House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pandemic.

Topics

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I must agree that the government's approach often boils down to, “We know what to do, we will tell you how to do it, and we will give you money only on certain conditions”.

Since the throne speech, I keep hearing the government say that it wants to work together, that it does not want to bicker. We agree that we should work together, but the government needs to at least respect jurisdictions.

Quebec and the provinces are asking the federal government to restore health transfers and expedite transfer payments for high-speed Internet.

That would be a good way of working together and recognizing that Quebec and the provinces are in charge of these particular sectors. Perhaps that would speed up the process and make it possible to come together in a real wartime effort where everyone collaborates and progress is made.

I would like to hear what my colleague across the way has to say about that.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, the federal government has shown time and time again that it is there to assist the provinces. About $19 billion was transferred to the provinces through the safe restart program.

One of the concerns I have with the Bloc Québécois relates to taxpayers. Canadian taxpayers cannot be an ATM machine for the Province of Quebec. There have to be national programs under national guidelines. About $11 billion under equalization went to the Province of Quebec. There is also $19 billion under the restart program and $2 billion for education. Program after program—

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I am sorry, but there is not enough time for more discussion by the member. I am sure that other members will be able to participate as we move forward in the debate.

The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleagues and especially my leader, the leader of the official opposition and member for Durham, for appointing me as the political lieutenant for Quebec. I will fulfill that role with great pleasure and passion as I stand up for Quebeckers' interests in the House.

The Prime Minister prorogued Parliament on August 18. He shut down parliamentary operations at a time when Canadians were counting on us, their MPs, to help them. On August 18, the government abandoned Canadians. Our fellow citizens needed leaders to support them and lead them toward an economic recovery, but the government was thinking only of itself and its Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics woes. The truth is that the Liberal government abandoned Canadians purely out of self-interest because it wanted to shut down Parliament's work on the WE scandal.

Meanwhile, uncertainty continued to dominate the country. A recent study showed that my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, was Quebec's hardest-hit region economically. The region's GDP plummeted by 6.2%, and 18,000 jobs were lost. People in my region are pinning their hopes on the GNL Québec project. Public hearings on its environmental impact started last week.

Health is top of mind for everyone in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. People are worried. They want to know if the provinces have the resources to overcome this crisis. They want the federal government to redistribute money to the provinces, because the provinces are the ones that should be making decisions about health care. They are worried about delays in the response. They also want to know why Ottawa withheld funds while its own spending spiralled out of control. Why would the government care about Canadians' health and well-being when it is busy trying to save its own skin from another ethics scandal?

In its defence, the Liberal government claimed that it wanted to review its priorities in order to set a new direction for government. That is not at all what happened. Its new direction simply rehashes all the old Liberal policies that it has not implemented since 2015. Aside from all the smoke and mirrors, what did the Prime Minister do during the 30 days of prorogation? That is my biggest question. Clearly, he did not listen to the provinces' recommendations. All the provinces want the same thing Canadians want, which is increased federal funding for health care to the provinces, with no strings attached.

How can he hope to have a strong country if the provinces do not have the tools they need to reach their full potential? On top of this failure to listen, the Liberal government wants to interfere in provincial jurisdictions by getting involved in long-term health care. Resentment quickly spread throughout the Confederation. It only took a few minutes for the Premier of Quebec to denounce the federal Liberal government's unwarranted interference.

I understand why Quebeckers are unhappy. Dairy producers and processors are still waiting to be compensated. The Davie shipyard is still not the third partner in the national shipbuilding strategy. Our aerospace industry's status as a world leader is in jeopardy. There is nothing to reassure our forestry, steel and aluminum workers, who were asked to slow production and freeze wages. Strategic infrastructure, such as our ports and airports, is not being developed. Fortunately, the Conservative Party, under the leadership of the hon. member for Durham, is offering an alternative to defend the rights of the provinces. The autonomy of our provinces is essential to keeping our Confederation running smoothly, and that is the approach our party is offering to this great Confederation.

The Liberal government is blaming the pandemic for everything that has gone wrong lately. As we would say back home, COVID-19 is taking all the flak. This attitude is irresponsible. The government's chronic debt was not caused by COVID-19, nor were its constitutional feuds with the provinces or our economy's lack of productivity. A crisis like this one should unite us and get the opposition parties working together, but the Liberal government only wants to sow division. It imposes its political agenda without any consultation.

