The House resumed consideration of the motion.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on behalf of my constituents, but I am a bit disappointed in the motion moved by the member for . The motion is not based on science. The Bloc Québécois, the NDP and the Liberal Party have made that clear.
I know that Canadians are sick of being inside. Today is my mother's birthday. I wish her a happy birthday, but I will not get to see her because I also have to stay home. She lives 75 kilometres away from me, but I have not seen her in months.
I believe that the member for Calgary Nose Hill missed a golden opportunity. I will pick up on what the member for was saying. He mentioned the issue of vaccine hesitancy. What a great opportunity for every parliamentarian to show their constituents that vaccination is the quickest way for us to regain our freedom and that these vaccines are healthy, safe and effective.
I believe that all members of the House have a role to play in countering the misinformation that is out there in the world and in our country. However, the official opposition and the Conservatives are not helping to counter this misinformation.
On November 25, the member for Calgary Nose Hill told us that no Canadian would be able to be vaccinated until 2030. My colleague from mentioned this earlier. The member's statement was obviously not based on science, and she clearly had not consulted the experts. She just threw out a number to scare Canadians. It was done for partisan purposes. She also said that 2.5 billion people would get the vaccine before Canadians. Again, this is not true.
There is also another issue. Some people, including the Conservative opposition leader, say that we need rapid tests. That is what the Leader of the Opposition says during every question period. However, the rapid tests have been delivered, and the provinces have them now. It is not for me to judge the strategy that the provinces want to adopt for using these tests. The provinces have not yet used all the rapid tests. I would point out that these tests were acquired by Public Services and Procurement Canada and delivered to the provinces several months ago, if not last year. This is another example of misinformation being passed on by the House.
I also think it is important to point out that last week, some members of Parliament spoke out against the lockdowns that some provinces had announced to protect residents. Even though these lockdowns are not popular, I think that politicians, our leaders, have a responsibility to keep their constituents safe.
The member for Calgary Nose Hill condemned the lockdown three weeks ago. Another Conservative member had to apologize after criticizing these measures. I think it is irresponsible for members of the House to criticize these measures when we know that they protect Canadians.
I want to share facts. There are facts that need to be said. We constantly hear the Conservatives say that the government of Canada wasted so much time with the Chinese to try and get the vaccine. That is simply not true.
The signed contracts in July and August, even before those clinical trials were completed. Normally, when drugs become available in Canada, there must be clinical trials and only when the clinical trials are done will Health Canada approve it. Then we could potentially sign a contract.
We did not do that. We took a risk. That is why we have a diversified portfolio. At that time we did not know which vaccine would be most efficient or which vaccine would work. We also knew that the supply chain may not be as stable. That is why we have a diverse vaccine portfolio.
Yes, I know that in January and February there were some issues, but the target of six million doses by end of Q1 always remained. It is true that we sometimes did not communicate the reality of the availability of vaccines to some provinces. We told them they would get six million, and they did not. They got 9.5 million vaccines. I think that is good news. It helps with planning.
However, we know that there may still continue to be some supply issues. Pfizer is a stable company that has been really helpful to Canada, and that is worth mentioning. Pfizer has been a partner, and I believe that is because of the working relationship that our has built with it. Pfizer did not only deliver on its quarterly objectives, it even surpassed them. It is worthwhile to mention the great work it is doing to help Canada administer more vaccines.
The other issue I want to mention is that we know we are going to get 48 million to 50 million vaccines by the end of Q2. That is more than enough to vaccinate every Canadian who choses to get vaccinated by the end of June, or at the least have the first dose, and administer a second dose.
There are other facts. So far we have received just over 15 million doses. We know that Canada has administered just over 13 million vaccines. We know that we are now third of the G20 countries, in terms of administration of vaccines. We know that more than 30% of Canadians have now received a vaccine in Canada. That is great news. That is a testament to the work that is being done, collaboratively, with the provinces.
However, I have issues with the motion, again, calling on all adults to have access to a vaccine by the May long weekend. This has also been brought up by the Bloc and the NDP. This is just unattainable with the rate vaccinations are being administered. Canada is administering just over 300,000 vaccines per day on good days.
It would have been fun to debate how we could help provinces administer more vaccines during the weekend because we know those numbers tend to go down slightly. How do we promote the uptake during the weekend? That could have been a good issue to debate today, but no, we are debating a partisan issue.
The other problem I have with this motion is section (iii), which says, “the government extended the recommended interval for the second vaccine dose to four months”, as though that was a political decision.
