House of Commons Hansard #251 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ukraine.


Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Tim Louis Liberal Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

moved that Bill C-355, An Act to prohibit the export by air of horses for slaughter and to make related amendments to certain Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am here today to discuss an issue that is important to me and to many Canadians, private member's bill, Bill C-355, which seeks to ban the export of live horses for slaughter. I stand in the House not just as a member of Parliament but also as a Canadian who values the special relationship between humans and horses.

I tabled this private member's bill to ban the export of live horses for slaughter, a practice that must stop. I have spent months hearing from stakeholders on all sides of this issue, and it has been a very thoughtful process. I look forward to discussing and debating this issue in the House of Commons and at committee. I welcome the opportunity to work together across party lines to advance this important legislation. Other countries have banned this practice and I believe it is time for Canada to do the same.

Throughout Canada's history, horses have been our steadfast companions, working alongside us in the fields and forests, in communities that make up this great nation. Our history with horses is a rich and diverse as the land we call home. There is no doubt that Canadians have a special relationship with horses.

In the bucolic landscape of Kitchener—Conestoga, the riding I have the privilege to represent, we can see that relationship everyday. For generations, and to this day, Mennonite families in our region have relied on and still rely on horses for traditional horse-drawn buggies for transportation.

Our local newspaper, the Woolwich Observer, and the Canadian Tire in town both have tie-ups for horses and buggies. We can still see some farmers in Kitchener—Conestoga working side by side with their horses, plowing fields. These horses are more than just working animals. They are part of the Mennonite identity and a symbol of the commitment to a simple and sustainable way of life.

Symbolic of Canada is the iconic image of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, proudly working in harmony with their horses, representing law and order across our vast nation. The RCMP's history with horses is a testament to the enduring partnership between humans and these majestic animals, a bond forged in the crucible of duty and service.

Every year, in Kitchener—Conestoga, in the township of Wilmot, our New Hamburg Fall Fair remains a beacon of tradition. There are events throughout the weekend in September, but the first event of the fair is always the horse pull event, where the strength and grace of these majestic animals is showcased. These gatherings are not just about competition but serve as a reminder of the shared values that bind our real communities together.

Beyond the roles in agriculture and law enforcement, horses have been integral to our everyday lives as companion animals. Many Canadians have experienced the joy of bonding with horses, forging a connection that transcends words. Their gentle nature and intuitive understanding make them not just pets but true friends, offering solace and companionship in a hectic world.

In recent times, we have also recognized the therapeutic benefit of horses. Equine-assisted therapy has emerged as a powerful tool, providing comfort and healing to those facing physical and emotional challenges. The quiet strength of a horse has the capacity to mend wounds both seen and unseen and restore a sense of balance to those who seek solace in their presence.

In celebrating and appreciating the unique relationship with horses, let us not forget the responsibility that comes with it. We must ensure the welfare of these magnificent creatures, preserving their place in our hearts and in our history.

Today. I want to shed light on the current situation.

Each year approximately 2,600 live horses are exported by Canada for the sole purpose of slaughter. The conditions under which these horses are exported are distressing to say the least. These young, 18-month-old, intelligent and sensitive animals are packed into cramped and often unsuitable shipping containers. They endure long journeys spanning thousands of kilometres. They are deprived of food and water for extended periods of time during those flights and can arrive injured or deceased.

Horses by their very nature are sensitive beings and companion animals. Subjecting them to such stressful conditions is not only inhumane but it goes against the very values that we hold dear as Canadians. Imagine the stress of being crammed into a confined space with the constant movement and the uncertainty of the journey's end. Horses, unlike traditional livestock, form deep bonds with humans and their capacity for suffering is profound. This is not a fate that should befit animals that have played pivotal roles in our history.

It is heartening to note that several countries, including the United States and the U.K., have already recognized the ethical implications of exporting live horses for slaughter and have banned this practice. It is high time for Canada to follow suit. Our nation has a proud history of leading by example and, on this matter, Canadians know this practice is the right thing to do, regardless of what country is or is not doing. We must ensure that these horses are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. Therefore, let us join the ranks of countries that have banned this practice and show the world that Canada values compassion and humanity in all its forms.

Before understanding what the bill aims to accomplish, it is important to understand the industry of live-horse export in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, about 2,600 horses were exported for slaughter in 2022. Compared to other sectors, this is a relatively small industry, with a total value of about $19 million per year. There are approximately 350 producers in Canada and only a few companies export live horses by plane. Most of these flights leave from Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

The majority of horses exported for slaughter are raised on feedlots. Feedlots are abandoned plots of land where horses are often denied shelter or protection from the elements. These are not the kinds of horse stables that I see in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga or in communities across Canada.

These gentle draft horses are raised to the age of 18 months old and then shipped live in crates. Each crate is roughly the size of a single conventional horse stall that would normally be expected to hold one horse. For shipping, three to four horses are crammed into the small space and then they journey thousands of kilometres with no food or water. Canada is one of the only countries in the world that breeds and raises horses and then transports them live overseas for slaughter to fill a demand for fresh horsemeat.

The bill is very specific in its focus. My private member's bill, Bill C-355, would do what the title says: prohibit the export of horses by air for slaughter. The bill takes into consideration numerous factors, including legal obligations, international trade commitments and relations, acts and regulations involving animals more broadly, and mechanisms for implementation and enforcement. My team and I have worked diligently to ensure that the legislation is comprehensive and considers all perspectives.

People might wonder why existing laws are not sufficient to prohibit this practice. The answer is that our current legal framework does not adequately protect these horses. We need specific legislation that makes it crystal clear that the export of live horses for slaughter is unacceptable in Canada, and Bill C-355 is that legislation.

In having a full understanding of the bill, it is also important to highlight what the bill would not do. I want to ensure for our hard-working farmers and ranchers that Bill C-355 is specifically aimed at banning the export of live horses for slaughter and does not intend to disrupt any other livestock sector. I understand the critical role that our agricultural communities play in our nation's prosperity and the dedication they put into their work every day.

My close relationship with farmers in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga has deepened my appreciation for the tireless efforts and commitment they and their families put into their livelihoods. As a member of the agriculture committee, it is an honour for me to meet with and hear from agricultural stakeholders on a regular basis. It is because of these connections that I want to emphasize that this legislation is not about targeting or hindering the livelihoods of those who rely on livestock for their well-being and their contributions to our nation's food security.