The government is simply using COVID-19 as a pretext to sneak in policies that will diminish the provinces' powers and, most importantly, restrict Canadians' economic freedoms.

Urgent action was needed in the spring, but the throne speech was a chance for the government to address the deeper societal problems, to better target our social safety net by helping Canadians who are struggling, instead of imposing one-size-fits-all solutions. I want to point out that a social safety net does not come free, and we will certainly not build a sustainable, autonomous system by paying for it with a credit card.

If we fully developed our natural resources, we would have the money to build a substantial social safety net. If our policies made aluminum, steel and wood the foundation of a national environmental strategy, the planet would be better off and we would have good-quality, sustainable jobs. If we worked together to improve things instead of sowing division and stunting our growth, Canada would again be a leading proponent of large-scale projects. If our tax policies incentivized people to work, we would not need this grab-bag of programs. If the government worked together with the provinces, we would not have as many constitutional clashes.

Contrary to what was said in the speech, the government's approach does not seem to have changed. Only Ottawa is all-knowing, knows best and is the best. Canada needs a leader. It is the leader's responsibility to oversee the members of his team and to engage them in the pursuit of common goals. When things go poorly, the leader accepts responsibility. He does not criticize the provinces. He does not say that he did enough. He does not criticize his public service. When things go well, a leader praises the members of his team and does not take the credit.

We repeat that the government must work with everyone to ensure the well-being of Canadians and that it must not divide us with a throne speech intended to buy votes. Attacking provincial jurisdictions divides our country. Recklessly spending money that does not belong to us divides generations.

It is very clear today that this government does not care about the provinces. However, the Prime Minister should know that the strength of our confederation lies in the strength of our provinces. If he is unable to listen to them and act as a leader and a head of state, he should ask himself whether he is in the right job.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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 totally disagree with what member is putting on the record. We have clearly demonstrated, with the exception of the Conservative Party here in Canada, that there has been a very strong team Canada approach combatting COVID-19. I would ask the member if he has even looked at the safe restart agreement.

I do not want to use this as prop, and so I will put it down, but I had in my hand a letter from the Premier of Manitoba saying all sorts of positive things about how the federal government is working with the province to help out. I am from Manitoba. I suspect that the member would find things of a similar nature throughout the country, and not only with provinces but with municipalities.

Does the member really believe the Conservative spin that Ottawa is all alone and no other government is working with Ottawa? That is silly.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague opposite.

The government prorogued Parliament for six weeks. During that time, we could have been discussing the new measures, the CERB and the economic recovery. We even asked to work on a Sunday because we noticed that errors were made with the old measures and we wanted to implement the best measures possible. We do not want those mistakes to be repeated, like with the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program or how the CERB came ahead of the Canada emergency wage subsidy. We noticed that people with cancer were falling through the cracks in the system after their 15 weeks of EI benefits were up.

To be a leader, one has to be able to co-operate with the opposition. Right now, that does not seem to be happening. That is why the government wanted to limit debate to only 4.5 hours rather than 14 hours.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for his speech. I also listened to what he had to say earlier today, during question period, when he talked about funding for health care.

That funding is a long-standing problem. I am a sovereignist. I make no apologies for that. In 2013, when a Conservative government was in power, I clearly remember that the PBO published a report indicating that if nothing was done the provinces would continue to run deficits year after year, while the federal government would be swimming in surpluses.

The time has come to walk the talk, as they say. As the Quebec lieutenant of the Conservative Party, my colleague is supposed to be Quebec's voice in his party. Is he prepared to support the funding threshold of 35% and the annual increase of 6% that the Quebec government is calling for? If he is serious and prepared to speak boldly, he will commit to that.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, to us, increasing health transfers to the provinces is extremely important. However, we cannot commit to a given percentage.

The Conservative Party may be in power soon. We have to show that we are responsible. As far as the budget is concerned, we have nothing, we know nothing, and we do not know where we are headed. The Bloc Québécois can rhyme off a bunch of numbers, but we know full well that they will never have to bring down a budget.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:10 p.m.

Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, my question is simple. During the six months of the pandemic, 20 of the richest people in this country increased their wealth by $37 billion. Two of those people own most of the grocery stores in this country: Galen Weston and Jim Pattison. They earned $1.6 billion and $1.7 billion respectively during that six months. When they cut off the two-dollar-an-hour wage increase to their workers, their stocks and shares increased.

I wonder if the hon. member would support a wealth tax for people who are earning money like this when their workers are struggling during this pandemic.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a shame that Parliament was prorogued for six weeks. The government did not allow us to sit during the pandemic even though Parliament has never been shut down in times of crisis. This prevented us from working in committee and debating things that might have been extremely important for the government in the coming days.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:10 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Jim Carr LiberalMinister of International Trade Diversification

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to share my time with the member for Brampton South.

Remarkably, it has been more than a year since I have spoken in this chamber. Circumstances and life have intervened. It was an exciting night for me on October 19, 2019, when the people of Winnipeg South Centre sent me back to the House of Commons. I want to thank them for that.

The next day was less happy. I was diagnosed with a blood cancer, multiple myeloma, and my kidneys were pretty well shot. Here we are, less than a year later, and I am feeling strong. I am grateful and ready to work, along with so many others with their own experiences. I want to thank the nurses, doctors and support staff of CancerCare Manitoba and the dialysis unit at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. They are now a part of my community, for their nurturing and wonderful care.

How the world has changed since then. No one has been immune to the impacts of COVID-19. It affects who we see, how we see them and how we live our lives.

The throne speech documents our response to this unprecedented health and economic challenge, with investments of billions of dollars to cushion the impact of the pandemic for people, businesses, institutions and communities. We understood that speed could mean imperfection, and adjustments have been made, and continue to be, as we learn and adapt to the evolving landscape of this pandemic.

The pandemic has shown that when all levels of government work together, we get the best results. Canadians do not want their leaders to bicker, name-call and disparage others. Democracies by nature encourage disagreement. That is what makes our system strong. However, we become vulnerable when our debates become acrimonious.

The pandemic has shown that when governments at all levels work together, better results happen. It is worth remembering that there have been 18 meetings between first ministers since the start of the pandemic.

Canadians do not want their leaders to bicker. They do not want them to name-call and they do not want them to denigrate, today more than ever. Democracies, by their nature, encourage dissent and that is what makes our system strong, but it weakens when the debate turns nasty, as we have seen recently in other places.

Among government's big jobs is to determine the pace of change. Whatever we do, it is not enough for some and it is too much for others. Trying to satisfy everyone will satisfy no one. What we do know is that social policy and economic prosperity are partners in nation building. Without child care, creating jobs and generating economic growth, we are slowed. If our citizens are unwell, unable to work or denied education or training, our communities cannot reach their full potential.

The pandemic is the most important health and economic crisis in Canada's modern history, but we will come out of these turbulent times well positioned to write the next chapter of the Canadian economy and the country's history.

The Prime Minister, who has led the Canadian effort with empathy, with sensitivity, with intelligence and grace, has asked me to be his special representative to the Prairies. I am a prairie guy, born and raised, through and through. This is the part of our country that shaped my values and an appreciation for staying close to the ground.

Winston Churchill was in Winnipeg on January 22, 1901, nearly 120 years ago. It was the day Queen Victoria died. Churchill happened to be in Winnipeg giving a lecture to earn a few dollars as a newly elected member of the British Parliament, recently returned from covering the Boer War as a journalist. Churchill looked out the window of his hotel room, gazed toward the west, and said that someday this land would feed the world.

How could Churchill have known that not only are we feeding the world with the crops he had in mind, but we are producing what the world needs and what the world wants today: energy, agriculture, plant and animal protein, artificial intelligence, community building and repairing relationships with indigenous peoples?

In many ways, the Prairies are leading not only in Canada but globally. This leadership will only be more important as nations look for stable partners producing what they need; what all of us need. This is the platform already built by those who came before and enhanced richly by today's talented scientists and academics, by the work ethic of producers all across the regions of the Prairies and indeed right across the country. We are poised to come out of the pandemic to accelerate trade to create more wealth, enabling us to distribute that wealth fairly, inclusively and justly.

