House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pandemic.

Topics

TransportationOral Questions

May 26th, 2020 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-France Lalonde Liberal Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, every day thousands of truck drivers, many of whom live in my riding of Orléans, cross Canada to deliver essential products such as medications, food and personal protective equipment to our communities. They truly are a key component of our supply chain that keeps our cities and towns healthy. From the beginning of this unfortunate pandemic, our government has said that truck drivers should be considered essential workers across the country, so that they can do their jobs from coast to coast.

Could the Minister of Transport tell us what measures he has taken, along with his provincial counterparts, to ensure that our brave truck drivers can continue to do their very important work safely?

TransportationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for acknowledging the important and essential work our truck drivers do in delivering essential products. I want to thank them.

I have been working with my provincial counterparts all along, encouraging them to open more rest stops to meet the needs of these truck drivers, while still complying with public health requirements, of course. We are also working to make sure that these drivers can get the personal protective equipment they need. We will not hesitate to take other measures to ensure that our truck drivers feel safe. Once again, I thank our truck drivers.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, grain farming in Ontario contributes 75,000 jobs and approximately $18 billion in economic output. A recent survey done by the Grain Farmers of Ontario has indicated the following: 86% expect their net income to be reduced in 2020. Over half of the grain farmers are already seeing a reduction in sales, and another 24% are experiencing cancellations or delays of existing contracts. One-third are experiencing cash flow issues and another one-third expect cash-flow issues in the near future. Fifty-five percent fear that they have an inability to cover the costs of production.

What is the government actually doing to help the farmers during this pandemic and for the future?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Compton—Stanstead Québec

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, allow me to reiterate everything that we are doing for our producers. We care about them. We know how essential their work is and how important they are in ensuring Canada's food security.

We have risk management programs that offer on average $1.6 billion. We recently announced additional funding of $100,000 for beef and pork producers, $77 million for processors, $20 million for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and $50 million to help bring in temporary foreign workers.

We are going to do more. We know how important our farmers are to the Canadian economy.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister is telling farmers that they cannot say the programs offered just are not good enough. She is also saying that she does not know where the gaps are or where the funds should go.

Well, here is a start. Exempt agriculture from the carbon tax. Regain the $5 billion in lost markets that Liberal blunders have cost farmers. Improve the livestock insurance program. Instead, her advice to farmers is to drain their savings or go further into debt.

Can the minister tell me what other essential Canadian industries the Liberal government has told to drain whatever savings they may have before being offered any meaningful assistance?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Compton—Stanstead Québec

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, there are many programs available for our farmers. We know that we must do more, and we are working with them to make sure we identify which groups have additional needs. We are listening to them. Again, we heard our farmers when they told us that far too few of them had access to the Canada emergency business account. We broadened the criteria. That represents $670 million in direct aid to our farmers.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has ruled that the firearms contained on the order in council banned list were unsuitable for sport or hunting, despite the government providing transport permits for over 30 years for the purpose of sport shooting with those firearms.

Why is the minister choosing to attack law-abiding gun owners instead of gun smugglers and criminals who have absolutely no intention of obeying his restrictions?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, just to be very clear, what we have done is prohibited weapons that were not designed for hunting or for sport purposes but rather were designed for military use: for soldiers to use in combat. There is no place for those weapons in our civil society. They have been used, tragically, in many mass shootings in Canada and around the world. We promised Canadians that we were going to strengthen gun control, and we have taken an important first step. There is more work to do, and we will do that work.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, we know that the Prime Minister does not like energy workers. He will not support farmers and he is going after responsible firearms owners. The Prime Minister should be targeting the criminals who traffic in illegal guns, not hunters and athletes. The Prime Minister seems to only support Canadians when he thinks he can get their votes.

It is a simple question. Can the Prime Minister tell us why he is playing politics during this pandemic?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, there is no greater responsibility of any government than to keep its citizens safe. What we have seen, tragically, even through this terrible pandemic, is that gun violence continues to plague many of our communities across the country. We have seen an increase, for example, in incidents of domestic violence.

We have promised Canadians we will strengthen gun control, and that includes bringing forward new regulations with respect to storage, to prevent guns from being stolen; new laws and regulations with respect to the border, to prevent them from being smuggled; and new regulations to prevent their diversion into the hands of criminals. We will take the strong action that is necessary to keep Canadians safe.

Intergovernmental RelationsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has announced that it is going to give workers 10 days of sick leave.

Unfortunately, given that 95% of workers are not covered by the Canada Labour Code, we see that this issue will not be decided here.

I was pleased to hear the question from the leader of the NDP, and especially the reply from the Prime Minister, who said that he was not going to encroach on the areas of jurisdiction and responsibility of Quebec and the provinces. That is what we are talking about, Mr. Speaker.

My question is simple. Just before he made the announcement, did he come to an agreement with Quebec and the other provinces?

Intergovernmental RelationsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Québec Québec

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to answer my colleague's question.

The current crisis began as a health crisis that then developed into an economic crisis. Those two factors are extremely important, if we want to come through both the health crisis and the economic crisis.

Clearly, we are going to work very closely with all the provinces. All Canadians and all provinces agree that we have to do better to protect both our economy and the health of our workers.

Intergovernmental RelationsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, they obviously had no agreement with the provinces and Quebec.

The government is just telling us that, if the provinces decide to give 10 days of leave, the feds are in agreement. That is not a measure, it is a wish.