Bill C-355 is solely focused on banning the export of live horses, recognizing their unique role and the specific challenges they face in the export market for slaughter. I remain committed to working collaboratively with our farming communities to ensure the legislation has no unintended consequences for their operations. Our goal is to protect the welfare of horses, while respecting the value of work that farmers undertake.

By uniting our efforts to pass this bill, it can demonstrate our commitment to both animal welfare and the prosperity of our rural communities. Together, we can ensure that Canada continues to be a beacon of compassion and responsibility toward its animals, while upholding the values that our farmers and their families hold dear.

With regard to the timeline of Bill C-355, it must pass in the House of Commons and the Senate. Once passed, the bill can receive royal assent and come into effect 18 months after it has become law. The 18-month timeline aligns with the natural lifespan of a horse raised for slaughter, which is also 18 months. By design, this time frame reflects an understanding of the industry and the life cycle of these horses.

Moreover, the 18-month grace period is not just a symbolic gesture; it is a practical necessity. We recognize the industry will require time to adapt and implement the necessary changes to comply with new regulations. This grace period would allow stakeholders, from breeders to exporters, to make the essential adjustments without undue burden. The aim is to provide this time frame to ensure a smooth transition toward a more compassionate and responsible approach to the treatment of horses in our society. I believe the time frame built into the legislation strikes this balance, giving enough time for the industry to adjust, while being enacted as soon as practically possible.

I want to emphasize that drafting this legislation has been a thoughtful and inclusive process. I have spent months meeting with many stakeholders and considering the views from all sides. This includes fellow members of Parliament, senators, farmers, animal rights advocates, industry representatives and citizens from my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga and throughout Canada. The bill reflects a balanced approach that aims to protect horses, while considering the economic interests of those involved.

I am pleased to inform members that my private member's bill, Bill C-355, has garnered support from both sides of the House of Parliament. This is a testament to the shared belief in the importance of protecting these animals and the need to end the export of live horses for slaughter.

As we continue to move forward, I welcome the opportunity to continue this debate in committee, working collaboratively with my colleagues to ensure the legislation becomes law and horses in Canada are safeguarded.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the advocates and stakeholders who have contributed to this discussion and the drafting of this legislation. Their passion, dedication and tireless efforts have brought us to this point.

Public opinion on this issue has made it clear that Canadians are simply not supportive of exporting horses for slaughter. There has been strong support from animal welfare advocacy groups like the SPCAs across Canada. Citizens from coast to coast to coast have made their voices heard.

I would like to thank one voice in particular, a voice I think we all know. Canadian icon Jann Arden has been a champion of the issue of banning the export of live horses for slaughter. She helped promote a recent petition that was presented in the House of Commons by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, which received over 36,000 signatures. I want to personally thank her for her strong advocacy.

I would like to conclude by saying that this has been a thoughtful process that began months ago. I have met with, and continue to meet, with stakeholders to hear from them and to learn from their perspectives. I look forward to working collaboratively with parliamentarians to ensure this bill moves through the House of Commons in a timely manner. I am optimistic the bill will continue to receive support from both sides of the House.

Finally, let us embrace and celebrate that special bond we share with horses and continue to promote their humane treatment. The deep connection that exists between horses and humans is one that, through the very essence of our national identity, reminds us of the enduring spirit of partnership and harmony that defines us as Canadians. It is a partnership and a relationship built on trust and mutual respect.

The export of live horses for slaughter is a betrayal of that trust and a breach of our moral obligations. Therefore, let us stand together across party lines and put an end to this cruel practice. I thank members for their support. Let us work together to make Bill C-355 a reality and ban the export of live horses for slaughter.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I share a love of horses with the member opposite, but I have heard some concerns from individuals who need to transport their horses for equestrian events. These are show ponies and that sort of thing. They are concerned that if people are critical of how horses are transported today, they may be incorporated eventually into this bill.

Could he provide some comment for them?

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Tim Louis Liberal Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, we needed to consider that. There are horses exported for breeding, for sporting events and for other reasons, not just live export for slaughter. What we have done is a reverse opt-in. In order to export the horses that people have, they will need to sign a form saying why they are doing this. If the ministry says no problem, then away they go. This means that people doing this for sporting reasons, breeding reasons or just personal reasons can fill out the form, send it in and get the permission. This will ensure that this is a narrow scope that only affects horses exported live for slaughter.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kitchener—Conestoga for introducing this bill. I did introduce petition e-4190, which had over 36,000 signatures.

He is very well aware that this was a key line item in the minister's mandate letter, dating back from 2021. I respect the right of every member to bring in a bill, but I hope he can maybe inform the House why the government has not brought in its own legislation and why it may have relied on this private member's bill. Private members' bills often have a lengthy journey through the House, and I am wondering why the government did not make use of its considerable resources to advance this issue sooner.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Tim Louis Liberal Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was my colleague's petition that sent so many of those letters to all of us as members of Parliament, strongly advocating. Their writing and their letters work. I want to thank my colleague for doing that.

By thanking him, I am showing that I am willing to work across party lines. I think we agree. I think that there are people in all parties who agree. The government was moving forward and consulting and I had this opportunity, when my private member's bill came up, to grab the reins and move forward on this legislation.

It will be as binding as any law that was passed by the government. I do hope that, with co-operation, we can move things through as fast as possible.

I look forward to getting this to committee as quickly as possible where we can continue studying it.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Milton Ontario


Adam van Koeverden LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and to the Minister of Sport and Physical Activity

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend and colleague for advancing this legislation. As I have discussed with him, Halton has deep roots in the horse industry.

We have Woodbine Racetrack. The first-ever Liberal MP for Halton, John White, was a horse owner and his horse won the 1860 Queen's Plate.

We have lots of horse advocates and plenty of horses in Milton. I have heard from a lot of my constituents about how important this is. There are so many horse lovers in Milton. I want to send all of my gratitude to them for all of the messages that I have received on this.

I express gratitude to the member for advancing this legislation.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Tim Louis Liberal Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, we have heard from people. That bond that we have with horses is special. I think that many Canadians do not know about this practice. When they do hear about it, they ask why it cannot stop. That is what this private member's bill is doing. It would specifically stop the export of live horses for slaughter because we do have that relationship with our horses.

There are stables in my community and across all of Canada. People have that symbiotic relationship. I hope we can work together to make this happen.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to understand why this item is resurfacing two years after being included in the former minister of agriculture and agri-food's mandate letter, but it is well-intended.

My question is: Why is it only horses?

