House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was families.


The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Toronto—Danforth Ontario


Julie Dabrusin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate that the member opposite is talking about oceans. They are extremely important, and that is why we have put so much work into the oceans protection plan. I was happy to hear the news, for example, that in the past three years, not one right whale has died, and this is because of the efforts we are putting into protecting our oceans environment. It is tremendously important.

Also, as someone who has a riding on the Great Lakes, I was really happy to see investments and supports for Great Lakes protections. Some of the things we see are smaller, but they have a big impact. In my own community, we are naturalizing the mouth of the Don River, which is something that is actually going to provide protection to our lake. It will reintroduce wetlands to industrial lands where there have not been for a long time. That is the largest infrastructure project in all of North America, and it is happening here in Canada. It is going to have some wonderful effects on our fresh water.

However, the member opposite was talking about climate change. I agree with her that climate change is the essential issue that we must tackle, and there is no time to waste. I absolutely agree with her on that. Now, it is also important to talk about what we are doing.

We did table a 2030 emissions reduction plan, which covers every economic sector across our country. It is a plan for how we can create healthier communities and what we can seize as opportunities for good-paying, sustainable jobs. It is about having clean air and a strong economy, and it is about fighting climate change, which is so important.

When we look at what we have done, the scientific and economic imperative to reduce emissions is clear. We are going to work on that. We are doing that right now, and I want the member opposite to see that. We talk about transportation, and we are putting a sales mandate on zero-emission vehicles. It is about combustion, and we are working on that. We are also seeing investments in the manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles and battery manufacturers here. It is a combination of working on reducing combustion while creating jobs and investment here in our country.

The 2030 ERP takes into account the reality that we need to set guideposts for each sector, and it highlights the measures and strategies towards the lower band of Canada's 2030 target of 40% to 45% below 2005 levels. Deepened collaboration and partnerships with all levels of government, indigenous people, industry, the financial sector and civil society, will enable further reductions and position Canada to achieve the upper band of the target. It includes investments and a suite of new measures to help mobilize Canada to a truly sustainable economy and to be a leading competitor in a global transition to cleaner industries and technologies. Those are technologies that we can export to help the world as well as it is going into its green transition.

We are also developing Canada's first national adaptation strategy, which will establish a shared vision for climate resilience in Canada, identify key priorities for increased collaboration and establishing a framework for measured progress at the national level. This is another important piece that we can focus on.

I agree with the member opposite that climate change is real, and it is important that we tackle it right now, which is exactly why we are doing that hard work. We are working across all sectors to get there, and we will do it.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is the tragedy we see before us. I know the parliamentary secretary cares about climate. I am sure the Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment care about climate. However, the totality of their efforts puts us on track to an unlivable world for our kids, as assessed by the science.

Global atmosphere is not interested in negotiating with the Liberal government. Liberals are not going to get any brownie points for good intentions. They have to meet what the science requires, and the science requires far more than they are committing to.

At the same time that they were making these incremental, feel-good measures towards climate action, they approved Baie du Nord for one billion more barrels of oil to be burned for more greenhouse gases, and they persist in the insanity, the obscenity of taking public money to build a Trans Mountain pipeline for diluted bitumen to further fuel the climate crisis. I say, shame.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, our focus is on reducing combustion of fuels, and that is exactly what we are doing. We are doing it across all of our sectors. We are putting a cap on oil and gas emissions, and that also goes to the emissions that are happening right here in our country. We are working across all sectors. It is important that we do it quickly, but that we do it correctly so that it actually sticks and is done properly.

That is what we are doing right now.

PassportsAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back here in the House of Commons with my colleagues as we get back to the routine here in Ottawa, and to our job on this side of the House of holding the government to account on the many issues and problems our country is facing.

On that, I want to follow up on my question from question period in June, before we rose, on the chaos we were seeing at the time at Passport Canada. In my question, the scene at that time was absolute chaos in every part of this country for Canadians simply wanting to apply for or renew their passports. We had Canadians each day by the hundreds, if not by the thousands, lined up in lawn chairs at Service Canadas and Passport Canadas, and coming to our MP offices begging for help as they began to travel once again. It was bad.

