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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 030

CONTENTS

Monday, February 14, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 030
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, February 14, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer



Government Orders

[S. O. 57]

  (1100)  

[Translation]

An Act Respecting Certain Measures Related to COVID-19

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned 

    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the consideration of Government Business No. 8, I move:
     That debate be not further adjourned.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period.

[English]

    I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places or use the “raise hand” function so that the Chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate in this question.
    The hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil.
    Mr. Speaker, let me begin by expressing profound disappointment on the part of the official opposition for what is effectively a hammer being dropped on a very important bill, limiting debate and limiting parliamentary scrutiny.
    Last week, we proposed what I thought was a reasonable amendment to the motion. The amendment would have allowed an expedited process of parliamentary scrutiny and would have allowed timely and thorough examination of this bill.
    The challenge we have is that we are seeing this pattern when it comes to dealing with legislation. We have a two and a half billion-dollar bill that is being supported by all sides. That makes it even more important that we provide scrutiny by having the committee look at this and be able to provide reasonable amendments if required and, more important, have the minister come to committee to answer the questions of parliamentarians. After all, that is our job. It is our job to provide oversight on spending.
     I will remind the Speaker as well that the Senate is not even sitting this week so there is really no reason for this bill to be rushed. Therefore, we have an opportunity to look at the bill and provide some reasonable amendments.
    Given all of the circumstances we are dealing with, including that the Senate is not sitting and the fact that it has all-party support, can the minister give me one coherent reason why we would need to rush this bill at this point and not have parliamentary oversight over this piece of legislation?

  (1105)  

    Madam Speaker, I agree with the member opposite that this is a very important bill. I believe the member understands the reasons, but I want to make sure everyone knows those reasons.
    Rapid tests have become extremely important for millions of Canadians over the last few weeks. Once we started not only procuring them but delivering them in October 2020, which is obviously more than a year ago, we increased by five times the number of rapid tests that we were able to deliver in December, which was multiplied again by four times the number of rapid tests delivered in January. That is 20 times more tests, but the demand is increasing. The supply chains are strained and we need to be there.
     Therefore, this bill must go forward. I welcome the advice and guidance that we will be hearing throughout the day.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have talked with just about everyone here, and it seems to me that people support the bill.
    Rapid tests are important, but so are the parliamentary way of doing things and the democratic process. All the parties agreed that we could do this quickly without rushing anyone, could let people ask questions and try to get answers to those questions, but now the government is rushing us and breaking down open doors with a closure motion. The other parties were willing to move this bill through quickly, but only if they were given time for dialogue.
    My question is simple: Why are the Liberals refusing to have that dialogue in committee, for example, and that debate in the House? Why the rush?
    Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to hear my colleague from La Prairie talking about dialogue. We are going to be having one all day with many hours of important discussion. There will be other debates to follow, because we are only at second reading for this bill.
    I have had a lot of discussions over the past few weeks with my counterpart from Quebec, Mr. Dubé. Thanks to those discussions and our co-operation with Quebec, we were able to deliver 35 million tests for Quebeckers alone in January, just a few weeks ago. Those deliveries will continue. With this dialogue also comes a responsibility to continue providing federal government support to the millions of Quebeckers who need it.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, our hearts go out to the hundreds of Canadians who have passed away as this pandemic continues, and we know we have a responsibility as parliamentarians to move very quickly on this. As we know, our leader, the member for Burnaby South, has been pushing for rapid tests and immediate procurement of them for some months, but we know with this bill we also need to make sure there is parliamentary accountability. Our health critic, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, has been foremost in the House calling for a clear accountability schedule.
    Can the minister confirm formally today that the government will be reporting every six months to Parliament with full disclosure on the number of tests purchased, where they have been distributed and the effectiveness of the program? Can he confirm that now?
    Madam Speaker, the answer is yes. That is in part thanks to the advocacy of the member for New Westminster—Burnaby. He is a strong leader in his caucus. In fact, I have been engaged with many other leaders in B.C. over the last few days and weeks, as elsewhere in Canada. Those rapid tests, as the member mentioned, are essential to keep fighting the virus, and I welcome his input and the input of his entire caucus.
    Madam Speaker, when the will and support are there from the chamber, we can very easily get things passed such as important legislation. I think of legislation that we passed late last year, and here we have before us legislation that would enact literally hundreds of millions of dollars toward rapid testing. There is absolutely no doubt that this is important legislation, given the very nature of the debates we have been witnessing, especially last week's concurrence report that was brought up to prevent some debate from taking place.
    Does the minister not agree, given the very nature of the importance of rapid testing and that provinces, territories and stakeholders are calling for more rapid tests, that Ottawa has to step up to the plate and provide these badly needed tests, especially when we think of our small businesses, individuals and people who are in such high need today? We have witnessed that in particular over the last two and a half months.

  (1110)  

    Madam Speaker, he is entirely right. These rapid tests were delivered in large numbers to the provinces and territories for the purposes he mentioned. They would also be delivered directly to chambers of commerce, the Canadian Red Cross and community organizations that have direct and strong links with Canadians in their communities across Canada. They have been extremely useful since October 2020. Provinces and territories, in the last few weeks, have asked for enhanced quantities of these rapid tests, which is great news. We must continue to support them in their important and sometimes difficult efforts to deal with and fight the virus.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, it is always nice to rise and speak in the House, but I would rather be debating something other than a gag order.
    What is happening once again this morning is that the government has decided to shut down debate on a bill that will cost billions of dollars.
    Let us be very clear. On this side of the House, we are in favour of purchasing rapid tests, and I think it is safe to say that all parliamentarians agree on that. For more than a year and a half, we have been pushing the government to purchase and develop rapid tests to give people more tools, so they can get on with their lives, despite the pandemic we are facing. We have no problem with that.
    What we have a problem with is the $2.5 billion we are talking about spending. Parliamentarians must at least have a chance to carefully examine each expenditure. As my Bloc Québécois colleague said earlier, that is our job, and we must do it properly.
    We are also surprised by the sense of urgency. Why the rush to act immediately? There is no hurry. First of all, the bill, as drafted, is retroactive. This proves that we have already started to act, so there is no immediate urgency.
    Better still, if by chance this motion is adopted with the complicity of others, the bill will be passed around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. I say bravo and thank you, but it will have to go to the Senate, and the Senate is not sitting this week. There is no urgency.
    Why is the government creating yet another crisis?
    Madam Speaker, my esteemed colleague, whom I very much like, mentioned the word “urgency” several times, and this is indeed an urgent matter.
    We are in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic with the omicron variant, which is filling hospital beds in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. The provinces and territories need more rapid tests now, in addition to the ones they received over the past few weeks and months.
    I completely agree that the Canadian government needs to be accountable. Again, I note the commitment we are making with the NDP member for New Westminster—Burnaby to report back every six months. Full reports on the cost, numbers and usage for the rapid tests will be released. Again, I congratulate him on his contribution.
    We have all day to talk about this in a meaningful way.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I must say, parenthetically, that I sat on the health committee for the last two years and my hon. colleague, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, a year and a half ago, was hammering at the need for this government to provide rapid tests. Here we have a bill before us, a two-section bill, that would allow this government to provide rapid tests to Canadians, and the Conservatives are saying, “We have to hold this up.” I do not understand their position.
    However, my question is about the numbers. In my talks with department officials, they confirmed that this $2.5 billion would purchase about 400 million rapid tests. To put that in context, Dr. David Juncker, the department chair of biomedical engineering at McGill University, estimates that with the highly transmissible omicron variant Canada would require as many as 600 million to 700 million tests per month and then two tests per person every week once the wave subsides.
    Considering how important testing and tracing is, because we cannot treat what we do not measure, can the hon. minister tell us if this is anywhere near the number of rapid tests that this country is actually going to need to help get Canadians out of this pandemic?

