House of Commons Hansard #19 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-2.

Topics

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

I urge members to be mindful of the volume of their voice for the sake of the interpreters.

The hon. member for Calgary Shepard.

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

December 16th, 2021 / 1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question and the energy with which he asked it.

I agree that there is a housing crisis in our country. The average price of a home in Canada has now increased to $720,850. Even in my region, in Calgary, prices no longer have any connection to the salaries people can earn in the communities that I represent.

From November 2021 to now, the increase was 19.6%. I think that the problem is that government spending is too high and it is not slowing down. The mortgage rate is less than 1% at some banks. It is too easy to get too much money, and that is causing home prices to increase in Canada.

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the Conservatives, and certainly the New Democrats, have talked a lot about travel agents and those who have been left behind by the government, abandoned when the government shut down the Canada emergency response benefit. There are many Canadians who have not been getting the support they need.

Could my colleague speak about what the Conservatives would offer for those travel agents and those who have not been getting support? Clearly they are getting nothing right now. It is disproportionately women who are travel agents, who are staying at home, and who are going to be greatly impacted by the failure of the Liberal government that has abandoned them.

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. I have spoken to many travel agents in my riding, primarily women. Usually it is either their second job, or one of two part-time jobs. They are being excluded. The simplest solution is make them eligible for the same government programs for which larger corporations are eligible.

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill and to go through our concerns about being asked to approve another $7 billion-plus. I will be splitting my time with my friend, the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. I appreciate his contributions and look forward to his speech.

We often hear the Liberals say that they have a plan for the economy, but I think we all know that means a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats sitting around a table and coming up with yet another government program on which they can spend money.

We are being asked to scrutinize legislation that asks for over $7 billion in additional funding. We have said many times in this place that the printing of money, the $400 billion, is causing massive inflation problems right across the country. It is causing the price of pretty much everything to go up, making things more expensive, such as every day goods, hurting those who are living off their pay cheques and struggling to get by every day.

As we all know, every time a new plan is constructed, it eventually fails. Then we have the government saying that something is going wrong and it needs to come up with another program to fix the program it just had. It is like going to the doctor for high blood pressure and the doctor prescribes a pill. Then it is dry mouth and the doctor prescribes another pill. After that, it is high blood pressure again and that is another pill. The list goes on. It is the exact same issue we are dealing with here.

In this case, the government is talking about a new day care program, a program that, on its merits, looks like it will be deficit financed well into the future. It is a program that is going to cause significant issues for parents trying to access already limited spaces. What the government does, as we all know when it comes into the marketplace, is it eviscerates competition. It creates an uneven playing field with other operators.

We are talking about people who operate day cares from their basements, which are regulated but are provided in that neighbourhood home. The government, by putting in dollars and distorting the price, causes those spaces that would otherwise be provided in the free market to go away, causing more problems and more wait-lists. If people think day care is expensive now, wait until the government gets its hands on it fully.

It seems the government has two speeds: big government and bigger government. The day care is one, but we are talking about the expansion of a number of these programs.

We have said all along, as my friends have already pointed out, that when the government was telling people to stay home and businesses to close because we were dealing with the pandemic, and no one really knew what was going on, they deserved to be compensated, and we supported those programs. There were some problems with those programs, such as the wage subsidy, the rent program and many others, that we in the opposition brought to the government's attention. In some cases, changes were made and in some cases they were not made. A number of businesses were not able to qualify for these programs despite attention being given to these programs.

We are now finding out that possibly CERB money was given to organized crime potentially contributing to the already growing crime problem in some of our major cities. That deserves a level of scrutiny. That deserves responsibility by parliamentarians to do our job to find out what is going on, what is working and what is not working with this program.

As we know, the government does not have divine resources. The only thing the government has is the taxes we pay and if the government borrows money, it puts us in debt. If it prints money, it is the back door to taxing people. It is taxing savings and making the savings of many in the working class worth less.