I heard my colleague mention their sensitivity, but for crying out loud, so many animals are just as sensitive. Why focus only on horses?

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Tim Louis Liberal Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, people reached out to us. Canadians reached out to me. They wanted to ban this specific practice. I wanted to make sure that this legislation was very narrow in scope, to make sure that we had co-operation from all sides, from stakeholders. It was a very thoughtful and considered process with a narrow focus to specifically ban a process, the banning of the export of live horses.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting to rise today on Bill C-355, an act to prohibit the export by air of horses for slaughter. I think it is important in this House, whenever we debate legislation that is going to impact the livelihoods of thousands of Canadians, that we ensure that legislation is based on sound science and data from experts, and not on a motion. This legislation, I would argue, is based on a motion, and not on science or data.

This bill would not only ban horses, but would impact a number of industries in Canada with maybe unintended consequences. Listening to my colleague, the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga, who tabled this legislation, it is clear to me that he did not listen to the experts, and those who understand this industry intimately and know exactly what is going on with the horses that are transported and exported out of Canada.

In fact, I do not think this member did his due diligence in tabling this legislation. If he listened to experts, he would not have tabled this legislation at all. He used the word “cramped” many times in his speech. In fact, it is in the preamble of his bill. Based on international animal transportation regulations, in Canada the space for those horses is almost twice that of the international regulations. They are not cramped. That is just one aspect of what he is talking about.

The focus of my speech will be the unintended consequences of this legislation and how they would impact a number of other industries. I do not believe the Liberals did their homework before tabling this legislation, which is trying to appease a very niche activist agenda.

First, I want to go with the facts. This is not something, as my colleague said, that we can just sign off on, for one's horse to be transported or exported. This has to be a declaration from the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. It is not something that anyone can sign off on. This would add burdensome red tape and delays that would impact a number of industries across Canada.

In fact, the pilots and customs officers would have the responsibility of having this declaration approved by the minister prior to flights leaving Canada. No other commodity in Canada has to take on that kind of responsibility.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has incredibly strict safety regulations when it comes to transporting livestock. We already had a question from the Bloc member, who asked what is next. We are starting with horses. What is next? Will it be cattle, pork or chickens? My colleague is saying that is not the case, but this is opening the door to exactly that.

The facts are that the regulations we have in Canada are impeccable and among the best in the world. Since 2013, 41,000 horses have been exported for the purpose of slaughter. The mortality rate on those transports is 0.012%. Those are the facts. The member is making it sound like this is a horrific nightmare of an industry. No deaths have occurred for horses since 2014. Those are the facts and that is the data.

The member is right. There are about 350 horse breeders across Canada, mainly in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. They are purposely breeding horses for this reason. He is talking about the RCMP horses and the pony horses. These are not the types of horses we are talking about. These are not broken pets that are being sent off for food sources. These are horses that are specifically bred for this industry.

In fact, a quarter of those breeders are indigenous. About 40% of the horses that are exported from Canada are raised by indigenous breeders. I want to talk about a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta who provided a statement to me. They are very upset about not being consulted on this legislation. The statement reads:

We are trying to keep and pass on Metis traditions for our families including working with horses. Just like most Metis, we are not in a position, financially, to keep horses only for recreational use. Our farms are not sustainable without the meat horse industry.... Indian Reserves and Metis settlements were not designated on prime...farmland but raising horses is a way to utilize this land into something profitable.

Many first nations and Métis groups that I have spoken with are extremely upset that they were not consulted on how this bill would affect them.

I have a number of letters from other industry stakeholders who were also not consulted before this bill was tabled. I am not sure who the member spoke to, but I have a pretty good idea.

Equestrian Canada has strong reservations with this bill and how it would impact its events. The regulatory burden by the Minister of Agriculture to approve every horse transported by air would cause unnecessary red tape and time delays for these events. This would jeopardize international competitions in Canada and around the world, like the Olympics, the Pan Am Games and other Equestrian Canada events.

My colleague from Milton talked about Woodbine. If the legislation passes, Woodbine is not going to have international horses coming to compete at that event. For example, competitors would question whether or not to attend events in Canada, like the Masters at Spruce Meadows and the Calgary Stampede, because they would not want to have to deal with these new regulations that are time consuming, and the burdensome red tape, like getting an affidavit or a declaration from the Minister of Agriculture. These events bring billions of dollars of economic opportunities to our rural communities and they would be lost. Again, this would be an unintended consequence, because the Liberals did not do their homework and are trying to appease a very niche group.

Another group, the Air Line Pilots Association of Canada, which represents 77,000 airline pilots, is also opposing this bill, because if pilots did not have that declaration from the Minister of Agriculture, a responsibility they do not want to take on, something they do not have to do at this time, they would be facing a $250,000 fine as a result of this legislation. Airlines pilots around the world do not want to deal with this. They understand that livestock is a cargo they carry, but this is an unrealistic and impractical administrative responsibility they do not want to take on.

Proper animal care and welfare are paramount to livestock producers across Canada and our existing transport laws reflect that with the most up-to-date scientific research and regulations. This is proven in the data, with not a single fatality in almost 20 years and infinitesimal injuries, but this is data the Liberal member is ignoring.

This bill has no basis in fact and is another attack by the Prime Minister and the Liberal government on Canadian agriculture and agri-food industries. What the member refused to mention is that more than a billion people around the world rely on this meat for a major part of the protein in their diet, including in Japan, Mexico, Italy, Russia, China and, yes, Canada. Canadians still eat horse meat for a major part of their protein, which in many cases is healthier than beef, but do not tell my cattle producers in Alberta I said such a thing.

Therefore, I would ask my colleagues in the House of Commons to vote against Bill C-355. It is imperative we have legislation tabled in this House, but this is legislation that would impact not only livestock producers but industries across Canada.

My colleague has said that he has a very narrow focus to this bill to ensure it only includes horses, but he did not do his due diligence. Clearly, this legislation would impact a number of other industries. The Liberals did not consult with first nations and Métis communities across Canada. They did not consult with airlines, airline associations and pilot associations. They did not consult with equestrian groups and major event hosts, like the Calgary Stampede, Spruce Meadows, Woodbine and those events that happen across Canada, nor with the athletes themselves who would travel not only across Canada, but around the world. Canadian equestrian athletes would no longer be competing in Canada because they do not want to take the risk of losing their horse or missing events because of the burdensome red tape and regulations this bill entails.