  (1115)  

    Madam Speaker, my colleague is right: We cannot fight what we do not know or do not measure. That is one important reason, as he alluded, we need rapid tests and, obviously, the additional PCR molecular tests that we have been using for many months. These are complementary tools. We had the delivery of 140 million rapid tests in January, and in addition to that we have been delivering rapid tests to chambers of commerce, small and medium-sized businesses, community organizations, the Canadian Red Cross and many other partners across Canada. This is key, as the member rightly said, towards measuring and appropriately fighting the impact that COVID-19 has on our society.
    Madam Speaker, one of things that we have begun to talk about in the House over and over again is democracy. I think it is incredibly important, when we understand exactly what is going on outside, that people are frustrated with the democratic leadership from across the aisle here. If we do not begin to address these things, if all we do is pass motions that the minority government wishes to have passed, then we are not honouring the democratic process and I take significant umbrage with that. I think that is inappropriate and not what I was elected to come here for. I would really like to hear the hon. minister speak on that.
    Madam Speaker, I will take this wonderful opportunity to say that we are all privileged to be leaders in this democratic process. We will have an entire day today to speak about this particular bill.
     More generally, we have the responsibility every day of looking after the health and safety of Canadians. That comes, in part, through those investments. These are big investments. We are speaking about $2.5 billion that the provinces, territories, and Canadians more broadly need now in order to avoid many more billions of dollars of social, economic and fiscal costs that COVID-19 has created for our society and will continue to if we do not have all the tools that we need to fight this crisis.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, of course we hope that rapid tests will be available. The member for Burnaby South has been a strong advocate for increasing distribution to everyone and, as I mentioned earlier, the member for Vancouver Kingsway really pushed for greater transparency in Bill C-10.
    Can the minister officially confirm whether a full report will be provided to the House every six months on how much money was spent, how many tests were purchased and how the tests were distributed?
    Madam Speaker, I confirm unequivocally that a report will be provided every six months on the important elements that the member just mentioned, and rightly so, namely, the dollar amounts, the number of tests and their use in the following months.
    As he pointed out, this will be a way of ensuring that there is significant and necessary accountability on the part of the Canadian government on this issue.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I wonder if the Minister of Health could provide those following the debate with an explanation of what the federal government's role is, with respect to rapid tests. I think it is an excellent example of a team Canada approach where provinces, territories and communities are working with Ottawa to ensure that rapid testing is done.
    Could the minister just go over the process of why the federal government is the governing body that is actually buying and procuring these rapid tests?

  (1120)  

    Madam Speaker, I will say three things, briefly.
    First, about the investments that we have made, $8 out of every $10 of the total economic support that has gone to businesses and workers over the past 22 months has been provided by the federal government's leadership.
    Second, an additional $63 billion has been invested in protecting the health and safety of Canadians. That is in addition to other investments, such as the Canada health transfers that have obviously continued and even increased during COVID-19.
    Third, the federal government's leadership is key when it comes to providing rapid tests, PPE, vaccines and therapeutics, such as the Paxlovid antiviral treatment that we now have in Canada. We are among the first countries in the world to have that. As a federation, we have an advantage, but also a responsibility when it comes to the leadership of the federal government. I am glad that all members of the house, certainly on this side, agree with the importance of that leadership.
    Madam Speaker, the hon. health minister suggests that rapid tests have been important to his government. Two summers ago my colleagues and I in the Ontario Conservative caucus tested a rapid test that was widely available in the U.S. and Europe, but had not received approval by Health Canada after months of delays. We were condemned by the Prime Minister and state media. The article is there. Instead of picking up the pace on approvals, Health Canada tried to threaten me and punish the rapid test manufacturer.
    If rapid tests are so important to the Liberal government, why has there been a constant pattern of delay and intimidation from it, instead of actually working to get more tests into the hands of Canadians?
    Madam Speaker, the member for York—Simcoe is asking why they are important to the federal government. Let me give two examples.
    The first is from the regulatory side, which the member mentioned. Health Canada has approved dozens of rapid tests. These are not only antigen tests, but molecular tests. It has approved all sorts of other tests over the past months and years. Canadians expect Health Canada to do its job, which is to protect the health and safety of Canadians, by approving as many rapid tests as it can, but also by making sure that these tests are efficient and safe.
    The second reason I can give to demonstrate the importance of rapid tests is as I mentioned. Before December, 2021, on average, provinces and territories were requesting about seven million rapid tests per month. We moved from seven million to 35 million in December, 2021, and then to 140 million rapid tests in January, multiplying by 20 the number of rapid tests available to provinces and territories, despite the fact that every other country on earth was fighting for these rapid tests.
    We are doing the right thing, and we are doing it in exceedingly challenging global supply chain circumstances.
    Qujannamiik, Uqaqtittiji.
    On January 6, the Government of Nunavut announced it would limit testing to preserve tests only for health care workers. By January 12, the federal government announced that 140,000 tests would be sent to Nunavut. Nunavut's population is more than double that.
    Can the minister confirm more than 155,000 tests will be sent to Nunavut so that any resident requiring the test will be able to take it?
    Madam Speaker, I have a great relationship with Minister Main: my colleague, the minister of health in Nunavut. We have been working together really well, and I want to commend him and his government on their leadership and what they have done over the past few weeks and months. It has been critical for us to do that together, because the people in Nunavut are facing challenges that southerners are not always able to fully appreciate. I want to congratulate them for their collaboration and I would be glad to provide, through my team, more details on the exact numbers and circumstances in which rapid tests have been provided to the Government of Nunavut.

  (1125)  

    Madam Speaker, it is great to see that we are using chambers of commerce as a delivery tool to get to the small businesses in our communities, so that they can continue to operate safely with their employees having access to rapid tests. The Guelph Chamber of Commerce has been able to distribute tens of thousands of tests in my community. It is a neighbour of ours, and on Wednesdays we see people picking up rapid test kits so their employees can be safe.
    Could the hon. member talk about the use of chambers of commerce in our communities to help keep employees safe?
    Madam Speaker, I not only very much like the member for Guelph on a personal level, but also very much value his role and leadership in his community and for his riding as an outstanding member of Parliament.
    He mentioned a couple of things that he does with his community in part through working with businesses, small businesses in particular, and through chambers of commerce. Chambers of commerce have been allies, but also leaders in their own communities, helping to deliver rapid tests more efficiently and more quickly because of their role and leadership through businesses that do not always have the time or ability to look for rapid tests.
    Small businesses and business leaders have been challenged in the past 22 months. Because of the leadership and partnership on the part of chambers of commerce, we have been able to indirectly support small businesses and protect not only them, but the workers who are essential to their activities.
    Madam Speaker, here we are again having debate shut down by the government, shamefully, and Canadians do not really trust the minister or the government.
    We found out last week that, shamefully, the Liberals have been intentionally using a dangerous, divisive and deceptive narrative to infringe on Canadians' charter rights for partisan reasons. They justified their hate and demonization by inferring that unvaccinated Canadians were dangerous, racist, misogynist and spread COVID, while vaccinated Canadians were safe. The Prime Minister even said they were safe to sit beside.
    Will the minister, on the record, condemn the Prime Minister's inciteful, hateful speech? I want to know from him, on the record, on what date he and the government became aware that vaccinated people could spread COVID as well as unvaccinated people. What date?
    Madam Speaker, vaccination is not a punishment. Vaccination is protection. The enemy is not vaccination. The enemy is the virus. When we hear members of the opposite side talk about vaccination as the enemy, I am a bit disturbed by it.
    There is a tool we need to use that we were given by science and scientists about a year and a few months ago. If there is a tool we should all be grateful to be using, it is vaccination. Imagine if we did not have vaccines in Canada in February, 2020, with omicron. Let us imagine that. Scientists have given us that gift, and I am troubled hearing views of the Conservative caucus pretending that vaccination does not work and that we should not be using it.
    Let us imagine what the situation would be now if we did not have vaccination.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we agree that more rapid tests are needed.
    However, Quebec's health care systems and hospitals were already in trouble because of the federal health transfer formula, which does not even cover the increase in health care system costs. As we know, Quebec and all the provinces are calling for health transfers to increase to 35%.
    Can my colleague talk to us about this without distracting us with all kinds of other things? What is going to happen with the recurring transfers?