As was pointed out many times in the House, those who are sitting in big mansions or on massive assets have seen their wealth grow. However, there are those people who are struggling to get by, struggling to find a house, struggling to even get into the housing market, struggling to pay their bills or even just going to the grocery store and realizing their cart is not as full as it used to be but the price at the till is the same. That is because the government has thrown all this money up into atmosphere and refuses to change course.

During the height of the pandemic, the first thing the government did was to try to seize absolute power to tax and spend on whatever it wanted for two years into the future.

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

That was another Bill C-2.

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

That was another Bill C-2. I thank my friend from Barrie—Innisfil for reminding me of that. It was an opportunity for the government to try to seize absolute power, to take the opposition right out of the equation and put all the power into the executive branch. Thankfully, opposition members stood up to that as did Canadians in general.

We saw a portion of the initial $400 billion go to the CERB, the wage subsidy and other programs, actual supports. We saw some of it go into the housing market, but we also saw a pretty big chunk go into basically a slush fund of Liberal spending on things that had nothing to do with COVID, but were couched in that language of COVID, adding to the problem we are at now. The fact is that businesses, especially the small ones, are struggling at this exact moment. They are struggling to deal with rising prices and labour shortages. Unfortunately it is not going to get much better.

Reports have shown that Canadians are going to spend upward of $1,000 or even more on groceries compared to last year as the spending continues. We are not even talking about how we are going to service the debt into the near future. We are not talking about the billions of dollars that could have been used for a number of programs, but instead they are being used to pay interest, to service the debt. While we are paying the interest, we are still adding on, so we are struggling to keep our heads above water.

We need to try to expand the economy and we do that by keeping taxes low and the rules, regulations and red tape at a reasonable level. We let the market take charge and allow businesses to do what they do best, which is create jobs, opportunity and wealth for our communities; create paycheques for those working in the businesses, which then create more businesses and expanding opportunities. If we want to help the disenfranchised, we do that by expanding the economy. When we impose rules, regulations and red tape, we contract the economy. Then we have more intervention by government, and around and around we go.

As we mentioned many times, we would like to see more fiscal responsibility by the government, yes, helping those sectors that are being told they are unable to operate, specifically the travel and tourism sector, but also looking at programs where we can expand the economy, where we can build things here in our country. In Ontario, it has been tough. We have some of the highest electricity rates in North America thanks to the Ontario Liberals. What did that do to the once manufacturing engine of Canada? It decimated the manufacturing industry.

Unfortunately, a lot of those people who left Queen's Park came to Ottawa and are on that same path. In some cases, we paid their moving expenses. We need to start doing the opposite. We need to start encouraging investment, encouraging the brain power to come and grow here, create jobs, opportunity and wealth. We need lower taxes, less government and more freedom.

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Madam Speaker, I found that speech very fascinating. On the one hand, the member was completely able to understand and see how an economy could expand and contract. Toward the end of his speech, he specifically talked about that and how government could take certain measures to expand and contract the economy.

However, at the beginning of his speech, he spoke about child care and he made a point of only saying that it would be contributing to a deficit rather than assessing that perhaps by putting more people into the workforce, we could expand our economy in the exact same way by the definitions he used.

Why are the Conservatives able to talk about expanding and contracting an economy whenever it serves their purpose, but when it is about investing and infusing opportunity for people in our economy, they are completely unable to do that?

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Madam Speaker, clearly the member across the way did not listen to a word I said. As was pointed out, the only speed the government has is big government and bigger government.

The cost of the child care program, which the Liberal government is going across the country trying to get signed, is going to be deficit financed, putting the cost on the backs of the kids who are entering child care. Not only that, we can look at other jurisdictions where this has been tried. Of course, the only solution is more government. If we talk about any other solution that does not involve more government, the Liberals close their ears. It is absolutely amazing.

If we look at other jurisdictions in the country and elsewhere where this has been tried, there are massive waiting lists when government takes over child care. We need to expand the opportunities for all, allow government to have its place, allow the private sector to have a place, not eviscerate the private sector and expect the government to figure it all out.

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, as this may be the last time I rise before the holidays, I wish you and all my colleagues happy holidays.

