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2nd Session, 43rd Parliament
Volume 152, Issue 35

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


THE SENATE

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before recognizing Senator Gagné, let me begin by saying that I hope you are all keeping yourselves safe, and that the same is true for your families. In the interests of respecting public health directives, I am in St. John’s and will be presiding remotely.

Let me say in advance that I greatly appreciate your cooperation in ensuring that this works well, and I trust I will have your understanding if there are occasional learning moments.

In the event that my connection is lost or we experience technical difficulties, the Speaker pro tempore will preside over the sitting until those difficulties have been corrected. If that happens, the Clerk will immediately notify Senator Ringuette.

Once again, colleagues, let me thank you in advance for your cooperation.

The Senate

His late Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh—Motion to Affect Today’s Sitting and Place Inquiry on Orders of the Day Adopted

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:

That, notwithstanding any provision of the Rules, previous order or usual practice, the Senate deal with the following items, before Senators’ Statements today:

1. tributes to His late Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, for a maximum of 15 minutes, with each intervention to be of no more than three minutes;

2. the reading of any message from the House of Commons in relation to the late Duke of Edinburgh; and

3. consideration of any government motion moved for an humble address to Her Majesty the Queen concerning the late Duke of Edinburgh;

That, after the conclusion of the above, the Senate proceed with its business as normal today; and

That the following government inquiry be placed on the Orders of the Day for two days hence:

“By the Honourable Senator Gagné: That she will call the attention of the Senate to the life of His late Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

His late Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Tributes

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh who left this world on April 9 at the age of 99.

Prince Phillip and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II were married for 73 years. Their presence in the Commonwealth, and specifically in Canada, has been constant since their first visit here together in 1951 when he made his first public speech.

Prince Philip was the ever-present companion and adviser to our sovereign. Before their marriage, and before his retirement from the Royal Navy in 1952, he was the youngest lieutenant given a ship’s command. Upon the Prince’s passing on April 9, he was one of the last surviving veterans of World War II. During the invasion of Sicily in 1943, he was credited with saving the HMS Wallace by devising a distraction using smoke to lure enemy bombers away from the ship.

Prince Philip learned to fly in 1952 and gained his Royal Air Force wings in 1953. He clocked 5,986 hours of flight in 59 different types of aircraft before his final flight in 1997, and at one point, he was qualified to fly every aircraft in the United Kingdom, including helicopters.

Prince Philip was a regular and welcome guest in Canada. He came more than 70 times. He had a close and warm relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces, receiving 11 honorary appointments and serving as honorary Colonel-in-Chief for six Canadian units.

Above all, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was husband, companion and adviser to our head of state Queen Elizabeth II. Upon her ascension to the throne, he became “liege man of life and limb” to the young queen, and for 70 years, he supported her reign. It is most fitting to use Her Majesty’s own words in her toast to him on their fiftieth wedding anniversary:

. . . he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.

On behalf of the Senate of Canada, I offer sincere condolences to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and, especially, his wife of 73 years Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Thank you.

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Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, on April 9 we heard of the passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and the world has mourned with the Royal Family since. As we pay tribute to Prince Philip’s life today, I would like to take time to acknowledge his devotion to the Queen and his strong ties to Canada.

Throughout his life, Prince Philip expressed devotion to the causes he held dear, including his role as a father of four, his participation in British service programs to further outdoor recreation, environmental conservation and quality education. But perhaps the greatest expressions of Prince Philip’s devotion were the sacrifices he made to be fiercely loyal and a companion to Queen Elizabeth II. Before having met her, Prince Philip had developed a passion for the British Navy after years of serving in the British Forces, but shortly after their wedding in 1947, Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England in 1952. Instead of continuing to further his career in the navy, it became Prince Philip’s life to support the Queen. Prince Philip was a steadfast partner, a rock who was steady and true, who was willing to give up his aspirations because of the vows he made to his wife. Honourable senators, what an expression of love that is.

Prince Philip was also a close friend to Canada. He visited locations in Canada more than 70 times between 1950 and 2013. He was given a ceremonial rank by the Canadian military as colonel-in-chief. Though I personally never had the chance to meet him, some Canadians who did describe Prince Philip as down-to-earth, honest and full of good humour, making visitations from coast to coast. He left admirable impressions across the country, but there is no doubt that Canadians left a mark on him, too. In the news of Prince Philip’s passing, Josh Traptow from the Monarchist League of Canada said: “. . . every time him and the Queen came to Canada . . . I think it very much felt like they were home.”

As a Canadian, I am proud that our country, strong and free, became a home across the Atlantic for the royal couple. As a member of the British Commonwealth, we as Canadian parliamentarians send our sympathies, thoughts and prayers to be with Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family as they grieve the loss of their husband, father and grandfather, Prince Philip. May his soul rest in peace.

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Honourable colleagues, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest on Saturday, 17 April at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Many of the funeral arrangements were planned by Prince Philip himself, especially the choice of music, which included several pieces with a strong connection to his time in the navy. One such piece was “Eternal Father, Strong To Save.” This same hymn was played in Canada by the Dominion Carillonneur on the same day from the Peace Tower in Ottawa. The first verse goes as follows:

Eternal Father, strong to save

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave

Who bid’st the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep;

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.

There are so many ways in which this hymn resonates with our times and indeed with the life of His Royal Highness, who started his life as an exile, served in the Royal Navy, and was for our monarch, over a period of 73 years, Her Majesty’s stay and strength.

The commemorative ceremony in Ottawa also featured an original piece of music composed specifically for the occasion by Petty Officer 2nd class Nadia Pona of the Royal Canadian Navy entitled “His Royal Service Ends.” The piece celebrates the life of Prince Philip in honour of His Royal Highness’s special bond with the Canadian Armed Forces and his naval career.

Still on the nautical theme, Prince Philip was instrumental in the creation of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. After his first visit to B.C. in 1951, he contacted the Greenwich Museum and asked for the museum to send a collection of objects to the province in order to start a new naval museum.

Prince Philip visited my home province of British Columbia 12 times. Here are just a few of his notable visits. In 1954 he came to Victoria and attended the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, where he witnessed the Miracle Mile. He also poured the first aluminum ingot at the new smelter in Kitimat. In 1971, on the centenary of B.C. joining Confederation, the royal visitors sailed from Vancouver to Victoria on the Royal Yacht Britannia. In 2002, Prince Philip’s final visit to B.C. was an 11-day trip to Canada on the last leg of the Commonwealth Golden Jubilee tour celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. The Queen unveiled a stained glass window in the B.C. legislature in Victoria and dropped the puck at an NHL exhibition game in Vancouver. Of course, the Canucks won. To Her Majesty and the Royal Family, we offer our deepest condolences.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, today we remember and celebrate the life of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.

As the longest serving British monarch’s consort, Prince Philip was by Queen Elizabeth’s side for over 70 years. Over those 70 years, Prince Philip dedicated himself to a life of public service. He had been associated with over 900 charities in his lifetime, with a focus on the environment, youth mental health and well-being, and sport. The most notable of his charitable endeavours may be his founding of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which is a global program with the goal of challenging, empowering and recognizing young people between the ages of 14 and 24. The award has been active in Canada since 1963, helping over 500,000 young Canadians reach their potential. Two of our former Senate colleagues, Trevor Eyton and Joseph Day, served on the board of directors for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Many have said that one of Prince Philip’s greatest achievements was the strength of his support for the Queen during her reign. In paying tribute to her husband at their fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration, Queen Elizabeth II stated:

He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.

The Duke of Edinburgh made five official visits to my province of Nova Scotia. His first official visit was in 1951, when he accompanied then-Princess Elizabeth on a cross-Canada visit. They were greeted by thousands of enthusiastic Nova Scotians as they rode by train from Amherst to Truro and Halifax. While 1951 may have been his first official royal visit to Nova Scotia, several years earlier, serving as a young naval officer in the Royal Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic, Prince Philip had been in Halifax during the Second World War. As a former naval officer, it was fitting that his last official visit to Nova Scotia was to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy in 2010.

Honourable senators, on behalf of all Nova Scotians and the Progressive Senate Group, I wish to express my deepest condolences to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and to all members of the Royal Family. Thank you.

Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, the Queen once affectionately noted that Prince Philip was well known for declining compliments, whether giving or receiving. Still, when a young Princess Elizabeth said she was drawn to Philip’s forthrightness and independence, Philip in turn replied that:

To have been spared in the war and seen victory . . . to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one’s personal and even the world’s troubles seem small and petty.

Theirs was a marriage of choice. He willingly gave up his own royal titles and naval career to take up his role as consort, which he shaped and defined by running and reforming the royal households and managing people, including those marrying into a royal life of service.

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As a young man, Philip had overcome many family traumas and much loss, most powerfully perhaps the assassination of his uncle Lord Mountbatten. So when my former CTV colleague Norm Perry commented on the “massive security entourage,” the Prince abruptly stood and left the interview set. He felt the media should have understood the need, given the ongoing threats to his family.

Philip was not a fan of the media’s relentless pursuit. During a visit to the Caribbean, he told the matron of a hospital, “You have mosquitoes. I have the press.” At a Diamond Jubilee reception, he demanded to know why the editor of a tabloid was there. “Because I was invited,” the man explained. To which Prince Philip responded, “Well, you didn’t have to come.”

It’s true, he was a man of a different time, and his comments sometimes offended, often ruffled, but everyone knew he usually meant what he said and said what he meant. He did not suffer fools. One of the Queen’s biographers said that Prince Philip was highly intelligent and a “far-thinking person,” and was an early adopter of computers and email. He enjoyed painting and birdwatching and was dedicated to improving education, particularly in science and technology, and to saving the rainforests decades before it was on anybody’s radar. He served as International President of the World Wildlife Fund, and his international award program has engaged more than 6 million young adults in community service and leadership development.

Philip was one of the busiest royals with more than 22,000 solo appearances and thousands more with his wife, and I had the honour to meet them both more than once. On his ninetieth birthday, Queen Elizabeth conferred on him the title of Lord High Admiral, the titular head of the Royal Navy — full circle to the navy life he forfeited to marry the beautiful princess. He was, she said, her “strength and stay.”

Tomorrow, the Queen will mark her ninety-fifth birthday, for the first time without her beloved partner of more than 73 years. We can only thank you both profoundly for your lives of service.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I know that we were saddened to hear of the passing of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, as were all Canadians. We all share the grief of Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family. I now invite the Senate to observe a minute of silence as a sign of respect for His late Royal Highness.

(Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.)

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Condolences on the Passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh—Message from Senate and Commons—Motion Adopted

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that a message has been received from the House of Commons which reads as follows:

Thursday, April 15, 2021

RESOLVED,— That a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen expressing the House’s condolences following the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and its hopes that the expression of the high esteem in which His Royal Highness was held may comfort Her Majesty and the members of the Royal Family in their bereavement.

ORDERED,— That a Message be sent to the Senate informing their Honours that this House has passed the said Address and requesting their Honours to unite with this House in the said Address.

ATTEST

Charles Robert

The Clerk of the House of Commons

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) moved:

That the Senate unite with the House of Commons to present an humble Address to Her Majesty the Queen expressing the Senate’s condolences following the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and its hopes that the expression of the high esteem in which His Royal Highness was held may comfort Her Majesty and the members of the Royal Family in their bereavement; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint it that the Senate has united with that house in the said Address.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Nova Scotia Mass Shooting

Commemoration of Tragedy—Silent Tribute

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we proceed with additional business, I would note that yesterday and the day before were the one year anniversary of the tragic events in Nova Scotia during which 22 innocent people lost their lives and 3 others were wounded. I invite the Senate to observe a minute of silence in remembrance of the victims.

(Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.)

The Senate

The Late Ismail Ocal—Silent Tribute

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, as you know, on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, we lost a long-time member of the Senate family. Ismail Ocal had worked with the Senate for more than 27 years, and was a well-known and cheerful face. I know that you will join me in expressing our heartfelt condolences to his family, his friends and his colleagues upon their loss. Ismail will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with them all.

I would invite honourable senators to join me in a minute of silence in honour of Ismail.

(Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.)


SENATORS’ STATEMENTS

Seventieth Anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I’m honoured to pay tribute to the brave and selfless Canadians who served in the Korean War, and bring special attention to the seventieth anniversary of the historic Battle of Kapyong which took place April 23 to 25, 1951.

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The Battle of Kapyong is not only one of Canada’s greatest military achievements of the Korean War; it has been heralded as a defining moment in Canadian military history — a moment where a vastly outnumbered Canadian unit made its last stand and persevered against great odds.

Although vastly outnumbered by Chinese and North Korean units, our 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australia Regiment, the United Kingdom’s 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment, and the 16th Field Regiment Royal New Zealand Artillery — serving collectively as the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade — thwarted a massive enemy push in the Kapyong River Valley — an offensive that, if successful, would see the recapture of Seoul, a harbinger of dire consequences for the civilians in the city and of catastrophic strategic implications for the United Nations forces in South Korea.

The Canadians fought, outnumbered, throughout the night; and never wavering, their efforts halted the communist offensive. The 2nd Patricias, along with the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment and A Company, 72nd U.S. Heavy Tank Battalion, were awarded the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation for their valour at Kapyong. No other Canadian unit has been awarded this honour before or since.

Today, these brave young men are in their late eighties, nineties, and some even in their one-hundreds — proud fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers or great-great-grandfathers. They are filled with years of experience, wisdom, love and battle scars that they have carried with them. They are changed, but they are still standing at attention ready to serve their country and honour their fallen comrades. I’ve heard so many of their stories and continue to be inspired by them. I have felt the deep love they have for Canada and for Korea and her people.

Due to Ontario’s stay-at-home order and restrictions for even outdoor events, the national seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong commemoration and other events have been cancelled. Therefore, I invite all honourable senators to take part in the virtual campaign on Friday by posting a photo of yourself holding a printed or handmade sign that reads #Kapyong70 or #RememberingKapyong; and on Saturday, April 24, at 11 a.m. Ottawa time, by joining the virtual national commemorative ceremony to mark the seventieth anniversary of the historic Battle of Kapyong. You can RSVP to the invitation for the virtual event.

Together we will ensure that the legacy of the Korean War is never forgotten. We will remember them.

[Editor’s Note: Senator Martin spoke in Korean.]

[Translation]

Laurentian University

Hon. Josée Forest-Niesing: Honourable colleagues, I would like to begin by thanking Senator Marty Deacon for giving me her time this afternoon, allowing me the opportunity to talk about a troubling issue.

I am speaking here today with a mixture of great sadness and disappointment. My community, Sudbury, and the whole of northern Ontario have been in a state of shock since this past February 1, after Laurentian University announced its insolvency and commenced court-supervised restructuring proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. This is absolutely unprecedented for a public institution in Canada.

Out of respect for the legal process and to avoid interfering, I have not spoken about this publicly until now. However, on Monday, April 12, 2021, the university announced the results of the accounting process in a cold and inhumane manner. Some 28 French-language programs have been cut. More than 100 professors and instructors lost their jobs, with some women even being deprived of their maternity leaves, and many pensions could be drastically reduced. Students, professors, staff and the entire northern Ontario community are facing an immeasurable loss.

Laurentian University is the largest and oldest university in northern Ontario. The university’s bilingual designation and tricultural mandate of offering programs in English, French and Indigenous languages make it a key pillar of the economy in northern Ontario and vital to ensuring the quality of life in that region.

This situation has shaken my community, but it may just be the first to experience such a loss, now that this dangerous precedent has been set. We know that Laurentian University is not the only university in financial straits. It would be utterly devastating if other public institutions, perhaps in your regions of the country, were to go the same route to protect themselves from creditors. This situation is unprecedented.

This is an emergency for everyone, and the other place reacted strongly and quickly. The day after Laurentian University announced the cuts, a motion to support the Franco-Ontarian community and to recall the essential role of higher education in French for the vitality of Franco-Canadian and Acadian communities was unanimously adopted. That was followed by a four-hour emergency debate the next evening, on April 14. The Government of Quebec also showed solidarity by adopting a unanimous motion to protest the cuts at Laurentian University.

Northern Ontario’s francophone minority community depends on Laurentian University for its vitality, its support and its future. Honourable senators, I urge you to support this community, which is once again being forced to stand up for its constitutional and quasi-constitutional rights.

Thank you. Meegwetch.

[English]

National Soil Conservation Week

Hon. Robert Black: Honourable senators, I have risen on a number of occasions in this chamber and in the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry to speak on the importance of soil health. Today I would like to highlight National Soil Conservation Week, which began on Sunday, April 18.

Each year, the Soil Conservation Council of Canada, or SCCC, leads National Soil Conservation Week during the third week of April. This week-long event is a perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of soil health and soil science to Canada’s economy, environment and future.

As a long-standing member of Ontario’s agricultural community, I know just how important the health of soils is. In fact, since becoming a senator in 2018, I have consistently been meeting with soil health stakeholders, including farmers, scientists and other agri-business owners.

As you may know, at the end of last year, I shared my proposal for a soil health study at our Agriculture and Forestry Committee. I am hopeful that this study will connect with Canadians from all walks of life by introducing soil health through a variety of lenses, including that of food security, environmental conservation and carbon sequestration.

We know that soil is not a renewable resource and we don’t have much time left to save our soil — some experts say less than fifty years. Additionally, the annual cost of soil degradation in Canada is estimated at over $3 billion, and this will only increase if nothing is done.

The SCCC’s website highlights their 2021 goals, which include increasing the quality, quantity and access to soil health and conservation information available to producers and agricultural professionals in Canada.

I would like to thank the Soil Conservation Council of Canada for their continued dedication to making soil as important to all Canadians as air and water are now. I am grateful to the team at the SCCC, as well as to the other environmental organizations, agricultural stakeholders and other invested Canadians who are working tirelessly to continue learning about the role of soil and the impact soil health has on our nation.

Honourable colleagues, it has been 37 years since the Senate last completed a study on soil health, and in the decades that have passed since that report came out, the Canadian landscape has changed. In fact, it was the very same study 37 years ago that recommended the creation of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada, and all these years later they are still working hard to protect our soil. From my perspective, it is high time that we work to update our knowledge on this important matter. The future of this country — and inevitably of the world — is intrinsically linked to the health of our ecosystem, which in itself hinges on soil health.

The time is now to dig in and get our hands dirty. Thank you, meegwetch.

The Late Donald Creighton Rae Sobey, O.C.

Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, Canada lost a treasure with the passing of Donald Sobey on March 24. A distinguished businessman, this son of the Sobeys founder was the long-time president and, later, chair of the parent company. Don was also a truly generous philanthropist to the arts, to education, research and community. His reach was national in both business and the arts. I had the great privilege of serving on the board of directors of the National Gallery of Canada while Don Sobey was its chair, a post he held from 2002 to 2008. Art and culture were at the core of his values.

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His art knowledge was deep. His love of the developing collection, exhibitions and particularly the work of young artists was palpable. His leadership and management skills were equally evident as he was ever prescient about the whole institution — its people, programs, building and financial health. He was instrumental in acquiring works by the inaugural Sobey Art Award winner Brian Jungen, painter Peter Doig, and sculptor Louise Bourgeois, and public works like Michel de Broin’s sculpture Majestic and Joe Fafard’s Running Horses.

The Bourgeois and Fafard are outside the National Gallery for all to see. Don Sobey’s was a warm and firm hand and a truly gentle soul.

Don started the all-important annual Sobey awards in 2002 for young contemporary artists, awards that have launched many artists’ careers since. Given COVID, he spread last year’s award equally among all the finalists. This year, the award has been extended beyond its initial 40-year-old age limit to embrace all emerging artists, and the prize has increased in value to more than $400,000, “making it the largest purse of any international art prize” as reported by The Art Newspaper.

It was a real treat to be in the Sobeys’ home and see their private collection. I will always remember the individual works and how they were hung — stunning. His eye was impeccable. We talked art, his acquisitions and the international exhibitions he saw, frequently sharing thoughts of London’s exhibitions, particularly Peter Doig’s.

Research, education and community were key to Don, too, Dalhousie, Queen’s, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia being only a few institutions to benefit from his wisdom, philanthropy and interest. On behalf of artists and organizations across Canada, I extend my sincere condolences to his wife, Beth, and to his family. Those smiling, insightful eyes and his genuine interest in the creative and natural world around him will be much missed. Thank you.

Ramadan

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to you about Ramadan. As I woke early this morning to prepare for the day of fasting, I felt connected to all fellow Muslims in Canada and around the world that I knew were going through the same act. That connection brought with it a feeling of kinship that erased many of the feelings of distance and isolation that the pandemic has created.