  (1130)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from La Pointe‑de‑l'Île for the opportunity to speak to this. We must use every tool at our disposal, including PPE, vaccination, antivirals and rapid tests.
    Furthermore, the government has supported the provinces and territories by providing $63 billion since March 2022 specifically to keep people healthy and safe, as well as investing over $280 billion in direct support to businesses and workers. That is an example of how the government has already supported and will continue to support the provinces and territories.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, one of the real concerns we have had throughout the pandemic is the huge economic crisis. We saw seniors who applied for CERB, but then suffered clawbacks from the government.
     Can we get a confirmation that the government is going to work with New Democrats to speed up payments so that seniors are not losing their homes and their savings, that the government's mistake will be ended immediately, and that we will see funding to the seniors who need it?
    Madam Speaker, I would invite my colleague to continue working with my own colleagues, the Minister of Seniors and the Minister of Finance, on this very important other bill that is before the House. On the commitment for this particular bill, I am very happy to repeat that we are going to report to the House every six months on the use, cost and number of rapid tests that will have been delivered and that will have a beneficial impact for all Canadians in the weeks and months to come.
    Madam Speaker, while we can understand the urgency of this legislation in some capacity, the Senate does not sit until next Monday. The fact that the government is trying to rush through this piece of legislation without allowing due process and due time for consideration of amendments is a slap in the face of democracy. We really need to have that opportunity, so I implore the government to consider delaying this so we can have the opportunity to have all due consideration of this.
    I ask the minister this. Why the rush?
    Madam Speaker, approximately 130 people die of COVID-19 every day, so that is one example of the sense of urgency. Provinces and territories are requesting the help of the federal government in providing greater numbers of rapid tests, in addition to the substantial numbers I mentioned earlier.
    Obviously the Senate is going to do its own job, and we value and appreciate what they will do at the appropriate time. We are in the House of Commons. We need to do our job, and that is why most of today will be focused on the use and usefulness of rapid tests.

[Translation]

    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith the question necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House. The question is on the motion.
    If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we request a recorded vote.

  (1220)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 23)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney
Blois
Boissonnault
Boulerice
Bradford
Brière
Cannings
Carr
Casey
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garneau
Garrison
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Joly
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Ng
Noormohamed
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
Petitpas Taylor
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Sorbara
Spengemann
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thompson
Trudeau
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Virani
Vuong
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 183


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benzen
Bergen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Caputo
Carrie
Chabot
Chambers
Champoux
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desbiens
Desilets
Doherty
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Ferreri
Findlay
Fortin
Gallant
Garon
Gaudreau
Généreux
Genuis
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Hoback
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Larouche
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
Normandin
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Plamondon
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Savard-Tremblay
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudel
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Vis
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 152


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.
    I would like to draw to the attention of the House that today was the first vote called by our table officer Suzie Cadieux. I am sure members will join me in congratulating her.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Government Business No. 8—Proceedings on Bill C-10

[Government Orders]
    The House resumed from February 11 consideration of the motion.
    Madam Speaker, it is an absolute pleasure to rise once again in the House of Commons to continue the debate we began on Friday with respect to a motion not to have a debate. It is shocking.
    I had the opportunity to speak on Friday, and I think it is important, given the continued events in the world, that I give a bit of a review on the topics that we covered previously. We are being asked to spend $2.5 billion, and it is important to give a context so that citizens can better understand the exact nature of that amount of money. As I mentioned previously, it is 1.75% of the projected deficit for this year. We speak colloquially about a ton of money, and this indeed is a veritable ton of money. If we talk about $2.5 billion with respect to the mass of loonies that would be, the math would lead us to understand it would be over 17,000 tonnes, in fact. As I said, it is a veritable ton of money.
    The point was made very clearly that it is important in a democratic society that we continue to have free and open debate that is based not only on the rules with respect to how democracy works. We also need to continue to remember those who fought and died for our freedom. We must be mindful that we are not disrespectful to the sacrifices those individuals and their families have made over many years for our great nation.
    I also touched on the topic of leadership. Given the current events and the dissension we have see in our country over at least the last weeks, months and years, and especially over the course of the last couple of weeks and in what is going on today, it is important to reflect upon the concept of leadership and exactly what being a good leader is and how that unfortunately has allowed us to live in a country that is so divided. Therefore, it is more important than ever to prevent more dissension as we present differing points of view during this democratic process. Furthermore, not only did we give some rules of leadership to ponder, but there was also a litany of qualities or characteristics that would be important for good leadership. Once again, for the sake of brevity, I will not reiterate the entire list, although if we were to read it back, it is quite excellent. Suffice it to say, I do want to be clear: Good hair did not make that list.
    Finally, to begin to tie things together, we talked about the divisive language and, of course, that this has led to party dissension among my colleagues across the aisle. They made headlines across Canada for their comments and for fanning the flames of division inside their own party and among Canadians in general. Many members of the House know, of course, the ancient saying that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Members of the House have often heard from the Liberal Party that there were difficulties in our party. This has been brought up multiple times and was brought up as recently as Friday.
    An hon. member: Tell us more about that.
    Mr. Stephen Ellis: Madam Speaker, my Liberal colleagues on the opposite side want to mock us Conservatives, so to use their language, we shall take no lessons from the Liberal Party.
    It has become very clear that the Liberals are asking us not to debate a motion and are asking for $2.5 billion without any type of discussion. It is astonishing given that they are debating such things inside their own party. If the Liberals cannot even get their own caucus to agree on their policies, procedures, actions and deliverables, why would they assume and surmise that those of us sitting opposite them, representing our own ridings in a democratic nation, would be so frivolous as to give them a free pass to simply spend taxpayers' hard-earned dollars without any input or discussion from the rest of us elected to the House? As we know, the members who have spoken out against their leader believe that Canadians should not be mocked, stigmatized, divided, set apart and marginalized for their beliefs. Bravo, I say, to those members across the aisle. I thank them for listening.

  (1225)  

    Those members are willing to stand up on behalf of their constituents and support those values and the belief that all Canadians are Canadians, and as such, are awarded with the same rights and freedoms as each other. Ongoing legal arguments will likely proceed, and it will remain to be seen as to whether the mandates created by the government are infringing upon section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, what is blatantly obvious and crystal clear at this time is that the mis-characterization, mistreatment and mislabelling of Canadians who have chosen, for whatever reason, to not be subject to vaccination, is inappropriate, divisive and uncalled for by the leader of this country.
    Also, I think it is important to say, for the sake of clarity, and to once again have it read into the record, that Canada's Conservatives believe vaccinations are an important part of the fight against COVID‑19. We encourage Canadians who are able to be vaccinated. Of course, many of these Canadian citizens have lost their ability to do wage-earning work. As mentioned previously, they have that loss of wage-earning work, coupled with their inability to travel or do many leisure activities, and to then they are called names on top of that. It is like a schoolyard bully winning a fight, taking our lunch money, and then taking our lunch box too. Where does that leave us?
    We have had the opportunity to help Canadians better understand the vast amount of money we are talking about here today through the concepts of budgeting stacks of money and by using everyday common sense. We have also had the opportunity today to hear about the debt, the deficit, its ballooning amounts and the difficulties that may play for Canadians in the future. We have also looked at the debt per Canadian and how it has increased over the last 50 years from approximately $688 per Canadian to well over $30,000 per Canadian.
    We have examined democracy. I did not go all the way back to the origins of democracy, but we did look at the tremendous sacrifices many Canadians have made in order for the democratic process to be first and foremost in our government proceedings and how we need to honour those who gave their very lives to protect that democracy from tyranny.
    Further to this, we examined leadership and some thoughts about what that means. We examined what it means to a country when its citizens feel betrayed and the leadership of a country is off-course, offside or off-putting with respect to its citizens, and how that may affect the ability to pass a bill without any debate.
    We know there are nations around the world struggling with their democracies or struggling to become democracies. We know there are countries, such as Ukraine, that stand on the brink of war and invasion, which could perhaps topple a potential fledging democratic nation into the hold of a nation which is, in theory, a federal democratic state, but it would appear the power is concentrated in the hands of a very few people. Over the years, Canada has stood as a beacon of light in the often dark nights of democracy. Immigrants have flocked to our shores looking for a home, to improve their future, to be safe from all forms of political persuasion or coercion, and to be able to celebrate the personal freedoms and rights we have historically enjoyed here in Canada.
    Finally, given the unprecedented protest outside these very doors, I would be remiss in my duties as an elected official if I did not take the opportunity to debate the motions that come before this House, unless of course, we are in extreme circumstances, as we were previously with the wonderful vote we had here in the House, on which we all agreed.