One group that has been left out throughout the whole pandemic is start-ups. I think of Wildflower bakery in my riding of Port Alberni. It has had limited seating and has had the challenge of staying up with the times. This new variant now is going to impact that business. Its competitors have been able to access the emergency supports, but it has been absolutely denied. We brought good ideas, through savestartups.ca, to the government and the government has ignored them. There is nothing in the bill that would help start-ups.

Could my colleague speak about start-ups in his riding that have been left behind and perhaps some ideas from the Conservatives to give those start-ups the desperate support they need?

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Madam Speaker, I also wish my friend a merry Christmas, and a safe and happy new year.

Small businesses are definitely struggling. We talked about businesses being told to shut down and stop their operations in many cases, especially small businesses. Government did have to step aside.

On the bigger picture that my friend from British Columbia is talking about, we do a pretty good job in the start up of small and medium to large-sized businesses, but it is tough to find access to either funding or services to take them from the small to medium-sized operation. That is a missed opportunity in our society as a whole. Sometimes those businesses sell out or they are just not able to get to the next step and achieve the kind of success we want to see in our country. In worse cases, they go to other jurisdictions. That is one area we can fix.

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, originally when COVID-19 and the pandemic arose, the Conservatives said we would support a response from the government that was responsive to needs, temporary and would bridge back to a regular economy. Liberal arrogance, as has been said many times, is the greatest kryptonite. It seems the Liberals have not learned anything from their previous experience with the Canada emergency response benefit.

A FINTRAC intelligence brief says, “Reporting Entities indicated that clients who do not meet the CERB eligibility requirements, or who are fully employed, still apply for, and receive CERB benefits, often while also engaging in suspicious financial activity.” There are so many things in in the FINTRAC report that raise the hair on the back of one's neck.

Does the member view this as being a targeted benefit and has the government shown that it has learned from the experience of the CERB with Bill C-2, that it is targeted to the people who need it the most and that there are protections to ensure those who should not receive this benefit do not get it?

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, more work needs to be done. It is a shame we did not hear the speech from my colleague from British Columbia who had a lot to say on this. Hopefully we will hear from him soon.

Persons with DisabilitiesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden Liberal Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk today about Canada's role as a leader for disability inclusion.

Since 2015, we have taken unprecedented steps to build an inclusive Canada for persons with disabilities.

In budget 2021, we put the “nothing without us” strategy into action by investing in accessible communities, training and job creation, students with disabilities, and inclusive child care. We made good progress, but we have a lot more work to do. Looking ahead, we will reintroduce the Canada disability benefit act to help low-income Canadians with disabilities and move forward with the disability inclusion action plan. Everyone should be able to participate equally in our society, because it strengthens our communities and our economy and, most importantly, it is the right thing to do.

I would like to give a special shout-out to my friends at The Special Friends Network, the Bob Rumball centre, Lunchbox Café, Community Living North Halton, and everyone living with disabilities or different abilities, those who support them, and especially their friends and caretakers.

Since this is the last time I will be speaking in the House this year, I would like to wish you, Mr. Speaker, and everyone in the House, as well as my friends and neighbours, happy holidays, Merry Christmas and happy new year.

Vaccine Requirements for Service WorkersStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, the cost of everyday essentials is rising, and, thanks to the Liberal government, we can expect it to get worse. The government has driven up demand by pumping extra money into the economy, and now it is preparing to slash supply by bringing in vaccine mandates for truckers.

There is already a shortage of truckers. The Canadian Trucking Alliance expects to be short 18,000 jobs by March, increasing to 55,000 by 2023, but the government has a plan only to reduce the workforce with a new federal vaccine mandate. This will kill jobs and drive up prices in all sectors, from agriculture to energy and everything in between, solely for the sake of being punitive to people we used to call heroes only a few months ago.

The fact that reasonable accommodation is not being offered makes it clear that this is about coercion and not public health. The Liberals are about to create a catastrophic supply chain disruption. Instead of making life miserable for people who cannot or will not get vaccinated, they should provide reasonable accommodations to get our economy back on track, get inflation under control, and make life more affordable for Canadians.

YouthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Jenica Atwin Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, over the past two years, young people across the country have been struggling with increasing rates of mental distress. I have heard these concerns directly from my constituents in Fredericton.

I think about all the students I met who were managing the difficulties of online learning while being isolated from friends and experiencing financial stress. Young Canadians have been serving as essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic as well, from stocking grocery shelves to staffing vaccine clinics. They stepped up and put their own health at risk while trying to learn and build our collective future. I know it has not been easy.

My message to them today is one of validation, appreciation and hope. I want to tell young people that we see their struggles and we support them. Our government is making historic investments to improve access to mental health services, including expanding access to services on college and university campuses, but there is much more work to do.

I call on members from all sides of this House to work together to ensure that every young person in Canada can access affordable, timely and culturally competent mental health care anywhere in the country. Our youth deserve nothing less.

125th Anniversary of Le SoleilStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, the newspaper L'Électeur was founded in 1880. Wilfrid Laurier was a frequent contributor. One of his articles even resulted in the newspaper being banned by five bishops for promoting the study of living languages and the scientific method.

It was this ban that led to the founding of the newspaper Le Soleil in December 1896. Le Soleil is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year: 125 years of critical journalism, navigating seas both calm and rough, and steering clear of the rocks that time placed in the way of the paper and its workers; 125 years of growing in influence and keeping the public informed.

Today Le Soleil is a co-operative owned by its own workers. It has print and digital versions, with in-depth articles on a wide variety of subjects that are always interesting.

I congratulate the news professionals at Le Soleil for their work, and I wish Le Soleil a long life.

Generosity of the People of Longueuil—Charles‑LeMoyneStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Mr. Speaker, for many of us, the holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. However, for some, it can be a very difficult time, and we know that will ring even more true this year.

The people of Longueuil—Charles‑LeMoyne have a long-standing tradition of giving generously to the many local groups that organize donation drives in our community to make the holidays happier for individuals and families in need.

I thank them, and I encourage them to keep that spirit of giving going this year. The pandemic has been hard for everyone, but it can be doubly so for those who are alone, who have lost a loved one or who may be struggling to make ends meet.

Together, let us make sure everyone has a better holiday season this year.

Happy holidays and happy new year.

Duane LaCosteStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, in September my constituency lost a cherished community member with the passing of Duane LaCoste.

Duane served his country in countless ways. In 1961 he joined the RCMP, and he would serve in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Duane was even posted in Ottawa, where he provided security to Prime Minister Pearson and Governor General Vanier. Duane retired from the force as sergeant in the town of Minnedosa and went on to serve as mayor for seven years. Duane was also a proud member of the Royal Canadian Legion for 47 years. As president of branch 138, he started a project that resulted in over 100 banners displayed in the community, recognizing the local men and women who served in uniform. In a life summary he wrote before he passed, he stated, “To my family, friends, and the communities I have served, God bless and take care.”

I thank Duane for his service. He will be missed.

Richard GoldbloomStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, today, on what would have been his 97th birthday, we commemorate the late Dr. Richard Goldbloom, a distinguished doctor, teacher and philanthropist in Halifax.

Dr. Goldbloom passed away last month at the end of a purposeful life of service, excellence and compassion, and he was predeceased by his wife of 66 years, the indomitable Ruth Goldbloom. A renowned pediatrician who served as president of the Canadian Paediatric Society, Dr. Goldbloom touched the lives of thousands of families and students throughout his career.

His contributions to the scientific community are phenomenal: He published 140 scientific papers related to medicine. He also served as president of the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, the board chair of the Waterfront Development Corporation and the founding chair of the Discovery Centre. Dr. Goldbloom received numerous honorary doctorate degrees and was an officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia.

I hope all members of this House will join me in a round of applause to commemorate the life of a man who gave so much to Canada.

Volunteers of Glengarry—Prescott—RussellStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the non-profit organizations and their volunteers who are working hard to ensure that less fortunate families have a great holiday season.