Most importantly, it is imperative that the legislation that comes to this House is based on science, data and the experts who know exactly what they are talking about. I think the member had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Woods, the premier expert in this industry, who has told him that everything in this bill is based on rhetoric and falsehoods. I hope the members of this House will see through this and make sure that we make decisions based on science and vote against Bill C-355.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am here today to discuss Bill C-355, a bill that prohibits the export by air of live horses for the purpose of being slaughtered or fattened for slaughter. It enacts new legislation prohibiting the export of live horses.

I will start by carefully explaining the four main reasons why the Bloc Québécois is opposed to the principle of the bill.

First, the bill enacts new legislation, even though it is possible to change the current laws and regulations, in particular the Health of Animals Act, as well as its regulations. Also, it is inconceivable to us that animal welfare be restricted to just one type of animal, in this case equines. Canada and Quebec also export other types of live animals by various means of transportation. It would be worthwhile to consider the other types of transportation, including transportation by road, which is far more common and can also compromise animal welfare. Finally, amending the bill so as to raise standards for animal transportation would expand the scope of the bill and change the principle.

For these reasons, we will vote against this bill at second reading. That said, we find that the bill is well-intended. Animal welfare is an important concern and principle for us all. Without healthy animals, our agriculture and agri-food industry would collapse. Canada and Quebec have laws in place, but there are gaps in the legislation.

We do not want our position to be interpreted as a desire to minimize or deny the facts that led to the introduction of this bill. On the contrary, we are well aware that Canada exports by air live horses to be slaughtered in conditions that, even if they comply with Canadian laws and regulations, are widely criticized. The Bloc Québécois is especially frustrated by the fact that the bill deals solely with horses, when regulations on animal welfare and transportation apply to all animals exported for slaughter. However, should the bill be passed at second reading and amended in committee, the Bloc Québécois remains open to working responsibly.

In the former minister of agriculture and agri-food's 2021 mandate letter, the Prime Minister asked her to “Ban the live export of horses for slaughter.” It seems like Canada intends to ban this practice itself. Why has this not already been done?

I will now address the fact that the CFIA, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, once had a page on its website dedicated to debunking myths about this industry. First, we have to distinguish between “horse meat” and “live horses”. Horse meat refers to animals slaughtered in Canada and meat being exported, not live animals. For many people, the consumption of horse meat is taboo. Having had horses myself when I was young, I am well aware of that. We have to respect that, but not at the expense of other animals. Abuse is abuse, regardless of the animal.

According to a survey conducted by Research Co. and Glacier Media in early 2021, only 27% of Canadians believe it is appropriate to eat horse meat, even though the percentage is much higher when it comes to meat from other animals. Rabbits and geese are regarded as appropriate food sources by nearly 60% of Canadians, and that number increases to 75% for beef, 79% for pork and 88% for poultry, such as chicken.

One of the arguments presented by the sponsor of Bill S-270, which is similar to Bill C-355, is that horses played a unique role in Canada's history and in the building of the country, which means we could get into the whole issue of the Canadian horse. It is clear that horses are part of our history. Over 36,000 Canadians presented a petition to the House of Commons calling on the government to ban the export of live horses for slaughter. Two-thirds of Canadians are opposed to this practice. According to the same survey, nearly 85% of Canadians were not aware that Canada was engaging in this practice.

In Quebec, the consumption of horse meat is more generally accepted. The government of Quebec has included additional protection in its legal framework for racehorses, horses from riding centres, rodeo horses, horses participating in performances or shows, and so on. During this process, animal welfare groups, in particular the Association québécoise de protection des chevaux, cited the Bloc Québécois’s comment on the special treatment of horses, affirming that “it is self-evident that horses should be treated the same as cats and dogs”, that the “government should not stop there” and that “all farm animals deserved the same consideration”.

The Bloc Québécois believes that banning export by air of just one species is illogical and inconsistent, and that the best way to move forward on animal welfare is to review handling and transportation standards.

Quebec is the second-largest exporter of horse meat in the world, and 85% of our exports are sent to Japan. The United States claims to no longer slaughter horses for human consumption, but it exports its horses to Canada for that purpose. According to a CTV News report, we are talking about 120,000 animals between 2013 and 2018.

Canada is a major exporter of livestock. It exports pigs, sheep, lambs, cattle and horses to various countries. However, the conditions can be inhumane for all animals that are exported. We should therefore ensure better conditions.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or CFIA, roughly 45,000 horses have been exported by air to Japan since 2013. That amounts to about 4,500 horses a year, maybe a few more, since animals are exported to countries besides Japan, even if Japan is by far the largest importer. However, every year, Canada also exports hundreds of thousands of other kinds of live animals to all corners of the world.

We think it would be more appropriate to take action on export conditions to make them safer for animals. Specifically, this could mean reducing the number of hours animals must travel without water, food or rest; regulating the size and material of cages used for transportation, or even creating areas especially designed for these animals; and controlling the temperature and ambient noise, considering that horses have much more sensitive hearing than humans. Lastly, we could examine the effects of a general ban on exporting live animals for slaughter abroad. Some countries have already taken this step. These are just ways of broadening the debate. What we have here are other issues that could be raised.

The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition even sued the Government of Canada for failing to abide by animal welfare legislation when shipping horses via cargo plane.

The Farm Animal Welfare Education Center, which is associated with the Autonomous University of Barcelona's veterinary school, stated the following, and I quote:

Despite being a relatively short phase in the process of meat production, the transport of animals to slaughter can cause major economic losses. This is because during transport the animals are exposed to a variety of stressors in a short period of time....[which] in extreme cases can result in the death of the animals.

Stress during transport increases the susceptibility of animals to infections. What is more, “Truck design and the handling of animals have an important effect on the welfare of animals during transport.”

Many animals are similar to humans when it comes to stress. This is particularly true of swine, an oft-cited example. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture published information on the precautions that should be taken when transporting swine.

That might be worth looking at. It is difficult to believe that all of the guidelines for the export of live swine for slaughter that should be followed are being followed, so we still have a way to go.

Finally, here is a some information taken directly from the CFIA website. I thought it would be interesting to read a few excerpts.

Canadian provinces have the primary responsibility for protecting the welfare of animals, including farm animals and pets. All provinces and territories have laws in respect to animal welfare. Provincial and territorial legislation tend to be general in scope, covering a wide range of animal welfare interests. Some provinces and territories have regulations that govern specific aspects of animal welfare, or are related to certain species.

The CFIA's animal welfare mandate is limited to regulating humane transport of animals and the humane treatment of food animals in federal abattoirs.