  (1230)  

    As one contemplates the fragility of democracy over the relatively short time Canada has enjoyed status as a democratic nation, we understand the weight of our responsibility as legislators. In the grand scheme of history, 154 and a half years of democracy is a mere drop in the bucket. Democracy needs to be continuously refined in the flames of good process and citizen participation. Therefore, perhaps if we do not, for the sake of debating, spend $2.5 billion, then we do owe it to the continual improvement of the democratic situation to question the hows, the whys, the whens and the whats of what we are presented with in the House of Commons.
    Given that we are in an unprecedented pandemic, it is important to realize that several concessions could be made without stopping debate on the bill. There are several opportunities at our disposal, including limiting the amount of debate and expediting the bill to committee, while at the same time, giving the bill its due consideration. Canada's Conservatives have been calling for the approval of rapid tests in Canada for over 14 months. I find it very unusual that it has now become an absolute urgency to spend another $2.5 billion without any consideration at all the changes in science we have seen in this dynamic situation. Perhaps there is an opportunity for a committee to have a very close at this and understand what the experts are saying, and as I have been loathe to continue saying, they are the doctors, not the spin doctors.
    In this very House, tests were only being procured in early January 2020. Then, during the unprecedented omicron wave, which was before, during and after the extremely busy holiday Christmas season, the government did not provide any tests for its citizens. There were none.
    The government has continued with its motto of doing too little, too late and not at the right time. We went from giving Canadians advice to get a test and have their contacts traced to, during the most precious time over Christmas, advising not to get a test at all because of the government's terrible failure to even procure the tests. Once again, we are in the situation, unfortunately, where the government is asking for 1.75% of its total deficit to buy tests when, as we begin to see the lifting of restrictions on a provincial level, one might question the utility of the tests at all. That is why this motion needs to go to the health committee, so the experts can weigh in.
    Given the potential to question the utility of it, it would be even more important. Is it time to spend $2.5 billion on tests that Canadians may or may not use, tests that may sit on shelves until they expire? That would, sadly, see that $2.5 billion wasted. The important thing to understand is that we need to have a look at the science, and the health committee would gladly welcome this, in spite of our Liberal colleagues simply wishing to ram this through using their pseudo-science instead of actual science.
    I think it important to understand the enormity of the money being spent, the failed leadership of the government, the affront to democracy and the unprecedented protests outside, and to better understand the dynamic science, as we know and understand more if this is useful. I do know that the spin doctors will try to spin this and say that we do not want tests, but we would like to actually study it to understand if we should be spending $2.5 billion of hard-earned taxpayers' money on something that may be useless at this time.

  (1235)  

    Therefore, I move:
    That the motion be amended:
(a) in paragraph (a), by replacing the words “immediately after the adoption of this order” with the words “at the next sitting of the House”;
(b) by deleting paragraph (b);
(c) in paragraph (c), by replacing the words “the debate” with the words “Government Orders on the day the bill is considered”;
(d) in paragraph (d), by deleting all the words after the words “if the bill is” and substituting the following: “read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Health, consideration in committees shall take place the following day, provided that the Minister of Health be ordered to appear as a witness before the committee during its consideration of the bill, and that if the committee has not completed the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill by 11:00 p.m. that day, all remaining amendments submitted to the committee shall be deemed moved, that the Chair shall put, forthwith and successively, without further debate, every question necessary to dispose of the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, and the committee be instructed to report the bill to the House, by depositing it with the Clerk of the House, no later than three hours before the next sitting of the House”;
(e) in paragraph (e), by deleting all the words and substituting the following: “no notice of motions in amendment shall be allowed at report stage”;
(f) in paragraph (f), by deleting all the words and substituting the following: “the report stage and third reading stage of the bill may be considered during the same sitting and be ordered for consideration at the next sitting following the presentation of the report”; and
(g) in paragraph (g), by deleting all the words and substituting the following: “when the order is read for the consideration of the bill at report stage, the motion to concur in the bill at report stage be deemed carried on division and the House then proceed immediately to consideration of the bill at the third reading stage, provided that, at the conclusion of the time provided for Government Orders that day or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, the bill be deemed read a third time and passed on division”.
    I thank the House for its time and consideration in using the process of democracy.
    The amendment is in order.
    We will continue with questions and comments. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities.

  (1240)  

    Madam Speaker, I am sorry that my hon. colleagues are worried that I am not going to be nice enough for them.
    When the hon. member spoke, he said that our government was an affront to democracy. He supports the protesters outside.
     However, the Canadian public voted in a democratic election, electing all of us to the House, including the Prime Minister, to enact bills, debate and go to committees. At exactly what point was there an affront to democracy for the Canadian voters who put us here to do the work on their behalf? Maybe speak up and use an example of what part of democracy was undermined, as you sit in your seat.
    First of all, I would like to remind the hon. parliamentary secretary that she is to address all questions and comments to the Chair.
    Second of all, hon. members know that it is neither polite nor respectful to be yelling or talking while the hon. parliamentary secretary has the floor.
    I also want to remind members not to tell another member to sit down when they have the floor, as I have recognized them.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate that it is important that we maintain our decorum in the House. It is also important that we understand what the democratic process is. For my colleagues across the floor to attempt to ram a bill through the House without debate when we all know the Senate is not even here until next week really does not make any sense.
    The question that needs to be answered in my mind is what the harm is of giving due diligence to a bill to understand what the science is behind it and bringing it to committee, as we normally would do. Considering that we on this side of the House have been asking for rapid tests for 18 months, what is now the urgency, when during the height of the omicron variant surge we did not even have tests, and now it appears many restrictions are being lifted? Those are the germane points that are important for people to understand.
    Madam Speaker, I served on the Standing Committee on Health for two years and remember when the Conservatives were championing the delivery of rapid tests to Canadians, and properly so. We have a bill before us to authorize an expenditure of $2.5 billion, which I am told would purchase about 400 million rapid tests, and Conservatives seem to be opposed to it. It is almost as if they cannot take yes for answer.
    I generally agree with the Conservatives regarding closure. We usually do not want to see debate truncated, but we are in an emergency right now, and there is a terrible shortage in this country of access to rapid tests. That is why there is urgency. It is a two-section bill. The NDP worked productively and received assurance from the government that it would report to the House every six months on how many doses were purchased, how much was spent and where those doses were delivered. That is the NDP working productively.
    My hon. colleague said that he wants to study whether or not we need these tests. Can he name three scientists in the country who are advocating that we do not need rapid tests in this country in the months ahead?

  (1245)  