As minister of natural resources and as minister of international trade diversification, I had the honour of representing Canada worldwide. In my experience, unfailingly, we are seen by the rest of the world as a leading nation, and a stable democracy financed by an abundance of resources, natural and human. We are humbled by size, challenged by geography and motivated by values that bind. We will get through this pandemic, and when we do, the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will help lead the way.

Alberta's entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity and the wealth generated by its natural resources will take us to the next generation of energy development in Canada. Already we see this happening, making the adjustments necessary to navigate a changing energy landscape worldwide. They will be on the leading edge of transformation, using the resources we have now to help ease the transition to the new energy reality.

Saskatchewan is blessed with fertile soil, passionate producers, traders, entrepreneurs and community builders on the leading edge of research and discovery. Saskatchewan is a trading province, more diversified in its trade than any other.

In my own province of Manitoba, celebrating its 150th year, swift-flowing rivers produce our electricity. Great cultural achievements have made Winnipeg a city attracting the finest creative talent. We have welcomed immigrants from every corner of the globe who have enriched our communities and our economy. We continue the essential work of reconciliation enthusiastically, supported by Manitobans. As our Prime Minister said to the United Nations General Assembly, “For First Nations, Metis Nation and Inuit peoples in Canada, those early colonial relationships were not about strength through diversity, or a celebration of our differences”.

Today, children are observing Orange Shirt Day, witnessing and honouring the healing journey of survivors of the residential school system, our national shame. We should never forget what indigenous peoples have taught us. Without their teaching and protection, many of our earliest immigrants to the Red River Valley would not have survived. Indigenous peoples' respect for land, water and air is a sacred trust. What riches this region enjoys and what an opportunity for all Canadians to move forward with all the potential that is the Prairie west. It is a rich diversity, and we can say we know it, but it is a formidable challenge to weave it together to be a national fabric out of all of this material. This has been the national project from before Canada became a nation.

I am proud to be a part of this team, and when I say “this team”, I do not mean just my colleagues on this side of the House, I mean all parliamentarians who share our aspirations for a strong and prosperous Canada. There will be a brighter day ahead, and we will face the challenges together.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

September 30th, 2020 / 6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, it has been a real pleasure for me to see and listen carefully to my colleague from Winnipeg, because I have a lot of respect for him. I am very pleased to see him in good shape, and I hope to see him here in Ottawa soon. It is also fun to hear a former cabinet minister speaking positively about natural resources in Canada. I hope the Prime Minister will be inspired by his colleague from Winnipeg.

My colleague spoke about Churchill, and speaking of Churchill, we saw a tweet this week from the hon. Andrew Leslie, a former general in the Canadian army and former whip for the Liberal party. He wrote, “I wonder what the great Prime Ministers (PMs) of the past might think. During the entirety of the Second World War, neither the British (Churchill) nor the Canadian (M-King) PMs ever sought to limit debate, especially on matters involving financial appropriations”.

Does the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre agree with his former colleague, who asked why we shut down Parliament to have a debate about spending money?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Carr Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the kind words from my friend, and I do mean my friend. I congratulate him on his new responsibilities.

There will be ample time to debate the Speech from the Throne and ample time to debate legislation. As I said in my remarks, for many people there is too much time, and for other people there is not enough time. There needs to be a balance between what time is available and the competing pressures on that time. I know that my hon. friend is so efficient with language that he will use whatever time there is to his best advantage.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I too would like to welcome back the member for Winnipeg South Centre. He is looking so well, and I honour his strength.

COVID has devastated the tourism business in my riding, from Butchart Gardens on the eastern boundary to small, family-owned sport fishing and tourism businesses in the west, including Wilsons Transportation, which provides key charter bus services, as well as seven golf courses, and dozens of hotels and restaurants. Together, they represent several thousand jobs in my riding.

My question is this: Given the heavy dependence on U.S. tourism in my riding, the fact that businesses have lost their spring, summer and fall seasons, and that the member for Winnipeg South Centre is an influential member of his caucus, will he join me in pressing the government for a tourism-specific recovery strategy? Otherwise, we risk permanently losing important parts of our tourism infrastructure.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Carr Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, the short answer is yes.

