THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL FINANCE
OTTAWA, Thursday, November 12, 2020
The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met by videoconference this day at 3 p.m. [ET] to study the subject matter of Bill C-9, an Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy).
Senator Percy Mockler (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Before we begin, I would like to remind senators and witnesses to please keep your microphones muted at all times, unless the chair gives you the floor.
Should any technical challenges arise, particularly in relation to interpretation, please signal this to the chair or the clerk and we will work to resolve the matter. If you experience other technical challenges, please contact the ISD service desk with the technical assistance number that we have provided.
Honourable senators, we will now begin the official portion of our meeting.
Honourable senators, my name is Percy Mockler, a senator from New Brunswick and chair of the committee. I would like to introduce the honourable members of the committee, senators who are participating in this meeting: Senator Boehm, Senator Dagenais, Senator M. Deacon, Senator Duncan, Senator Forest, Senator Galvez, Senator Klyne, Senator Loffreda, Senator Marshall, Senator Richards, Senator Smith, Senator Gagné, Senator Martin and Senator Pate. I wish to welcome all of you and viewers across the country who may be watching.
This afternoon, we are continuing to study the subject matter of Bill C-9, an Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), which was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance by the Senate of Canada on November 5, 2020.
Honourable senators, for this panel, we welcome representatives from four different organizations. From the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, we welcome the President and Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Tabatha Bull.
We are also welcoming, from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Alla Drigola, Director, Parliamentary Affairs and SME Policy Bill. From the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, we are hearing from Michel Leblanc, President and Chief Executive Officer.
And finally, from the Hotel Association of Canada, we welcome the President and Chief Executive Officer, Susie Grynol. Welcome to all of you. Thank you very much, witnesses, for accepting our invitation to hear your comments, recommendations and your opinions on Bill C-9.
For opening remarks of five minutes each, I will ask Ms. Bull to make her comments, to be followed by Ms. Drigola, Mr. Leblanc and Ms. Grynol.
Tabatha Bull, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business: [Editor’s note: Indigenous language spoken] Hello, my name is Tabatha Bull. I’m from Nipissing First Nation, and I belong to the Eagle clan. As president and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, I want to thank you, Mr. Chair, and all distinguished members of the committee for the opportunity to provide you with my testimony and to answer your questions. Speaking to you from my home office, I acknowledge the land as the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Chippewa, Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. I’m honoured to speak here on behalf of our association regarding Bill C-9.
The impact that the coronavirus has had and continues to have, and the uncertainty of what the future holds has quickly changed nearly every aspect of our daily lives. We must work collaboratively to repair the economic damage and recommit ourselves to reconciliation and a prosperous Indigenous economy for the benefit of all Canadians. CCAB is working in collaboration with the federal government to make sure Indigenous businesses across the country have the resources and information they need to not only survive this period, but to be part of an inclusive growth recovery strategy. I’d like to support statements made by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which underlined that we cannot spare any time to get rent support and the revised wage subsidy support to companies facing a second lockdown or reduced sales due to the second wave of COVID-19.
We welcome the statements made in the Speech from the Throne on September 23, extending the wage subsidy through 2021.
But that was exactly 50 days ago and Indigenous businesses need certainty that they will receive support during this very difficult period.
With an understanding that there were on-reserve businesses who could not access the programs available due to unique taxation and ownership structures, the Government of Canada announced the distribution of $133 million of new funding to support Indigenous business through the pandemic and into recovery on June 11. Analogous to the work done to extend Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, CEWS, Canada Emergency Business Account, CEBA, and the remediation of the rent system program, investigation and consideration must be given to the extended needs of the same businesses who were to receive this funding.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, and the introduction of efforts by the Government of Canada to support Indigenous businesses, the CCAB has repeatedly highlighted the need for a navigator function specific to Indigenous business to support their uptake of these programs. Indigenous businesses have found navigating the bureaucracy, which often does not take into account their unique legal and place-based circumstances, a significant barrier to drawing upon the supports necessary to keep their businesses alive and support the well-being of their communities.
While we recognize the supports that have been provided for Indigenous businesses, and all businesses to date, what is lacking is a comprehensive federal government-wide strategy to support Indigenous business, similar to the recently announced Women Entrepreneurship Strategy and the Black Entrepreneurship Program. Such a strategy would make Indigenous prosperity a priority for every federal department, agency and regulator, and provide the necessary down payment to support economic reconciliation.
I also wish to highlight that procurement is still a frustrating process for diverse businesses. Since May of this year, Indigenous businesses have been ready to provide supplies or equipment to meet Canada’s medical needs, or have the capability to rapidly scale up or pivot production to provide PPE. The CCAB and other organizations have provided lists of such Indigenous businesses to numerous federal departments through the course of the pandemic. However, only a small fraction of the federal procurement contracts for PPE — and to the best of our knowledge none of the innovation dollars — have been awarded to Indigenous businesses. While we understand the government is working towards requirements to meet the mandated target of at least 5%, opportunities exist to make movement on this today.
It’s imperative that all federal departments consider Indigenous business in every program. Vast opportunities exist to support the Indigenous economic recovery, not only through procurement but through innovation and infrastructure programs, and by ensuring that we look at all programs such as wage subsidy, the rent assistance program and CEBA to ensure gaps are closed and businesses with unique needs see those needs met. CCAB is committed to continuing to work in collaboration with the government, our members and our partners to help rebuild and strengthen the path towards a healthy and prosperous Canada. Thank you all for your time. Chi-meegwetch.
The Chair: Thank you, madam.
Ms. Drigola, go ahead.
Alla Drigola, Director, Parliamentary Affairs and SME Policy, Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Thank you very much, chair. Good afternoon everyone. My name is Alla Drigola and I’m the Director of Parliamentary Affairs and SME Policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
I would like to start off by thanking the government, parliamentarians and the public service for their efforts in helping Canadians and businesses weather the storm over the last eight months. COVID-19 has not been easy, and the collaboration between government and business has been most welcome.
Eight months into this global pandemic, we are seeing a departure from uniform business decline and instead are deep into what economists are calling a K-shaped recovery.
The reality is, many sectors are doing well. Many have been able to pivot, adapt and innovate, and the amount of support they require has reduced.