    Madam Speaker, the important thing to consider about this measure for rapid tests is if it is once again too little, too late, and not at the right time. Everybody in the House wants to understand what the science is. We know it has been a very dynamic situation throughout COVID and we have seen many, many changes, from we should get a test to we should not get a test to maybe we should or maybe we should not, that we should not get one because there are none, that the test we should get is a PCR test and then that it should be a rapid test.
    We also know very clearly from the science that during the omicron wave there was a likelihood that someone was contagious much before the time the person would even show a positive test result. We also know from a scientific perspective that the specificity and sensitivity of rapid tests have been brought into question by some. That interesting part is again what we need to study before the health committee with my hon. colleague, who I am glad to hear would be happy to have us study this in committee.
    Madam Speaker, there is a lot to be said on making sure there is a proper accounting at committee of value for money to make sure these scarce dollars are being put to the best use. In British Columbia, we do not even have access to rapid testing, so there will be questions about whether there is value for money in this case.
    I want to ask the member about competency, because the government could have made this into a supply bill. It easily could have added it to the estimates or the supplementary estimates, yet it has done this expenditure through an actual bill.
    Why does the member think the government has done that? Is it because it cannot budget? Was it because the Prime Minister needed to pull a COVID rabbit out of his hat so he could tell the provinces to look at what the government is doing for them? I would like to find out what the member has to say about the unique nature of this particular proposal and why it was not budgeted for through the usual processes.
    Madam Speaker, there are a couple of issues here. As my hon. colleague said the other day, there is unfortunately no vaccine for Liberal budgeting incompetence; we wish there were.
    As I said, this is a veritable ton of money. If we stacked dollar bills, we would have 30 metres of dollar bills for this $2.5 billion. It is important to remember that it is not an insignificant amount of money. The other part is that my Liberal colleagues do realize the tide is turning in their hard-handed measures, and as they see revolt and dissent inside their own caucus, they realize that is also the mood of Canadians.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to know one thing.
    My colleague said that the Conservatives are not opposed to vaccination. As we know, after the SARS crisis in 2003, the Naylor report criticized Canada for not having the capacity to manufacture vaccines. Of all the G7 countries, Canada is the only one that does not manufacture vaccines domestically. That is in part the result of the Trudeau government's inaction.
    We lost four or five months of fighting COVID with a vaccine because of the Trudeau government's inaction. On August 10, 2021, the government announced that Moderna would set up a plant in Canada, likely in Montreal, which is what we were hoping for. However, the Trudeau government's investments will not do much—
    Order. The hon. member mentioned the Prime Minister's name.
    I know that he knows the rules of the House. I would therefore remind him not to do that.
    I would like him to finish his remarks by asking his question.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the following.
    Would it not have been a big help if the Liberal government had taken action and we were able to manufacture vaccines in Quebec or Canada?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, certainly we have spoken about domestic capacity in this House previously, as well as the shocking and astonishing lack of domestic capacity, given that we could have an ability here to mobilize to not only create and manufacture tests in Canada but also to produce vaccines and antivirals.
    Members on this side of the House have spoken about that multiple times, as well as the shame in not respecting the innovation and intelligence of the Canadian community, which would be more than happy. I also think that before the wedge was driven by the Liberal government, our own vaccines could have been an excellent way to encourage more Canadians to be immunized, in the sense that they would have had a homegrown vaccine. I think that would have been an excellent thing. Unfortunately, we are two years into this pandemic and we still have no domestic production of vaccines, and none in sight, due to the incompetence of the government.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, I am very perplexed by the position of the Conservative Party. They opposed mandatory vaccination in the chamber 90 days ago, instead proposing rapid testing of MPs as a secure method of our attending here. As I listen to my hon. colleague, he seems to be calling into question the very efficacy and validity of testing. He seems to suggest that testing should be a decision made by the health committee.
    What is the position of the Conservative Party? Do its members believe that access to testing is an important way to deal with the current pandemic, or do they question the science of testing?
    Madam Speaker, I think it is important that people begin to understand that science does change and that it is dynamic. I think it is important to have an opportunity to hear what the science is, and I believe the health committee is an excellent way to do that. If the science is correct and rapid testing is useful and appropriate, why would the Conservatives not support that? However, and I cannot understand why my hon. colleagues want to fight about this, if the science is not correct, then why would we not admit that? What is there to hide behind? This is $2.5 billion.
    Science is not an opinion.
    It is not time for debate anymore, and the hon. parliamentary secretary knows full well that if she has questions and comments, she should wait for the appropriate time to ask those or make those.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
    I rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-10, an act respecting certain measures related to COVID-19. This bill was introduced by the member for Québec and is currently at second reading.
    What is the purpose of this bill?
    First, this bill would authorize the Minister of Health to make payments of up to $2.5 billion for any expenses incurred in relation to coronavirus disease tests.
    I must interrupt the member because there seems to be a problem with his microphone.
    It is working now.
    The hon. member for Rivière‑des‑Mille‑Îles.
    Madam Speaker, I will continue.
     Bill C‑10's main purpose is to authorize the Minister of Health to pay up to $2.5 billion for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2022, in relation to coronavirus disease tests.
    Second, it authorizes the Minister of Health to transfer to any province or territory, or to any body or person in Canada, any coronavirus disease tests or instruments used in relation to those tests acquired by Her Majesty in right of Canada on or after April 1, 2021.
    Basically, Bill C‑10 provides a one-time sum of up to $2.5 billion to the provinces and territories for testing-related expenses as of January 1, 2022.
    It goes without saying that the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C‑10. As our leader once put it so eloquently, “You can't be against apple pie”.
    After all, that money is to help the provinces and Quebec absorb extra pandemic-related costs. The government itself has already boosted health transfers by $5 billion in this Parliament alone: $4 billion for urgent health care system needs and another billion for the vaccination campaign.
    These amounts are significant; we acknowledge that. However, they are still not nearly enough to meet the Bloc Québécois's calls to increase health transfers to 35%, rather than the current 22%. It is clear that this government is using the pandemic to postpone the heavy lifting that will be needed to negotiate health transfers.
    We in the Bloc Québécois see this increase as urgent. It has been called for by the Quebec National Assembly, the Council of the Federation, health care workers through their union, and 85% of Quebeckers and Canadians, according to a recent Leger poll. Even the Liberal member for Louis-Hébert considers his own party's position on this matter untenable.
    What will it take for the government to at least sit down with the premiers to negotiate?
    Personally I think this shows a lack of respect. It feels as though we are being taken for fools. The Liberal government is the only one that does not see that the Quebec and other provincial governments must be able to depend on stable, predictable and adequate funding to fight this pandemic effectively. I repeat, “stable, predictable and adequate”.
    The Liberal government's obsession with centralizing powers and its tendency to interfere are offensive. Quebec delivers all health care services, and this pandemic has obviously weighed heavily on Quebec's health care system.
    Quebeckers pay taxes to Ottawa. Unfortunately, the Liberals are turning a deaf ear to our demands, but it is still our money. The federal machine would not work, would not exist, if it were not for the taxes from the provinces.
    The Bloc Québécois is calling on the federal government to acknowledge that fact and treat Quebec and the provinces with the respect and deference they deserve. The Bloc is calling on the federal government to plan ahead and give the provinces their fair share, instead of lagging behind and watching from the sidelines.
    As we know, pandemics are here for good. There will be more. The Director-General of the World Health Organization said that the pandemic will not end until the rich countries stop monopolizing all the vaccines. Canada, like several wealthy countries, emptied the shelves of the global vaccine market. It acted urgently to protect the public, and far be it from me to criticize it for that.
    However, now that there are enough vaccines available for Quebeckers and Canadians, we have a duty of solidarity to those who are not lucky enough to have our collective wealth.
    The Bloc Québécois is calling on the federal government to ramp up its efforts so that less fortunate countries can benefit from vaccines.

  (1255)  

    As I was saying, unfortunately, it is probable that this pandemic will last for some time and that more will emerge in the future. The federal government must therefore plan ahead—an important phrase—and provide Quebec and the provinces with the financial means to manage this crisis and all those that will follow.
    The Bloc Québécois knows how to improve this situation. It is not complicated: The government must increase provincial health transfers. Why does the federal government always wait for things to become a crisis before doing what needs to be done? Why on earth is it not doing what is required when we are in the midst of the crisis? This government does not know how to plan ahead, and the Prime Minister does not know how to lead. In my opinion, the protests that have been paralyzing Ottawa for almost three weeks provide yet more proof of these two serious flaws.
    Quebec is fortunate to have one of the best health care systems in the world. The next step is to improve what we have. The increase in health transfers that we are calling for will not solve all our problems instantaneously, but it is nevertheless a crucial step in the process of building a universal, public and high-quality health care system worthy of a G7 nation.
    Simply put, I think that the Liberal government's stubbornness during this crisis has only highlighted the urgent need for Quebec to take its economic future into its own hands. Jacques Parizeau, may he rest in peace, said that he believed that the main reason Quebec should become independent was so that it could take responsibility for itself in a democracy in which the government is fully accountable to its citizens. In an ideal world, the Quebec government would be the only one responsible for collecting taxes from Quebeckers, and it would not need the approval of a foreign parliament to govern itself as it sees fit. It also goes without saying that the Quebec government would be fully and completely accountable to its citizens.
    Today, the fact that the Liberals will not listen to the call for health transfers reminds everyone why the Bloc Québécois is so necessary and why independence is so desirable.