As many of you know, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which involves an absolute fast, began a week ago. Muslims refrain from food and all drinks, including water, from dawn to dusk — about 15 hours in most of Canada. More than food, we also refrain from anger, dishonesty and gossiping. It is a time to be extra mindful of our prayers and charity, and those who are unable to fast are encouraged to give the equivalent of what would be spent on food for a month to those in need.

Fasting helps you purify your body. It renews your faith and allows you to seek forgiveness. It increases your discipline by controlling desires. It also brings forth in you greater compassion for those in need. Each day of fasting, feeling a hunger and thirst with the knowledge that it will end at sunset, deepens the empathy you feel for those whose hunger is not by choice and knows no end.

For me on a personal level, when I fast, I find a calmness envelops me. My senses feel heightened. I am so aware of my body that I feel able to hear my heartbeat. I remember as a child that Ramadan would be such a joyous occasion. Getting up in the middle of the night to share a meal with family and friends and preparing feasts for sunset was something we all looked forward to.

There is a certain closeness and joy that comes with sharing whatever food you have. It’s not uncommon for total strangers to reach out. Unfortunately, this is the second time we must celebrate Ramadan virtually, an experience shared with many religions this year with the prayer that the next year will be different.

Still, we find ways to come together in celebration. I experienced my first ever virtual breaking of the fast last week, hosted by the Honourable Erin O’Toole. When once again we gather with friends and family to break fast, we stand united in prayers. This Ramadan, as most of us continue to struggle both individually and as a community and a country, I am reminded of God’s words in the Quran: “Indeed, after hardship there is ease.” Thank you, and Ramadan Mubarak.

Anti-Asian Racism

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to address the issue of increasing racism and, as a result, assaults against Asian Canadians across Canada and the world.

Just over one month ago in Atlanta, Georgia, a shooter rampaged at three separate massage parlours. This gruesome violence led to eight women losing their lives, six of whom were Asians.

In our country, a first-of-its-kind report titled A Year of Racist Attacks: Anti-Asian Racism Across Canada One Year into the Pandemic was released by several advocacy groups. The report examined more than 1,000 incidents of racism, and it’s truly heartbreaking that such hatred exists in our country.

Many of the attacks were against the elderly and children 18 years and younger. One in five attacks occurred in restaurants and grocery stores. These are places everyone should be safe to go to.

Shamefully, anti-Asian attacks also occurred on academic campuses, in government and professional offices and even in people’s places of worship.

Kennes Lin, co-chair of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, reminds us to:

 . . . remember this is only a snapshot of the anti-Asian racism happening in Canada, and across the world right at this moment.

Honourable senators, these next figures should upset all of us. In my home province of British Columbia, 43% of Asians reported having endured anti-Asian racism, and a staggering 87% believe that racism against them has gotten worse during the pandemic. Still, I am very proud that in spite of this mounting hatred, our great community in British Columbia remains strong. I was very moved at the end of March when I saw hundreds of people from different walks of life take to the city streets in my home of Vancouver and stand against anti-Asian racism.

This unity in the face of pain reminds us that here in Canada we have more compassionate and caring people, and together we can and will stamp out all acts of racism against all people.

Honourable senators, I stand here very proud that in our great institution none of us will ever accept any act of racism against any person, whether it is in Canada or around the world. Thank you.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Budget 2021

Documents Tabled

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the budget 2021 entitled: Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience.

[Translation]

Judges Act
Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Fifth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Presented

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its

FIFTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, February 11, 2021, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment but with certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

MOBINA S. B. JAFFER

Chair

(For text of observations, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 447.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Dalphond, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[English]

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Audit and Oversight

Third Report of Committee Adopted

Hon. David M. Wells, Chair of the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight, presented the following report:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Thursday, December 3, 2020, to consider and report on issues relating to the nomination of its external members to the Senate, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

DAVID M. WELLS

Chair

(For text of budget, see today’s Journals of the Senate, Appendix A, p. 466.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

Hon. David M. Wells: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(f), I move that the report be adopted now.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators

Second Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Judith G. Seidman, Chair of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators, presented the following report:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, which is responsible on its own initiative for all matters relating to the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators (the Code), pursuant to rule 12-7(16) of the Rules of the Senate, has undertaken a study regarding amendments to the Code in relation to the Senate Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy and presents herewith an interim report.

Respectfully submitted,

JUDITH G. SEIDMAN

Chair

(For text of report, see today’s Journals of the Senate, Appendix B, p. 472.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

(On motion of Senator Seidman, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[Translation]

Parliament of Canada Act

Bill to Amend—Second Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Presented

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-205, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Visual Artist Laureate), has, in obedience to the order of reference of Tuesday, March 16, 2021, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment but with certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

CHANTAL PETITCLERC

Chair

(For text of observations, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 450.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Bovey, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

Kindness Week Bill

Third Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Presented

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-223, An Act respecting Kindness Week, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, March 17, 2021, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment but with certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

CHANTAL PETITCLERC

Chair

(For text of observations, see today’s Journals of the Senate, p. 451.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Munson, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[English]

Criminal Code
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Bill to Amend—Second Report of Human Rights Committee Presented

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, presented the following report:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-204, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), has, in obedience to the order of reference of March 16, 2021, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

SALMA ATAULLAHJAN

Chair

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Ataullahjan, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[Translation]

Adjournment

Notice of Motion

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I give notice that, later this day, I will move:

That, when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, May 4, 2021, at 2 p.m.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Budget 2021

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the budget entitled Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience, tabled in the House of Commons on April 19, 2021, by the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., and in the Senate on April 20, 2021.

[English]

Economic Statement Implementation Bill, 2020

First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures.

(Bill read first time.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-6(1)(f), I move that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading later this day.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Gold, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading later this day.)

(1500)

Human Rights

Study on Issues Related to its Mandate—Committee Authorized to Refer Papers and Evidence from the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(a), I move:

That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights during the First Session of the Forty-second Parliament as part of its study of issues related to human rights and, inter alia, the machinery of government dealing with Canada’s international and national human rights obligations, as well as its study of issues relating to the human rights of prisoners in the correctional system, be referred to the committee for the purposes of its work as authorized by the Senate on March 30, 2021.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

[Translation]

The Senate

Notice of Motion Concerning the Closure of Programs at Laurentian University

Hon. Josée Forest-Niesing: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Senate:

1.express its concern about the closure at Laurentian University in Sudbury, of 58 undergraduate programs and 11 graduate programs, including 28 French-language programs, representing 58% of its French-language programs, and the dismissal of 110 professors, nearly half of whom are French speaking;

2.reiterate its solidarity with the Franco-Ontarian community;

3.recall the essential role of higher education in French for the vitality of the Franco-Canadian and Acadian communities and the responsibility to defend and promote linguistic rights, as expressed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Official Languages Act; and

4.urge the government of Canada to take all necessary steps, in accordance with its jurisdiction, to ensure the vitality and development of official language minority communities.


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

Health

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate.

Leader, on the weekend the Trudeau government offered Ontario more health-care workers and rapid tests as the province deals with a devastating third wave of COVID-19, but they had absolutely nothing to say about providing Ontario what it desperately needs — more vaccines.

Leader, this is without a doubt Justin Trudeau’s third wave. The Prime Minister and his government failed to get enough vaccines for Canadians, and this Trudeau third wave is the result: more lockdowns, more sickness and more lives lost. Leader, Canada is getting about 1 million Pfizer doses this week — that’s it. Where are the vaccines Ontario, and indeed all Canadians, need now? Not next month, not in two or three months, but right now?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question.

The government understands the frustration that many Canadians feel as they await their turn to get their vaccines. The fact remains, however, that the Government of Canada has secured the highest number of doses per capita of any country in the world, and the most diverse portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines as well.

As the Minister of Public Services and Procurement said yesterday, Canada ranks second amongst the G20 countries in the number of vaccine doses administered per 100 people, second only to the United States. Canada has done so thanks to the collaboration and cooperation of the provincial and territorial governments upon whose shoulders and in whose constitutional responsibility the distribution and administration of vaccine lies.

Senator Plett: Only the Liberal government could see a silver lining in what is happening here. Leader, the provinces are completely dependent on the vaccine that you have given them. Leader, this was your job and your government’s job, and your government blew it.

As of yesterday, every American over the age of 16 can get vaccinated in the United States. Canada can’t say that. In fact, if you want to compare us to the United States, we have more COVID-19 cases per capita than the U.S. The Trudeau government failed for months and now you’re trying to blame the provinces. It’s shameful.

There are no shipments of Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson coming this week. Zero. This is a failure on top of failure during the Trudeau third wave. In recent days, we’ve seen vaccination clinics close and tens of thousands of appointments cancelled due to a lack of supply. How much more of this will Canadians have to endure, leader?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. The only one that is blaming a level of government in this exchange is the Honourable Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. My remarks were clear that the federal government is working in collaboration with the provinces and territories, who are doing their very best within their responsibilities to vaccinate as many of their citizens as possible according to the priorities that they set for themselves.

I remind senators that the government has delivered over 10 million vaccines to provinces and territories, with millions more arriving in the months to come. The government has also provided hundreds of millions of dollars to the provinces and territories to help them strengthen their vaccine distribution systems.

The fact remains that Canadians are being vaccinated with increasing numbers and frequency and the Government of Canada is pleased to be playing that role in helping to keep Canadians safe.

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader. I notice that your answer to the questions of the Leader of the Opposition regarding vaccines has the key words that are the constant talking points of the Liberal Party, which are “vaccines are coming.” But the reality, Senator Gold, is they have not come and have not been arriving.

(1510)

Last week we saw Prime Minister Trudeau, all smiles, once again announcing the procurement of yet more vaccines. He keeps making these announcements, but the truth of the matter is, government leader, regardless of how many times the Prime Minister gets in front of cameras and we keep getting reassured that vaccines are coming, Canadians are nowhere near close to being fully vaccinated. Only 2.1% of Canadians have had both doses, as per the manufacturer’s protocol and Health Canada’s approvals. We see what a disaster it is in Ontario, a province that was bullied into changing its dosing protocol after being disingenuously accused of hoarding vaccines by your government.