Moreover, the CFIA works “closely with the provinces, territories and all stakeholders in the animal care community when animal welfare issues are identified”.

The CFIA is also working with the industry to “establish standards of care and biosecurity”, to establish “the requirements to protect all animals during transport”, and to verify that “humane transport and humane slaughter requirements are respected in all federal slaughter plants”.

The Criminal Code also stipulates the following:

[The Criminal Code of Canada] prohibits anyone from willfully causing animals to suffer from neglect, pain or injury. The Criminal Code is enforced by police services, provincial and territorial Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and/or provincial and territorial ministries of agriculture.

Quebec has five laws and regulations in place that already protect farm animals.

In conclusion, even though I grew up with horses, I care about the welfare of all animals.

We will see what happens with this bill. If it does go to committee, the Bloc Québécois will obviously be there to work responsibly. However, at this point, we think this bill needs far too much work.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House and give my remarks, as the NDP's agriculture and agri-food critic, about Bill C-355, An Act to prohibit the export by air of horses for slaughter and to make related amendments to certain Acts. The bill was introduced by the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, with whom I have served on the agriculture committee for several years.

For my constituents who are listening to today's debate, I will give a brief summary of what the bill would do. The bill essentially seeks to prohibit the export by air from Canada of live horses for the purpose of being slaughtered or fattened for slaughter. It would do this by enacting a requirement for a written declaration before a live horse is allowed on a plane, attesting that the horse is not being exported for slaughter. Aircraft operators would not be allowed to take off until they have the declaration made available. There would be some hefty fines for non-compliance with any provisions of the proposed act.

Today's debate on Bill C-355 has to be placed in a wider context, which is the mandate letter that the Prime Minister provided to the previous minister of agriculture, who now serves as the Minister of National Revenue. The mandate letter was issued on December 16, 2021, and the Prime Minister directed the minister to deliver on a commitment to “ban the live export of horses for slaughter”. However, Statistics Canada data shows that since the Liberals made that campaign promise in 2021, there have been more than 2,000 horses shipped from Canada to Japan for slaughter purposes. If we go back even farther, to 2013, we can see that more than 40,000 horses have been exported from Canada for that purpose.

I will never question the right of any member to bring in a piece of legislation as they see fit, and I certainly do not want this to be a remark that sheds any bad light on the member for Kitchener—Conestoga. However, I do have serious questions about a private member's bill coming in on the same subject matter as what was a fairly clear commitment in the minister's mandate letter. In my mind, it is the government, when it is making such a promise, that has the power, resources and personnel across several departments to do the consultation necessary. In fact, we know that private members' bills get a couple of hours of debate, but they are spread quite far apart; there can sometimes be up to 30 sitting days between them. Time is a valuable currency in this place, which I think we can all agree, and I believe that government legislation, given the fact that it has priority over most of our orders of the day, does have the ability to advance far more quickly. This is an open question that we, as members of the opposition, rightly have for the government: Why has it been two years and we still have not seen any sign of government legislation on this topic, and why, after two years, are we now looking at Bill C-355?

That point being made, I want to give an honourable mention to someone who used to sit in the House, a former colleague of some of my NDP colleagues, Mr. Alex Atamanenko. He represented the British Columbia Southern Interior riding, which no longer exists. Alex Atamanenko introduced three separate private member's bills on the subject: Bill C-544 in the 40th Parliament, Bill C-571 in the 41st Parliament and Bill C-322 in the 41st Parliament. He was a member of the NDP who had long experience on the subject. It is subject matter, of course, that New Democrats are intimately familiar with. One of the main purposes of his bill was to look at horse meat for human consumption, because we have found in our data collection that some horses, whether they were race horses or were bred for farm work, were making their way into the human consumption chain. Of course, some horses, especially race horses, are treated with a variety of antibiotics, performance-enhancing drugs, etc., and it is very clear on the labels of those drugs that whenever they are injected into a horse, the meat is not be to used for human consumption.

However, I digress. As I often find myself doing as a New Democrat, I am going to try to find a way to land in the middle, between the positions of my Liberal and Conservative colleagues. We know that live horses are primarily shipped by air from Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg and that the main market is Japan and other parts of Asia. The horses are usually fattened up there. It is for human consumption as a raw delicacy. The journey can be long. Anyone who has ever flown across the Pacific knows that very well.

I am trying to look at it from another point of view. Our agriculture committee has looked at the total lack of processing capacity in many parts of Canada. Federally, our meat processing is dominated by just two companies, Cargill and JBS. It is important to remember in today's debate that this is not looking at the idea of whether it is okay to consume horseflesh. That is not the purpose of today's debate. This bill has a very narrow focus, which is on the question of whether live horses should be exported by air for eventual slaughter for human consumption.

One point of view that we could look at is why we are doing this in the first place, why we are allowing another country to reap all the economic benefits of us exporting live horses, and if this is a way for us to look at the issue, as members of Parliament, of increasing the resiliency of our own processing capacity here in Canada. We know it is a very weak link in the supply chain.

We only need to look back at COVID-19 and what that did to our few processing centres. It caused huge rolling backlogs, especially for the cattle industry. Our feedlots were jam-packed full. Many cow-calf operators had to keep their livestock on their ranch lands, because there simply was no room in the feedlots.

I also want to focus on the fact that I was the sponsor of e-petition 4190. It was signed by more than 36,000 Canadians from right across the country. Clearly, this is an issue that many people are quite concerned about. However, I think it is important to highlight a few notable points in the government's response to my petition.

In the response, the government stated that it was “actively working to ensure due diligence is conducted. The Government of Canada must consider the perspectives of all stakeholders”. Further, the government went on to say that the engagement is going to be with:

...animal rights advocacy groups, provincial governments, industry representatives, and Indigenous business owners and organizations to obtain information and their point of view regarding this issue. Engagements are ongoing and continue to be actively pursued to broaden the scope of the consultation process and strengthen the Government’s understanding of the issue.

As a member of Parliament, I have this question: How are the government's engagements on this issue coinciding with the work that the member for Kitchener—Conestoga has done? Has he been apprised of the government's efforts? Is he privy to the information that the government currently has on this issue? I do not know. I have to take his word for it.

I am going to lend my support to this bill in principle at second reading, because I believe that, as legislators, we can do our own consultation at the agriculture committee. Maybe this is an opportunity for us, as members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, to call in those witnesses from all sections of the industry to give their perspectives. We can then make an informed decision.