  (1300)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is no surprise the Bloc raises the issue of health care transfers. However, there is a fundamental disagreement I have with my friends in the Bloc, which is that the constituents I represent, and I would argue they are very much reflective of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, feel that the national government does have a very important role to play in health care. It would be highly irresponsible, I would argue, to do nothing but just hand money over.
     There are things that we can learn through this pandemic, such as with the long-term care facilities and the need for national standards. There are other issues of mental health and so many other aspects. Would the member not recognize that there are many people across Canada, including in the province of Quebec, who do want to see the national government play more of a role than just giving cash?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, in answer to my esteemed colleague, I would say that we are the ones who manage health in Quebec. We are the ones who manage people like doctors, nurses, support workers and respiratory therapists in Quebec. Health falls under Quebec's jurisdiction. Yes, the federal government's only role is to distribute money. Health falls under our jurisdiction. We are the ones with the expertise.
    Madam Speaker, my riding, Laurentides—Labelle, and my colleague's riding, Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, are both in the Laurentian region. The health care network in the Laurentian region is in urgent need of assistance.
    People who work in this sector point out that there is a labour shortage across the region. There is no money for staffing or modernization. Although I trust that there will be health transfers, I would like to ask my colleague what would happen if Quebec's health care network, in particular in the Laurentian region, did not receive health transfers.

  (1305)  

    Madam Speaker, my colleague has highlighted a major problem in both of our ridings.
    The Lower Laurentians are experiencing a drastic labour shortage, but that is not the only problem. The most expensive aspects of the medical system are infrastructure and equipment, which are becoming increasingly expensive and sophisticated.
    The transfers could help with modernizing equipment and, in the case of Lachute and Saint‑Eustache, expand the hospitals, which would address a serious problem.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would be happy to talk about health care, the health care system and the things we could do to help. What we are talking about today is whether we should be taking this bill to committee to discuss those things that are important. As the provinces go into cancelling the restrictive COVID measures, there is the potential for the uptake of rapid tests to rapidly decline.
    What is important is that we find out what the financial exposure is going to be so that, if there is money needed and there are changes to be done, we can see whether we would be able to deal with that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I did not quite catch my colleague's question, but I will say that $2.5 billion is not the end of the world. In my opinion, this is an urgent and important investment.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by wishing all of our colleagues a happy Valentine's Day, and I hope they will be able to celebrate it even though many of them are in Parliament, far away from their partners. Nonetheless, I wish them a very happy Valentines Day.
    Today, I am pleased to be speaking about Bill C-10, which authorizes a one-time payment of up to $2.5 billion to be made to the provinces and territories for any expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2022, in relation to COVID-19 tests. The bill also allows the Minister of Health to transfer tests and instruments used in relation to those tests acquired on or after April 1, 2021, to any province or territory, or to any body or person in Canada.
    This spending is obviously necessary, since health care costs are skyrocketing nationwide. Health care spending grew by 12.8% in 2020, approximately three times the average growth rate from previous years, and 2021 saw record spending.
    The government played a role in this increase, of course, by increasing health transfers by $5 billion during the pandemic. Of this amount, $4 billion went to meeting urgent needs in the health care system, and $1 billion was invested in the vaccination rollout. This may seem like a lot of money, and it is. It undoubtedly covers some of the additional expenses generated by the health crisis, but only a fraction, considering that more than $30 billion was needed to finance pandemic-related activities in 2020 alone. These one-time payments are simply a band-aid solution. They do not address the real problem, which is the lack of structural health care funding. This underfunding is one of the major reasons that health care workers in Quebec and across Canada are in distress. They lack the resources to fight the waves that have been hitting us for the past two years.
    I would like to reiterate the Bloc Québécois's demand, which has united Quebec and the provinces in a manner rarely seen. Even the National Assembly is unanimous. The federal government must increase its contribution to overall health care costs from 22% to 35%, or from $42 billion to $70 billion. If the federal government is to maintain its 35% contribution, which is far lower than the 50% it used to pay up until the 1980s, the transfers will have to be indexed at 6%. This annual indexation will be necessary to offset the costs associated with population aging, drug costs and technological advances.
    Our request that the federal government increase its contribution to health care to 35% of overall costs is reasonable and realistic. The Conference Board of Canada proved that this increase will be economically viable for both the federal and provincial governments. Until the health care systems of Quebec and the provinces are adequately funded, the government will have the Bloc Québécois to deal with. We will not stop pressing this demand, since it is the key condition for ending the COVID-19 crisis once and for all.
    We need to face the truth and think about the future. It will take many years and a lot of resources to catch up with the backlog that was already a problem in our health care system before the first outbreaks and that will only get worse with the delays currently caused by the pandemic.
    My colleagues and I call on the government to start negotiations on health transfers immediately in order to “strengthen our universal public health system,” as the Minister of Health’s mandate letter clearly states.
    I would also like to take this opportunity to remind my colleagues of something I have mentioned before in the House in previous speeches. The fight against COVID-19 will continue as long as Canada does not provide support for the global vaccination effort, especially in developing countries. All of the experts we had the opportunity to talk to are unanimous: As long as the pandemic is not over everywhere, it will continue to threaten us here.

  (1310)  

    Of course, Canada contributes to the various global vaccination initiatives of the World Health Organization. However, it can and must do more. It must provide logistical support for developing countries so that the vaccines can be efficiently distributed to the population. It must donate its surplus doses in a predictable manner in order to allow the receiving countries to administer them within a reasonable time frame.
    The federal government must also stop saying that it is open to lifting the patents on the vaccines and treatments while voting against the proposal when it comes time to take an official stand. The Bloc is asking the government to play a leadership role by openly taking a stand in favour of lifting the patents at the next meeting of the World Trade Organization on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS.
    These past two years have also unequivocally shown the importance and urgency of improving the independence and reliability of our supply chains. This pandemic will not be our last, especially in this era of climate change.
    An analysis of the challenges we have faced since the initial outbreaks makes it clear that we must rebuild Quebec’s pharmaceutical sector. We need targeted tax incentives to promote the establishment of biopharmaceutical research and production centres. Partnerships between our university research centres and industry must be encouraged through support for issue tables focused on these goals, and we must continue increasing research budgets.
    The consolidation of our supply chains will ensure, among other things, that our national emergency reserve is supplied by Canadian providers. Shortages of rapid tests like we saw last December are unacceptable when the pandemic has been going on for almost two years. Local production would allow us a certain independence from foreign suppliers, who are driven solely by the laws of supply and demand, and help manage our reserves so as to ensure that we have sufficient supplies for our needs and can prevent loss by channelling our surplus doses to NGOs that will make good use of them.
    The investments provided for in Bill C-10 are essential, but we expect the government to immediately start tackling the numerous other challenges we face. We have an opportunity here to develop a strategic economic sector while taking drastic and appropriate action to strengthen our health care systems, the institutions that are the very foundation of our social contract and that have been hit hard. I urge the federal government not to miss the boat.

  (1315)  