There is a reference in the throne speech to tourism, and we all know just how hard hit that sector has been. We have seen it in our personal lives, and in our families and communities. The tourism sector includes airlines, airports, hotels, restaurants and cultural industries.

The entire Canadian economy has been so badly hurt by the pandemic, and we know that some industries have been hit harder than others. The member is right that tourism is among them, and yes, I will add my voice.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Liberal

William Amos LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Innovation

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Winnipeg South Centre, who is such a great Canadian. He inspires us every single time we hear him speak here in the House. I know so many members felt very emotional hearing him speak in such a way.

I would invite our colleague to comment on how western Canada has made such significant contributions to the national effort as we tackle COVID. I am thinking, in particular, of work that is being done at the University of Saskatchewan, with VIDO-InterVac, and other academic institutions, such as the University of Alberta. I wonder if he could comment on those contributions.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Carr Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, there is also the microbiology lab in Winnipeg.

The research being done in prairie universities is cutting-edge in so many areas, not only in the Canadian economy, but also in the international trading world. Examples include value-added agriculture and protein clusters in Saskatchewan. There is so much wonderful work being done, and it will position us well as we come out of the pandemic.

I am grateful for the acknowledgement from my friend of the good work that is being done on the prairies. I wish I had more time to say more.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, first of all, I am so happy to see my friend and colleague from Winnipeg South Centre speaking on behalf of his constituents today. For sure, we want to hear the musical instrument that he plays so well.

It is an honour to address the House on behalf of residents of Brampton South to speak in support of the throne speech, which introduced our government's vision for the future of Canada. The throne speech acknowledged the difficult time our country has faced as a result of the worst health crisis of our generation, as well as the measures our government has taken to support Canadians throughout the pandemic. It also laid out the plan for our recovery.

Over the past six months, we have seen Canadians come together to help each other. We are united now more than ever as we face new challenges from COVID-19. People from across my riding have shared inspiring stories about acts of kindness and generosity, stories about young volunteers delivering groceries for seniors, non-profit organizations stepping up with donations and essential businesses serving the community.

When the pandemic started, our government moved quickly to support Canadian families and businesses. In fact, in Ontario, 97% of all direct financial support came from the federal government. The Canada emergency response benefit supported approximately nine million Canadians to help them pay their bills and support their families during these difficult times.

Canadians required a strong response, and our Liberal government has been there to provide direct support to the Canadians who needed it most. Over 9,500 seniors in my riding received a one-time GST payment. Thousands of workers were supported by the Canada emergency response benefit. Many businesses were supported through the wage subsidy, the Canada business account and more, while community organizations also received much-needed funding.

For example, Lady Ballers Camp is a not-for-profit charitable organization that provides girl-centred programs to encourage physical, emotional and educational development. Our government supported this organization through the Canada summer jobs program and the emergency community support fund. This support allowed Lady Ballers to continue operating, and our community is better because of that.

I had the pleasure of meeting with some other amazing organizations in my riding that are doing vital work throughout the pandemic, organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Cancer Warrior Canada, United Achievers' Club, Canadian Association of Retired Persons, Lockwood Seniors Club, Brampton Senior Citizens' Council and many others. They have been stepping up to support our community. To all organizations supporting Bramptonians during these difficult times, I say thanks from the bottom of my heart.

This spring, my team and I worked tirelessly to reunite families of Brampton South who were stuck abroad. A constituent of mine was stuck in Morocco, and my office worked closely with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration, Public Safety Canada and Global Affairs Canada to make sure they had a flight home. This story is one of thousands from my riding and across the country from people who were thankful for our government's largest repatriation effort in Canadian history.

Health care workers have been on the front lines of this war since the very beginning. I had the chance to speak with many nurses, doctors and hospital staff at Peel Memorial Centre in my riding, as well as with experts such as Dr. Lawrence Loh and Dr. Naveed Mohammad. They are doing great work. Their dedication makes them real-life heroes. I thank health care workers across the country for their incredible efforts. I was honoured to thank health care workers in many socially distanced care parades, like the one at Amica Peel Village seniors' home.

On the topic of long-term care homes, it is an absolute tragedy what happened to seniors during the first wave of this pandemic. Eighty per cent of all COVID-related deaths in Canada occurred in long-term care homes during the first wave. The CAF report done in May on five long-term care homes in Ontario was deeply troubling for me and many in my riding.

