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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was important.

Last in Parliament August 2020, as Liberal MP for Toronto Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 57% of the vote.

Statements in the House

COVID-19 Emergency Response Act March 25th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 is a challenge unlike any other we have ever faced. Canadians are worried about their health and the health of their loved ones. I understand what people are going through in one sense. Two of my own loved ones are facing this disease right now: one of my sisters who lives in Europe and a godson in the United States. They are both doing well and I know they will get through this, but it is a reminder once again of how this disease is impacting so many people.

We are all in this together. Canadians are worried about the economic impacts as well, keeping a roof over their heads and putting food on their tables. While we do not yet know the full economic impacts, I want to tell Canadians that our government is prepared to do whatever it takes to mitigate the impacts.

Last week, our government announced significant economic measures to support Canadians and ensure that no one is left behind. With the bill introduced today in Parliament, we are taking the next steps to implement our plan to protect Canadians and the Canadian economy during this period of uncertainty.

This legislation aims to provide timely support to Canadians and to make sure that we all have the tools necessary to support them, as well as businesses, as things continue to rapidly evolve in these very uncertain times.

I would like to outline how this will help Canadians worried about their health and their ability to pay their bills.

Canadians' health is our top priority. The bill gives me and the Minister of Health the power to request funds to support the federal government's efforts to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.

This legislation proposes to provide one-time funding of $500 million through the Canada health transfer for provinces and territories to ensure that our health care systems across the country have the resources they need.

My colleague, the Minister of Health, has been in constant communication with her colleagues. We are in this together. We must continue to work together. This means ensuring that our health care systems have the funds they need to treat patients and continue to deliver world-class care.

We also know that many Canadians do not have access to benefits when they are sick. No Canadian should have to choose between buying groceries and taking care of his or her health. It is not good for that person or for our communities.

We are proposing the new Canada emergency response benefit. It is a simpler and more accessible version of the previous two benefits, the emergency care benefit and emergency support benefit. We want to ensure that all Canadians who cannot work because of COVID-19 and who do not have access to paid leave or other income support get the support they need in a simple and rapid way.

This approach supports any Canadian who finds themself in a situation in which they lose all of their income due to COVID-19, and supports every Canadian business by protecting every employee. It is a wage subsidy delivered directly to people.

Canadian workers who are sick, self-isolating or quarantined, looking after a sick family member or who have been furloughed or terminated because of COVID-19 would be eligible. This includes workers who are still employed but are not receiving income because of work disruptions related to COVID-19. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times and make sure that they can quickly resume operations when the time is right. It would also support working parents who have to stay home with their children without pay because schools and day cares are closed.

For workers eligible for employment insurance sickness benefits, we are also proposing to waive the requirement for claimants to provide a medical certificate.

For low and modest-income Canadians, we are proposing a special top-up through the GST credit by early May. This would double maximum GST credit payment amounts. On average, for those benefiting, this measure would put almost $400 more in the pockets of single individuals and $600 for couples.

For families with children, our government has proposed a temporary increase to the Canada child benefit. Parents will receive an additional $300 per child, starting in May.

Our government is proposing a six-month moratorium on Canada student loan repayments, with no interest, for those now making payments. This will give nearly one million Canadians an additional $160 a month for this entire period.

Canadians who owe personal income taxes and Canadian businesses that owe corporate income tax will not be required to pay it until August 31. This would free up $55 billion and keep that money circulating in the economy.

We need to help our businesses weather the storm, keep Canadians employed and make sure Canada's economy remains strong and stable.

On top of our direct support to people, which would benefit every business that must furlough employees to maintain operations, this legislation proposes a wage subsidy for small organizations for them to help Canadians working.

We also understand that businesses may require more liquidity during this time, so we are leveraging the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to work with private sector lenders to coordinate financing solutions for Canadian businesses. They are highly capitalized and well positioned to respond.

With this legislation, we would be making amendments that would give us the necessary flexibility to help businesses, through EDC and BDC. These changes would also allow BDC to provide more financial support to Canadian businesses and give EDC the flexibility to deliver financial and credit insurance support to affected Canadian companies. This important legislation would provide these two institutions with additional resources to respond to the needs of businesses as necessary.

We know that access to financing is crucial right now for businesses across the country.

On top of these changes, the government has implemented the business credit availability program. Through this program, the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada will work closely with private industry to coordinate financing solutions for Canadian businesses.