    Madam Speaker, we have arrived at many of the same conclusions. Conservative cuts to health transfers did a lot of damage, and the Liberals only compounded the error, which bears repeating.
    The health care system is under pressure, and the federal government needs to increase transfer payments in a sustainable, stable and permanent manner. We are aware of this, and we agree.
    There is also another solution for saving money. Does my colleague agree with the FTQ, the CSN, the CSQ and the Union des consommateurs du Québec that we need a truly universal public pharmacare program that will reduce the cost of drugs for people, businesses and our health care network?
    Madam Speaker, we agree with the principle of a public pharmacare program. However, Quebec is often well ahead of Canada and the provinces when it comes to social programs.
    When the federal proposal clearly includes the right to withdraw with full financial compensation, we will vote in favour. We absolutely support the fact that Canada needs to improve its plan, provided that Quebec can get its hands on its share of the money and improve its own programs.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, and I wish him a happy Valentine’s Day as well.
    I would like to know why we have seen a dramatic change in health transfers since the 1960s. We are well aware that what the federal government was really interested in was the world exchanges, what was happening in international markets and its position on the international stage. I would like my colleague to tell me how, all of a sudden, what was a noble gesture on the federal government’s part became a proposal to reduce health transfers, but with conditions.
    Madam Speaker, Ottawa is always trying to centralize powers.
    Canada is increasingly evolving into a unitary state. It is trying to infringe on jurisdictions that are often not its own.
    In this instance, we are told that the government is going to move forward but only on the condition that all kinds of programs and supports are created that allow it to encroach on Quebec's jurisdictions. By adding conditions to the funding, the government is condemning Quebec, which has been engaged in state building since the 1960s, to once again becoming a province like any other that is permanently obsessed with funding its health care system. Quebec will be forced to abandon all of its other efforts.
    It is becoming more difficult to build our nation state as the home of the Quebec nation because the province is being fiscally starved.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, this bill is two paragraphs long. I agree with my hon. colleague that we need more money in the health care system. I believe in further transfers, but this would give $2.5 billion to buy rapid tests that would then be distributed to the provinces.
    I am just wondering whether my colleague agrees with that. Does he think there is any reason why this should be slowed down? Does he see any problem with the intent behind this bill?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am going to be brief.
    I actually said that we were in favour of the bill. There are things missing from it, but we are in favour of it. We cannot be against what is right. This is a transfer, and we are by no means against transfers.
    I do not think I ever said in my speech that we needed to slow down transfers for rapid tests.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to speak to Bill C-10, an act respecting certain measures related to COVID-19, and I am particularly delighted to be splitting my time with my hon. colleague for Winnipeg Centre.
    This legislation is very straightforward. In fact, in my time in the House of Commons over the last 14 years, I have rarely seen a bill that is shorter. It is two sections long and would, first, authorize the Minister of Health to make payments of up to $2.5 billion out of the consolidated revenue fund for any expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2022, in relation to COVID-19 tests. Second, it would transfer to any province or territory, or to any body or person in Canada, any COVID-19 tests or instruments used in relation to those tests acquired on or after April 1, 2021. In other words, it would authorize, on an emergency basis, the purchase and delivery of rapid tests to Canadians.
    New Democrats strongly believe that we must expand access to COVID-19 testing for Canadians as quickly as possible. Therefore, we will be supporting this legislation and we are supporting its rapid passage through the House, unlike my colleagues in the Conservative Party and in the Bloc Québécois. However, I must underline our profound disappointment that Canada is still playing catch-up on COVID-19 testing as we enter the third year of this pandemic.
    The Liberal government's refusal to learn from its past mistakes is, with respect, inexcusable. COVID-19 has long underscored the crucial role of testing. I might remind everybody in the House that one of the first things Canadians learned about this pandemic was the profound need for testing and tracing. This, we were told, was one of the core strategies to get us out of this pandemic. It also underscored the need for surveillance in controlling infectious disease outbreaks and guiding sound public health decisions. We cannot manage what we do not measure.
    However, notwithstanding this, Canada has suffered from severe limitations on testing capacity through wave after wave of this pandemic due to the federal government's repeated failure to stockpile or procure sufficient supplies or to accelerate domestic production capacity. I will stop and say that, in my view, the federal Liberal government has taken an extraordinarily narrow view of its role in this pandemic. It seems to me that it might be rectified today, but up until now it has really only reserved itself the obligation to procure supplies.
    This falls squarely within that. It is the government's job to procure testing, yet here we are in February, 2022, and Canadians in every province and territory across this land cannot get access to the tests they need in a timely manner. Health care workers cannot get access to the tests they need. Educators cannot get access to the tests they need. People have to pay out of pocket exorbitant amounts of money, if they can find tests. That underscores the failure of the Liberal government's prime responsibility to procure the kind of equipment that we need to get through this pandemic.
    With the emergence of the highly transmissible omicron variant, an exponential surge of COVID-19 cases has once again overwhelmed Canada's testing capacity while the federal government scrambles to secure supplies in a highly competitive global marketplace. As a result, COVID-19 testing has become inaccessible for many Canadians. Reported case numbers underestimate the true number of infections, and contact tracing efforts have been largely abandoned. This has led to extreme frustration among Canadians who want to do the right thing and protect our loved ones from exposure to the virus.
    In response to shortages throughout the omicron surge, many provinces have restricted access to polymerase chain reaction, PCR, testing to individuals who are at higher risk of severe illness and those in settings where the virus could spread quickly. PCR testing, as we know now, is more precise than rapid antigen testing, and positive results from rapid test kits are not reported in official COVID-19 case counts.
    However, rapid antigen tests are considered an important screening tool. Research shows that they are instrumental in preventing asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 because they provide quick and reliable results. Unfortunately, these rapid tests, as I have mentioned, have also been very difficult for Canadians to access, particularly during the recent holiday season. To date, most of the provinces' limited rapid antigen test supplies have been earmarked for schools, businesses, long-term care homes, health care facilities and other high-risk settings.

  (1320)  

    At the end of 2021, the federal government had only delivered 120 million rapid test in total, or about three per person, to the provinces and territories. To put this in context, Dr. David Juncker, department chair of biomedical engineering at McGill University, estimates that with the highly transmissible omicron variant, Canada could require 600 million to 700 million tests a month and then two tests per person every week once this wave subsides.
    In early January 2022, the Liberal health minister confirmed that Canada's PCR testing capacity is “in crisis” and announced that the federal government would distribute 140 million additional rapid tests to the provinces and territories by the end of the month. However, unfortunately, the government failed to deliver millions of the promised tests. By January 28, 2022, the federal government had only delivered an additional 75 million rapid tests to the provinces and territories. Ontario confirmed it only received 17 million of the 54 million tests that were promised. Alberta received fewer than five million of its allocation of 16 million rapid tests. Manitoba was shipped a little less than half of the federal commitment. British Columbia, my province, received a little over six million rapid tests, with 18 million per capita share. Quebec was shortchanged by 5.8 million tests.
    The New Democrats believe that accountability and transparency have been essential for maintaining the public's confidence throughout this pandemic. Clear communication is critical for allowing the provinces and territories to make effective plans in their respective jurisdictions. Although the federal government has contracts in place for the procurement of rapid tests totalling some $3.5 billion, details are not publicly available on when suppliers will actually deliver the rapid tests outlined in those agreements. For these reasons, the New Democrats have demanded measures to provide transparency on how the $2.5 billion outlined in this legislation will be present. We believe that Canadians deserve full details with respect to how many tests have been purchased, when and to whom they will be delivered, when they are delivered and how much of the funding has been expended.
    I am pleased to state to the House today that our negotiations with the government have resulted in an agreement by the government to produce that information to the House every six months. I want to congratulate my colleagues in the Liberal government for doing that. I think it is a sign of how effective opposition can make legislation stronger and better instead of holding up something that is urgently needed in a time of pandemic in this country, as the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois joined together to do today.
    Furthermore, the New Democrats are reiterating our long-standing call for the federal government to expand domestic manufacturing capacity for all essential medical equipment in this country, including COVID-19 tests and other critical COVID-19-related tools, such as personal protective equipment, treatments and vaccines. Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has been clear that the virus will continue to evolve and that further waves will occur. These surges could be quite severe and we need to be ready for them. COVID-19 testing will allow us to move forward with greater freedom and confidence, but we need to secure a resilient supply. To do so, Canada must break our dependence on fragile global markets. The federal government must take immediate action to mobilize Canadian industry with support for research, accelerated market approvals and manufacturing and supply chain development. We need to bring back domestic manufacturing to this country, especially for essential medicines, vaccines, equipment and supplies.
    All Canadians have been horrified to see throughout this pandemic that Canada has faced a shortage of essential equipment like ventilators, personal protective equipment, vaccines, which we are still not producing in this country, and life-saving medicine. That is why the NDP has proposed constructive proposals like establishing a Crown corporation for a better chain for Canadian suppliers and domestic production.
    I want to read a quote from Barry Hunt, president of the Canadian Association of Personal Protective Equipment Manufacturers. He said:
     The prime minister himself and the federal government made a commitment to our industry to buy products. What we've seen is the exact opposite: buying only from multinationals, buying only commodity products, locking health-care workers out of new and innovative products, and essentially, decimating the new PPE industry.
    That is the exact opposite of what we need to do, so today, I call on all parliamentarians to recognize the urgent situation we are in, pass this legislation quickly and get rapid tests into the hands of Canadians to help them get through this pandemic as soon as possible.