Shame on the member for for even putting that in the motion. That is absolutely false. That is not how the Government of Canada operates. We rely on experts. We rely on the advice of doctors.
It is true the label on most vaccines requires x number of weeks, but that is because the clinical trial said that. Now we have access real-world data. The real-world data, for example, shows the UK adapted a one-dose strategy. It worked well, and its economy is opening.
I know that soon, in July, if the take-up of vaccines is high, we will again have the opportunity to find our freedoms. I have high hopes for the provinces. With two million more Pfizer vaccines being delivered per week in May and 2.5 million per week in June, we will be able to reach that target. I am confident that the provinces will be able to deliver that.
Now is the time to unite. We can work together. We can work with the provinces, and if they need help, we can certainly provide some resources to augment the capacity for administering vaccines.
Finally, while not many of the opposition members are talking about planning for the future, we have a minister who is already there, who has already signed a contract. In 2022, we can expect 35 million boosters for Canadians who choose to have a booster at that time. We will have 30 million more in 2023, and an option to exercise 100 million vaccines.
The Liberal government, the minister and the have a plan to deliver vaccines for Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with my colleague, the hon. member for .
I would first like to send my love and prayers to the family of Diana Law, the dedicated 57-year-old local Peace Arch Hospital nurse and mother who leaves behind her husband and two teenage children. Diana died on April 14 from complications of COVID-19 after months of battling it and other health issues in our community.
As a nation, we have been through an unbelievable amount of pain in the past 14 months, but none more than the families whose loved ones have suffered or were lost. Our health care workers, like Diana, who put themselves at risk to help others, are true Canadian heroes.
Earlier this week, I asked the in question period if he was sure he had no regrets about his pandemic response. The answered by saying she had no regrets about “being there for Canadians and, indeed, for provinces...every step of the way.” I was amazed that she was able to complete that sentence with a straight face.
She said every step of the way, but how are these for missed steps?
Step one was to secure vaccines. As of today, 2.7% of Canadians are fully vaccinated and 30% have received only one dose. Since public health officials are tying vaccine rates to public health restrictions, these numbers have very real consequences for Canadian families that cannot wait to reunite and businesses praying that they can tread water long enough to one day reopen. At 2.7%, Canada ranks 76th in the world and second last in the G7.
As for the vaccines we do have, the government’s confusing messaging and conflicting advice have only caused more stress and uncertainty for Canadians. My constituents are constantly asking me why Canada is the only country with a four-month wait between doses, which ignores the direction of the vaccine manufacturers and the professionals that the member for said the government relies on. The answer is simple: It is because of the government’s failure to secure vaccines.
On Monday, we learned that the European Union has launched a lawsuit against AstraZeneca for breaching their vaccine supply contract. Meanwhile, back home, shipments have been either cancelled or delayed countless times. There is a new headline every week, yet the Liberal government sits idly by bragging about the next shipment, which might arrive, and reassuring Canadians of the government’s diverse portfolio of vaccines. This is not a retirement trading account. It is a pandemic response amidst an urgent crisis. Canadians do not want eight different vaccines a year from now. Those who want them, want two shots of one vaccine now.
Step two was to secure the border. If it cannot secure vaccines, the government should at least try to keep the virus and variants out of the country in the first place through border restrictions and testing. Instead, the Liberal government claimed border measures do not work. In fact, on March 13 of last year the said, “border measures are highly ineffective and, in some cases, can create harm.”
We do not need to look very far to see that this is false. Atlantic Canada took this approach, with many provinces imposing restrictions, and it has worked. PEI has had 179 cases in total. Newfoundland has had just over 1,000. We can look at Australia and New Zealand. These countries, two of Canada’s closest friends and hopefully future CANZUK partners, implemented tough border measures on day one. This week, 50,000 Kiwis gathered shoulder to shoulder for a concert in Auckland’s Eden Park. New Zealand has had fewer than 2,300 confirmed cases. That is not a daily total; that is the total. Australia also acted swiftly and has never had more than 1,000 new cases a day nationally. That is pretty good for a country of 25 million people.
Enhanced border measures are what my Conservative colleagues and I have called for from the beginning. As far back as January 27, 2020, the member for asked the Liberal government when it would institute enhanced screening at the border. On February 3, the member for inquired about stopping flights from China. For weeks the Liberals ignored these calls.
On March 5, 2020, the said “knee-jerk reactions” are not helpful, and that Canada will not limit travel. Of course, the Liberals eventually changed their minds and implemented some of the most arbitrary and difficult-to-understand border measures in the world.
