That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, beginning on the day after this order is adopted until Thursday, June 23, 2022:
(a) members may participate in proceedings of the House either in person or by videoconference, provided that members participating in person do so in accordance with the Board of Internal Economy’s decision of Tuesday, October 19, 2021, regarding vaccination against COVID-19, and that reasons for medical exemptions follow the guidance from the Ontario Ministry of Health document entitled “Medical Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccination” and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI);
(b) members who participate remotely in a sitting of the House are counted for the purpose of quorum;
(c) any reference in the Standing Orders to the need for members to rise or to be in their place, as well as any reference to the chair, the table or the chamber shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the virtual nature of the proceedings;
(d) the application of Standing Order 17 shall be suspended;
(e) the application of Standing Order 62 shall be suspended for any member participating remotely;
(f) in Standing Orders 26(2), 53(4), 56.1(3), and 56.2(2), the reference to the number of members required to rise be replaced with the word “five”;
(g) documents may be laid before the House or presented to the House electronically, provided that:
(i) documents deposited pursuant to Standing Order 32(1) shall be deposited with the Clerk of the House electronically,
(ii) during Routine Proceedings, members who participate remotely may table documents or present petitions or reports to the House electronically, provided that the documents are transmitted to the clerk prior to their intervention,
(iii) any petition presented pursuant to Standing Order 36(5) may be filed with the clerk electronically,
(iv) responses to questions on the Order Paper deposited pursuant to Standing Order 39 may be tabled electronically;
(h) should the House resolve itself in a committee of the whole, the Chair may preside from the Speaker’s chair;
(i) when a question that could lead to a recorded division is put to the House, in lieu of calling for the yeas and nays, one representative of a recognized party can rise to request a recorded vote or to indicate that the motion is adopted on division, provided that a request for a recorded division has precedence;
(j) when a recorded division is requested in respect of a debatable motion, or a motion to concur in a bill at report stage on a Friday, including any division arising as a consequence of the application of Standing Order 78, but excluding any division in relation to motions relating to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, pursuant to Standing Order 50, the budget debate, pursuant to Standing Order 84, or the business of supply occurring on the last supply day of a period, other than as provided in Standing Orders 81(17) and 81(18)(b), or arising as a consequence of an order made pursuant to Standing Order 57,
(i) before 2:00 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions at that day’s sitting, or
(ii) after 2:00 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, or at any time on a Friday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions at the next sitting day that is not a Friday,
provided that any extension of time pursuant to Standing Order 45(7.1) shall not exceed 90 minutes;
(k) if a motion for the previous question under Standing Order 61 is adopted without a recorded division, the vote on the main question may be deferred under the provisions of paragraph (j), however if a recorded division is requested on the previous question, and such division is deferred and the previous question subsequently adopted, the vote on the original question shall not be deferred;
(l) when a recorded division, which would have ordinarily been deemed deferred to immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business on a Wednesday governed by this order, is requested, the said division is deemed to have been deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions on the same Wednesday;
(m) for greater certainty, this order shall not limit the application of Standing Order 45(7);
(n) when a recorded division is to be held, the bells to call in the members shall be sounded for not more than 30 minutes, except recorded divisions deferred to the conclusion of Oral Questions, when the bells shall be sounded for not more than 15 minutes;
(o) the House Administration be directed to begin as soon as possible the onboarding process of all members for the remote voting application used in the 43rd Parliament, that this process be completed no later than Wednesday, December 8, 2021, and that any member who has not been onboarded during this period be required to vote either by videoconference or in person;
(p) until the onboarding process is complete, recorded divisions shall take place in the usual way for members participating in person and by roll call for members participating by videoconference, provided that members participating by videoconference must have their camera on for the duration of the vote;
(q) after the onboarding process outlined in paragraph (o) has been completed, the Speaker shall so inform the House and, starting no later than Thursday, December 9, 2021, recorded divisions shall take place in the usual way for members participating in person or by electronic means for all other members, provided that:
(i) electronic votes shall be cast from within Canada through the House of Commons electronic voting application using the member’s House-managed mobile device and the member’s personal House of Commons account, and that each vote requires visual identity validation,
(ii) the period allowed for voting electronically on a motion shall be 10 minutes, to begin after the Chair has read the motion to the House, and members voting electronically may change their vote until the electronic voting period has closed,