In conclusion, the NDP will be supporting this bill at second reading, because I do have a very real interest in hearing those perspectives and getting them on the record at committee. Hopefully, that would help us determine a way forward and whether possible amendments to the bill are needed.

With that, I will conclude, and I will again thank the member for Kitchener—Conestoga for giving us this opportunity to debate his bill.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Ben Carr Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to lend my unwavering support to Bill C-355, an act to prohibit the export by air of horses for slaughter and to make related amendments to certain acts. This would be an impactful piece of legislation.

The bill is of great significance for Canadians; it addresses a pressing issue that is top of mind for many, including in my riding of Winnipeg South Centre. I had the privilege to witness the compassion for animal rights and overwhelming support for this bill from constituents during my recent by-election campaign in June. As I went door to door, the issues of horse welfare emerged repeatedly, underscoring the deep concern many Canadians hold regarding the treatment of these animals. This concern knows no party boundaries, and it strikes a chord with all who hold compassion for animals.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my esteemed colleague, the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, for introducing this bill. His dedication to the cause, as well as his commitment to the humane treatment of animals, is truly commendable. Bill C-355 seeks to ensure the humane treatment and handling of livestock, with a special focus on the welfare of horses destined for slaughter or fattening. The manner in which live horses are transported by air, where they are often subjected to cramped conditions during extended flights, raises profound concerns about their well-being and the necessity for stricter regulations.

It is important to recognize that, unfortunately, Canada has one of the weakest records internationally when it comes to humane or even minimally adequate animal welfare legislation. Horses, by their very nature, are predisposed to stress; the conditions they endure during these flights only exacerbate their distress, leading to injuries and immense suffering. The pressing issue at hand is evident in the multitude of articles and reports that have shone light on the hardships faced by these horses before their deaths. The current law allows trips to extend for up to 28 hours, with no provisions for food, water or rest, resulting in a distressing situation for these animals.

The lack of transparency regarding the treatment of these horses once they reach their destination is a deep concern that cannot be ignored. When the horses arrive overseas, they fall outside the purview of Canadian jurisdiction, leaving their well-being in question. It remains unclear when they receive the fundamental necessities of water and food, an omission that likely further extends the already gruelling 28-hour fasting period during transportation. The lack of transparency regarding their treatment and slaughter abroad is particularly troubling given the sensitive nature, physiology and strong flight response of these animals. It is essential that we address this critical gap in our regulations and ensure that the welfare of these horses is protected throughout their entire journey, from start to finish.

While we recognize the importance of trade and international relations, we must not forget our responsibility to protect the welfare of the animals that we export. Our national values and commitment to animal welfare require that we act on this issue. Moreover, Bill C-355 has garnered support from many organizations, including the BC SPCA, the British Columbia Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which have encouraged citizens to engage by signing petitions and writing letters to their representatives. In fact, a federal e-petition has been tabled with over 36,000 signatures, making it one of the largest petitions of this Parliament. The voices of Canadians on this issue are clear.

The live export of horses for human consumption stands as an outdated and cruel practice, with mounting evidence highlighting the immense suffering and injuries inflicted on these animals. The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition has brought attention to this issue, leaving us to ponder why this practice continues. Recent data revealing frequent live horse shipments from my hometown of Winnipeg, in addition to Calgary and Edmonton, along with a staggering 67% increase in live horse exports in the past year, paints a distressing situation.

In contrast, international developments suggest a growing global realization of the need to acknowledge animals as sentient beings deserving protection. The United States, for instance, took a significant step in 2006 by ending the horsemeat industry through the discontinuation of funding for mandatory USDA horsemeat inspections. This action aims to ensure that no American horses face the grim fate of slaughter for meat, whether within or beyond U.S. borders.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has embarked on making positive legislative changes to address this with its “Action Plan for Animal Welfare”. It has introduced an animal welfare bill, established an animal sentience committee, ended live animal export for slaughter and fattening, and committed to considering animal welfare in all legislation.

A related Senate bill, Bill S-270, is also at the second reading stage in the Senate, reflecting the widespread concern for the humane treatment of horses in Canada. The BC SPCA, a strong advocate for animal welfare, emphasizes that no animal should be transported without feed, water or rest for more than eight hours, and horses should not endure such cramped and stressful conditions during air transport. It is vital that we take action to end this practice and to protect the welfare of these animals, ensuring that they are not subjected to prolonged suffering in the name of profit. The BC SPCA supports the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition's efforts to end the live export of horses for slaughter, underscoring the urgency of this matter and the need for immediate action to bring an end to this inhumane practice. Canada has the opportunity to rectify the situation and enforce laws that align with our commitment to animal welfare by passing Bill C-355.

As we advocate for the swift passage of these bills, let us remember that horses cannot afford to wait longer. Their suffering must come to an end. The fate of these horses is in our hands, and we must take decisive action to protect them from further harm. I want to share the following comments made by Mr. Jonas Watson, a highly respected vet in Winnipeg, who happens to be my vet. He said:

“Our 5,000-year relationship with the horse has shaped civilization and constitutes our most meaningful alliance with another species. Without question, the horse represents the most important domestic animal in human history. Their impact on society is almost immeasurable.

“In addition to playing a critical role in both agriculture and warfare, horses provided our first means of travel, trade and communication. Working horses enabled the exchange of ideas, language and culture around the world, leading to widespread social transformation.

“Today, these gentle creatures offer companionship, pleasure and therapy as loyal and devoted pets. Humankind would simply not be where it is today without our reliance on this species.

“It is essential to acknowledge how deeply indebted we are to the horse and, as such, they deserve to be treated with dignity, compassion and respect. The ugly live horse export industry is a black eye for our country and for my city of Winnipeg, and I look forward to its inevitable end. We owe Canadian horses far better than this.”

Those were the remarks of Dr. Jonas Watson in Winnipeg, who is a lead veterinarian.

I want to take this moment before I close to sincerely thank the Winnipeg Humane Society for its ongoing advocacy to help end this practice. Without it, I do not believe it would be possible for us to be here in this moment. I would also like to thank my good friend Jane Fudge. With her strong voice and advocacy, alongside other grassroots members of my constituency in Winnipeg South Centre, she has helped contribute to the progress we are making on this file.

