COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill, No. 2: Consideration in Committee of the Whole – Sen. Dalphond

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Senator Dalphond: Minister, thank you for being with us today. I have two questions to ask you about not-for-profit organizations. My first question is about organizations that work with abused women, women who are experiencing domestic violence right now. Domestic violence is an unfortunate reality in our society, and being confined at home only makes matters worse.

In the last budget, you announced additional funding for shelters. With shelters already at capacity, what is being done right now to get that money to those organizations as fast as possible, so they can rent hotel rooms or apartments and give these women a safe place to live?

Mr. Morneau: That’s a very good question. We know that the current situation is creating problems because people are confined together, particularly vulnerable people. That is why we have been looking at the need to provide funding for women’s shelters from the beginning. We started with $50 million, I believe. I don’t have the exact details on how we are going to proceed, but I know that we have allocated funding for that.

We will be watching out for any problems in the coming days and weeks to see if we need to do more.

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Senator Dalphond: But do I understand from your answer that the money is not yet running to these shelters?

Mr. Morneau: What you need to understand is I don’t know exactly the mechanism, but we’ve already allocated the funds. I’m just not sure — not because it isn’t important, but there have been many things I’ve been working on. I’m not sure exactly how those funds have been allocated.

Senator Dalphond: The next question is about this wage subsidy program. How is it adjusted to take into consideration the particularities of the charities as suggested by my colleague Senator Omidvar from Toronto? I think she wrote to you about that.

Mr. Morneau: We found that for the charitable sector, first and foremost, in many cases they were going to be facing the same issues as other organizations — significant decline in revenues. However, it would be particular in the charitable sector in the sense that some charities would not be losing money if they had government sources of revenue because that government source of revenue might not go away, but they would be losing all their donations. For other charities, they might have government sources of revenue because governments might actually be paying their daily stipend, for example, if you’re in a shelter or something. For those charitable organizations, we decided to choose whether or not to include government revenues in their test for whether their revenue went down.

For example, if you were in a situation where you had government revenue, you just had your donations go down and that government revenue was stable, you could not use the government revenue and just demonstrate donations went down. If you’re in a situation where you had government revenue that went down because of your source, you could use it and show that it went down significantly.

We’ve given a double test for charities that we think puts them in a position to demonstrate their challenge. And then, of course, we have specific supports for certain kinds of organizations — food banks, shelters, as you just mentioned — that are particularly challenged during this time. We’re going to continue to think about organizations that are effectively support mechanisms for people during this time. We need to find a way that they have the resources that they need.

Senator Dalphond: Thank you, and may I beg you to make sure the shelters get the money as soon as tomorrow or the day after because they require it now? Thank you, minister.

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