But there are also certain sectors that are not recovering and require ongoing and additional support, sectors like tourism, travel, accommodations, food service, and restaurants. These sectors fundamentally rely on a physical presence to do business and will not be able to recover until we are on the other side of the pandemic. These are the sectors that primarily employ the demographics most impacted by the pandemic: women, young Canadians, new Canadians and ethnic minorities.
While the government has introduced a range of business support programs, the two in question today are of the utmost importance for these sectors.
While the Canadian Chamber of Commerce welcomes the changes introduced in Bill C-9 on the whole, there are a few glaring issues that we feel need to be improved in order for these programs to support the struggling sectors I mentioned previously.
First, we would like to see the CEWS increased to at least the 75% rate that was provided to businesses during the first wave. Hard-hit businesses need more income support during the second wave, not less.
The Program’s current design provides government an option to tailor the 75% support to just the businesses that need it most. Increasing the maximum subsidy top-up from 25% to 35% will allow the hardest hit sectors to receive a total subsidy of 75% when combined with the base subsidy of 40%.
I should also note that an additional change made to the CEWS program in July means employers must top up employees’ salaries out of pocket, a requirement that was not in place during the first wave. This can result in businesses having to make tough decisions to let go of some employees or whether they can even afford to keep their doors open at all.
A more complex range of issues, however, lay in the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy or CERS. It is no secret that the government’s original rent program, Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, CECRA, was problematic from the start. The Canadian Chamber has actively advocated for changes to that program and we were pleased to see some of these included in the new CERS. Changes allowing tenants to apply directly, and allowing businesses that owned their properties to receive some support for fixed costs like mortgage interest payments and property taxes, are good. However, four problems still remain.
First, while the CERS removed the arbitrary revenue cap from the original program, it has instead introduced a new corporate entity cap where multi-unit corporate operators cannot claim more than 65% of $300,000 per month. This significantly reduces the amount of support provided to medium-sized businesses simply based on their ownership structure. There are a myriad of ways that the government can rectify this problem, but this is a problem that crosses many sectors and needs to be fixed.
Second, we are concerned that a reduction in the number of patrons permitted in an establishment automatically excludes businesses from qualifying for the additional lockdown support top-up. For example, if a restaurant that can normally seat 200 guests has a public health order in its area that limits indoor dining to just 10 guests, it is not financially sound for that restaurant to open. However, they will still be excluded from the top-up. Businesses under strict capacity limits must be allowed to qualify for the lockdown top-up if they meet the 25% revenue threshold already designated in the legislation.
Third, many of these businesses have been hanging on by a thread since April and have been anxiously waiting for these rent funds to flow for nearly five weeks. CERS must allow for the rent subsidy to flow directly to tenants in time for the new month’s rent, rather than only after showing proof of payment. We were pleased to see the Minister of Finance commit to introducing legislation to correct this error earlier today, and we hope to see this legislation passed swiftly.
Fourth, I will ask you to consider that most businesses have been without any rent support since the spring and that the original CECRA program just simply did not work for most businesses. Though CERS will be retroactive until the end of September, we feel it would be appropriate for CERS to be retroactive to the start of the CECRA program to help make up the shortfall and deferrals that many businesses are currently struggling with.
Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to discussing these issues in further detail through your questions.
The Chair: Thank you, madam.
Mr. Leblanc, go ahead.
Michel Leblanc, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal: Mr. Chair, thank you for the invitation. Allow me to say hello to a former colleague, Senator Loffreda, who sat for a very long time on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and is a good friend of Montreal. I will be very brief. Since the pandemic began, governments have clearly reacted very quickly, and I appreciate the fact that the Senate also acted quickly by working with the House of Commons on making decisions as quickly as possible. Today, we are at the heart of an issue on which we have to move quickly. Although recommendations are being made to make changes and adjustments, that should in no case be seen as a reason to delay the passing of Bill C-9, as this is essential legislation.
I have two comments to make very quickly on the issue of wage subsidies. First, as it has been previously mentioned, the drop in the maximum wage subsidy from 75% to 65% is very difficult to understand in a context where we now clearly see that some sectors are very affected, and that assistance of 75% was making a major difference for them. That said, based on what we are currently seeing, we will need sectoral financial strategies to help certain sectors. In the absence of those strategies, the maximum amount of 65% is much too low.
In addition, the big question all businesses are asking us is the following: how can they plan the end of those wage subsidies? It would have been worthwhile for the government to set itself a two-month time frame before announcing the program’s sunsetting, and committing to phase out that subsidy program slowly, not suddenly, and for all sectors that will still be impacted at the end of the program to be able to continue to benefit from it. So the most important issue now is figuring out how those programs will sunset with more predictability.
Let’s come back to the rent subsidy program. It is clear that the previous program did not work, but this bill was absolutely necessary. It corrects a number of errors. The first error everyone noticed is that the first program made it so the request for rent assistance was the owners’ responsibility, while those being harmed were obviously the renters. That had to be remedied.
Second, the maximum $50,000 amount to determine businesses’ eligibility was too low. It is good that it was increased to $300,000. We don’t understand why it was capped at $300,000, regardless of the number of establishments, as long as it’s the same entity. That created distortions depending on organizations and business structures, and all that is illogical in a world where businesses can be integrated banners, but where each business must make its own decision to remain open or not.
It is good that assistance has been calculated and calibrated based on fixed costs other than rent. That broadens the scope of the assistance provided. The principle of providing assistance until June 2021 is good, as it provides predictability, and the criteria themselves will potentially change as of December. Once again, it is important to have predictability because businesses will make medium-term decisions based on their understanding of those programs’ implementation.
Finally, it is clear that the principle of retroactivity until September is a very good idea, but the previous program did not work. So here is the question being asked: Why are we going back to September 27, which seems to be a very arbitrary date, when the intention since the beginning has been to help businesses with a program that did not work?
Here are a few other concerns. One of them relates to seasonal businesses. Many businesses have fixed costs to cover at specific times of the year, while they have few expenses and costs at other times. So there would be a way to correct the situation of the seasonal businesses we want to help.
I will stop here.
Susie Grynol, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hotel Association of Canada: Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. Hotels employ more than 300,000 Canadians and are essential to our national tourism and business infrastructure. We also generate over $10 billion in tax revenues to all three levels of government.
