Jeremy Patzer, MP for Cypress Hills—Grasslands joined his colleagues on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology for their first online meeting Thursday morning. Industry Minister Navdeep Bains told the committee he was unavailable for questions at this meeting. Small Business Minister Mary Ng appeared, along with departmental staff.
“I never imagined a month ago that I’d be participating and voting remotely in a committee here from my office in Swift Current,” said Patzer.
During the meeting, Patzer asked witnesses about the government’s plans for Canada’s economy and supply chains.
In the absence of Industry Minister Navdeep Bains, the Deputy Minister spoke on behalf of the Department of Industry. He emphasized that the most immediate concern for supply chains has been for personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies. He also noted that they are working with Canadian manufacturers to repurpose their facilities for producing sanitizer and filtration materials for masks and respirators.
“There are manufacturers and small businesses that have wanted to help out,” said Patzer. “They have gone through the online portals and processes, and they have been told, ‘We don’t have anything for you right now, but just wait because we’ll get a hold of you.’ We do have shortages and issues, so why are we not allowing industry or small businesses to join in?”
Patzer has also asked for a report from the Department of Industry regarding their engagement with manufacturing and small businesses in greater detail.
“At this point, I am looking to get more details from them,” he said. “Having a Team Canada approach means we need to make the most of our Canadian industry. That will not happen without a plan, and we did not get a clear sense of having one during the meeting.”
Lastly, Patzer raised the subject of a longer-term strategy for reopening the economy. The Deputy Minister referred back to what Small Business Minister Mary Ng had said earlier in the meeting, in response to Conservative Shadow Minister of Industry Michelle Rempel Garner’s questions. Rempel Garner had asked her when the government’s plan for safely relaunching the economy would be forthcoming with timelines, testing, and reopening in stages. Minister Ng responded in general terms that the government’s measures for businesses include access to cash flow and keeping employees hired so that they will be prepared for when the economy restarts. Rempel Garner noted that the answers given do not indicate that a specific plan or timeline is in development.
In response to the Industry Minister’s unavailability, the committee passed a motion calling for him to appear by Thursday, April 30th.
MP Jeremy Patzer has asked constituents and concerned members of industry to bring their questions related to Canadian industry to his attention.