I am thinking especially of the volunteers who spend hours organizing holiday food drives. Whether they are at the grocery store raising money, putting together Christmas hampers at a food bank, or delivering those Christmas hampers, without them, the holiday season would not be the same for hundreds of families in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

I also want to thank all the residents who contribute to this holiday food drive. On behalf of the people of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, I say a big thank you to them. As we say back home, your hearts are in the right place.

I wish you a merry Christmas, happy holidays and the happiest of new years.

Retirement CongratulationsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Brock Conservative Brantford—Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to rise in the House today to acknowledge the efforts of an incredibly dedicated and passionate woman who has been at the helm of a very special organization in my riding, known as the Crossing All Bridges Learning Centre, or CAB for short. For the past seven years, Paula Thomlison has been the executive director and the driving force behind the centre, which supports developmentally challenged adults.

Paula joined the centre at a crucial time. The non-profit did not have a suitable place to provide programming for its students, and the organization's goal was to obtain a home of its own. Paula was instrumental in making that dream become a reality. In 2018, with the support of community leaders, organizations and individuals, CAB purchased a former school and now has a permanent location.

Prior to the election, I had the pleasure of being the chair of the board of CAB, and I was able to witness Paula's undeniable commitment to persons with disabilities, so that they could truly live their best lives. With a stable and bright future ahead of CAB, Paula will now embark on a well-deserved retirement.

I would like to thank Paula from the bottom of my heart for her endless contributions to my community and wish her all the best in the next chapter of her life. She will be missed.

Holiday GreetingsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the holidays are a time for special family traditions, when we support one another so no one is left behind. This year my office started a new tradition by joining the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton’s holiday concert as steel pan drum performers, a joyous and wonderful way to start the holiday season.

The need for help is greater than ever. I encourage Canadians to give if they can, to local food banks, charities and toy drives. Last week I joined the Oakville firefighters, who are continuing their long tradition of collecting donations so every child has a special holiday. Organizations like Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre are working overtime to ensure that every family can celebrate the holidays.

While we are still in a pandemic, we head into the holidays with hope for the coming year. I wish everyone all the wonder and joy the season brings, and may the spirit of the holidays remain with members throughout 2022.

Jimmy DesbiensStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, meteorologists are forecasting a cold and unpredictable winter. Will this be the winter that snowmobilers have been waiting for? We will see.

One thing is certain: We need to plan our trips according to the weather. Jimmy Desbiens, better known as Météo Chicoutimi, knows a thing or two about this.

Since 2008, his hobby has become a business, so he has stepped up efforts to provide citizens with quick access to local conditions. He has become the local weather expert for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. By sharing his forecasts gradually over time, he has built a reliable service and an excellent reputation.

Mr. Desbiens's hard work finally paid off recently. Météo Chicoutimi now has a major contract with the City of Saguenay.

Mr. Desbiens is a great example of how we can achieve our dreams with determination, hard work and perseverance. Being an entrepreneur is a way of life, and it is often only after thousands of hours of work that we see the results.

I offer my congratulations on his 13 years of hard work and his well-deserved success.

Nova Scotia Christmas Tree FarmersStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Perkins Conservative South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is the balsam fir Christmas tree capital of the world. Family farms across my province prepare every year for the busy Christmas season. Christmas tree farmers like former MP Gerald Keddy, former Senator Don Oliver and Kevin Veinotte, who I buy my trees from, ship their trees around the world and open their farms to families for picking out the right tree.

Christmas tree farming is an economic driver in my community and supports rural communities and families across Nova Scotia. The province of Nova Scotia exports more than seven million dollars' worth of Christmas trees every year. If people care about the environment, they should not buy a plastic tree from China. Instead, they should buy a renewable, sustainable and natural balsam fir tree from Nova Scotia. If they want to save the planet, they should buy a tree from Lunenburg or Queens County.

As we approach the holiday break, I hope everyone in my riding, all members present and their families have a very merry Christmas, and that all the tree farmers have a successful Christmas season.