Hotels in Canada are primarily owned by small, often family-run businesses and communities. Our employees are made up of some of Canada’s most vulnerable people: women, immigrants, visible minorities and young people, all of whom have been seriously impacted by COVID-19.
Our industry ground to a halt in mid-March. Our core business is to bring people together face to face. Necessary public health restrictions on mass gatherings and travel mean we will not recover until next summer, long after most businesses have recovered. That leaves us sitting empty for virtually 15 months.
The government’s current measures that support businesses and employment in general are strong, but are insufficient to support the survival of those in the hardest-hit sectors like hotels. We thank the government for its support to date and commitments made in the Speech from the Throne to provide deeper support to hardest-hit businesses.
My comments today focus on how the government can amend the wage subsidy, rent subsidy and liquidity commitments to allow our industry to survive.
The wage subsidy program has been a lifeline for our sector, allowing us to retain and bring back thousands of employees. But since this summer, our economic circumstances have worsened, yet the wage subsidy rates have declined. We are pleased that the program is being extended until next June, but the subsidy is now too low to prevent deep and permanent job losses.
Our recommendation is that it be restored to 85% for the hardest hit and that the government stop supporting businesses with minimal revenue loss whose survival is not at risk.
Now to fixed costs. There is a fundamental inequity in the legislation that favours renters over property owners. Property owners have a higher fixed-cost amount, approximately 25% of normal revenue, but only 10% of these costs are eligible. Comparably, most of the renter’s fixed costs are eligible, including utilities, which are not covered for property owners. We are perplexed by the two-tiered system and are recommending the inequities be adjusted.
Property owners also received no support under the previous rent program, so we recommend CERS be backdated to the CECRA program’s launch in April for property owners as well.
Second, the legislation includes a top-up for businesses subject to temporary regional shutdown order. However, businesses sitting empty for a longer period of time due to ongoing restrictions, like the ban on mass gatherings of 50 people or more, cannot access this support. This top-up should apply to businesses that continue to experience deep monthly revenue losses because of ongoing restrictions.
Finally, the per property cap of $75,000 diminishes the value of the relief for many mid-sized businesses. Similarly, an overall cap of $300,000 limits a multi-facility owner with four hotels or more from gaining full access to support. This cap is penalizing the many Canadian-owned family-run success stories with mid-sized businesses. If the legislation is passed in its current form, more than 680 hotels that employ more than 50,000 Canadians will be barred from full access to the program. The $75,000 monthly cap should be raised to $250,000, and the overall cap should be eliminated altogether.
My final point is on liquidity. Banks are simply not lending to hotels during this crisis, even with an 80% guarantee in the Business Credit Availability Program. BCAP must include 100% lending guarantees for these asset-heavy sectors like hotels and no personal guarantees. We believe the government can fulfill its commitments in the Speech from the Throne by further tailoring these broad-based support programs to meet the needs of the hardest-hit sectors. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you to the witnesses. Well done. We will now proceed to questions from the senators to the witnesses. Senators, we will still apply the five-minute rule. Please ask your question directly.
Witnesses, please respond concisely to the question. The clerk will make a hand signal to show if we go beyond the five minutes. Therefore, I will then move on to the next senator to ask questions.
Senator Marshall: My question is for each of our witnesses and it’s on the rental assistance program. During the previous meeting, one of our witnesses referred to the previous rental assistance program. I can’t remember the terminology used, but it wasn’t a success. We had expected a change to the program in July with Bill C-20 which didn’t materialize, but we do have the change now in Bill C-9. But it’s only retroactive to September 27, not March, as one of our witnesses mentioned.
The details on the program, it’s only applicable to the program on December 19, so that’s five weeks away. Several of you have indicated some problems with the program, but I’m thinking more from a general perspective.
After experiencing the former program, do you think with this new program that the government has hit the mark, that this program will be successful, even bearing in mind some of the weaknesses that you’ve identified? Or, are we back to the previous problem of having a very unsuccessful program?
Ms. Bull: Thank you. One of the big benefits of the new program is that it doesn’t have to go through the landlord. For businesses that are looking for rent assistance directly, they don’t have to have consideration or approval from their landlord to access that program. For our members at CCAB, we have a number of members on reserve or on traditional territory so their rent is a different discussion based on whether they are renting from their community or if they are renting from a band-owned building. It doesn’t apply as much to our members, but I think there’s definitely an improvement in that you don’t need landlord approval.
I do, again, want to acknowledge that it is not an easy system to understand. For many small businesses that are trying to navigate various programs to survive, there are different tiers and considerations that may be too difficult for them to navigate.
Senator Marshall: The complexities of the program are an issue.
Ms. Drigola: I would echo Ms. Bull’s comment that this program is a significant improvement over the original rent program, and at the Canadian Chamber we are pleased with it overall. However, there are remaining gaps in the program that will exclude a lot of mid-sized businesses that have unique challenges at each individual location, and to extrapolate that to one corporate entity in a cap will harm a lot of businesses and sectors that are struggling, and that are going to still have challenges until the end of the program. While we are pleased to see significant headway made with the rent program, there are still a number of issues that we hope will be solved before December 19 or in future iterations of the program.
Mr. Leblanc: If I may add something, you are perfectly correct in saying that the challenge has to do with predictability and that the December 19 date is already much too close compared with the three months I mentioned. There are tremendous uncertainties about the program itself. In a few weeks, we will wonder what the next criteria will be. We encourage the government to give more advance notice. What is more, to echo what has been said, it is clear that businesses are already struggling mightily to understand existing programs and access them, and a new program will be added. We are asking the federal government not only to make an effort to inform SMEs, but also to provide accompanying budgets to SMEs or organizations that could help small- and medium-sized businesses fill out requests for financial assistance and rent assistance. Otherwise, we will not have the disbursement levels we want to have nor the hoped for impact.
Ms. Grynol: Thank you for the opportunity to answer. Your question is hitting the mark — partly. We are elated that property owners are included for the first time. As you may know, the rent program originally did not include property owners. This is a big improvement for us. We believe it should be retroactive to the first period. I’m not sure why property owners are a priority today and they weren’t then. We are absolutely struggling as much as those who rent. I would say it is very good news that property owners are included. This cap is a big problem. It’s cutting the M out of the SMEs. A lot of mid-sized businesses will be cut out, and we think that is a big challenge, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
Senator Marshall: Thank you for the excellent summary.