One of the five homes mentioned in the report was in my riding of Brampton South. Since the Canadian Forces report, I have worked with a number of my colleagues in advocating for real change for our seniors. I would like to take a moment to recognize my colleagues: the member for Scarborough—Rouge Park, Etobicoke Centre, Pickering—Uxbridge, Humber River—Black Creek, Mount Royal, Ottawa—Vanier and others for their tireless advocacy. I was beyond thrilled to see our government make commitments to set new national standards for long-term care and to amend the Criminal Code to penalize those who neglect seniors under their care. This would ensure that Canadian seniors get the best care possible, which they deserve.

The throne speech has a good plan for workers and for businesses in Brampton South and across Canada. It extends the Canada emergency wage subsidy program through the next summer and expands the Canada emergency business account to help with fixed costs, which provides business owners with a clear path for getting through this challenging time. As we build back better from COVID-19, the federal government will launch a campaign to create over one million jobs to restore employment to previous levels. This will be done through investing in housing, transit and green infrastructure projects. I am looking forward to this much needed campaign to get people back to work and invest in communities like mine.

We have also moved forward with a new way of care and a $240 million investment, made in May, to develop, expand and launch virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians. These measures will ensure that Canadians with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, get the quality of care they deserve. During consultations with my residents, members of the CARP seniors organization and many others, I heard clearly the necessity for national pharmacare. I was pleased to see the reaffirmation of this national program.

Members of my Youth Council, a local organization and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health told me about the importance of investing in mental health. That is why this government is going to expand on the first ever mental health promotion innovation fund, which provides national funding to support the delivery of community-based programs for mental health. Our government recognizes that infrastructure investment creates good jobs and builds healthy communities. Bramptonians know that we need strong investments in our city and I have been working hard to ensure we get our fair share, whether it be $35 million in safe restart funding to support the City of Brampton; the largest investment in housing by the federal government the Peel Region has ever seen, which will create over 2,200 affordable units and shelters; or more transit funding, like we saw this summer where the federal government invested approximately $45 million to upgrade Brampton's transit system. This government knows now is not the time for austerity. It is the time to invest in our communities and in Canadians.

Some of the people hardest hit by COVID-19 are women, especially low-income women. I am proud that the government has listened to the needs of women and is taking bold action to support them as they establish affordable, inclusive and high-quality child care. Creating a Canada-wide early learning and child care system will relieve the burden on women and families.

Recently I visited a local child care facility in my riding, Lullaboo Nursery, to see how it was adapting during COVID-19. I was thrilled to see that support is coming for this essential service. Let me be clear: There can be no recovery without recovery for women.

Finally, I would like to discuss the fight for racial equality for all Canadians. The throne speech addresses these concerns and will take steps to address online hate by introducing legislation to address systemic inequalities and by bringing reforms to the RCMP. Brampton South is a beautiful community that everyone should feel safe to call home. One's religion, who they love or the colour of their skin should not matter.

This is a vital moment to shape Canada's future for the better. Our Liberal government's Speech from the Throne lays out bold action on the environment, the economy and equality. We are focusing on protecting Canadians from COVID-19, and helping them get through the pandemic by supporting Canadians and businesses for as long as it lasts and building back better to create a stronger, more resilient Canada.

We are making commitments to extend key supports to help Canadian workers, families and small businesses through COVID-19. I am asking all members of Parliament to support the bill so that Canadians continue to receive the help they need in this most difficult time.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, one thing that I think is top of mind for many Canadians is action on climate change and bringing our emissions down. For the last five years in this place, I have been talking about the need to really ramp up the rate at which we are retrofitting our buildings in Canada, not just residential homes but commercial buildings, large buildings. The Liberal government has been kicking this down the road and over to the provinces. In the last budget in the last session of Parliament, they were trying to move it off onto the municipalities.

I am wondering if the member can comment on what the federal government plans to do in terms of bold action on retrofits for our buildings, which could significantly bring down our emissions.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his passion on the environment.

