That the bill standing on the Order Paper, entitled An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19, be disposed of as follows:
(a) the bill be ordered for consideration at second reading later this day;
(b) when the House begins debate on the motion for second reading of the bill, two members of each recognized party and a member of the Green Party may speak to the said motion for not more than 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for questions and comments, provided that members may be permitted to split their time with another member; and, at the conclusion of the time provided for the debate or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, all questions necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill shall be put without further debate or amendment, provided that, if a recorded division is requested, it shall not be deferred;
(c) if the bill is adopted at second reading, it shall be referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed;
(d) until the said bill is disposed of at second reading or read a third time, whichever is later, the House shall not adjourn except pursuant to a motion proposed by a minister of the Crown; and
(e) no motion to adjourn the debate may be proposed except by a minister of the Crown.
Mr. Speaker, this a momentous time in our history, and we must all act accordingly.
We are gathered here today at a momentous time in our history. Indeed, the last six months have changed our country. More than 9,000 Canadians have died from COVID-19. Many thousands more have contracted the virus. Millions of Canadians have seen their jobs disappear in the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. So many people are still worried about how much longer their jobs will last, and we all know so many of these people.
As the days grow shorter and the autumn leaves begin to appear, we are at a crossroads. We can ignore the challenges that remain before us and blindly walk down a dark path with dangerous consequences, or we can walk together on a second path with our eyes wide open, and prepare our families and our country for the twists and turns that lie ahead.
Our government is committed to responsibly leading Canadians down that second path.
We must continue to be honest with Canadians, as we always have been.
The second wave poses serious risks. We must not take it lightly, on the contrary. Over the coming weeks and months, we must do everything we can to protect Canadians. That is what is most important to us. In fact, as elected members, it is our greatest responsibility; it is the greatest responsibility. Canadians know it, all my colleagues in the House know it and we know it: We are facing the gravest of threats. It continues to weigh on all of us, our families, our friends, our neighbours and our colleagues. We are all at risk, with no exceptions.
Canadians know how to do their part by staying home, washing their hands, wearing a mask and following public health guidance.
As a government and as parliamentarians, we also have a duty to do our part. First, we need to help the most vulnerable Canadians, especially those who are struggling to make ends meet. There are many of them. This crisis is affecting all Canadians. Many people have lost their jobs, and others worry they are next. Some people are starting to pull through, while others now need to stay home to care for a sick father, mother, son or daughter. Some need to stay home because they themselves are sick.
Canadians are worried, as are we all. They have valid questions. How are they going to pay the bills? How are they going to feed and clothe their families? How are they going to pay the mortgage or rent?
From the beginning of this crisis, our government has been working day and night to meet the needs of Canadians. We do not want to leave anyone behind. We want to be there for everyone. At times like these, we need to assure all Canadians that we will be there for them, that we will never let them down, that we will keep helping them, that we will get through this crisis together, and that, together, we will come out even stronger on the other side. The key word is “together”. We have to do this “together”.
This is a message that I hope all parliamentarians will reflect on as we discuss the motion before the House today. It is a simple message. It is time for action. It is a time of urgency. It is not a time for members to slow walk their way toward inaction. It is definitely not a time to play political games.
Canadians need our help now and this is exactly what the motion is meant to accomplish: quick action. Canadians need members of the House to recognize the urgency of the situation and to work together. They are watching us. Can we work together for the benefit of all Canadians?
I hope that all members from all parties will leave politics aside and work with us. We must move forward to provide millions of Canadians with the financial support they need and we must do it now.
The government presented a Speech from the Throne last week in which we clearly stated our plan for the coming weeks and months. We are going to show some leadership; guide the government through this crisis; guide the government and the country to economic recovery; and rebuild the foundations of our society to make it stronger, more just and more humane.
In its throne speech, the government promised to help each and every Canadian, and Canada is in a sound financial position to do so, compared to other countries. That is why we did not hesitate to use our financial resources to help Canadians, through programs such as the Canada emergency response benefit and the Canada emergency wage subsidy. We did not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal or to create new ones in order to help Canadians. Canadian workers and employers must have the support they need to weather this fierce storm.
Madam Speaker, if I may, I would like to quote a passage from the Speech from the Throne: “Canadians should not have to choose between health and their job, just like Canadians should not have to take on debt that their government can better shoulder.”
Every member of the government is working as a team to support Canadians. I commend the thousands of public servants and thank them from the bottom of my heart for their dedication and the extraordinary work they have done. They continue to work to make a positive difference in the lives of all Canadians. Members of cabinet, like all members of the Liberal caucus, have never lost sight of the fact that the most important thing to do is to help the people we serve.
Canadians elected us. We are here because they made that choice. They are the reason were are here in the House. They are the reason we are standing up and working together to develop policies that will make a difference for the men and women of this country, for the young and not-so-young, for our seniors and our businesses.
Among those who have worked the hardest is my colleague and friend, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. For months now, right through recent days, I would say all the time that she has adopted an open and collaborative approach. She has listened to Canadians and has collaborated with her fellow parliamentarians. I would say her door is always open. She is always ready to discuss and accept ideas from all others. Sometimes good ideas or better ideas come from the other side. She is totally open to that.
She and her team have worked hard and have come forward with a proposal to create three new benefits.
First, there is the Canada recovery benefit. This would help Canadians who have stopped working because of COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI, and Canadians who are employed but have seen their income reduced.
Second, there is the Canada recovery sickness benefit. This would assist Canadians who are unable to work because they must stay at home.
Third, there is the Canada recovery caregiving benefit. This would support workers who need to take unpaid leave to care for family members as a result of COVID-19.
When my colleague announced those benefits in August, she said she would monitor the development of the pandemic closely, and that is what she is doing. She has been keeping a close eye on the situation since schools reopened. She is also monitoring the number of jobs created in the country. She is keeping tabs on what is happening in every province and in every region of the country. She made it very clear that she would be flexible with respect to details of the benefits and that she is open to collaboration. She always works collaboratively.
Everyone is aware of the urgency of the current situation. Canadian workers and their families are counting on us to provide the help they need to pay their bills and buy groceries. They need our help to get through this crisis. Objectively speaking, this motion puts forward a reasonable way for the government to fulfill its responsibilities and help Canadians. Crucially, in our opinion, the motion gives all parties an opportunity to speak to the motion. It enables the House to do what needs to be done to study the proposed legislation without delay.
I ask members to join us in support of the motion. This is not a time for delay. It is time for action, and Canadians are counting on us. We must not let them down.