Senator Forest: I thank the witnesses for joining us. I have two questions specifically for Mr. Leblanc. Welcome, Mr. Leblanc.
You said it would be important for the government to help businesses fill out registration forms. Would it not be a good idea to simplify the programs? I have also put this question to the minister.
In September, you launched the Relançons MTL initiative. We currently estimate the number of workers missing from downtown Montreal at 400,000. That is a tremendous impact — and I did stay at a Montreal hotel recently — on the entire hotel, restaurant and tourism sector. Don’t you think there should be a special sectoral program for the tourism, culture and aeronautics industries in the Relançons MTL initiative discussions?
Mr. Leblanc: Senator Forest, you are clearly right. The simpler the form, the better it is, as with taxes. The reality is that, even though the forms have been simplified, we are receiving signals that SMEs, especially the small ones, are not managing to follow the program and fill out the forms correctly. Even if we were to succeed — and I am not saying we should not try — assistance and support will be needed, and not only in terms of information. As for strategies for downtown areas, you are right that they are very affected. We are working with the government to adopt sectoral strategies, and one of the things we are asking the government is to consider the downtown areas of large Canadian cities as completely separate economic sectors. So we need to have sectoral strategies for aeronautics, tourism, restaurants and airlines, but also for downtown areas. We will provide the government with a lot of action plans in that direction.
Senator Forest: My last question is for Ms. Grynol. You said that, for hotel owners, only 10% of the fixed costs were eligible. Is it possible to identify the 10% eligible costs and give us a few examples of ineligible costs for hotel owners, as compared with renters?
Ms. Grynol: The fixed cost of an asset for a property owner is 25% of normal revenue, and that can be divided by five, effectively. The first is mortgage interest. The second is property taxes and insurance. The third is utilities. The fourth is essential maintenance, and the fifth is core external costs. This program will cover the top two, which are mortgage interest and property taxes and insurance. That makes up the 10% that is going to be covered. Renters, on the other hand, in the same legislation, also get coverage for utilities and essential maintenance, but property owners do not.
Senator Klyne: Welcome and thank you to our witnesses on the panel this afternoon. I have a quick question for the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, and if we have some time I’d like to ask a question of the other associations, CCAB included.
If I understand correctly, when it comes to being exposed to the negative effects of COVID-19, Indigenous-owned-and-operated businesses are overrepresented when compared to mainstream businesses. What are the main factors contributing to — or what emerges as the hardest hit among the Indigenous businesses or sectors, and will they be able to benefit from access to the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy?
Also, I understand Statistics Canada found in their Canadian Survey on Business Conditions from July, the most recent data, that a significant percentage of First Nations, Métis and Inuit owners could not maintain their current operations for the next 12 months under the restricted conditions. Here we are three months later, and I’m looking to understand if you can provide the committee with insights into the business landscape for First Nations, Métis and Inuit from July until now.
Ms. Bull: On the first question, with respect to sectors that we see have been significantly impacted, we’ve definitely seen an impact in the retail sector. That’s directly in relation to a number of businesses that would have sold their goods through conferences or powwows that did not happen, or through large events. We have seen some of those businesses pivot to e-commerce. But, as we know, without the same availability of broadband and high-speed internet, that’s a difficult pivot for those businesses to have made.
We also see a high impact on sectors such as personal care services or health care services. About 10% of Indigenous businesses are in that sector, and that sector has been hard hit by COVID-19, as well as with businesses located within communities that have closed their borders for safety restrictions to ensure COVID-19 does not enter the community or is not able to spread, particularly with the unequal and inequitable health care in some communities. Those communities have chosen to close their borders, and that has presented a revenue drop and opportunity for businesses on reserve.
We did a similar study back in April and May 2020. I can provide the following information, which is very similar to StatCan: It shows that more Indigenous-women-owned businesses reported a negative outcome than men-owned businesses. We also saw a significant revenue drop for Inuit businesses, definitely within the perspective of their location, the cost of supply and the impact on the supply chain to those businesses in the Far North.
We are looking to make an additional study, and I would be happy to come back and report on the impacts that we’re seeing today.
Senator Klyne: To other associations, including CCAB, can you share with this committee if there are any lingering aspects of the commercial rent assistance that will be inherited by the proposed rent subsidy that might prevent it from being suitable to help struggling business in today’s environment, especially with the upswing in reported cases?
Do you have an indication of how many businesses closed due to the low uptake of the commercial rent assistance and the potential number of businesses that are under water today but which will be rescued with the proposed rent subsidy?
Ms. Drigola: I believe the first question was around how many businesses have closed due to inability to access the original rent program versus how many will be saved now. I don’t have an exact number on hand as to how many businesses closed because of their inability to access rent; I will say that if we don’t get this rent program right, the cost of businesses in the future not being able to recover is going to be that much greater. In certain sectors — for example, we’ve seen restaurants — we had at least 10,000 restaurants that have closed since August. For us, it’s imperative we get this right to prevent any further business closures.
Mr. Leblanc: We also don’t have accurate statistics on the number of businesses closing their doors because the rent assistance program has not worked. However, we are now seeing permanent closures. Until now, we were seeing restaurants and businesses closing, and that gave the impression that it was temporary. We are starting to see boarded up businesses, signs leaving downtown areas and Montreal’s iconic restaurants closing. It is clear that going into red zone has been fatal for many businesses, and we should expect that to continue, especially if assistance is not provided quickly. The disbursement issue is an important one.
Senator Richards: This question is for any of our guests today. Thank you for being here. This is just a question — I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before — but I’m wondering how much more problematic is the conflict between the tenants and the landlords during this pandemic that the government hasn’t yet been able to alleviate, or has in some ways, exasperated? And if they have exasperated it, could you give me a quick answer with your advice as to how this tension could be alleviated? Thank you.
Ms. Bull: The movement to not having to need to rely on the landlord in order to apply for the rent subsidy is a good move towards reducing that tension. Also, the certainty and more transparency around the program is going to help, because there have been a lot of discussions that I heard from some members, anecdotally, that neither the landlord nor the tenants have the same understanding of how the program works. So there is definitely a need, and it would be of great aid to have more certainty and transparency on the program.