In conclusion, Bill C-355 is an essential piece of legislation that embodies our shared values as Canadians. It reflects the commitment we have to safeguarding the welfare of animals and ensuring that our actions align with our national principles. I encourage each member of the House to support this bill, recognizing that this issue transcends political boundaries and is of the utmost importance to our constituents and the animals who depend on us for their protection and care. Together, we can make a difference and stand up for the humane treatment of horses in Canada.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Madam Speaker, before I get into the legislation, I want to share my thoughts. I first want to express my concern over the misguided priorities of the current Liberal government. Instead of focusing on addressing the worst cost of living crisis in a generation, the Liberals are more focused on targeting Canadian livestock producers in an attempt to score cheap political points. In typical Liberal fashion, they have chosen to divide, distract and stigmatize once again. It would be much more beneficial to our country if the Liberals were focused on addressing the 1.9 million visits to Canadian food banks in a single month, instead of fulfilling the demands of activists, and addressing the housing crisis that has made home ownership unaffordable, instead of punishing Canada's agriculture industry again.

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I look forward to the second hour of debate.

Prohibition of the Export of Horses by Air for Slaughter ActPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It is 12:01 p.m. now, and I just want to remind members that if they want to continue their debate the next time a matter is before the House, they must wait until the Speaker interrupts them, because if they end their speech before then, it is the end of their speech.

Now that I have clarified that, the hon. member will have nine minutes the next time this matter is before the House.

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders



Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON


That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-56, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act and the Competition Act, shall be disposed of as follows:

(a) the bill be ordered for consideration at the second reading stage immediately after the adoption of this order;

(b) when the House resumes debate at the second reading stage of the bill,

(i) not more than one additional member of each recognized party and a member of the Green Party may each speak at the said stage for not more than 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for questions and comments, provided that members may be permitted to split their time with another member,

(ii) at the conclusion of the time provided for the debate at the second reading stage or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, all questions necessary to dispose of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment, provided that, if a recorded division is requested, the vote shall not be deferred, and once proceedings at the said stage have concluded the House shall thereafter adjourn to the next sitting day;

(c) if the bill has been read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance,

(i) it be an instruction to the committee, that during its consideration of the bill, it be granted the power to expand its scope to,

(A) increase the maximum fixed penalty amounts for abuse of dominance to $25 million in the first instance, and $35 million for subsequent orders, for situations where this amount is higher than three times the value of the benefit derived (or the alternative variable maximum),

(B) allow the Competition Bureau to conduct market study inquiries if it is either directed by the Minister responsible for the Act or recommended by the Commissioner of Competition, and require consultation between the two officials prior to the study being commenced,

(C) revise the legal test for abuse of a dominant position prohibition order to be sufficiently met if the Tribunal finds that a dominant player has engaged in either a practice of anti-competitive acts or conduct other than superior competitive performance that had, is having or is likely to have the effect of preventing or lessening competition substantially in a relevant market,

(ii) during consideration of the bill by the committee,

(A) the committee shall have the first priority for the use of House resources for committee meetings,

(B) the committee shall meet between 3:30 p.m. up until 11:59 p.m. on the second sitting day following the adoption of the bill at second reading to gather evidence from witnesses,

(C) all amendments be submitted to the clerk of the committee by noon on the sitting day following the first meeting of the committee,

(D) amendments filed by independent members shall be deemed to have been proposed during the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill,

(E) the committee shall meet at 3:30 p.m., on the second sitting day following the first meeting to consider the bill at clause-by-clause, and if the committee has not completed the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill by 11:59 p.m., all remaining amendments submitted to the committee shall be deemed moved, the Chair shall put the question, forthwith and successively without further debate on all remaining clauses and amendments submitted to the committee as well as each and every question necessary to dispose of the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, and the committee shall not adjourn the meeting until it has disposed of the bill,

(F) a member of the committee may report the bill to the House by depositing it with the Clerk of the House, who shall notify the House leaders of the recognized parties and independent members, and if the House stands adjourned, the report shall be deemed to have been duly presented to the House during the previous sitting for the purpose of Standing Order 76.1(1);

(d) not more than one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the bill at report stage, and 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders that day, or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment, and, if a recorded division is requested, the vote shall not be deferred; and

(e) not more than one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the bill at the third reading stage and 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders that day, or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment, and, if a recorded division is requested, the vote shall not be deferred.

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders


St. Catharines Ontario


Chris Bittle LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing

Madam Speaker, before I begin, I will be seeking unanimous consent. I want to remind members on the other side that if they deny it, the other member will get a full 20-minute slot. I seek unanimous consent to split my time, for a 10-minute speech each, with the member for Winnipeg North.

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Is it agreed?

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders


Some hon. members


Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders



Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I am glad I could help bring the House together on that potentially controversial point about the member for Winnipeg North.

The Conservative member who just spoke was concerned that we are not addressing the housing crisis. I have great news for the member and for the House. We are debating this motion on Bill C-56, the affordable housing and groceries act. I am sure he will be thrilled to vote in favour of it.

After months of Conservative filibuster and delay and over 20 hours of debate over five days, it is clear that the Conservatives have no intention of allowing Bill C-56 to get to a vote. During question period, for 45 minutes of the day, the Conservatives pretend to care about affordability issues for Canadians, but when the rubber meets the road, they are nowhere to be found. They delay, delay, delay.

It was surprising to hear the member who spoke just before me say the Liberals are not prioritizing this. He does not look back to this own members and his own leader to ask why they are not getting Bill C-56 through fast enough to help provide relief to Canadians. This is despite the fact that many of his own members support Bill C-56, such as the Conservative member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, who more than a month ago committed in this House to voting in favour of the bill. Here is what he said on October 5: “I will be joining my Conservatives colleagues in voting to move this bill forward to committee”. That was 46 days ago.

Given all this, I look forward to hearing what is going to be said today. Before my Conservative colleagues rise, I would like to remind them of what this bill does, because I think some of them may have forgotten.

We know that the rising cost of groceries and lack of affordable housing are affecting families across the country. I am pleased to discuss some of the ways we are addressing these important issues through the measures outlined in Bill C-56.

We know that for too many Canadians, including young people and new Canadians, the dream of owning a home is increasingly out of reach and paying rent has become more expensive across the country. The housing crisis has an impact on our economy. Without more homes in our communities, it is difficult for businesses to attract the workers they need to grow and succeed. When people spend more of their income on housing, it means less money is being spent in our communities for necessities like groceries.

