Bill C-8—Consideration of Subject Matter in Committee of the Whole—Senator Dalphond

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Halls of Parliament, Ottawa

Senator Dalphond: Thank you for being here today, minister. I have a question about your ministerial discretion. Last week, the Senate unanimously adopted a motion calling on you to grant Canadian citizenship to Raif Badawi, who is being detained in Saudi Arabia. A similar motion was adopted in the House of Commons. Do you plan to take action in response to this motion?

Mr. Mendicino: Thank you for the question, senator. My department and I have carefully reviewed the motion adopted by the Senate. This issue is very important to everyone.

We are looking into all of the legal obligations. This is a very delicate situation, as you know.

I’m very concerned for the safety of Mr. Badawi and his family. We are in contact with our counterparts, and I’m committed to remaining in contact with all members of Parliament and senators to work on this matter.

Senator Dalphond: Minister, my next question is about those temporary workers who come to Canada. A report was released by Dalhousie University, St. Thomas University and the Cooper Institute about the conditions of these workers in P.E.I. Recently we heard about the condition of these workers in Quebec. The situation is the same. There are appalling conditions.

Are you considering tagging the authorizations given to businesses to bring foreign workers into Canada to a set of undertakings to provide proper accommodation and proper living conditions to these workers?

Mr. Mendicino: Thank you very much for the question, senator. I do echo your concerns around the conditions that migrant workers have had to endure over the course of the pandemic.

The pandemic has certainly visited upon that community a high degree of cases. I will just simply assure you and all members of the chamber that the government is very sensitive to that. That is why we have provided over $100 million intended directly to support migrant workers and to improve their conditions. We are looking at other areas where we can provide certainty for migrant workers, including the essential workers’ pathway, which does provide status for some workers who are employed on farms and in food processing plants.

We know there are challenges, but we are certainly committed to working with you, with employers in the sector and, indeed, with the migrant workers themselves. When you come to Canada, whether you’re here temporarily or you’re here to start the next chapter of your life, it’s the government’s expectation that people can work in a safe and healthy environment. That is something that we are committed to ensuring.

Senator Dalphond: Thank you, minister. We’ll be looking forward to concrete results. Thank you.

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