Ms. Drigola: I would echo the fact that tenants being able to apply to the program directly will be a large solution to many of the problems we have been seeing.
The other piece I would add to that is that there needs to be ongoing collaboration and communication between provincial governments and the federal government. Provincial governments from across the country have done a very good job in implementing eviction bans to ensure that tenants who are not able to pay their rent will not be evicted due to closures and no revenues. The difference here is that we had several members who were very concerned, from the day this rent program was announced and once November 1 came and went, and the rent money was still not flowing, that they were going to be evicted.
For them, it needs to be a top priority for the government to get the money out the door and have it flow directly to tenants before the first of the month so it’s not a retroactive payment and for provinces to continue to ensure that if they cannot make that month’s rent, these businesses are able to stay and not be evicted due to closures beyond their control.
Mr. Leblanc: Bill C-9 will help a great deal, as the program will eliminate the need to go through the owner. We have heard about cases where owners were asking tenants to retroactively compensate them for the losses suffered through the former program. As far as tensions go, they were clearly there. Now, the issue will be disbursement. Will the checks arrive quickly? Ideally, it would be before the first of the month. The relationship can be improved at that point.
Ms. Grynol: Hotels in Canada are owned; they have mortgages. We were actually cut out of that first rent program, because it did not support for property owners.
I will use my one second to answer Senator Klyne’s question from earlier, which was around how many businesses have closed. We have seen hotel closures. Some 60% of our members say they will not make it past Christmas if they don’t have sectoral-specific support.
Senator Richards: Thank you very much.
Senator Duncan: Thank you to all of the presenters this morning in the Yukon. I truly appreciate the information you have provided. I will share with you that I am the sponsor of Bill C-9 in the Senate. I especially appreciated the recognition of the need for quick passage of this legislation and also your very concrete suggestions for improvement.
I would like to pick up on a theme we have heard coming through in the presentations; it’s about cooperation. It was mentioned this morning — I believe Ms. Grynol mentioned it — that banks are not loaning to hotels. We’ve heard that CEWS has been of assistance to smaller business. We have also heard that some of the largest businesses, particularly in the airline sector — in the airline sector, are not withdrawing from areas that are over-served and are withdrawing from under-served areas in Canada. These are the largest airlines.
The food delivery services are not cooperating with restaurants in reducing their fees.
We have heard that there is a level of interprovincial cooperation with the provinces, the territories and the federal government.
I’d like to ask the witnesses, do they see a way that legislation or the Senate or we as Canadians can encourage businesses to demonstrate a greater degree of cooperation among each other? I noted the specific recommendation of a navigator. Would that help? If I could hear from the witnesses. Thank you.
Ms. Bull: I think there are definite ways we have seen Canadians stand up and support one another. We’ve seen that in the Indigenous business community for sure, but I think there are also ways we can look to corporations within Canada to support businesses within Canada by increasing the diversity within their supply chain, by ensuring they are purchasing locally and keeping a domestic supply in the work they are doing, and I think continued clarity and transparency on the programs and additional support to those organizations that support business.
So as a not-for-profit, we have been paying rent as well for this entire period, about $20,000 a year. We have not been eligible for the rent subsidy. I think there are a number of associations that are here to support business, and we need to be looking at how we can support them to do their work.
Ms. Drigola: Thank you, senator. This is a very important question that really touches on a lot of the ongoing issues that are playing out due to COVID-19. You mentioned the airline sector and the food service sector, and the issue here is that businesses are going to where their revenues are. If they are operating with no opportunity to make revenue, they will have to make cuts somewhere or they will have to try to survive. Businesses cannot operate in debt forever, and if they take advantage of CEWS, that’s because the program is there to support businesses that are struggling. There are strict caps and criteria for businesses to be able to qualify.
I will say businesses are more than ready to come and cooperate. They’re eager to talk to government and to provide suggestions on what can be improved and what else is missing, here is what we need. I think what needs to happen now, these broad-based programs made sense at the start of the pandemic. They were good. They were right. We were very supportive of them. They were the right thing to do. However, eight months in, you do not have the same broad-based problems in every single sector like airline, travel, hotels and food services. They all have unique needs, and these programs need to be tailored to help them meet those needs.
Mr. Leblanc: Contrary to what you said, what I am hearing from the business community is that a great deal of collaboration is being seen. I’m not hearing criticisms of banks. The banking system in Quebec and in Montreal has given many businesses the impression of having access to the cash they have needed and to payment deferrals when necessary. It’s the same thing with public utilities. I now feel that the issue has more to do with the fact that sectors are extremely vulnerable, and that requires sectoral assistance programs.
To go back to what was just said, regarding airline companies, when we look at the assistance given to them across the world, it is clear that we have not supported Canadian airline businesses very well so far. So those companies have had to make some very difficult choices.
Therefore, I feel that the collaboration will come more easily if sectoral assistance programs are available for sectors that are especially affected.
Ms. Grynol: I would just add, we are not seeing that same kind of cooperation with the banking sector and our industry. In fact, we’ve seen the reverse in the rest of Canada. We’ve seen banks pull their hands away and say we’re just not lending to your sector, sort of a sector blanket approach. You’re just too risky, so we can’t lend to you.
This is specifically why a sector-specific support program is needed. The banks are regulated. They are making good banking decisions, but they see our sector as risky. We obviously need more support from the government to be able to cover cash flow, but the banks are saying we have no idea when you are going to be able to pay your mortgages again. Part of that is because we haven’t had access to the previous rent program. The wage subsidy program has been a critical support, but there obviously needs to be more.
Senator Loffreda: I thank all the witnesses. I have a question for Mr. Leblanc. It is a pleasure to see you again, sir. I miss you and the chamber of commerce, which is exceptional.
This morning, we heard from Dan Kelly, from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. He said that 14% of Canadian businesses — or one in seven — were expecting to declare bankruptcy or have to liquidate. In Quebec, he was talking about 1 in 10 businesses. I know that you are in contact with many business owners in Quebec and Canada. Do you think Bill C-9 will really help or will it just delay the inevitable? You know me, I am optimistic and I am always talking about investments. Is this a good investment for Canada?
You said that we need a sectoral assistance strategy. The hotel, restaurant, aeronautics and tourism sectors were mentioned. Are there any others to consider?