(iii) in the event a member casts their vote both in person and electronically, a vote cast in person takes precedence,
(iv) any member unable to vote via the electronic voting system during the 10-minute period due to technical issues may connect to the virtual sitting to indicate to the Chair their voting intention by the House videoconferencing system,
(v) following any concern, identified by the electronic voting system, which is raised by a House officer of a recognized party regarding the visual identity of a member using the electronic voting system, the member in question shall respond immediately to confirm their vote, either in person or by the House videoconferencing system, failing which the vote shall not be recorded,
(vi) the whip of each recognized party have access to a tool to confirm the visual identity of each member voting by electronic means, and that the votes of members voting by electronic means be made available to the public during the period allowed for the vote,
(vii) the process for votes in committees of the whole take place in a manner similar to the process for votes during sittings of the House with the exception of the requirement to call in the members,
(viii) any question to be resolved by secret ballot be excluded from this order,
(ix) during the taking of a recorded division on a private members’ business, when the sponsor of the item is the first to vote and present at the beginning of the vote, the member be called first, whether participating in person or by videoconference;
(r) during meetings of standing, standing joint, special and legislative committees and the Liaison Committee, as well as their subcommittees, where applicable, members may participate either in person or by videoconference, provided that members participating in person do so in accordance with the Board of Internal Economy’s decision of Tuesday, October 19, 2021, regarding vaccination against COVID-19, and that reasons for medical exemptions follow the guidance from the Ontario Ministry of Health document entitled “Medical Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccination” and the NACI, and witnesses shall participate remotely, provided that priority use of House resources for meetings shall be established by an agreement of the whips and, for virtual or hybrid meetings, the following provisions shall apply:
(i) members who participate remotely shall be counted for the purpose of quorum,
(ii) except for those decided unanimously or on division, all questions shall be decided by a recorded vote,
(iii) when more than one motion is proposed for the election of a chair or a vice-chair of a committee, any motion received after the initial one shall be taken as a notice of motion and such motions shall be put to the committee seriatim until one is adopted,
(iv) public proceedings shall be made available to the public via the House of Commons website,
(v) in camera proceedings may be conducted in a manner that takes into account the potential risks to confidentiality inherent in meetings with remote participants,
(vi) notices of membership substitutions pursuant to Standing Order 114(2) and requests pursuant to Standing Order 106(4) may be filed with the clerk of each committee by email;
(s) until Friday, December 10, 2021:
(i) Standing Order 81(5) be replaced with the following: “Supplementary estimates shall be deemed referred to a committee of the whole House immediately after they are presented in the House. A committee of the whole shall consider and shall report, or shall be deemed to have reported, the same back to the House not later than one sitting day before the final sitting or the last allotted day in the current period. On a day appointed by a minister of the Crown, consideration of the supplementary estimates shall be taken up by a committee of the whole at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment, for a period of time not exceeding four hours. During the time provided for the consideration of estimates, no member shall be recognized for more than 15 minutes at a time and the member shall not speak in debate for more than 10 minutes during that period. The 15 minutes may be used both for debate and for posing questions to the minister of the Crown or a parliamentary secretary acting on behalf of the minister. When the member is recognized, he or she shall indicate how the 15 minutes is to be apportioned. At the conclusion of the time provided for the consideration of the business pursuant to this section, the committee shall rise, the estimates shall be deemed reported and the House shall immediately adjourn to the next sitting day.”,
(ii) Standing Order 81(14)(a) be amended by replacing the words “to restore or reinstate any item in the estimates” with the following: “twenty-four hours’ written notice shall be given to restore or reinstate any item in the estimates”,
(iii) Standing Order 54(1) be amended by adding the following: “Notice respecting a motion to restore or reinstate any item in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, shall be laid on the table, or filed with the clerk, within four hours after the completion of consideration of said supplementary estimates in committee of the whole and be printed in the Notice Paper of that day.”.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this House, particularly on this issue.
I harken back to March of 2020, as the pandemic became a reality for all of us and we tried to grapple with how this place was going to work. I really want to take a moment to thank the opposition House leader and the opposition whips from the Conservatives, from the NDP and from the Bloc Québécois, as we all worked very effectively. We were dealing with an extraordinarily challenging time, and we had to determine how we were going to continue to do the business of the nation.