The government said it was going to address it, and shortly after the House recessed for the summer, the cabinet announced that it had created a special committee focusing on delivering results on customer service. Ten cabinet ministers came together, and I will note here that in the Toronto Star, days after that announcement, the headline read, “Passport delay task force wants something ‘tangible’ within weeks”. That was said by the minister who was co-chairing it. “This is about listening first”, she said, “That’s how I operate: I get the facts, I listen, and then I act... I want Canadians to know that we are there for them, we are there with them, and we will get to the bottom of this.” June 28 was the date of that Toronto Star article.

I had hoped I could come back today and do a late show this evening to thank the government for solving the problem. In fact, unfortunately it is the opposite. I can say to members, based on the experience in my constituency office and the experiences I hear about from many people in my riding, and I know it is a growing and continued frustration across this country, that it is just as bad today when it comes to service standards at Passport Canada.

I am grateful to my constituency staff in Cornwall and in our Winchester satellite office, and I can confirm that, despite the government's pledge months ago to improve the situation, we are still getting dozens of transfer requests, because people are travelling in the coming days and weeks and still have not gotten their passports. Dozens of people are inquiring at our office, saying they applied in March, April or May, and still have not heard back.

The irony that so many say to me, and it is so true, is that they submit their passport application through the mail or through an MP office, Service Canada or Passport Canada, and very quickly they charge the credit card within a matter of days, but then it is a matter of months and months of waiting for a document, when our standard used to be, at some point, about two, three or maybe four weeks in tough times.

Months in, the government is saying it is spending, hiring and doing all these things, but it is resulting in nearly zero change for the average Canadian who is trying to get their passport. We are seeing and living that in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, and as a matter of fact, I just read, within the last few weeks on CTV Toronto, a headline that says there are massive lines for SIN cards and passports in the greater Toronto area. Lines outside Service Canadas like Brampton's are not dissipating. As the fall semester looms, many international students are arriving in Canada, and they expect this problem to continue.

When is the date that Canadians can get back to normal standard customer service levels at Passport Canada? There are apparently 10 cabinet ministers, millions of dollars and people being hired yet, months later, we are back this fall and we are still in the same situation we left in June.

PassportsAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario


Ya'ara Saks LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful to be back in the House with colleagues and to see you in the chair.

I want to thank my colleague across the way, the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, for his follow-up question. As a matter of fact, I have news on the progress that has been made over the summer to share with the House and colleagues who are here.

I would like to point out and we need to acknowledge that Service Canada employees have been working flat out to deal with this unprecedented situation. They have taken countless days and hours and weeks, working overtime and on weekends, because we knew we needed to take this seriously and because we know members like my colleague across the way agreed with us that this was important to Canadians.

Our Service Canada employees are deeply aware, as is the minister, that the timely processing and delivery of passports is a vital service that has been severely disrupted in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic. The minister has made it clear in numerous public events and media interviews that fixing the problem is her priority, and that is exactly what she is doing. The figures change every day, but these examples help tell the story of the enormous efforts that are going into giving Canadians the service they deserve.

Therefore, let us start with dates. Since April 1, Service Canada has issued over a million passports. For the week of September 12 to September 18, Service Canada issued 68,550 passports. Starting in the week of June 20, triage measures were implemented in 17 passport offices across the country. On July 25, Service Canada expanded the passport pickup service to five additional passport offices: Brampton, Whitby, Pointe-Claire, Calgary Sundance and Richmond.

Here are a few more dates. On July 29, Service Canada announced that Canadians who mailed a completed application more than 20 business days ago and are travelling within the next 20 business days can visit any of our over 300 Service Canada centres to make a transfer request themselves. This guarantees that their application is processed in time for their travel. Service Canada continues to introduce new measures to improve passport service delivery and decrease wait times for Canadians as it works through the unprecedented demands and volume.

For example, the triage system introduced this summer in 17 of our 35 passport offices has made a significant impact in reducing the line-ups. In addition to the existing passport offices offering pickup service to Canadians, Canadians can apply for and pick up their passport at the following Service Canada centres. I will list them, just so we all know: Trois-Rivières, Quebec; Sherbrooke, Quebec; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Kingston, Ontario; Sudbury, Ontario; Charlottetown, P.E.I.; Red Deer, Alberta; and, Lethbridge, Alberta. Unlike the regular Service Canada centres, these eight locations offer 10-day service.