Mr. Leblanc: If we look at the rates, our surveys indicate that, in Montreal’s downtown area, one in five businesses — or 20% — think they are at risk of closing. Downtown areas are obviously the most affected. It is clear that, for businesses that are very affected, rent assistance will make a huge difference.
There is an issue we should be sensitive to, and that is the fact that doing business in major downtown areas is more expensive, be it in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. When a cap is imposed, it is high enough in a place like Magog or a small town. In a downtown area, that cap may be too low. Bill C-9 is clearly fundamental. I will say it again, this bill is essential. The wage subsidy must be used to maintain all this.
As for the sectoral assistance question, I think airline companies will have to be helped, as well as the aeronautics and tourism sectors — anything having to do with the accommodation economy and restaurants, and I would add to that anything to do with cultural diffusion — as all sectors related to large gatherings, especially in the cultural sector, are very affected.
Senator Loffreda: I have another quick question. To the hotel industry, I was vice-chair of the largest bank in Canada, RBC, so I know what you’re referring to. The hotel industry was always an industry that the banks were very delicate in lending to because of the security involved with the revenues coming in. Banks like the capacity to repay and be secure, and the hotel industry is very volatile, so it’s nothing new.
I’m in contact with many hotel owners, and some of them are telling me they’re trying to be creative. How much have you seen them being creative, converting some of their rooms into rental units? Is that a success? Do we need to really worry tremendously about the survival of the hotel industry in Canada long term? What else besides Bill C-9 could be done? Is that something you’re seeing across Canada, conversion to rental units? How creative could we be on the government side and on the entrepreneurial side?
Ms. Grynol: Yes, a lot to unpack there. Hotels are a good investment, and we will come back. We just need to get to next summer, but we do have good reason to be worried: 60% have said they will not make it past Christmas, but I think we will see some conversion. What you’re referencing is happening across the country, some hotels being used for homeless shelters and some converting, but it’s actually not as easy as people might think to convert a hotel into a rental unit. It is an expensive process, but it is being done.
Yes, I’m worried about the survival of the sector. I’m worried we could lose at least half of this industry. That’s a significant problem, one that could be avoided if we had support in three areas. One is zero risk to the banks so they actually lend to us and get us to the other side. There is a demand on the other side. These are critical infrastructure in every part of this country, and they need to be there for Canadians.
That is one piece of it, and then relief, the wage subsidy being increased and the rent relief program having some fine-tuning of it, or a sectoral-specific support program that looks like changes or is something different. In any case, there needs to be some relief and debt access so we can get to the other side of this, where we will be a vibrant industry once again.
Senator Loffreda: Thank you very much.
Senator Smith: I have listened to the fantastic witnesses today, and the group we’ve had for our final panel, you folks have been outstanding.
You have done some excellent work. Michel, hello from a former Montreal football player.
I would just like to congratulate you all for what you have said, because you’ve been very specific, and you’ve been general, but you’ve been specific to your own areas of interest, which is really commendable. It gives us a lot of food for thought in terms of our machinations in the next few days. I know our chair, Senator Mockler, will lead us towards a very strong report.
I’m not trying to take any of your glory, Senator Mockler, but I wanted to thank the witnesses, and I think we should move on.
Senator Dagenais: My question is for Mr. Leblanc. It is a pleasure to meet you.
Mr. Leblanc, I will talk to you about the restaurant world. This year, of course, the Government of Quebec is saying not to have Christmas parties at restaurants in December, as that is the red zone and a disaster.
January, February and March are the three worst months of the year for a restaurant owner. We are talking about the Montreal region, but we can also talk about Quebec City, Toronto, Ottawa and all major cities. Do you sincerely believe that the assistance Bill C-9 will provide will suffice to save restaurants and save thousands of jobs for Canadian workers in major cities?
At the same time, I am taking advantage of your participation to ask you the following: Are any players from the business world unable to meet the criteria implemented and are at risk of bankruptcy because of what we may refer to as a lack of openness to the many suggestions made by groups representing business owners?
Mr. Leblanc: You’re wise to bring up restaurants. Montreal is a city of restaurants, and Quebec City is also known for its restaurants.
They are really hurting, and obviously, they cannot open without customers, so the impact is devastating. If restaurants could fall back on rent assistance and wage subsidies in order to open their doors, they may be able to get through this period. The challenge is allowing them to open a little bit. You mentioned the holidays, which is a crucial time, so the restaurant community is nervous, wondering whether the second wave will prevent restaurants from opening at all leading up to the holidays.
You raise an important point about the reference period. All of these programs are based on revenue losses. If you take January or February and the loss in revenue a year prior, you are comparing it with a period of time when there is already a decline in revenue. Then, as of next March, the revenue losses will be compared with what they were a year before, in other words, during a pandemic. At some point in time, the programs have to take into account the fact that the revenue reductions are based on reference periods when revenues were way down. The government should maintain these programs, then, even for businesses that will have gone through a very tough time a year ago.
Senator Dagenais: You also brought up the aerospace sector. I think it’s high time for some government help. I know that there is some talk and that decisions are supposed to be made, but between you and me, eight months is a long time for the aerospace sector to wait on some attention from the government. After all, aerospace is a critical sector in Quebec. Just think of the offices located in Montreal, for one, with Air Canada and all the rest. Since you are here today, I’d like to hear your views on that.
Mr. Leblanc: We are doing everything we can to hammer the importance of sector-specific assistance. My counterpart from the tourism sector was absolutely right to say that the industry needs support right now, and the same is true of the airlines and aerospace sector. They need the support, and other countries have been quicker on the draw. Canada has been good at introducing broad-based, generous supports, but has been slow to offer up sector-specific assistance, so something needs to be done now. You are absolutely right.
Senator Dagenais: Thank you.
Senator Galvez: One of the advantages of being one of the last ones is that instead of asking specific questions, we can allow ourselves to ask more general and global questions.
We heard the first panel, and we’ve been reading about Bill C-9. We know that it’s not yet perfect, that it has some improvements compared with the previous one, but more and more we are hearing that the government should help and assist according to the specific needs of sectors. When you think about the theory of recovery after a crisis, we first support the workers, then we support the basic services and products that we need, and the third phase is to relaunch the stimulus that is sector-based. That is when you talk about aeronautics and the hotels and the automotive industry.