Bill C-56 would enhance the goods and services tax rental rebate on new purpose-built rental housing to encourage the construction of more rental homes, including apartment buildings, student housing and senior residences across Canada. The enhanced rebate would apply to projects that began construction on or after September 14, 2023, and on or before December 31, 2030, and that complete construction before 2036. For a two-bedroom rental unit that is valued at $500,000, the enhanced GST rental rebate would deliver $25,000 in tax relief. This is another tool to help create the necessary conditions to build the types of housing we need for families to live in.

The measure would also remove restrictions in existing GST rules to ensure that public service bodies, such as universities, public colleges, hospitals, charities and qualifying non-profits, that build or purchase purpose-built rental housing are permitted to claim the 100% enhanced GST rental rebate. The government is also calling on provinces that currently apply the provincial sales tax or the provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax to rental housing to join us by matching the rebate for new rental housing.

We are also requesting that local governments put an end to exclusionary zoning and encourage building apartments near public transit in order to have their housing accelerator fund applications approved. Launched in March 2023, the housing accelerator fund is a $4-billion initiative designed to help cities, towns and indigenous governments unlock new housing supply, with about 100,000 units total, by speeding up development and approvals through fixing out of date permitting systems, introducing zoning reforms to build more density and incentivizing development close to public transit. Every community across Canada needs to build more homes faster so we can reduce the cost of housing for everyone.

We also need to stabilize the cost of groceries in Canada. With the one-time grocery rebate in July, we delivered targeted inflation relief for 11 million low- and modest-income Canadians and families who needed it the most, with up to an extra $467 for eligible couples with two children and up to an extra $234 for single Canadians without children, including single seniors. This support was welcomed by Canadians, but we knew more needed to be done to address the cost of groceries.

This is why we are taking immediate steps to enhance competition across the Canadian economy, with a focus on the grocery sector, to help stabilize costs for middle-class Canadians. Through Bill C-56, the government is introducing a first set of legislative amendments to the Competition Act to provide the Competition Bureau with the powers to compel the production of information to conduct effective and complete market studies; remove the efficiencies defence, which currently allows anti-competitive mergers to survive challenges if corporate efficiencies offset the harm to competition, even when Canadian consumers would pay a higher price and have fewer choices; and empower the bureau to take action against collaborations that stifle competition and consumer choice, in particular in situations where large grocers prevent smaller competitors from establishing operations nearby.

Bill C-56 builds on other measures that have been introduced to make life more affordable for Canadians, including delivering automatic advance payments of the Canada workers benefit, starting in July 2023, to provide up to $1,518 for eligible single workers and $2,616 for an eligible family, split between three advance payments and a final payment after filing their 2023 tax return; supporting about 3.5 million families annually through the tax-free Canada child benefit, with families this year receiving up to $7,437 per child up to the age of six and up to $6,275 per child aged six through 17; and reducing fees for regulated child care by 50% on average, delivering regulated child care that costs an average of just $10 a day by 2026, with six provinces and territories reducing child care fees to $10 a day or less by April 2, and strengthening the child care system in Quebec with more child care spaces.

This government is taking action, and again, more often than not it is the Conservatives voting against, holding things up and delaying committees with filibuster after filibuster. It is shocking to see, especially because it is blatant hypocrisy. I am sure we will hear speeches about how important it is to provide relief to Canadians, but when will members opposite speak to the Leader of the Opposition and their House leader to say that we need to get this legislation through?

I will not hold my breath that they are going to do that. We have been seeing for a lengthy period of time delay after delay. When will the actions of the Conservative Party match the rhetoric that occurs during question period? Granted, its members love a good slogan, but let us take a look at their voting record. All of the things I mentioned, they have either held up or voted against. They do not care. They only care about chaos in this place. It is unfortunate, because I believe some of them truly do care about their constituents and want to see these benefits flow to them.

Some have said they are going to vote in favour of this legislation, but they remain silent when their leader holds it up in this place. This legislation has been debated quite a bit. The filibuster needs to end. It is time to move forward.

The new proposed housing and grocery support I outlined today would make it easier for Canadians to build more homes and would help them thrive. It would help families with the growing cost of putting food on their table. The passage of Bill C-56 would help us provide a brighter future for Canadians.

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders

12:10 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, New Democrats will be supporting this bill to get work done in the chamber, because we are late on getting to some of the things that are important to Canadians. Some of the amendments to the Competition Bureau are very important. My leader has put forth some of those elements, and they will get a quicker result for Canadians.

The member talked about the importance of this for constituents. Today, my constituents are learning in horror that the government is allowing foreign workers to come in for the NextStar battery assembly plant. I would like to know what the member thinks about that, because he comes from the auto sector, and whether he feels there are not enough Ontarians to fill these jobs, especially given that we are paying $15 billion. The provincial Conservatives and the federal Liberals are turning their backs on Ontario workers and allowing foreign temporary workers to come in.

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders

12:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I am not sure that the question has anything to do with the bill, but I will see if the hon. parliamentary secretary wants to respond to it.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders

12:10 p.m.


Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I am happy to learn more information, but I was prepared to debate this legislation. The member always passionately brings up issues related to him. I am happy to look into it when I have more time. I wish it were a question on the piece of legislation before us, but I look forward to getting back to him later on that.

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders

12:10 p.m.


Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I found it interesting that the member seems to do backflips to somehow blame Conservatives for the fact that the government, even though it has a coalition and a confidence and supply agreement with the NDP, is unable to get legislation passed through this place.

I am not sure if the member has forgotten, but he is actually part of the governing party. He is a parliamentary secretary in the governing party, and the Liberals cannot even pass their own legislation. The level of incompetence in their ability to pass their own legislation is astounding, and it speaks to why our country feels like everything is broken.

I have a specific question for the member that relates directly to competition. We are hearing that, since the year 1995 I believe, there are the fewest number of start-ups in Canada. There is a lack of confidence for entrepreneurs and business owners to start, to invest capital and to bring forward those ideas that eventually become the successful companies we have today.

How can the member reconcile the rhetoric we heard for the last 10 minutes with the fact that there are fewer start-ups in Canada willing to take the risk today than there were when the government took office?

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C‑56Government Orders

12:15 p.m.


Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, that was a very lengthy question. I would like to thank the hon. member for suggesting that I would be able to do a backflip.

On the figurative backflips the hon. member was doing, I guess he is defending his party's filibuster of this legislation. It is dripping in hypocrisy to say that he stands up for Canadians, but will speak to delay everything about this legislation. It is nice for him to suggest that he would vote in favour of ending this filibuster. I hope to see that when this motion comes to pass.