Our government recognizes that we need to keep strengthening the middle class and building back better during this difficult time to help Canadians. I reiterate our support for workers in the green energy sector. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been put in place to support them with the wage subsidy. I agree with my hon. colleague that support has been given over the last couple of months, $1 billion to clean up abandoned oil wells, but there is more we need to do. Through infrastructure investments, creating green jobs and building healthy communities, we are also helping Canadians, and we are committed to doing that.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Madam Speaker, the member for Brampton South mentioned how great the throne speech was for women, but what I find in my riding is that the way the government designed many of its programs for small businesses is not doing a great job at all for women who are small business owners. For example, the CEBA loan has not been approved for women-owned businesses that use personal banking accounts, even though the Liberal government announced about three months ago that this change was going to happen. CECRA, the commercial rent assistance, also impacts people who perhaps do not feel comfortable negotiating with their landlords for a break in their rent.

I am wondering if the member can comment on her government's lack of response for women-owned businesses in the throne speech.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, at the status of women committee, we heard that women, through COVID-19, especially low-income women, have been hit hard. Establishing affordable, inclusive, high-quality child care is also a great help for women.

As for helping businesses, we know small businesses are also struggling at this time. Over 300,000 unique applications were approved through an emergency-based subsidy. Through this, women also get support. I definitely agree with my hon. colleague that there is much more we need to do and we are committed to doing more for women. Affordable, inclusive, high-quality child care is also helping women to thrive in society.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:40 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalMinister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

Madam Speaker, I really appreciated the member's diversity of understanding, because the throne speech covered so much. There were four pillars. One area that she spoke about was systemic racism. We know that exists within Canada and she has provided opportunities for me to visit with her constituents.

I would like to hear some of the member's comments as to what she is hearing from her constituents. How do we ensure that we build back better and be consciously inclusive? We have heard some comments about the environment and women, so even when it comes to intersectionality, I would love to hear her comments.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree with my hon. colleague. We want to live in an inclusive country, where everyone has each other's back. These moments shape Canada's future. This speech shaped Canada's future for the better. The Liberal government Speech from the Throne laid out bold action.

Also, on systemic racism and online hate, we are committed to do more. We are taking a bold step to address those issues.

I agree with the hon. member opposite. I thank her for raising this concern. We are committed to doing more. We definitely will do more on this matter.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, first of all, I will be splitting my time on this speech with the member for Kildonan—St. Paul.

If I had to choose a heading for this year's Speech from the Throne, I would choose the Prime Minister's byline, “not the time for austerity”.

I like it for so many reasons, particularly in relation to what is happening in our world. I like to get to the root of things, so I went to the source and found the applicable definition of “austerity” as it relates to the economy. It is this: enforced or extreme economy especially on a national scale.

Given what our nation is facing, I could not agree more with that course of action. Canadians need to be sure that the government will address the real problem that is facing this country immediately, and that is a worldwide pandemic that is costing millions of lives around the world.

For all of us who serve Canadians at this unique time in history, it is our duty to ensure that we do our utmost to provide the environment that minimizes the toll the virus takes on the lives of Canadians.

First, the instruments of government are there for us to mitigate the adverse health outcomes, and we must use all of these resources and fund them to the level required to address the Canadian health system's response to this pandemic.

Second, we need to mitigate any long-term damage that would occur as Canadians feel the effects of the shutdown of parts of our economy necessitated by a response to the virus. Parts of Canada's economy have responded well after the initial shutdown. Sadly, parts of our economy will take years to recover to the same level they were at prior to March of this year. It is our job to ensure that we remove the structural impediments to the survival of these industries, so that the cost of insolvency and restart are minimized, because that affects us all.

In addition, the people in those industries, those who have trained to excel in their chosen field, need to have clarity as to how we emerge from this pandemic even though the when is still not clear. Forgoing a life of effort and investment, both personal and financial, is not the chosen outcome. Addressing these two objectives austerely would be the wrong approach.

Then I look at the government's response to the pandemic and the economic turmoil our country has experienced thus far this year: government programs that have expended twice as much as was lost in income, hastily designed response programs that throw Canadian taxpayers' money at the wall to see what sticks, several failed responses that have missed the target for helping those we need to help, and covering up incompetence on program execution and design with the taxpayers' wallet, resulting in the highest unemployment rate in the G7 group of advanced countries and the most spending per capita in this group of Canada's peers.