However, we are now in the second wave. There could be a third wave. Next year, we could again be in the same situation. So we have to get out, and we have to start talking about a real recovery that looks into specificities and which sectors we want to support and we want to see in the future, and which sectors, as my colleague Senator Loffreda said, well, too bad; we are just prolonging the agony, and they will have to go into bankruptcy.
You are advocating for some sectors, but will those sectors return the money that is invested? That’s the other word that has been used here. Everybody is seeing this assistance as investment.
I will start by asking Ms. Grynol and then Ms. Drigola, and ending with Mr. Leblanc and Ms. Bull.
Ms. Grynol: Thank you for that brilliant question. The short answer is, yes, it is a good investment. Using hotels as a specific example, hotels are the cornerstone of this critical infrastructure. It’s not just about tourism. It’s about all of you travelling from point A to point B. Where will people stay? How will we ever have weddings again, and hockey tournaments, the very essence of our culture in Canada, if we start to lose this infrastructure, not to mention the fact that hotels worked hand in glove with public health during this pandemic to turn hotels into self-isolation facilities, hospital facilities? We have been deemed an essential service for a reason. In the North, hotels are critical to allow people to travel from point A to B to offer services to the communities and people who live there, because a lot of the people that service them don’t actually live there.
Hotels are critical infrastructure and very much the cornerstone of both the travel industry and also our general ability for Canadians to be able to move around and visit family, as an example.
On the point of whether or not it’s a good investment, we will have so much pent-up demand out there by the time we’re through this pandemic. We are human beings, at the end of the day. People want to be together. We have many conventions. People want to get together. They want to get married. We will have people getting married every single day of the week in a hotel when we are done this pandemic. We can’t wait to welcome all these people back, but we have to do it safely.
We’re doing our part to protect public health. We are going to be closed for 15 months, which is different from other sectors, so there needs to be specific support.
We will come back. It will be a shame if we lost all the infrastructure and all of the jobs that represent vulnerable Canadians if there were not deeper investments.
Ms. Drigola: Thank you for this very important question. I would like to remind the panel that governments don’t create jobs; businesses create jobs. Businesses need to be alive in order to create those jobs. This is not a normal recession where people don’t want to come and use these services.
These are businesses where governments and public health officials are saying: You are not allowed to open. You are not allowed to operate. You are not allowed to raise revenue. So it is incumbent upon governments to provide supports to the businesses that are not allowed to operate because of this global pandemic. These businesses need to be there to sustain and to create jobs. We’re not going to have growth if these businesses are closed at the other end of the pandemic.
You raised a very important point. We don’t know what the future looks like. That means we’re going to need to learn how to live with the pandemic, and that means sectors that have been able to see revenues return throughout the first and second waves, those businesses are doing great. We need to move them into recovery and see what options exist for them. For those that are not allowed to recover, we absolutely need to be investing in them and providing them the supports they need to survive.
Mr. Leblanc: That is a great question. The idea is not just to help sectors that are hurting and need assistance, but also to focus on sectors that are strong. From that standpoint, think of artificial intelligence and the investments in innovative manufacturing — a tremendous amount of investment is happening in creative industries, by the way. That means some sectors are very well positioned to come out of the crisis caused by the pandemic. It is about more than just helping the sectors that are struggling; those in good shape need help as well so they are ready to go after the pandemic.
The Chair: Ms. Bull, we have spent over five minutes with that question. Do you have any comments from your industry?
Ms. Bull: I would echo the comments that we need to ensure we’re sustaining those sectors that employ people in lower fields. So if we look at the unemployment rates that have recovered for non-Indigenous people, Indigenous people and minorities and underrepresented people have not recovered to the same extent. A number of the sectors that are hurting are sectors that employ those people. So I think we also need to look at how we are investing in innovative ways to allow those sectors to continue to contribute.
Senator M. Deacon: Thank you all. You’re obviously very passionate, as we are, in trying to get this right. It is certainly the best it can be in a really challenging and condensed time.
This question is for the Hotel Association of Canada with perhaps a bit of crystal balling and future thinking. My question will probably look a little forward. There will be no official end date to this COVID-19 virus, though I suspect once mass vaccinations have been rolled out and administered, people will be more willing to travel and to return to a somewhat normal, new and hopefully better life. My question is about the lag time between this unofficial end date, in a way, of COVID, and when you think people will be comfortable travelling for leisure purposes again. I note that Australia and New Zealand have opened a travel bubble between their two countries.
I’m sure you’re talking with folks in different countries or learning what you can. Are there things we can learn from any of the research you’ve done on travel habits of people with countries that have loosened restrictions? Is there a snapback or still a hesitance to resume these activities? Do you have any insight from our global neighbours? Thank you.
Ms. Grynol: That’s a very good question, and it certainly has some crystal balling. I think there’s a lot more comfort from people who want to travel than people may realize. Canadians want to have a Christmas. They want to get out of their houses and see their families. They want to travel abroad. Other people want to come to Canada. We are doing our part to support them, and we are listening to the rules that are being put in place in these areas.
I think Canadians have a certain amount of trust in the confidence of the businesses in the travel industry. For example, hotels have put into place all sorts of measures to make sure that people are going to be safe and have increased cleaning protocols and PPE. Airlines have done the same thing. The end-to-end travel experience, in some ways, has never been cleaner or safer than it has been in the past.
I think people are just waiting for their chance to get out. Certainly there will be a lag time booking conferences, and whether that’s people getting out individually and travelling. I think people are getting pretty tired being at home and having Zoom calls. They want to get out and visit. That’s certainly what we’re seeing across the world as well. But there does have to be a rightful balance that’s struck between opening up prematurely, which is obviously what all of our provincial governments and regional governments are trying to determine.
But I will say this: If this does progress and is extended for months and months and months, I do think we need to do a better job of managing how we can live with this virus so we don’t have whole sectors of the economy going under, not to mention the mental health strain. It’s not a binary choice between health and the economy. There are consequences on both sides of the equation.
Senator M. Deacon: Thank you.
The Chair: Senators, I will ask Senator Pate to ask a question before we close. Even though she’s not a regular member of our committee, she follows our committee very well when it comes to legislation.