Senator Gold, enough with the theatrics, enough with the talking points and enough with the promises of vaccines that are coming. We need an answer to these questions: When will Canadians be fully vaccinated? By what date? Can you give us a date when Canadians can expect to be fully vaccinated with the two doses, government leader?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator Housakos, I’m glad that you reached a question at the end of your comments. I will not answer every one of your assertions, simply to say that the Government of Canada’s ongoing dialogue and conversation with the Canadian people is a reflection of this government’s commitment to provide fair, accurate and honest information to Canadians through this difficult time.

However facile it might be to demand quick answers, as this chamber knows and as Canadians understand well, Canada has secured a large number of vaccines from a disparate and diverse set of suppliers. There have been supply problems in the past, and there may again be ones in the future, but this government has been clear with Canadians as to what to expect.

Canadians are on track to receive 44 million doses by the end of June. In my province and yours indeed, Senator Housakos, 27% of Quebec residents have already received their first dose. Once again, we lag only behind the United States — which has a large domestic manufacturing capacity that we do not — in number of doses administered per 100 citizens.

Senator Housakos: Senator Gold, Canadians don’t want their government to be in dialogue with them regarding vaccines. They want their vaccines now. They wanted them yesterday. We can’t afford to keep waiting with the promises of vaccines that are coming.

Senator Gold, last week, in response to the Ford government saying it had a supply problem, not a capacity problem, with vaccines, your member of Parliament from the other House, Mark Gerretsen, took to Twitter to blatantly lie to Canadians by saying there were plenty of supply vaccines when there really isn’t.

Today, when asked why flights from hot spots like Brazil and India aren’t being grounded, your leader, the Prime Minister himself, blatantly lied when he responded that Canada has the toughest border measures in the world.

Senator Gold, your government lies about vaccine procurement and supply, and lies about the measures at the border. My question is simple: Can you tell me something your government doesn’t lie about in regard to this vaccine rollout?

Senator Gold: Senator Housakos, you are posing the kind of question about which very bad jokes are often made. This government is not lying to Canadians. It’s sharing with them the information that it has, so they can understand what we are dealing with in this global pandemic. It is facile and misleading to Canadians to suggest otherwise.

Finance

Budget 2021

Hon. Rosemary Moodie: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative.

Senator Gold, yesterday the Minister of Finance introduced a budget that would substantially transform our social infrastructure if these measures were to pass. Beyond child care, which I fully support, there are hundreds of millions of dollars set aside for Black Canadians. But one concern raised by many Black Canadians is that the federal public service, which will manage these funds and work with these communities to get them their money, has a very poor understanding of Black communities, of their needs and how to work with them.

This is supported by the soon-to-be-released survey led by our colleague Senator Colin Deacon, in which Black entrepreneurs say that they have little confidence in applying for funding through banks and other financial institutions with which they have had negative experiences; the very same institutions that are being tasked, in the past and now, to lead the distribution of funding.

Senator Gold, what is the government’s plan to shore up the capacity of the federal public service to make sure the money promised in this budget makes it to the individuals, businesses and non-profits that need it most?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, senator. The measures in the budget are designed to help Canadians in all sectors and in many ways, so thank you for your acknowledgement of the important elements regarding child care. Of course, there are many others, and the budget contains important measures to help small businesses get through and rebound with strength as we transition towards a recovery.

The public service is mindful of the importance of being attuned to the needs of disparate communities in Canada, and I can assure this chamber that it is working diligently to make sure that its programs are effective and deliver the goods to those communities and those businesses most in need.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Moodie, do you wish to ask a supplementary question?

Senator Moodie: Thank you. No supplementary question at this time.

Foreign Affairs

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Honourable senators, my question is to the Government Representative in the Senate.

In 2020, for the first time, Canada had the dubious distinction to be named by the UN group of eminent international and regional experts on Yemen as one of the countries “perpetuating the conflict” in Yemen by selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

Last month, Canada, to its credit, announced almost $70 million in humanitarian aid to support Yemenis during this brutal war, but Canada has also been making deals to sell weapons and military equipment worth over four times that to countries attacking the people of Yemen, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Senator Gold, you will recall that Canada acceded to the UN Arms Trade Treaty in 2019, and under Article 11, Canada is obligated to take measures to prevent diversion of its arms exports to third countries. Canada’s Export and Import Permits Act stipulates that Canadian military equipment can be exported only when there is no reasonable risk of use against civilians.

Senator Gold, my questions to the government are: Given that Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau is on the record saying he will deny any permit application where there is a risk of human rights violations and that human rights considerations are now at the centre of Canada’s export regime, and given that a number of reputable sources have identified evidence linking Canadian exports of military equipment to human rights violations by the Government of Saudi Arabia, why has Canada refused to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia in accordance with the UN Arms Trade Treaty and the Canadian Export and Import Permits Act?

Isn’t Canada’s failure to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia — as Italy, Spain, Germany and most recently the U.S. have — a violation of international —

Senator Plett: Question!

Senator McPhedran: — and domestic law and a contradiction of Canada’s commitment to humanitarian aid and human rights?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator, thank you for your question and for raising the very troubling situation in Yemen. The government remains deeply concerned about the situation in Yemen and continues to support a political solution as the only reasonable way to end the ongoing conflict.

(1520)

Senator and colleagues, Canada has one the most stringent export control systems in the world and has entrenched the concern for human rights in our export controls legislation. I have been advised that the government will deny any permit application where there is a substantial risk of human rights violations.

With regard to your question on international law, the government remains committed to a stronger and more rigorous arms export system, and that’s why the government acceded to the Arms Trade Treaty in the last Parliament. The government’s position is that it is in compliance with its international obligations.

Budget 2021

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Last month the chief of the UN World Food Programme projected that more than 2 million Yemeni children under 5 face acute malnutrition right now, and it is estimated that a child dies every 10 minutes due to the blockade in Yemen. Does the budget released yesterday contain any provision to help the children?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator, I’m afraid I don’t have the answer that you requested. I have not foraged through the 700-plus pages of the document. I will certainly make inquiries and report back.

Finance

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act

Hon. Diane F. Griffin: Honourable senators, my question is for the representative of the government in the Senate. Senator Gold, in 2003, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce recommended that the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act be amended to exempt funds in a Registered Education Savings Plan from seizure in bankruptcy, provided that two conditions are met: The Registered Education Savings Plan is locked in and the contributions to the plan in the one-year period prior to bankruptcy are paid to the trustee for distribution to creditors.

RRSPs, which are Registered Retirement Savings Plans, were exempted from seizure in bankruptcy in 2009. Both RRSPs and RESPs are government-backed vehicles for financial planning, but only one is secure in the event of bankruptcy.

Does the government intend to change its policy relating to RESPs and bankruptcy?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator, for your question and for raising this important issue. The government wants to thank the committee for its ongoing and continuous valuable work throughout the years.

Indeed —

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we appear to have lost Senator Gold’s connection. May I suggest that we suspend for a couple of moments until we can fix this technical difficulty?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)

(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Griffin, did you wish to ask a supplementary question?

Senator Griffin: Yes, I do. I didn’t hear the last half or however much of Senator Gold’s answer. So can I come back and ask: Does the government intend to change its policy relating to Registered Educational Savings Plans and bankruptcy?

Senator Gold: Thank you, senator. I apologize to you and all colleagues for the glitch.

I have made inquiries to the government, thanks to having been given advance notice, but I have not yet received an answer. As soon as I do, I will report to the chamber in a timely fashion.

Justice

Bill C-22—Potential Amendments

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, my question is also for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, Bill C-22 proposes some partial repeals of mandatory minimum penalties but not in circumstances involving allegations of organized crime. The Ontario Human Rights Commission and others have documented that members of racialized communities facing particular conditions, such as economic marginalization and heavy policing, are at risk of being racially profiled and labelled as gang members or organized crime associates based on discriminatory, non-legal criteria such as tattoos, accessories, information provided by third parties, self-admission or actual association or alleged associations within social networks.

My question is: Is the government open to amending Bill C-22 to ensure it meets its objective of addressing systemic racism and mass incarceration?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and to you and other colleagues for your interest in this important bill. The government knows that systemic racism is a reality for far too many in our criminal justice system, and measures in Bill C-22 are an important step forward to addressing these systemic issues relating to existing sentencing policies.

My understanding is that the bill does, in fact, remove at least one mandatory minimum penalty for an offence related to a criminal organization under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This is a crime of possession for the purposes of trafficking. With regard to the handful of Criminal Code mandatory minimum penalties for offences relating to a criminal organization, such as possession of an explosive, discharging a firearm and certain aggravated sexual assaults, the government appreciates that rooting out systemic racism and discrimination cannot be accomplished with one measure. Bill C-22 is part of a broader initiative aimed at creating a fair and more just criminal justice system for all Canadians.

(1530)

The Hon. the Speaker: Before going to Senator Ataullahjan, I want to inform senators that Senator Plett was right. I was late stopping my clock, so we will be adding an extra 30 seconds to the time for Question Period.

Health

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate.

Senator Gold, as an Ontario senator living in Toronto, I have been receiving distressing messages from Ontarians concerned about the vaccine shortage in the province. Given that our vaccine supply is still unreliable and that roughly 10,000 booked appointments were cancelled in Scarborough alone — as a result, disproportionately affecting racialized and lower-income Canadians — when will the Prime Minister take the tough decisions for the good of the people and offer to deploy the Canadian Red Cross to help with Ontario’s vaccination efforts? It is pointless if there are no vaccines for them to administer.

Just this morning we heard, as the province is running short of AstraZeneca, that there might be a delay in supplying AstraZeneca, too.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. I won’t repeat everything I said in response to earlier questions. The federal government is doing what it can and working with other provinces and areas within its own jurisdiction to provide as much assistance as possible to all residents finding themselves in difficult situations but, in particular, in the province of Ontario. Requests have been made to other provinces to see how they can assist. Many provinces have stepped up with offers to share medical personnel, which is one of the challenges that many jurisdictions are facing, but each province has a responsibility to its own residents and citizens. To date, I don’t believe there has been any redistribution of the vaccines that have been allocated to the provinces.

Senator Ataullahjan: Senator Gold, Ontario is in a dire situation. You talk about redistribution and responsibility. There are no vaccines to administer. We’re hearing of doctors that are facing the reality of critical care triage. It’s very scary being in Ontario. Ontarians’ desire to be vaccinated is so strong that residents armed with lawn chairs and umbrellas line up outside clinics hours before they open, waiting to be inoculated. Hundreds have resorted to camping outside pop-up clinics just to get their name on a list to receive a vaccine. With growing delays in vaccine shipments to the province, the time for talk is over. This is the time for leadership, Senator Gold.