Who is going to pay for this? The federal government? Quebec and the provinces? The employers struggling with COVID-19 and wondering whether they are going to go bankrupt? The tooth fairy?

How can the government announce a measure as a done deal, when it does not apply to 95% of the people and, above all, depends on other legislatures?

Intergovernmental RelationsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Québec Québec

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising the issue of cost. The cost of failing to protect workers' health in a crisis like this is exceptionally high.

Employers, workers, unions and governments know that in order to emerge from this crisis stronger and more united, we need to protect the health of workers, so that they can protect the health of their families, as well as the health of their colleagues. We look forward to working with all the provinces and territories to that end.

COVID-19 Emergency ResponseOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, more than one million tourism-related employees have been laid off. Summer festivals all over the country are being cancelled. Kids' camps are closed. For many restaurants, a recent study is telling us that the pandemic is going to devastate the industry.

In rural communities, mom and pop businesses are being told to close, yet big-box stores are allowed to open. Rural Canadians are told to work from home, yet Internet and cellular service is sketchy at best. Rural communities are going to be the hardest hit and, in many cases, the slowest to recover.

Will the Prime Minister finally start to put rural Canada and the tourism industry top of mind, especially when creating recovery programs?

COVID-19 Emergency ResponseOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Québec Québec

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the brief answer is yes. We have done that from the start. We know how difficult the crisis is across all of Canada, particularly across rural regions, with the tourism, the transportation, the industry around restaurants and the services.

The times are very difficult for all regions and particularly rural regions in Canada. That is why we have announced just recently an important regional fund, which, in addition to the wage subsidies, the emergency benefits, the emergency loans and all of that, will help rural Canada go through the crisis and emerge strong as we come out of it.

COVID-19 Emergency ResponseOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, tourism is vital to the Okanagan economy and businesses have a very short window in order to make enough revenue to carry them through to the next season.

With COVID-19, events, festivals, conventions and travel for families have all been cancelled. Related companies are also affected, like cab drivers, event suppliers and bicycle rentals.

The Prime Minister stated on May 5 that the government was looking into tourism-specific supports. It has now been three weeks and still nothing. The Liberals are letting tourism operators down.

When will the government announce its plan for the tourism sector?

COVID-19 Emergency ResponseOral Questions

3 p.m.

Québec Québec

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, this gives me a chance to expand on my first answer and mention the $962-million regional relief and recovery fund, which will support other measures that we have introduced, such as the wage subsidy, emergency loans and the Canada emergency response benefit for workers who have unfortunately lost their jobs. As we know, all this will help our extremely important regions and tourism industry weather this crisis and come out stronger on the other side.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

James Cumming Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, businesses across the country are struggling, and the government has been saying that if the emergency business loan is not enough, entrepreneurs should apply for the business credit availability program that provides loan guarantees through Export Development Canada. While we heard at the finance committee how some of the programs were performing, there has been no feedback on these loans specifically, despite my repeated questioning.

I have a simple, straightforward question for the minister. How many business credit availability guarantees have been issued since March 13?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Markham—Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Mary Ng LiberalMinister of Small Business

Mr. Speaker, we have put many supports out to help our struggling small businesses across the country, including the business credit availability program and additional lending supports for our businesses. I look forward to making that information available to my colleague and members of the House.

These supports really are going to help our small businesses weather through this difficult period with the operating capital that they need during this time.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the arts and entertainment industry has been seriously hit by the pandemic. As we know, that sector employs a great number of Canadians, many of whom are freelancers like Liz MacRae, one of my constituents, who earns a living through contracts as a voice actor.

How is the government going to support workers in the arts and entertainment industry until we have a vaccine that will one day enable us to resume all these cultural activities that we love so much?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

3 p.m.

Québec Québec

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Lac-Saint-Louis for his question.

Now more than ever, we need our artists to keep us united, connected and strong through this very difficult time. As soon as the crisis began, our government took immediate, strong action to support them. For example, we made sure that artists who collect royalties are eligible for the Canada emergency response benefit. We also announced $500 million in emergency support to meet the needs in the arts, heritage and sports sectors.

Our government has always been there and will continue to be there for our artists and our athletes in this difficult situation.

Access to InformationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, who said that there was no human-to-human transmission of COVID-19, that people did not need to wear masks and that we did not need to close our borders? The government. Was any of that true? Sadly, no, and now we are paying the price.

Now the Liberals want to make it an offence to spread misinformation. Are they going to throw themselves in jail?

What is going on with our democracy? Are the Liberals in charge of telling Canadians what they can and cannot read, what is true and what is false? Why is the government attacking freedom of expression right in the middle of a pandemic?

Access to InformationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Patty Hajdu LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely proud of our officials and our government for adapting to science as it has evolved. As the member knows, COVID-19 has only been with humans for about four and a half months. We have learned a lot in that time. As new evidence has come forward, we have of course adjusted our advice to Canadians to best protect them.

In terms of disinformation, it is extremely dangerous that Canadians are being fed information that is false, that is misleading and that can increase risk to themselves and to their loved ones. We will make sure that Canadians have access to credible information about how to protect themselves and their families.

Access to InformationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is the government that said human-to-human contact did not transmit the disease. It said that the border did not need to be closed. It said that wearing a face mask would not help.

The minister opposite now is saying that the Liberals will make sure that misinformation is not spreading, “Don't worry, Canadians”. Really? These are the individuals who we are going to trust to make sure that false information does not land in the hands of Canadians. They are spending $3.5 million to shut down voices across the country.

Since when is that okay?