There was an unsafe, expensive, failed hotel quarantine regime for international travellers arriving by air, but individuals at land crossings, like the ones in my riding, were not required to be part of it. Private plane companies are advertising that their international passengers are not required to quarantine, and a robust taxi business is bringing people across the border, which allows them to fly up to the border and then cross in a car.
Just last week, 14 months into the pandemic, as cases surged and we were told the third wave was testing the limits of ICUs across the country, the government was still allowing travellers from the world's biggest COVID-19 hot spots to touch down at Canada's airports. Dozens of people on COVID-positive flights arrived in Canada in April alone, bringing new variants with them.
Either this is real or it is not. Either this is urgent or it is not. The government seems incapable of making up its mind.
In B.C., travel is restricted within the province. Just last week, a traveller from a country with 300,000 new cases a day could land at YVR, but a grandmother living in Surrey could not travel alone by car to wave through a window to her grandchild in Prince George. It was not until after countless calls from the Conservatives and our leader's press conference the morning of April 22 that the Liberals finally listened and temporarily stopped international travel from these regions, but only for 30 days. The reaction from most of my constituents was that it is too little, too late.
Step three was to secure mental health. In B.C., we are facing another emergency fuelled by this poor response to COVID-19: a mental health and addiction crisis. In February alone, B.C. lost 155 people to drug overdoses, a 107% year-over-year increase. In January, the number of deaths caused by overdose was tragically even higher, at 174. Overdose deaths per capita in B.C. are the highest they have been in 25 years.
These are not just numbers on a spreadsheet or in a House of Commons speech. These are Canadians' sons and daughters who needed help and did not get it. This is another tragedy. The Liberals' first budget in over two years does not do enough to address the ability of those suffering from addiction to access treatment. Where is the comprehensive recovery-oriented plan to tackle this opioid epidemic?
Another notable omission from the Liberals' 700 page of red ink was the absence of any increase in health transfers to the provinces. Why is Ontario calling for military assistance? Why are businesses and lives closed down? If there ever was a time to spend more within Canada, it would be in these circumstances, and the provinces have repeatedly called for this.
The government has not been there for Canadians every step of the way. It is time for a new talking point.
I will leave members with this. This third wave can be summed up with one word: avoidable. Consider our neighbours to the south, where vaccines have now been widely available for months to those who want them and where 29% of people are fully vaccinated. New cases have been steadily dropping since January. The U.S. has avoided Canada's recent surge. American families are reuniting, safely gathering in restaurants and going to hockey games. Disneyland and small businesses from New York to Los Angeles have reopened. Last weekend, Frances McDormand accepted her third Oscar in person, the same way she did her first two.
They are living in a different world, and it is especially frustrating in border ridings like mine. We can look around the world and see pubs opening in the U.K., street musicians and social gatherings in the streets of Moscow and huge festivals being held in China. Where are Canadians? They are isolated, isolating, frustrated and depressed.
This is particularly disheartening for the families separated by ever-changing public health restrictions that are in place provincially because of the Liberal government's avoidable failure to secure the border and vaccines for Canadians who want them. It is also frustrating for the countless businesses that are struggling and those in our community that have permanently closed, like Float House South Surrey.
Here we are, 14 months into the pandemic, with no end in sight, no road to recovery and more frustration. While our friends and allies around the world are getting back to the things and people they love, we are in the middle of a preventable deadly third wave that is taking lives, packing hospitals, causing extraordinary stress and mental health issues, leading to record overdose deaths in B.C., and causing businesses to close for good.
This was preventable. This is unacceptable. Canadians deserve more from their leaders. They deserve better.
It is time for an urgent response from the Liberal government. My Conservative colleagues and I have been calling for this for months. It is what we are calling for today, and it is what we will keep calling for until the Liberal government listens.
Madam Speaker, on my way up to the Hill today, I encountered a great young man named Matthew. He works as a landscaper. He is doing some of the landscaping around our beautiful parliamentary precinct. Matthew is a worker, and he is a member of LiUNA. He has the kind of job that built our country.
Waves after waves of immigrants came here and worked in construction to build our roads, build our facilities and, as in the case of Matthew, who is from Winchester, to beautify our communities. They had jobs that could provide them with a good life. If they got out of bed in the morning and worked hard all day, as people like Matthew always do, they could expect to have a home, put good nutritious food on the table and pay the bills for their kids, but Matthew pulled me aside to tell me about the silent attack on him and people like him that has occurred over the last year in Canada. It is the silent tax we call inflation.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Hon. Pierre Poilievre: It speaks to how out of touch the members of this House of Commons are that they burst into laughter when I mention the struggles people like Matthew are having with inflation. Maybe they will not be laughing after they hear the whole story.