This program will be particularly helpful to businesses in sectors facing serious short-term challenges, such as the tourism and the oil and gas sectors.

Through this program, Crown corporations will make more than $10 billion in additional support available to businesses of all sizes that are struggling with credit.

The Canada Account is an important tool that can support Canadian companies with financing and guarantees. With the potential economic impact of COVID-19, there could be an increased demand for Canada Account financing. We are proposing to strengthen our ability to act through the Canada Account.

We also recognize that farmers and the agri-food sector will need access to financing. We are proposing to strengthen Farm Credit Canada to support the sector during these times.

The government is also taking action to help the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation increase liquidity in the financial sector by providing stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders to support continued lending to Canadian businesses and individuals. This work is absolutely critical. To this end, the government is launching an insured mortgage purchase program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through CMHC.

The proposed actions announced today represent direct support to Canadians and Canadian businesses to help protect jobs and to ensure that Canadians have the money they need during this challenging time.

I should point out that Canada is in a very good position to make these investments. Canada has the strongest record in the G7 and has the financial capacity to support its economy throughout this difficult period.

By working together, we can face up to this global health and economic crisis from a position of strength, give confidence to markets and help Canadians receive the support they need to weather the crisis.

I am asking my hon. colleagues from all parties to support this legislation. There can be no delay. I am confident that all parliamentarians will rise to the occasion. Canadians are counting on us.

COVID-19 Pandemic March 25th, 2020

Mr. Chair, we decided to implement measures that will help people immediately and that will benefit the people who have no income because of COVID-19. We will certainly look at different approaches. For now, we think that we found an approach that works, given our current challenges, namely getting money quickly.

We will look at different ideas in the coming days.

COVID-19 Pandemic March 25th, 2020

Madam Chair, the situation right now requires us to take emergency measures and that is what we are looking at today. We will certainly have to take other measures to address the challenges that will arise in the coming weeks and months.

COVID-19 Pandemic March 25th, 2020

Madam Chair, if the member wants to send me the question, someone on my team will be able to answer directly.

COVID-19 Pandemic March 25th, 2020

Madam Chair, I will be very clear. We are working every day to make sure that the many people who are struggling will have access to the money. We are working every day to set a date. As soon as we have an exact date, I will announce it.

COVID-19 Pandemic March 25th, 2020

Madam Chair, absolutely, our goal is to make the process very simple and effective so that those who are really struggling can get the money as quickly as possible. We have found an effective solution. In the next two or three weeks, but ideally in the next two weeks, those who are without income because of COVID-19 will have money.

COVID-19 Pandemic March 25th, 2020

Madam Chair, that is an important question. We determined that it was crucial to have a simple application process so that people could get money as quickly as possible. That is why we chose two eligibility criteria for the benefits: having earned $5,000 in the previous 12 months and having zero income.

I know that there are other support measures for low-income people, including increasing the Canada child benefit and improving the GST/HST tax credit. We will also be allowing everyone, both businesses and individuals, to defer paying their taxes until August 31.

COVID-19 Pandemic March 25th, 2020

Madam Chair, we know that the agricultural sector is very important and that it will face significant challenges as a result of COVID-19. That is why we have changed the eligibility criteria for mortgages and loans with Farm Credit Canada. We will continue to work with farmers. Of course, if there are things we need to do to make sure everyone is in good shape, we will consider every option.

COVID-19 Pandemic March 25th, 2020

Madam Chair, we know that COVID-19 is creating serious difficulties for some industries. Of course, the aerospace industry will bring in less revenue and face significant challenges.

We will work with the various sectors to ensure that they have access to the funds needed during this crisis. That will certainly be the case for the aerospace industry.

COVID-19 Pandemic March 25th, 2020

Madam Chair, we need to look at both categories: the people who have mortgages and also the people who are renting.

For those people who have mortgages, the reason we worked together with the CMHC to create the appropriate capacity for the banking sector to defer mortgages was that we recognized this was exactly the challenge. I know that the banks are experiencing large volumes, and that is a challenge we are all facing, but I also know that they will be able to defer mortgages.

With respect to rents, we continue to work on this challenge. Of course, one of the main features of our emergency benefit is to get money into people's hands as rapidly as possible. Additionally, not having to pay taxes now means they can defer those if they have them so that they can have more access to funding.