I have to also thank the House administration for the incredible work it did as we worked and talked together to build a system that would allow us to continue as members of Parliament and to retain our privilege and be able to vote and debate and do the things we do here that are so important in service of our constituents and all Canadians.
As I stand here, of course I also have to harken back to my first time in the House as a member of Parliament. Every member of Parliament takes enormous pride in being able to stand in their place on behalf of their constituents. The first time they enter this chamber, they feel that sense of awe and humility at getting to do that on behalf of the people they live with, their home communities. It is pretty remarkable.
It is not a light thing to be away from this place, but of course we were in a global pandemic.
We created a hybrid system that worked very well, thanks to the House administration. All members were able to participate in debates and motions. Members could participate virtually during question period, and ministers could answer questions. The committees were able to sit.
We were able to do our jobs and address Canadians' top priorities. We created a new voting system and a new system for debate. We used new technology. It was a remarkable time, a time of transformation.
That is where we are today, with a system that worked and served us well, but we are not out of this pandemic. This pandemic, which has claimed 30,000 Canadian lives and affected more than five million Canadians across the country, is real. We do not know how it will end. All we know is that we continue to be within it.
We hit an incredible milestone as a nation, with 90% of eligible Canadians getting their first shot and over 86% of eligible Canadians getting their second shot. All Canadians can take great pride in that, and we in the chamber can take great pride in the way we worked with one another to advocate for vaccines being the only path out of this terrible pandemic, the only path to save lives and the only path to make sure that the most vulnerable do not end up in ICUs or, even worse, in morgues.
As we continue to push that number higher, any debate, frankly, that calls into question the efficacy or the importance of vaccines is incredibly disappointing. It is disappointing because it lends credence to the conspiracy theories and junk science that we see on the Internet that is making people fearful of doing the right thing to protect themselves and their families.
Some people have compared this place to a sports arena or a restaurant and asked why, if they can go to a sports game, members of Parliament cannot be in Parliament. Let us talk about that for a second and what the distinctions are. If I were to go to a sports game, I would not fly across the country. In fact, it would be equivalent to having a sports game where every participant viewing said sports game came from a different corner of the country.
Also, they do not spend three hours watching a game. No. They will spend 12- and 13-hour days inside that facility. The individuals who go to that sporting game would have a choice, if they were immunocompromised, on whether they would enter the facility. Members of Parliament have no such choice, because without a hybrid system they have no way to exercise their privilege and no way to represent their constituents.
Unlike a voluntary sporting match, where people can choose as vaccinated individuals whether they want to make that choice based on their own health, no such choice exists for members of Parliament. I do not think it is at all acceptable that members of Parliament should have to choose between their health and representing their constituents, particularly when we have already demonstrated a system that avoids that very problem now, in the midst of a pandemic that is continuing to claim lives.
I also do not want to relitigate this matter. With all due respect to everybody involved, we have talked about this too much. We have had to shut down the House entirely at one point in time, and at various points in time we ate up all kinds of time with the House that could have been used on other priorities, to debate having the flexibility of this system.
With all due respect to the members who are opposing this, I ask what they will do if in February or March there is a new variant or if there is a surge in cases and it is no longer possible. Do they honestly propose that we should debate this again, when we already have a system in place that is effective? I do not think that is a good use of this time, the precious time that we have as members of Parliament to answer the call of Canadians and their priorities.
The other thing that concerns me is that it would give members a terrible choice when they may be feeling a little under the weather or wondering whether they should come in. Do they miss that important vote and have to answer to their constituents? Do they skip that debate because they are feeling a little ill that day, or do they risk it and come in? If they risk it and come in, what is the impact on others' health?
In the midst of all this debate, underscoring it is something very concerning, which is that there are a few things we do not know, even being here in the chamber today. I do not know how many members are unvaccinated within the Conservative Party. They have not provided that number. We know that a member within the Conservative Party tested positive for COVID-19 just last week. We know as well that there are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven or I do not know how many MPs in the Conservative Party who are unvaccinated and who would have been in contact with that member of Parliament.