How will the federal government prevent Ontario from reaching over 18,000 cases per day by late May?

Senator Gold: Senator, thank you for your question. The Government of Canada and I, personally, are very preoccupied with the situation in Ontario. Ontario is the province in which my children were born and in which I lived happily for many, many years. The Government of Canada is doing everything that it can to secure as many vaccines as possible and to provide as much assistance as possible to Ontario for the benefit of its residents.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): Senator Gold, in answer to Senator Housakos’s question, you said the government does not lie. Over a year after the pandemic began, the Trudeau third wave is at the most dangerous point for Canada. Yet, Senator Gold, the Minister of Finance recently said that COVID-19 has created — hear this — “a window of political opportunity.” Over 23,000 Canadians are dead, and there are around 8,000 new cases every day. Hospital intensive care units across several provinces are stretched to capacity. Millions of children are out of school. Small businesses are barely hanging on. And the Trudeau government thinks this is a political opportunity?

Leader, if your government had secured a better supply of vaccines, we could have stayed ahead of the variants, but you didn’t. Now they’ve taken hold. How can the Trudeau government have failed Canadians so badly?

Senator Gold: Honourable senators, the Government of Canada has not failed Canadians. It is serving Canadians, and serving them well.

The statement of the Minister of Finance was in the context of a discussion with former minister — Dryden, I believe — and it was in the context of the issue of child care. The minister was saying what we in this chamber know: That the importance of access to early and affordable child care and education has been on the public radar for some 50 years — since the Royal Commission first recommended it.

It was this pandemic, tragically, that exposed the gaps and flaws and structural problems in our society that have affected so many groups, women, their children, racialized Canadians and others. It was in this context that the minister was speaking about the opportunity, finally, to address an important measure set out in the budget to provide Canadians, women and their families an opportunity to participate fully in the workforce to the benefit of our economy and our social fabric.

Senator Plett: Thank you, leader. “COVID has created a window of political opportunity.” You cannot twist that. It’s impossible.

The Trudeau government failure on vaccines is being noticed internationally. In a report last week, CNN said Canada’s poor vaccine rollout is a real failure by the Trudeau government, leader.

The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. updated their guidance to warn that even fully vaccinated travellers to Canada may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants. Japan has tightened its border controls for people arriving from Ontario, leader. They are trying to protect their citizens against Canadians, leader.

This is what your government has done. The Trudeau government’s vaccine rollout has been a disaster for Canadians and an international embarrassment. Leader, please don’t twist this. How is this a political opportunity?

Senator Gold: Senator Plett, I am not going to repeat what I just said. You are entitled to take that statement and put it in the context that you choose; it’s a free country. But, as I explained, the comment that the minister made was in response to and part of a conversation that was very specifically focused on the need for better access to child care. In all other respects, I’m afraid that I cannot share the premise of your comment.


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ORDERS OF THE DAY

Medical Assistance in Dying

Appointment of Special Joint Committee—Message from Commons

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that a message has been received from the House of Commons which reads as follows:

Friday, April 16, 2021

EXTRACT, — MOTIONS

By unanimous consent, it was ordered, — That,

(a) pursuant to subsection 5(1) of An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), a special joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons be appointed to review the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to medical assistance in dying and their application, including but not limited to issues relating to mature minors, advance requests, mental illness, the state of palliative care in Canada and the protection of Canadians with disabilities;

(b) pursuant to subsection 5(2) of the act, five members of the Senate and 10 members of the House of Commons be members of the committee, including five members of the House of Commons from the governing party, three members of the House of Commons from the official opposition, and two members of the House of Commons from the opposition who are not members of the official opposition, with two Chairs of which the House Co-Chair shall be from the governing party and the Senate Co-Chair shall be determined by the Senate;

(c) in addition to the Co-Chairs, the committee shall elect three vice-chairs from the House, of whom the first vice-chair shall be from the Conservative Party of Canada, the second vice-chair shall be from the Bloc Québécois, and the third vice-chair shall be from the New Democratic Party;

(d) pursuant to subsection 5(3) of the act, the quorum of the committee be eight members whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses and one member of the governing party in the House, one from the opposition in the House and one member of the Senate are represented, and that the Joint Chairs be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, whenever six members are present, so long as both Houses and one member of the governing party in the House, one member from the opposition in the House and one member of the Senate are represented;

(e) the House of Commons members be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than five sitting days after the adoption of this motion;

(f) changes to the membership of the committee, on the part of the House of Commons, be effective immediately after notification by the relevant whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House;

(g) membership substitutions, on the part of the House of Commons, be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2) and that they may be filed with the clerk of the committee by email;

(h) until Wednesday, June 23, 2021, members may participate either in person or by videoconference and witnesses shall participate remotely;

(i) until Wednesday, June 23, 2021, members who participate remotely shall be counted for the purpose of quorum;

(j) until Wednesday, June 23, 2021, except for those decided unanimously or on division, all questions shall be decided by a recorded vote;

(k) until Wednesday, June 23, 2021, when more than one motion is proposed for the election of the House Joint Chair or Vice-Chairs, any motion received after the initial one shall be taken as a notice of motion and such motions shall be put to the committee seriatim until one is adopted;

(l) the committee have the power to sit during sittings and adjournments of the House;

(m) the committee have the power to report from time to time, to send for persons, papers and records, and to print such papers and evidence as may be ordered by the committee;

(n) the committee have the power to retain the services of expert, professional, technical and clerical staff, including legal counsel;

(o) the committee have the power to appoint, from among its members such subcommittees as may be deemed appropriate and to delegate to such subcommittees, all or any of its powers, except the power to report to the Senate and House of Commons;

(p) the committee have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings and that public proceedings be made available to the public via the Parliament of Canada’s websites;

(q) until Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in camera proceedings may be conducted in a manner that take into account the potential risks to confidentiality inherent in meetings with remote participants;

(r) pursuant to subsection 5(5) of the act, the committee submit a final report of its review, including a statement of any recommended changes, to Parliament no later than one year after the day on which it commenced the review; and

(s) pursuant to subsection 5(6) of the act, following the tabling of the final report in both Houses, the committee shall expire; and

that a message be sent to the Senate requesting that House to unite with this House for the above purpose and to select, if the Senate deems advisable, members to act on the proposed special joint committee.

ATTEST

Charles Robert

The Clerk of the House of Commons

The Senate

Motion to Strike Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying Adopted

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:

That, pursuant to subsection 5(1) of An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), S.C. 2021, c. 2, a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons be appointed to review the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to medical assistance in dying and their application, including but not limited to issues relating to mature minors, advance requests, mental illness, the state of palliative care in Canada and the protection of Canadians with disabilities;

That, pursuant to subsection 5(2) of the Act, five members of the Senate and ten members of the House of Commons be members of the committee, with two chairs of which the House Joint Chair shall be from the governing party and the Senate Joint Chair shall be determined pursuant to rule 12-13(1) of the Rules of the Senate;

That, in addition to the joint chairs, there be one deputy chair from the Senate and three vice-chairs from the House;

That the five senators to be members of the committee be named after consultations and agreement between the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the leader or facilitator of any other recognized party or recognized parliamentary group in the Senate, by means of a notice signed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the leader or facilitator of any other recognized party or recognized parliamentary group in the Senate, and filed with the Clerk of the Senate no later than the end of the day on April 23, 2021, with the names of the senators named as members being recorded in the Journals of the Senate;

That, pursuant to subsection 5(3) of the Act, the quorum of the committee be eight members whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and that one member of the governing party in the House, one member from the opposition in the House and one member of the Senate are present;

That the Joint Chairs be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the publication thereof, whenever six members are present, so long as both Houses are represented and that one member of the governing party in the House, one member from the opposition in the House and one member of the Senate are present;

That, notwithstanding any provisions of the Rules, previous orders or usual practice, and taking into account the exceptional circumstances of the current pandemic of COVID-19, until the end of the day on June 23, 2021:

1.the committee be authorized to hold hybrid meetings or meetings entirely by videoconference;

2.such meetings be considered, for all purposes, to be meetings of the committee, and senators taking part in such meetings be considered, for all purposes, to be present at the meeting;

3.that for greater certainty, when the committee holds a hybrid meeting or meets entirely by videoconference:

(a)all members of the committee participating count towards quorum;

(b)such meetings be considered to be occurring in the parliamentary precinct; and

(c)the committee be directed to approach in camera meetings with all necessary precaution, taking account of the risks to confidentiality inherent in such technologies; and

4.subject to variations that may be required by the circumstances, to participate in a hybrid meeting or a meeting entirely by videoconference senators must:

(a)use a desktop or laptop computer and headphones with integrated microphone provided by one or the other house for videoconferences;

(b)not use other devices such as personal tablets or smartphones;

(c)be the only people visible on the videoconference;

(d)have their video on and broadcasting their image at all times; and

(e)leave the videoconference if they leave their seat;

That the committee have the power to sit during sittings and adjournments of the Senate;

That the committee have the power to report from time to time, to send for persons, papers and records, and to publish such papers and evidence as may be ordered by the committee;

That the committee have the power to retain the services of expert, professional, technical and clerical staff, including legal counsel;

That the committee have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all its proceedings and that public proceedings be made available to the public via the Parliament of Canada’s websites;

That, pursuant to subsection 5(5) of the Act, the committee submit a final report of its review, including a statement of any recommended changes, to Parliament no later than one year after the day on which it commenced the review;

That, pursuant to subsection 5(6) of the Act, following the tabling of the final report in both Houses, the committee shall expire; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that house accordingly.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

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Economic Statement Implementation Bill, 2020

Second Reading

Hon. Frances Lankin moved second reading of Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures.

She said: Honourable senators, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to present this bill. I intend to fashion myself after former Senator Baker, only because we’re all very concerned, of course, about the exposure of multiple numbers of staff within the Senate precinct in order to support our sitting. Although most of us are virtual, they are there and present. I know the Speaker and leaders of various groups within the Senate have expressed a desire that we move quickly.

To your relief, I have discarded the very long and most eloquent speech that I prepared for this, and I intend to run through the bill. I see Senator Griffin applauding that I have abandoned my speech.

I intend to go through the highlights of the bill. It’s a very straightforward bill. There are essentially seven or eight policy goals that are set out in the bill and my intent is to go through them. If there are technical questions, I will do my best to answer or we can hopefully count on the fact that if we pass second reading today, and if we pass referring it to the Finance Committee, the minister and her officials will have the opportunity to answer more detailed questions at that time.

