important for the federal government to work collaboratively with the provinces, and that is what we are doing.

We have issued federal guidelines, which is important, and the provinces are issuing their own guidelines based on provincial realities. That is the way to work co-operatively.

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lianne Rood Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Chair, the pork industry needs immediate assistance. In Ontario and Quebec, there is a bottleneck in processing plants. Some of these plants are closed due to COVID-19 and workers do not feel safe going to work. If these processing plants do not reopen soon, farmers will be forced to euthanize thousands of hogs.

Can the government provide an update on how it plans to help producers from this sector?

COVID-19 PandemicGovernment Orders

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, we recognize that businesses across the country are impacted in many ways as a result of COVID-19. Specifically, producers in the agricultural sector have real challenges. That is the reason we are providing credit support to them, and that is the reason we continue to work with those sectors to try to ensure we anticipate some of the challenges, to make sure that we help them through these challenging times.