Call it what we want, eventually results matter, and the report card on the government's performance is dismal. We all recognize that mistakes have been made in our response to the pandemic and its economic outcomes, and we accept that mistakes happen when governments need to move very quickly to address an urgent situation. However, it is incumbent upon us to take what we have learned thus far and not continue with the same mistakes going forward.

That is not austerity; that is common sense. I do not know why the government confuses the two.

Let me move to how the Speech from the Throne fails. This was deemed so necessary that a make-believe Parliament, barely sitting, had to prorogue in the middle of the summer.

Failure one is its misleading Canadians on fiscal sustainability. Here are the incoherent statements on financial stability contained in the Speech from the Throne. The first quote is “With interest rates so low, central banks can only do so much to help.” The second is “This Government will preserve Canada’s fiscal advantage and continue to be guided by values of sustainability and prudence.” The third is “Government can do so while also locking in the low cost of borrowing for decades to come.”

Considering that this country's central bank, the Bank of Canada, has increased its balance sheet almost fivefold in the past six months to over $500 billion, keeping interest rates low only works because the only buyer of our country's bonds is the Crown corporation we own. Our debt is being mispriced and Canadians are bearing not just that balance sheet but also that excessive risk.

What happens when this independent central bank says that it will no longer buy the debt being issued by the Government of Canada? By the way, it is something it was not doing at scale until this year. Is the Government of Canada now subject to the whims of the Governor of the Bank of Canada? An independent central bank has suddenly become a very powerful central bank.

Then there is this statement in the Speech from the Throne: “maintaining a commitment to fiscal sustainability and economic growth as the foundation of a strong and vibrant society.” We have been spending beyond our means for every year of the government's mandate, and now we have been unprepared for an unusual event. The government's latest response is to abandon anything resembling a fiscal anchor and replace the finance minister. At least someone got fired for all this financial nonsense. As much as I agree that someone had to be accountable for the fiscal mess the government has created for this country, I sense strongly that the person pulling the trigger in that action is the real problem.

Failure number two is that “build back better” is an overreach at this critical time in our nation's history. First of all, recycling American gimmickry is political sloganeering that should require royalty payment to the producers. This statement is beyond trite. Canada has always built upon our strengths, and our Canadian resource industries lead the world in environmental standards. This overreach, costed by many to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars, provides no accountability for a tangible environmental outcome, and its scale is only being considered because of the pandemic, that is, why let a good crisis go to waste? It talks of millions of jobs and echoes the same nonsense put forth in the green energy strategy of the late Ontario Liberal government. It is no surprise that the plan has the same architects. Who are the main beneficiaries of an industry that will pay half the Canadian corporate tax rate? Once again, accountability, please.

Where in Ontario are the hundreds of thousands of jobs, these new clean-energy jobs that were promised as part of the increase in power costs in Ontario that has done its fair part to move jobs out of Canada? This part of the throne speech needs to be called out for what it is: a job selection and subsidization mechanism. The government is saying that it likes transferring taxpayer funds from productive parts of Canada's economy to parts of the economy that have more influence with the government. It is insider influence at its worst, and the government has shown it is a master practitioner. The government's friends win; Canadian taxpayers lose. What is left out is the Canadian resource industry.

Let me again quote from the Speech from the Throne. “Canada cannot reach net zero without the know-how of the energy sector...including people in places like British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.” Are these far-flung places? The writer of this part of the Speech from the Throne should be sent to the hinterlands to find that we are all Canadians with the same desires to build a great country while contributing to our businesses, our families and our communities.

I will quote the speech a final time. “The Government will: Support manufacturing, natural resource, and energy sectors as they work to transform to meet a net zero future, creating good-paying and long-lasting jobs”.

If there is one consistently oxymoronic thought pattern I hear in Ottawa from members of the government, it is this notion that we have to retrain our country's best scientists, engineers and technicians, all while saying we need to follow the science. Our industries are adjusting to a low-carbon world. The government is the only inconsistent factor in getting to a viable outcome, and I caution the government on its actions in this regard. Tempers are rising. People do not believe the Liberals are acting with integrity or common sense. The government has no representation in two of Canada's most productive provinces.

Be careful what you are doing to this country. I can tell you very clearly there is more strain—