In a number of clauses, the bill sets out the commitment that was made in the November 30 Fall Economic Statement. In fact, the bill is entitled An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures. Part 1 of the bill is an amendment to the Income Tax Act and the Children’s Special Allowances Act.

As we all know, and dealing with families in our own communities and in our own regions that we represent and people we talk to and connect with, there are many families who have faced a lot of uncertainty and a lot of financial burdens. Certainly the uncertainty around whether schools are in session or virtual sessions only, the opening or closing of child care centres — and this has been, of course, dictated at the provincial level where the responsibility for operations and delivery of these programs is designed — it has often meant additional costs for Canadians with families.

This provision will amend the Income Tax Act, and it would provide temporary support this year — totalling up to $1,200 in 2021 — for each child under the age of 6 for families who are, firstly, entitled to the child benefit and then, secondly, who have children under the age of 6, and then thirdly, the amount they will receive, up to $1,200, will depend on the family income. All of the eligibility, gradations and the entitlements remain under the existing child benefit program, but for those whose family income is below $120,000 a year, they would receive four instalments of $300 each, which would total the $1,200 over this 2021.

For those families whose family income is above $120,000, that amount for children under the age of 6 would be cut in half. It will be, in fact, $150 a month and so exactly half, and that would total up to $600 a year for those families.

These provisions will be paid out on a quarterly basis. As I mentioned, the Fall Economic Statement was in November, and at the beginning of January the bill was introduced into the House of Commons. It sets out that the first quarterly payment will be for those who would have been eligible in January of this year, and it is indicated in the bill that the payment will be paid out as soon as this bill receives Royal Assent. The second quarterly payment will be in April, and so that would be available by the time this bill is passed and has Royal Assent if that occurs, then the next two quarters, the last one being in October.

Therefore it’s a very important provision. These are temporary. It is in addition to the $300 top-up that was given last year, and when I was reviewing this I was thinking this is very helpful but, of course, the larger problem is accessibility to quality child care. Also, I note from yesterday’s announcement in the budget — and we’ll have to wait to see how that program becomes designed in discussions with provinces and territories — we have that broad outline of how it will be implemented, so the amount for this year, and that will be augmented and enhanced in terms of supports to families with children to be implemented following the budget bill, estimates and supplementary estimates.

The second provision of Part 1 of this bill is with respect to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which is a rent subsidy to help businesses, charities and not-for-profits that are experiencing a sizeable drop in revenue, and the criteria was set out last fall, allowing them to claim for a relief provision from the government on the expenses they have paid.

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It quickly became clear that for a lot of organizations, in particular for small businesses but for some parts of the charitable and not-for-profit sector as well, it was impossible to have the necessary cash flow to pay the rent and then claim the expense.

The government has announced that they will allow the due date for the payment of rent to be the applicable date for the subsidy to be transferred. In other words, it will be provided in advance of the rent being paid. The rent has to be paid within 60 days. There are auditing procedures to keep the integrity of the program, but based on the fact that rent is due, that expense will be covered.

You can imagine the importance of this. We heard not just from individual organizations and businesses but also from major business lobby associations and advocacy associations. This was clearly what was asked for and the government responded and included it in the economic statement and in this bill.

Parts 2, 3, and 4 of this bill have the same provisions, just applied to different acts. This is with respect to interest relief on student loans. The three pieces of legislation covered in Parts 2, 3, and 4 are the Canada Student Loans Act and its predecessor legislation, which is under a different name and which is why there are two provisions, and the Apprentice Loans Act.

This measure will allow for the elimination of Canadian student loans interest for the period of this year; no interest will accrue and no payment of interest will be required. This is important. In the government’s statement, they referred to the challenges that students have faced. With fewer summer jobs and internships available, and new lockdown orders, student loans have become a difficult financial burden for students. On top of other relief the government has distributed, and enhancements it has spoken about with respect to summer jobs and internship programs, it is looking to provide students with relief.

Those three sections are the same exact amendment to the three governing pieces of legislation for Canada student loans and apprenticeship loans.

Part 5 of the bill is a regulation-making power. It amends the Food and Drugs Act and authorizes the Governor-in-Council retroactive to October 2 of last year to make regulations requiring persons to provide information to the Minister of Health about food, drugs, cosmetics, devices or activities related to these products. This is to protect, prevent and then address, if not prevented, shortages of necessary drugs in Canada.

There have been some developments that have occurred since this was introduced. For example, in December, the United States implemented a package of reforms that works with state operations and programs that would allow those entities — pharmacists, hospitals and others — to order bulk drugs imported from Canada — and from other jurisdictions, but in this case, we are concerned about Canada — and that provision caused the Government of Canada to bring forward a regulation that would allow it to stop that bulk export if in fact these are drugs that are facing critical shortage and are necessary in Canada.

This regulation-making power is exactly what we have already passed in the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act of last year. That power was put in place initially through to October of last year. The provision in Part 5 of this act would reinstitute it and make it retroactive to when that date expired.

The only regulation that has been made under that regulation power is the one I just spoke about, and it has not been used. There have been productive conversations, in this case regarding the United States, through our embassy, so it has not had to be used. The fact there could be other states that bring forward these kinds of bulk exportation provisions, or other issues that arise, indicates that the government needs the ability to make regulations that would protect the retention of drugs if a shortage appears on the horizon and is imminent.

Again, it is an extension or a revitalization of the provision that we already passed in last year’s emergency response bill.

Part 6 is further split into two parts, which are spending authorities. The first authorizes up to $206.7 million to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to regional development agencies, which include the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, and Western Economic Diversification Canada. These funds will be paid into the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, which already exists. Around $900 million was transferred into that fund last year, and the requirements of that fund had been set out in the recovery fund, and is governed and administered through the regional development agencies.

I have a couple of comments about what has been achieved by this fund top-up thus far. According to the government records, the top-up has helped 130,000 jobs and has supported more than 14,700 businesses during COVID-19, and more than 9,000 of those are clients in rural areas. Additionally, almost 6,000 of those supports have been provided to women-owned businesses. The total support in this particular fund will be more than $2 billion.

The second part of the provision in Part 6 refers to a requisition for funding from the Minister of Health. As with the regional development agencies, this a bridging effort from the time of the Fall Economic Statement through to the end of the fiscal year. Both of these departments determined they did not have sufficient cash flow or flexibility in the program allocation of their dollars to accomplish what they believed was necessary for the last two quarters of the fiscal year.

Remembering the amounts that have already been put forward, these would be supplemental. They’re in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and investments in long-term care — we heard a couple of announcements about those amounts — and would support innovative approaches to COVID-19 testing, like rapid testing, its expansion and a range of other treatment options to be further supported: virtual care and mental health tools for Canadians; medical research countermeasures; vaccine funding and developments; border and travel measures, and; funding for isolation suites, which, as we know, was a more recent announcement.

That particular list of issues will be providing $505.7 million to long-term care facilities, including funding to prevent the spread of COVID outbreaks, infections and deaths, and it will be funding support for the Wellness Together Canada portal, which connects Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals. If people want the breakdown of the amount in each of those areas, I can provide it, but again, it is for the last part of the fiscal year, so we have in fact passed that point in time.

The next section, which I believe is within section 6, is a winding down of fund provision for the CERB benefit. As you will know, the CERB benefit has come to an end. It has been wound up and replaced by the Canada Recovery Benefit.

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There are at least — and I say “at least,” because it’s still open that some claims might have been filed and might not be included in this number — 35,000 applicants whose claims have not been approved yet, or been delayed in their approval. The most common reason, and in the majority of cases, it is because there is further auditing and verification of eligibility work that is going to take place, or has been taking place. It is believed that some of these may be fraudulent complaints. A number of them will in fact be determined to be individuals who are eligible and the money will be forwarded at that point in time. However, there is a need for this provision in order to ensure that, now that the program has wound up, we have enough money within the programmatic line for CERB to wind up these other complaints.

The last section of Bill C-14, Part 7, is an increase in the maximum amount which may be borrowed by the Minister of Finance under the Borrowing Authority Act. This borrowing authority has not been increased in about four years at this point in time. Last year, again, through some of the emergency response bills and specific COVID-related expenditure bills, there have been a number of dollars allocated here. They were not dollars were initially included under the borrowing authority. Those will now be recognized, rolled in and be part of the limit for the borrowing authority, as well as predictions for dollars that are going to be required to continue to deal with and respond to COVID supports and the rollout of other program initiatives as we go forward.

The current amount proposed is $1.16 billion, and the new amount will be $1.831 billion. Some of that includes a 5% prudence amount, so that if there are unexpected expenditures that need to be made, there will be the borrowing authority for it.

I want to be clear that this is not authority to spend. This is the ceiling authority on how much the government can borrow up to. The provisions for spending authorities by Parliament will come through specific bills and/or, as we can see now, a budget that was set out yesterday, for which there will be estimates and supplementary estimates brought forward to examine the actual expenditures and authorize those expenditures. This provision under Part 7 is not an expenditure approval or authority.

The other point that I want to make on this is that for all of you who listened to the budget yesterday — although, as many have commented, it will take us time to go through the 700-plus pages of the budget — a number of the announcements we have heard or read about since will show that these provisions — almost all of them in the entire act — will be augmented, enhanced and extended through provisions in the budget. Some of these specific proposals around health expenditures, student loan forgiveness and other supports have now been announced, which may extend the period of some of these and/or may enhance them.

Last is a comment on the budget. This was from the fall economic statement. It will be overtaken in many areas, but it is still required to have the authority. For example, the administrative solution that was found to ensure that rent subsidies can be made before the actual business or organization’s rent is due, and making that retroactive to November, is a useful provision or administrative workaround that was created, but it is not sufficient for the long term. This must be embedded in legislation with parliamentary approval. That holds for a couple of other things as well.

I will not make any comments about the overall need or the desire of these provisions. I know we will have an able critic response from Senator Marshall, who is the expert on this in the Senate. I know that if the Senate chooses to pass this bill at second reading and refer it to committee, the hearings will begin quickly and the minister and her officials will be able to answer more technical questions at that time.

Honourable senators, thank you very much. I will wrap it up with that. I will say, shucks, with sponsorship this was my only opportunity to give a speech longer than 15 minutes, and I’m giving up that opportunity so we can keep things brief and respect the health of workers and others within the Senate precinct.