Canadians who need their passport in fewer than 10 business days will need to visit a passport office that offers express or urgent pickup service. The expansion of pickup sites will allow many Canadians who need to pick up their passports to do so closer to their homes, because, like the member across the way, we heard that distance was an issue. In fact, Service Canada is working toward in-person passport services within 50 kilometres of the homes of nearly all Canadians. Also, more scheduled outreach sites that pertain to certain passport services will be added in the coming weeks across the country, and I look forward to updating the member again.

These challenges have been achieved by increased staffing, which has given Service Canada tools to vastly improve and expedite in-person service. Service Canada employees are working hard, putting in overtime on evenings and weekends to service Canadians in applying for their passports, and it is important we acknowledge that. I want to thank the member opposite for his question and for his advocacy.

PassportsAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.


Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the parliamentary secretary's response, but I want to highlight a couple of things in the one minute that I have left. Again, there are 10 cabinet ministers apparently focused on this. Promises have been made of more spending, more staff and more hiring, but at the end of the day the one thing that is absent is that it is taking months upon months, and there are hundreds of people in lines in communities like Brampton. Brampton apparently got improved service, and here we are still seeing lines, confusion and frustration.

Members are going to hear me speak about this several times over the course of this fall's parliamentary session, because it is not just Passport Canada. When it comes to Service Canada, CRA, Veterans Affairs and everything that the federal government touches these days, I will say the words of the Auditor General of Canada: The Liberal government is spending more money and it is getting fewer results.

I will ask one last time, what date? With all this spending, this plan and 10 cabinet ministers, when is the service standard going to get back to the way it should be?

PassportsAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.


Ya'ara Saks Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member and most Canadians know, after two years of travel restrictions in this pandemic there was a massive surge of applications for passports both in Canada and around the world. This has led to delays in the processing and issuing of passports. Most of those applications were not just simple renewals. The majority were in fact much more complex applications for new passports and in particular passports for children.

The minister has been adamant that Service Canada must improve services because the situation is not acceptable. Canadians need their passports. We will keep Canadians informed as the situation evolves.

As always, we encourage people to plan ahead to make sure they have valid passports before booking their travel.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

September 22nd, 2022 / 7:35 p.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week marks one year since the 2021 election and it has been another difficult year for many, with more uncertainty on the horizon. The impacts of the pandemic continue to be felt in our communities. Our health care system is under intense strain and the rising cost of living is adding stress to the daily lives of Canadians.

In the last election the Liberals made a promise to Canadians that they would take steps to improve access to mental health care here in Canada. That is certainly needed as polls have shown that about half of Canadians suffered from worsened mental health since the onset of the pandemic. Unfortunately, too many Canadians are unable to access mental health care when they need it because of long wait-lists or financial barriers. We need a national mental health wait-time strategy to ensure people can access support in a timely way. We need to break down the financial barriers that keep people from getting the care they need.

A cornerstone of the Liberals' promises on mental health was to establish a new permanent transfer to the provinces and territories to expand publicly funded mental health care and address backlogs. Canadians were told that an initial investment of $4.5 billion over five years would be made in this country through the Canada mental health transfer by the Liberals. Here we are a year later with no idea of when this money will get out the door. When the government announced its intention to establish a $10-a-day child care program, there were deals with all the provinces and territories in place within a year. Meanwhile, the Canada mental health transfer was nowhere to be found in the 2022 budget, and there has been no transparency on when this much-needed investment will be made.

That is why I tabled Motion No. 67, to encourage the government to act without delay in creating this transfer and to take the steps needed to ensure mental health is put on an equal footing in our universal public health care system.

I am going to read the text of Motion No. 67, as it reflects what mental health stakeholders have been telling us and calling for. It states:


(a) the House recognize that,

(i) Canada is experiencing a mental health and substance use crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,

(ii) too many Canadians are unable to access mental health or substance use supports in a timely manner,

(iii) lack of access to community-based mental health and substance use services increases demands on hospital emergency rooms and primary care providers,

(iv) untreated or inadequately treated mental illness carries significant social and economic costs; and

(b) in the opinion of the House, the government should:

(i) without delay develop legislation that will enshrine in law parity between physical and mental health in Canada’s universal public healthcare system, ensure timely access to evidence-based, culturally appropriate, publicly funded mental health and substance use services beyond hospital and physician settings, recognize the importance of investing in the social determinants of health, mental health promotion, and mental illness prevention, and include national performance standards and accountabilities for mental health and substance use services,

(ii) without delay establish the Canada mental health transfer to sustainably fund the provision of mental health and substance use services and disburse an initial investment of $4.5 billion to the provinces and territories,

(iii) report to Parliament annually on progress towards achieving national performance standards for mental health and substance use services.