In Winchester where Matthew lives, he is seeing house prices skyrocket as cash is flowing into the system. Those with money have been able to bid up housing prices. Young people with less accumulated net equity cannot, therefore, make a purchase.
One family in a Riverside South community, not far from here, has been outbid nine times, most recently for a house that went $400,000 over asking price. It was a house that was listed for $800,000, and it went for $1.2 million. This family is losing hope of ever owning a home.
This massive increase in housing prices has coincided with the government's decision to pay its bills with printed money. The last fiscal year, the Bank of Canada lent $300 billion to the government, more than the government normally collects in taxes. This year, it is going to lend, at the present rate, $156 billion. This has increased the money supply by 20%.
What has that done to inflation? This month inflation has gone above the 2% target the Bank of Canada said that it would reach. Furthermore, specific items, particularly those items that the poor spend a larger share of their budget on, such as food, have gone up even more. Meat prices are up about 6%. Bakery items are up 5%. Vegetables are up 6%. Gas prices have gone up from $0.78 to $1.18, and of course, housing prices are up by 38%.
This is great news if someone is rich. If they have a $10-million mansion and their property value goes up by 38%, they have gained almost $4 million in net worth that they did not even have to work for, but if someone is in the working class, getting up every day and trying to build up enough savings for a down payment on a house through wages that do not rise as fast as housing prices, then they are out of luck.
Not only is it more difficult for them to afford that original down payment, but it is also now more expensive to rent because landlords pass on the higher housing and real estate prices to their tenants. That is the surprise and sneaky attack that the government is carrying out on working class people across this country.
What is the justification for all of this money being printed? Originally, the central bankers came to the finance committee and said not to worry as they were doing this extraordinary thing of buying up government debt and pumping cash into the system, solely to ensure what they called the efficient functioning of the market. Whenever they use indiscernible words they are hiding something.
We know that the market is functioning. Both capital and credit markets are flowing. The stock market actually rose and the TSX rose in market value above the size of our entire economy, about a fifth higher, in fact. That is something that has never happened in Canada in modern financial history.
As for credit markets, mortgage lending is up in volume by 20% year over year, which a massive growth, especially in a year when the economy actually went down. Clearly the market is functioning just fine.
Then the Liberals said they needed to protect the money supply. They did not want everyone to be afraid of COVID and stuff their money under their beds because they are afraid of losing everything and collapse the money supply in the process. That is not a problem either because the money supply has actually increased, according to the M2 measure, by 20%, just like the mortgage volumes.
Then the Liberals said they needed to make sure there is enough cash in the system. Households and corporations have cut $200 billion in the bank accounts right now, so that cannot be the justification. By the way, the households that have that cash are, of course, the very wealthy. They are the ones who benefit from these schemes, so that cannot be the justification for all of this money printing, nor can their last claim that they were trying to stop deflation.
The last three governors of the Bank of Canada said that it would be a disinflationary event and that prices would drop. We now know that was not true either. I said it a year ago and I will say it again, the Liberals' money printing is raising the prices. Inflation is now above the 2% target, with the Governor of the Bank of Canada admitting that it could go higher still in the next reported monthly data, so what they are doing is not fighting deflation.
What has motivated this? Let us look at the numbers themselves. Last year, the government's deficit was $352 billion. How much debt did the Bank of Canada buy? It bought $302 billion. Of the new debt the government issued, 85% was bought up by the central bank, effectively turning on its printing presses.
This year, on a Monday, the announced that she would have a $154-billion deficit. On the Wednesday of the same week, two days later, the bank governor said he was going to buy $156 billion. These guys over here are borrowing $154 billion and the Bank of Canada of course is lending $156 billion. Is it a total coincidence the two line up almost exactly the same and were both announced within 48 hours of one another?
Of course, the Bank of Canada is simply acting as the funding arm of the government. Because the government cannot control its spending, it is asking the bank to print the money instead, driving up the cost of living for working-class people like Matt. They deserve to own a house, to have food and clothing for their families, but they may not be able to afford it because of the inflation the government is driving.
This is an inflation tax the government is imposing. It is ultimately just like raising the GST. It applies to everything that people buy and makes life more expensive. It is time to get it under control.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
It is a pleasure to follow my friend in the debate on the motion. I find it somewhat surprising, as the member for has pointed out, the issue of some relevancy to it. The member wants to be focused on the deficit and concerns related to the deficit and therein lies a significant difference between the Government of Canada and the official opposition.