The Hon. the Speaker: There is a senator who wishes to ask a question. Senator Lankin, will you take a question?

Senator Lankin: Only if it is not from Senator Plett. No, I’m kidding.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition): That was not nice, Senator Lankin. You wanted to talk a little longer, so I thought I should give you the opportunity.

Senator Lankin: Thank you, sir.

Senator Plett: Senator Lankin, our caucus is very supportive. In fact, our Conservative Party is very supportive of getting financial assistance to Canadians who have been hurt financially by the pandemic. However, the Canada Child Benefit seems to be a blunt instrument for accomplishing this. It is not income-tested, will not be subject to income tax and there is no way of knowing whether the recipients of the additional payment through the Canada Child Benefit were actually negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Of the $2.4 billion that will be spent on CCB payments, an estimated $337 million will go to households making $100,000 or more per year, and over $50 million will go to families with a combined income of more than $150,000. Blunt instruments were understandable in the early parts of the pandemic but, at this point, I would have thought that the government would be a little more refined in their targeting of COVID assistance.

Now, I’m sorry that it is me asking you the question, Senator Lankin, but I do want an answer. Can you explain why your government chose to use the CCB as a means to offset the financial impact of the pandemic rather than a more precise measure to ensure that financial help goes to those who really need it?

Senator Lankin: Thank you very much, Senator Plett, for your question. You know I said that with humour, and only because I know your sense of humour and that you would not be offended.

I appreciate the question. I would first like to assure you that it is not my government. I’m working in this respect as the sponsor of the bill, which is simply to guide it through the processes and present the information as provided to me by the government. Appreciate just that distinction that, as an independent senator, I do not represent the government in any way.

Second, I think the points that you make have some validity. I looked at the chart in terms of those over $120,000 and those under $120,000 and the impact. The majority of the money goes to lower-income Canadians but, as with the Canada Child Benefit, all families have an opportunity to apply and be eligible. The eligibility criteria for this is that you must be eligible for the Canada Child Benefit.

There are provisions and mechanisms in place for how CRA implements that, assesses the eligibility and moves through CRA for those payments. This will be administered outside of that direct pool, but CRA will be the determining authority as to whether or not individuals are eligible. Of course, there are tax filings to indicate what the family income will be, judged either over or below $120,000.

Perhaps like you, I, along with others, know that the early learning and child care announcement that we have heard holds promise. We will have to see how it is developed, negotiated with the provinces and territories, and what the design looks like. But it holds great promise and I think that’s where we need to move.

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I will say that this blunt instrument, as you indicated — which was understandable in the earlier days of the pandemic — was in fact announced in the Fall Economic Statement. The fact that it has taken a few months to come to the Senate, here we are here. But the point that you reference of this being, relatively speaking, a blunt instrument, I would agree with.

Lastly, you made reference to your support for getting assistance to Canadians, and I appreciate that. That has been evident among all political parties in the House of Commons, with appropriate debate and deliberation about the actual provisions, but it has been generally supported.

In this case, the committee did entertain four amendments. Three of those amendments were ruled out of order. They were to make the interest relief on student loans permanent, and it was ruled out of order because it would have invoked the Royal Prerogative.

The last amendment moved in committee was with respect to the borrowing authority. There was controversy about whether the amount was the right amount, should it be a lot less than that or a little less than that. That amendment was defeated. There were no amendments at third reading in the House of Commons and, in fact, four out of five political parties in the House of Commons supported this bill.

Senator Plett: Thank you, Senator Lankin. You suggested I shouldn’t have taken offence at your comment. Let me ask that you not take offence at this one either: When you sponsor government legislation, you represent the government. Thank you.

Senator Lankin: I will take that as a second question — never lose the opportunity to respond. In fact, while I am presenting the bill as the sponsor in the Senate, I am not a member of the government and your direct comments were “your government,” so I take issue with that. It’s neither here nor there. We can have different opinions about that.

Thank you.

Hon. Elizabeth Marshall: Thank you, Senator Lankin, for your remarks on Bill C-14. I will be repetitive in some areas, but I won’t be 45 minutes. I will also try to give you an idea as to what I will be looking for when the bill goes to the Finance Committee.

As Senator Lankin indicated, Bill C-14 proposes to implement some of the initiatives announced in the federal government’s Fall Economic Statement, which was tabled in the House of Commons in December 2020.

The bill consists of seven parts, and I will provide some remarks on most parts, but not all of them.

The first one relates to the Canada Child Benefit, and that was the subject of a conversation between Senator Lankin and Senator Plett. That part of the bill is to provide additional financial support to families who qualify for the Canada Child Benefit.

For each child under the age of 6 years, the government is proposing an additional benefit of four quarterly payments in the current year. The first two quarterly payments will be based on the family net income in 2019, and the final two quarterly payments will be based on the family net income in 2020. Specifically, families who qualify for the Canada Child Benefit and have a family net income of $120,000 or less will be entitled to quarterly payments of $300 per child under the age of 6 years, and then for families with a family net income greater than $120,000, quarterly payments will be $150 per child under the age of 6 years.

Based on the wording in the bill, families must have already qualified for the Canada Child Benefit based on their 2019 family income in order to qualify for this additional support. Given that the deadline for tax returns for the 2020 calendar year is just a few days away, clarity has to be sought regarding eligibility for the Canada Child Benefit and the additional support proposed in this bill.

I don’t know why the government is focused on eligibility based on 2019 tax information. It seems it would be better to use 2020, especially since 2020 was the year of the pandemic and families who wouldn’t qualify in 2019 would probably qualify in 2020.

And as indicated in the Fall Economic Statement, it estimates that this initiative will cost about $2.4 billion dollars in 2021.

Part 1 of Bill C-14 also amends the Income Tax Act so that rental expense can qualify as an expense under the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy program when it becomes due, rather than when it is paid, provided certain conditions are met.

Bill C-9, which we passed last December, addressed some of the problems associated with the rental program, because that program has had a lot of problems since it started last April. It soon became apparent after Bill C-9 was passed that businesses would have to pay their rent before they could claim it and receive the money from the government. This was a major problem for businesses who had no cash to pay their rent in advance. Hence, this amendment will allow the government to reimburse business owners for their rent before it is actually paid.

Clarity has to be sought as to whether the government will ensure these payments are used for the purpose intended and, if so, how the government intends to do this. I would expect that officials testifying at the Finance Committee will be able to provide that information.

Parts 2, 3 and 4 of Bill C-14 proposes to reduce student debt by eliminating interest on the federal portion of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans for the 2021-22 fiscal years. Specifically, these loans are not subject to interest from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022. In addition, during this same period, a borrower is not required to make any interest-related payments with respect to the federal portion of the Canada Student Loan, and the Fall Economic Statement estimates that this measure will cost approximately $329 million.

Clarity has to be sought as to how the government will implement these changes and how they will affect student loans written off and loans forgiven.

One thing we do in the Finance Committee almost every year is to review loans written off because the supplementary supply bill has a provision to write off some student loans. In addition to loans written off in accordance with the supply act, there is a substantial number of loans written off under the authority of the Financial Administration Act and loans forgiven under the authority of the Canada Student Financial Act and the Canada Student Loans Act. Loans forgiven and loans written off amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, so we need to look at how this provision in this bill affects the loans written off and loans forgiven.

Part 6 of the bill authorizes payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for three purposes, totalling $1.6 billion. The first purpose is for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund for the six regional development agencies in the amount of $206.7 million. Clarity will be sought in the Finance Committee as to criteria to be met to qualify under this program, how funds are to be dispersed and any follow-up required after funds have been dispersed.

The second purpose of the bill is to provide $901.3 million for a number of health-related areas affected by COVID-19, including mental health and substance abuse, long-term care, innovative approaches to COVID-19 testing and virtual care and mental health tools. Clarity has to be sought as to who will qualify for funding, criteria that have to be met, what the funds have to be used for, as well as any follow-up required after the funds have been disbursed. This funding will have to be linked to budget initiatives announced yesterday.

The third purpose is to make $500 million available in income support payments under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act, and this relates to the CERB benefits paid out over the past year. This will be a wind-up of that program.

Part 7 of Bill C-14, which is the part of the bill that I was mostly interested in, proposes to increase the limit on Government of Canada borrowings. The limit is established by the Borrowing Authority Act. I can remember when that act was implemented. It was enacted in 2017 by the Budget Implementation Act, and it permits the Minister of Finance to borrow money with the authorization of the Governor-in-Council.

I was on the Finance Committee at the time, and that part of the Budget Implementation Act received a fair bit of discussion. So this bill provides a maximum limit on the amount to be borrowed. In 2017, the Borrowing Authority Act established a limit of $1.168 trillion. This included the current stock of government borrowings in 2017, plus the estimated borrowings of the government for the subsequent three years, plus the borrowings of the Crown corporations and, finally, a 5% contingency fee on the total projected borrowings at the end of three years. Senator Lankin made reference to that 5% contingency fee.

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Each year, included in its budget document, the government outlines its debt-management strategy. Since there had not been a budget for over two years, government outlined its debt-management strategy for 2020-21 in its economic and fiscal snapshot issued last July, and then it further updated its debt-management strategy for 2020-21 in December’s Fall Economic Statement and outlined the proposed amendments to the Borrowing Authority Act that now appear in Bill C-14.

Included in the Fall Economic Statement is the new proposed limit of the $1.831 trillion as well as an analysis of how the new proposed limit was established. The analysis in the Fall Economic Statement, which outlines the calculation of the new debt ceiling, is somewhat confusing because it uses the combined debt at the end of October 2020 as its starting point rather than at the end of the previous fiscal year. The analysis includes several components, and it effectively builds the new proposed debt ceiling to the $1.831 trillion from the existing ceiling of $1.168 trillion. It is a proposed increase of $663 billion, or 57%, over the next three years to March 31, 2024.

The magnitude of the $663 billion increase has been the subject of much discussion, as have been the individual components that make up the increase. For example, the increase in the debt ceiling includes $100 billion in new stimulus spending that was identified in December’s Fall Economic Statement but which was not included in the government’s fiscal framework at that time.

The $100 billion received significant attention from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the C.D. Howe Institute, the International Monetary Fund and others who questioned the necessity of a $100 billion stimulus program. However, given the new initiatives announced in yesterday’s budget, the $100 billion will have to be reviewed in that context.