As we try to recover from the COVID–19 pandemic and navigate uncertain economic times, mental health cannot wait. Therefore, I ask the government when it will follow through on its promises on mental health and deliver help to Canadians who are struggling.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

Sherbrooke Québec


Élisabeth Brière LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni for his advocacy and for the opportunity to address the House on what we are doing to support the mental health needs of Canadians.

We know that this pandemic has had a toll on the mental health of Canadians, due in part to the increased isolation, stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness that so many faced during the pandemic. Additionally, COVID-19 has pushed an already stressed health care system to its limits, and it can be a challenge for Canadians to know where to look for help, to find help, to find the right help and to access that help right away.

Right from the start of the pandemic, we have been there for Canadians during these difficult times. We acted right away during the very early days of the pandemic by introducing Wellness Together Canada. The Wellness Together Canada portal has served as an invaluable connection for many Canadians, allowing them to get the help they need even when they could not leave their homes, or to use it as a stepping stone to receive advice on where to find more specialized care.

The Wellness Together Canada portal is convenient and accessible, and it is working. With more than 2.7 million users, we know that this portal is helping to meet Canadians' needs.

Another need that we are addressing is the establishment of a three-digit suicide prevention hotline. As of next fall, on November 30, 2023, Canadians will have access to an easy-to-remember 988 number to call when they are in need.

We also recognize that even more needs to be done.

The Canada mental health transfer is a new permanent federal transfer to the provinces and territories to help governments expand the delivery of high-quality, accessible and free mental health services. Our government pledges to ensure this new permanent transfer is well-crafted. That is why budget 2022 includes a renewed commitment to work with the provinces and territories to develop a mental health transfer.

The Government of Canada also remains committed to funding the transfer with an initial investment of $4.5 billion over five years.

The Minister of Mental Health and Addictions has also undertaken extensive stakeholder outreach to gather views to inform the development of a comprehensive and evidence-based mental health plan. This engagement is ongoing and will also inform the development of the mental health transfer. The mental health transfer will be established with the benefit of input from the ongoing provincial, territorial and stakeholder engagement.

Our government has made historic investments in mental health, including $5 billion to the provinces and territories through ongoing bilateral agreements, which will provide $600 million annually to support the 2017 common statement of principles on shared health priorities. This is currently helping to increase the availability of mental health and addiction supports for Canadians. This existing transfer provides $600 million annually until 2027.

As we have also announced, we plan to work with the Standards Council of Canada to develop national standards for mental health and addiction services to meet the mental health and addiction needs of Canadians. We invested $45 million in this initiative in budget 2021.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the government announced its intention to establish the $10-a-day child care program, and there were deals with provinces and territories in place within a year. Here we are a year later, and when it comes to mental health transfers, the Liberals still have not delivered their 2021 election promise.

Too many Canadians cannot access appropriate mental health or substance use services in a timely manner, either because they would be required to pay out of pocket or because they face long wait-lists for publicly funded care. The average wait time for adult residential treatment for substance use is 100 days.

In Ontario, there are more than 28,000 children on wait-lists for community-based mental health services that can range from 67 days to more than two and a half years depending on the service, exceeding clinically appropriate wait times. This is unacceptable. These are children.

I am calling on the government to be more transparent and to move rapidly on its $4.5-billion transfer. It is needed now. Mental health care is needed now.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.


Élisabeth Brière Liberal Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand my colleague's question. I agree with him that the crisis has cost lives and that we have to take action to adequately meet the mental health needs of Canadians.

As we have often said, mental health is an integral part of health. Our government is making it a priority. Since 2015, we have invested several historic amounts, including $5 billion for access to mental health care, nearly $600 million for the mental health strategy for indigenous peoples, $140 million for veterans, $45 million for national mental health standards, and $270 million for the Wellness Together Canada portal. We remain committed to this new mental health transfer of $4.5 billion over five years.

The establishment of a new, permanent Canada mental health transfer is one of our top commitments. The government is fully committed to designing and implementing a new, permanent Canada mental health transfer.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted.

Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:47 p.m.)