Senator Pate, you will have the opportunity to pose a question.
Senator Boehm: I would like to thank the panellists for their comments. It is all very interesting.
I want to follow up on a question that Senator Galvez started. Senator M. Deacon took it further as well. Risk management has become much more sophisticated on the part of governments at all levels, on the part of industry, and, of course, you are probably talking to your members and your associations about these questions.
There is a whole area of vulnerability that we’ve not looked at yet. There are vulnerable Canadians, and it will be global as well. Those are the people who will have survived COVID. They might still have lingering traces, and we don’t know what the impacts will be. Their place in the workforce might be very limited. They might only be able to work part-time. This would suggest that governments might be looking at extending a wage subsidy for part-time work and looking at rehabilitation efforts. Ms. Grynol, you mentioned mental health. I’m glad you did. Mental health on the part of everyone but particularly those who have been impacted. And then their family or the closest people in their lives.
As you look ahead, you must be speculating somewhat on this very uneven science that we have right now as to what the future might look like going into next summer. If any of the panellists have some thoughts, I would love to hear them. Thank you.
Ms. Bull: That’s a very interesting reflection. In my opinion, mental health is going to be where we need to be putting the most support possible, even once we have recovered. I think this has been an impactful time for everyone. I do agree there will be a need for us to be able to celebrate, and we will need those faces to be able to do so with risk management, of course, considered.
Ms. Drigola: Another interesting question that we need to consider is in terms of how much we don’t yet know about COVID. When we look back at the last eight months, the amount of adaptation and the advancement of technology that has been adopted by businesses and Canadians from across the board has been stellar. When it comes to mental health, that is something that many businesses are now talking about that are now implementing policies where they didn’t have them before. But when it comes to part-time work and the longevity of the government programs, the scaleability aspect that exists within CEWS allows the government to provide ongoing support to businesses so that as they do better, and as part-time jobs return, they will still be able to get some support for those. But it is important for us to continue to update these government support programs so that they work for the current scenario of the pandemic at hand.
Mr. Leblanc: As far as Quebec is concerned, one of the realities created by the pandemic has been almost positive. It has made us recognize the weaknesses in our health care system, particularly in relation to one of the most vulnerable groups — the elderly.
More recently, the tragedy in Quebec City shone a spotlight on the underinvestment in all things mental health. A collective awakening is happening around the need to properly fund supports and programs for people with mental health issues. I will tell you that, according to the forecasts, Quebec will still be facing a labour shortage when we emerge from the pandemic. Therefore, the willingness to invest in mental health supports and other health care programming, the awareness of the needs of those who suffered from COVID-19 and the repercussions, and the labour shortage may mean we are more inclined to help those people participate in the workforce, according to their abilities. I’m rather optimistic and I think we will make the right decisions.
Ms. Grynol: You raise a very interesting point that deserves deeper reflection. I would just add, because I think we’re short on time here, that the greatest challenge for us has been about our employees. It has been heartbreaking to have to lay off, and now 30% of our workforce has been laid off. These are vulnerable Canadians that you referenced.
There is a correlation between the hardest-hit businesses and the people who have been most impacted because that is who are employed. These are people who came to us in many cases with limited language skills, who have now become experts in our fields and have built their entire careers, whom we will need four months from now. These programs need to be tailored appropriately to the people and the businesses who need them. We need to move away from supporting people with limited revenue loss in these broad-based programs, and quickly, otherwise we will have deep losses and those losses are not just businesses, it’s all of those employees.
It’s okay that there is an EI program, but what about their health benefits? These are the conversations our hotels are having every single day with their employees, as we try to hang on to them and as they want to stay employed with us. It is an absolutely heartbreaking situation for our hotels across this country.
Senator Pate: Thank you to all colleagues for your indulgence and thank you to the witnesses. I want to pick up on something that a number of our colleagues have already spoken about and that you were just speaking about as well. One of the things that a number of us have been working on during this pandemic is the need to shore up the economic social services as well as the health care systems and look at workers’ benefits. Another area is the whole idea of guaranteed liveable income and it strikes me in the last comments made, when you have individuals who are suddenly out of work for periods of time to have an opportunity like a guaranteed liveable income that could kick in for folks may be one way to offset some of these issues.
I’m curious as to whether you in particular, Ms. Grynol, or others, have had particular ideas about how we could see this working, and also how businesses could benefit not by the depletion of the workforce, as some have suggested, but actually enriching and providing greater opportunities for individuals who have skills to move within those workforces?
Ms. Grynol: We still very much hope that we can hang on and we can keep as many employees as possible. To date, the government programs, particularly the wage subsidy, has allowed us to do that to a greater extent than otherwise. We’re still hanging on to hope that we will be able to keep as many of those employees as possible.
Many of our hotels did pay for those health benefits for inactive, furloughed workers over the last six months out of their pocket expenses to ensure they had access to the health coverage they and their families need. I want to put that on the record because many people may not realize that is happening and businesses are being incredibly generous, with the hope that we don’t have to move people to guaranteed liveable incomes and we can keep them employed and connected to their employment, which allows them to pay their bills.
Mr. Leblanc: I would say it’s important to proceed carefully. In the summer, the government brought in a program along those lines. Many students saw the Canada Emergency Student Benefit as somewhat of a guaranteed minimum income, and as a result, they did not make themselves available for work even though businesses were looking to hire people.
The government has to be very careful if it goes down that road, so as not to disincentivize the employment required to run the economy.
Ms. Drigola: It’s an important consideration. The government introduced a range of strong support programs for Canadians who find themselves out of work. When we are in a non-pandemic situation there are other support programs for Canadians who lose their job for a variety of reasons. Whether there are other options we need to consider is a question perhaps for a different day, but I will commend the government on their support programs for Canadians.
The Chair: Thank you. To the witnesses, there’s no doubt in our minds that you have been very informative, and to some extent I will say, personally, educational also. We will continue as parliamentarians to strive to give Canadians from coast to coast to coast transparency, accountability, predictability and reliability.
Thank you very much for accepting our invitation, and for sharing your professionalism with us and the facts of what we are faced with.
Honourable senators, our next meeting will be tomorrow, Friday, November 13, at 10 a.m. EST.
(The committee adjourned.)