In addition, the $663 billion includes an $87 billion contingency amount based on 5% of the proposed debt ceiling. Why government would need a 5% contingency on debt already incurred has not been explained. In addition, the 5% contingency was already provided on the initial debt ceiling of $1.168 trillion back in 2017, so why is the same 5% contingency amount being provided a second time on this same debt ceiling?

Other issues concerning the significant increase in the debt ceiling need to be addressed by government. For example, parliamentarians will be interested in knowing whether any of this increased debt will be purchased by the Bank of Canada.

In a recently released report, the Parliamentary Budget Officer is projecting borrowing requirements to increase the debt to $1.7 trillion by March 31, 2024, which is just $125 billion below the proposed debt ceiling. Since the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s projections do not include the $100 billion in stimulus spending, any of the new budget initiatives or other items, such as the $5.9 billion Air Canada assistance plan, it raises the question as to how this additional spending will be funded. Will it be by a further increase in the debt ceiling or the imposition of new taxes?

The last point I will raise relates to transparency.

As honourable senators are aware, I have often spoken in this chamber about the difficulty of tracking government’s COVID-19 spending. The funding proposed in this bill is primarily for COVID-19 spending programs. The government needs to clarify how these expenditures will be disclosed and how they will be reported in its financial documents, such as the estimates, supplementary estimates, the fiscal monitor and the Public Accounts. How these expenditures relate to the budget initiatives announced yesterday will also have to be determined.

In addition, the government must clarify to which fiscal year these expenditures will be charged. Which of these expenditures will be charged to the 2020-21 fiscal year just ended, and which expenditures will be charged to fiscal year 2021-22, which began three weeks ago?

Honourable senators, this concludes my comments on Bill C-14 during second reading. I will have further comments at third reading. Thank you.

Hon. Kim Pate: Thank you, Senator Lankin and Senator Marshall, for your work and comments on this bill.

Honourable senators, Bill C-14 will implement certain provisions of last fall’s economic statement. Through this statement, along with the Speech from the Throne and yesterday’s budget, the government has articulated getting through the COVID-19 pandemic requires us to build back better a recovery for all. This means that we must refuse to leave people in the situations of economic precariousness and marginalization that put them at greater health and economic risk during this pandemic.

The Fall Economic Statement asserts that “. . . a robust and complete recovery must leave no one behind.” We again applaud the measures the government has taken during this crisis to provide vital and direct support to Canadians. Yet as each day passes and we work to repair our tattered social safety net and build necessary health, economic and social supports, we cannot ignore the 3.5 million people below the poverty line in Canada who are still falling through the cracks.

The budget has promised some steps. It proposes an increase to the Canada workers benefit and a $15 federal minimum wage that could supplement some inadequate salaries in a way that might move about 125,000 people from just below the poverty line to just above the poverty line. While this is welcome news, it leaves behind 96% of people in poverty as well as 93% of the one in two people below the poverty line who are working but not being paid enough to survive.

The measures persist in presenting income supports in terms of how we can incentivize people to work instead of how we can ensure that, in a country as rich as Canada, no one’s health and well-being are limited by poverty.

Bill C-14 and the Fall Economic Statement do nothing to change this. Measures such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, were implemented precisely because of the inadequacy of Canada’s existing supports for people in need. Unfortunately, the eligibility criteria for the CERB and related programs have left those who had the least to begin with without adequate emergency supports in ways that have put their and, therefore, our collective health at risk and are costing lives.

Among those excluded from programs like the CERB are people with annual incomes below $5,000; those whose minimum-wage, precarious or gig work did not pay them enough to live on before the pandemic, despite being recognized as essential during the pandemic; and, in most jurisdictions, people on social assistance or disability benefits receiving support payments that are only a fraction of what is needed to get out of poverty.

As yesterday’s budget noted, COVID-19 has caused a “she‑cession.” Women — particularly members of the Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities; young women; single mothers; those living with disabilities; those who are homeless or precariously housed — have disproportionately borne the health and economic consequences of this pandemic. They are also overrepresented among those left out of programs like the CERB. Writer Damian Barr reminds us that COVID-19 has magnified systemic inequality by saying:

We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some of us are in super-yachts. Some of us have just the one oar.

The Fall Economic Statement reported $407 billion in federal emergency spending related to COVID-19. Of this, the most support that a working-age person struggling for economic survival and who did not qualify for CERB or its related programs could have received is a one-time payment of less than $400. This amount, provided only to those registered for the GST credit — which many in need are not — was provided in April 2020. Some Canadians living with disabilities have received another one-time payment of $600 this year. For everybody else, at best, it has now been more than a year of struggling to survive this health and economic crisis without any COVID-19 federal support.

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With Bill C-14, the only form of direct economic support for individuals in the bill is a limited one; a temporary top-up to the Canada Child Benefit providing an extra $100 per month in 2021 for children under the age of six. This program operates as a limited form of guaranteed liveable income and has a proven track record in terms of its economic benefits. Particularly in light of the recent report of the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, it is surprising not to see those who remain in urgent need supported, in order to ensure this recovery lives up to its claim of being for all.

The CCB is described as the lifeline that keeps approximately 277,000 families above the poverty line. Crucially, like a guaranteed liveable income and unlike existing social assistance schemes, part of the CCB’s effectiveness relates to the fact that it provides support payments that are not subject to conditions. They do not depend on the work status of parents, and they support the ability of families to judge for themselves how best to use the amounts to meet the needs of their children.

Such support reaches people in need instead of creating barriers to eligibility. It recognizes that the fact that an individual cannot work or find a job, or that the work they do does not pay enough for them to get by, does not mean that they and their children should go hungry or be homeless.

The benefits of the CCB go far beyond the families who receive this support. Every dollar disbursed through the program results in two dollars being invested in Canada’s economy, as families spend the payments in their communities on the things they need. The economic contributions of the program amount to 2% of Canada’s GDP. Without questioning the decision in Bill C-14 to invest in the Canada Child Benefit, I do feel compelled to ask why the government — knowing the positive impact that such programs have had in terms of keeping children and seniors out of poverty in a way that benefits the economy — has not yet extended these programs to working-aged people in the form of a guaranteed liveable income.

Yesterday’s budget made an historic commitment to a national child care program. As single moms living in poverty and looking for work or struggling to obtain the education or training to improve their employment prospects in Quebec tell us, $10‑a‑day child care spots are not only difficult to access without additional income supports, they still remain out of reach to far too many. We need look no further than Manitoba — which boasts Canada’s second lowest child care costs in the country, but also one of the lowest labour force participation rates for women — to know that more is needed to uphold equality for women.

When the Royal Commission on the Status of Women recommended this measure more than 50 years ago, they also proposed a form of guaranteed liveable income as another vital part of redressing economic inequality for women. Guaranteed liveable income and increases to the Canada Child Benefit are a key part of providing child care that will be effective for all, culturally sensitive and responsive to the needs of shift workers, members of remote communities and others for whom standardized care will not work.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, also referenced as a priority in the budget, similarly called for a guaranteed liveable income.

The Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer report from earlier this month concludes that a guaranteed liveable income implemented now could cut poverty in half by next year. This would meet the government’s current commitment under Canada’s poverty reduction strategy and put us on a path toward eradicating poverty.

Moreover, the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer provides one example of a way guaranteed liveable income could be achieved at a net-zero cost, by replacing some existing low-income tax credits as well as provincial and territorial social assistance programs, with unconditional cash transfers that provide a larger amount, sufficient to live on, to those with income below a certain cut-off.

The Office of the PBO further reports that a guaranteed liveable income would have only a minimal impact on labour participation. They estimate a reduction of only 1.3% in hours worked.

Many experts have rightly noted that care would need to be taken in determining which tax credits could be replaced by guaranteed liveable income to avoid negative economic impacts for those in the working class or lower middle class who remain close to the poverty line.

Others have reminded us that the Office of the PBO estimates, encouraging as they are, have not taken into account the full and long-term social and economic benefits associated with guaranteed liveable income. As Canadian pilot projects have revealed, a guaranteed liveable income would result in such downstream benefits as better health for participants and reduced reliance on emergency health care, as well as reduced recourse to the police and criminal legal systems.

It would also allow people to care for children, the elderly and those with disabilities, take time from work to complete education or skills training or launch new and innovative enterprises. Over five years, a guaranteed liveable income could increase GDP by between 1.6% and 2.4%, create between $46 billion and $80 billion in new government revenues, and create between 298,000 and 450,000 new jobs.

Canadians’ resolve to eradicate poverty has only increased since the onset of the COVID pandemic. Last week, delegates at the Liberal National Convention endorsed basic income. Two out of three people in Canada believe implementing a guaranteed liveable income to ensure that everyone can afford basic necessities is the right thing to do. This surge in support is due in part to the success of emergency COVID-19 income supports like the CERB.

If, before the pandemic, someone had described to us the CERB — a comprehensive income support measure developed and delivered in a matter of weeks and then adjusted on the go to meet Canadians’ needs — how many of us would have dismissed it as impossible or fiscally irresponsible, or a good theory but impractical, or requiring further study. Measures like the CERB have shown us what is possible. They have shown us that if the will is there to meaningfully address poverty, Canada has the ingenuity, the resources and the capacity to make it happen.

It is time to do what Canadians are asking of us by making sure that no one is left behind and everyone can bridge out of this crisis toward economic stability. The government has made first steps throughout this pandemic, through the Fall Economic Statement, through Bill C-14 and through the budget. The next step needs to be guaranteed liveable income.

Honourable colleagues, the time is now. Let’s ensure that we get it done. Meegwetch. Thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

An Hon. Senator: On division.

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time, on division.)

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Lankin, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.)

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Bill

Motion to Authorize Aboriginal Peoples Committee to Study Subject Matter Adopted

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of March 30, 2021, moved:

That, in accordance with rule 10-11(1), the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples be authorized to examine the subject matter of Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, introduced in the House of Commons on December 3, 2020, in advance of the said bill coming before the Senate; and

That, for the purposes of this study, the committee be authorized to meet even though the Senate may then be sitting, with the application of rule 12-18(1) being suspended in relation thereto.

He said: Honourable senators, I move the motion standing in my name.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Adjournment

Motion Adopted

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of earlier this day, moved:

That, when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, May 4, 2021, at 2 p.m.

She said: Honourable senators, I move the motion standing in my name.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(At 4:50 p.m., the Senate was continued until Tuesday, May 4, 2021, at 2 p.m.)