We have argued from day one that we were going to have the pandemic as the number one issue and that we would have the backs of Canadians in every way humanly possible throughout this process. There are members of the Conservative Party who are wishy-washy. Some days they are sympathetic to the pandemic, other days they are concerned about the deficit. Some say we spend too much, others are saying we are not spending enough in certain areas.
The motion brought forward by the Conservative Party today is lacking any sort of inspiration. We could have done so much better in terms of an opposition day. If they wanted to talk about the vaccination, we could have focused the debate more on what we could be doing to encourage people to get their vaccination. That is a huge issue. All levels of government are looking at that, even school divisions are looking at that. Different stakeholders are all concerned about how we can ensure that we get the maximum number of people to take the shot. We need that as a nation. It is in our collective best interests to bring that up. I would have enjoyed having that debate. During that debate, members still could have pointed out other aspects. As we have seen, members talked about a wide variety of issues already today. However, that would have been far more productive.
Another idea we could have talked about might have been the whole issue of our environment because the Conservatives are flip-flopping all over the place on that issue. Do they believe in real climate change? It depends on who we ask. Sometimes the leader of the Conservative Party says yes and the party membership says no. Many Conservative MPs for years and years have been saying no to a price on pollution. The current leader seems to have adopted what the Liberal Party and the rest of the world have been saying, that yes, a price on pollution is a good thing.
There are all sorts of things we could have been debating. On the issue of the motion itself, the Conservatives are completely out of touch with reality. I always enjoy speeches by the member for . The Conservatives would have had 40 million or 50 million vaccines in September of last year. Domestic production would have been ramped up and going in July of last year.
It does not work that way. The reality is that there has been a process of consultation, working with stakeholders, ensuring Canada as a nation was doing as much as possible in order to minimize the negative impacts of the coronavirus. We have been doing that and working with stakeholders and Canadians from coast to coast to coast from the beginning.
We have seen some very encouraging things in the last number of months. I remember toward the end of last year when we finally started to have hope that the vaccines were going to be coming out. Contrary to what Conservatives might like to tell people, it was only at the end of last year that they were starting to be approved. Canada was one of the first countries in the world to start receiving vaccines.
It has not been perfect. Companies like Pfizer wanted to ramp up services in January and February in order to have larger numbers, which not only benefited Canada but countries around the world. That did cause some disruption and concern, but late last year we set a target of six million doses by the end of March, the first quarter of the year. We more than exceeded that.
Not that long ago I did Facebook Live and talked about how Canada as a country will now have somewhere between 45 million and 50 million doses of vaccine. Our population is 37.5 million and we are going to have 45 million to 50 million doses of vaccine before the end of June. We are a federation, meaning we have to work with provinces, and that is what we have done. Our primary responsibility was to ensure the vaccines were safe and to get them to communities, and that is what the federal government has done.
The Conservatives twist the numbers. They will say that fewer than 2% of Canadians have had the double dose. They should listen to what health care experts are saying. Why would they use 2%? The number they should be using is the number of people who have been vaccinated. It is not a political decision in terms of when people should get the second dose, at least not at the national level. We are consistently following the advice of health experts. Science matters with this government. Obviously the Conservatives do not give a damn about science, health experts or what they are saying because their comments do not reflect it. I say shame on the Conservative Party of Canada. The misleading information that comes from the Conservative Party can be found in speeches that its leader gave today in the House on the issue, and even the health critic.
The facts are there and speak for themselves. Is Canada number one of all of the countries? No. We have had some limitations that other countries have not had, i.e., domestic production. That is no fault of this government over the last four years. On that issue, we have invested tens of millions of dollars to ramp up so we do not find ourselves in this situation in the future, especially if booster shots are required and things of that nature. We are investing to ensure that we will have domestic capability in the future. It is not this government's fault that many years ago domestic manufacturing started to disappear. We have been very successful in acquiring vaccine doses.
Conservatives talk about percentages and like to play with statistics to put fear in Canadians, but we know what the facts really are. Close to 15 million Canadians have already received a vaccine, not in terms of doses in arms but Canada as a country. We will have almost 50 million doses before the end of June. Almost 13 million have been administered by provinces and territories, and that is an important point. Conservatives do not seem to want to recognize that we are in a federation, that the federal government needs to work with provinces and territories. The provinces have a lot of the controls for which we are being criticized and—