  (1325)  

    Madam Speaker, I did not catch my hon. colleague's entire speech, but I did hear him, at the end of his remarks, talk about the importance of Canada having domestic supply chains to support vaccines, PPE and other things. It was his position that the NDP is in favour of a Crown corporation to drive these types of initiatives.
    I had the opportunity to speak with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry the other day about the important work the government is doing to partner with companies like Moderna and partner with the private sector to drive this innovation in the country.
    Would the member opposite at least recognize the way that the government has responded, notwithstanding past issues with governments not meeting this challenge? This government is stepping up to make sure those investments and private capital are coming into Canada on this front.

  (1330)  

    Madam Speaker, the NDP has the broadest policy on this. We recognize the important role that the private sector plays in producing all sorts of products and equipment in this country. What we want to do is broaden the private sector to include the public sector.
    Private enterprise is important and so is public enterprise, and we see the importance of having a Crown corporation with the same model as Connaught Labs, which the federal government owned for many years, to produce low-cost, innovative medicine for Canadians, like insulin. One of the reasons Canadians pay such a high price for insulin in this country is that the federal Conservatives sold Connaught Labs and privatized it. Now we do not have any way to produce this life-saving medicine for Canadians at an affordable cost. That is wrong, and we think a Crown corporation should be restored to produce those kinds of essential medicines for Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver Kingsway for his speech. I very much enjoyed serving with him on the health committee.
    He is quite correct that over a year ago we were calling on the government to come up with rapid tests, and rapidly come up with rapid tests. However, the medical experts are now saying that with omicron, there is so much transmission that we are not in this tracing and isolating mode anymore and that we really need to start lifting travel restrictions, which are not working, and other mandates.
    Will the member join with us today to call for a plan from the government to end all of the mandates so we can exit this pandemic and restore the economy?
    Madam Speaker, I also enjoyed serving with my hon. colleague on the health committee. However, I must, with respect, disagree with many of the premises of her question.
    The Conservatives did not call for rapid tests a year ago. They started calling for rapid tests a year ago and continued month after month. As I remember, right up until November of this year they wanted rapid tests for themselves in this chamber so that anyone who was not vaccinated could prove they were safe by coming up with a negative test through a rapid test. What I do not understand is that after months of pushing for rapid tests, today they stand up and argue against it, and worse, they are questioning the science and value of rapid tests. The previous speaker, who serves on the health committee, very shockingly said that we needed this issue to go to the health committee to determine if rapid testing works. Of course it works, and it is going to be key to getting out of this pandemic. Canadians have to have some method of showing that they are COVID positive or negative, and that is a key component. I challenge the Conservatives to come up with a single reputable expert in this country who has said that we do not need testing as a core piece of moving forward to get out of this pandemic.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we agree with the idea of funding rapid tests, but we do not agree with seeing health transfers decline year after year. In the 1960s, the federal government covered 50% of health care costs, but now, it contributes only 22%.
    At the same time, it is interfering in other sectors while continuing to refuse to increase health transfers. We often see the NDP supporting these federal attempts to interfere in areas like dental insurance and pharmacare.
    What does my colleague think about this?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, where I think the New Democrats and the Bloc join together is on our position that we need the federal government to play a proper role in funding health care in this country. Notionally, 50% is what the federal government should be paying. Where I disagree with my hon. colleague is on what role the federal government plays. The federal government has shared jurisdiction in health, and when we talk about conditions of health transfers, I have three words for my hon. colleague: Canada Health Act. The Canada Health Act has five conditions that must be met, and no province gets any funding from the federal government unless they agree to abide by those five conditions. My hon. colleague is simply wrong when he thinks that the federal government is an ATM machine and is obligated to give money to the provinces with no obligation whatsoever on how the provinces spend the money. That is constitutionally wrong, and it is belied by the Canada Health Act.

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, I know we are here today to debate Bill C-10, which is meant to accelerate funding for rapid tests in support of the current health measures, but at the same time, we need to have a real talk about the health of our democracy.
    Our democracy is currently under threat by extremist alt-right movements that have hijacked frustration regarding the pandemic and public health measures to boost the alt-right and recruit new people into the movement. Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed illegal occupations in cities and border crossings across this country. Fuelled and funded by many extremist organizations in Canada and the U.S.A., including leaders with ties to such groups as the Soldiers of Odin and the yellow vests, which are hate groups, we are witnessing the rapid rise of white supremacy and the growing threat of fascism.
    Across this country and around the world, people are struggling. About 200,000 jobs were lost in this country in January alone and people are losing their homes. Meanwhile, the price of all essential needs is going up, including groceries. This is making it even more difficult for individuals and families to make ends meet. In fact, we are living in a time of despair and struggle, and as we have witnessed in history, times of despair create fertile grounds for the far right to spread its hate. A clear example is the Great Depression that led into the Second World War, when we witnessed the rise of fascism, resulting in the loss of life and a genocide.
    As we enter the second year of the pandemic, with the frustrations and well-being of people in Canada in great flux, we are witnessing our democracy, although inherently flawed, come under threat. We must work together across party lines to protect our democracy against the rise of fascism. Now is not the time for petty politics. Our democracy is under real threat.
    I do not believe that the roots of this occupation are about vaccine mandates, including passports. As shared by a brilliant colleague, El Jones, during the rabble.ca panel, “Where is the outrage? Where has the outrage been with the carding of police of Black and indigenous peoples? There was no illegal occupations popping up around Canada or, in fact, indigenous people who fall under the Indian Act who are forced to carry Indian Act identification cards to prove their Indian status.” There was no revolution and no protest for freedom.
    The fact is, we have seen Confederate flags, a symbol of slavery, and swastikas, and both symbols are linked to fascism and genocide. This is not about freedom.
    I also do not believe the illegal occupation is about workers. What kind of working-class uprising puts 1,500 retail workers at the Rideau Centre mall in Ottawa out of work for weeks, forcing them to lose income? What kind of working-class uprising forces auto plants to close for days on end, forcing temporary layoffs of workers?
    In my riding of Winnipeg Centre, an iron foundry was unable to ship any orders because of blockades at the Emerson border crossing. What kind of working-class uprising, claiming to be led by truckers, is silent about the endemic wage theft in the trucking industry? Truckers, 90% of whom are vaccinated, have filed 4,800 complaints about unpaid wages to ESDC in the last three years. This occupation does not represent them or their interests.
    I also do not believe it is about indigenous rights or solidarity with nations that have discovered unmarked graves and residential school survivors. Nor does the Orange Shirt Society, which has denounced the hijacking of Orange Shirt Day and the “every child matters” campaign to fuel a movement of hate and white supremacy.

  (1340)  

    It is about the far-right movement taking advantage of people's despair without offering any real solutions.
    I was horrified to hear former President Trump give a thumbs up to this illegal occupation as he is currently being accused of fuelling and supporting the insurrection in the United States. Democracy is fragile and must be honoured. Our democracy is in danger, and this is not the time for petty politics or name-calling. All party leaders need to come together against the rise of the far right.
    We should just look at what can happen, and look at the counter-protests we witnessed this weekend. People were fighting against fascism and standing up for their communities in places such as Ottawa and Winnipeg this weekend. They know and they get what is at stake, and they came together to protect each other and our fragile democracy. I am so very grateful for their efforts.
     We also need to crack down on foreign anonymous funding that is helping to sustain the occupation. We need to tackle the spread of online hate and misinformation that is contributing to people's radicalization. We need to ban symbols of hate, which we have shamefully seen displayed in recent days.
    We also need to address the root causes of people's insecurity and fear for their future. We need to maintain and expand pandemic income supports, and ensure that wage subsidies are used for the protection of jobs and not the provision of executive bonuses. We need to move toward a GLBI that lifts people out of poverty and creates a social floor below which no one can fall.
    There is a lot of anger right now, and people have a right to be angry. I am angry that kids in Winnipeg Centre are going to school on an empty stomach because we have the highest child poverty rate of any urban riding in this country. I am angry that public money, which was supposed to help keep workers on the payroll during the pandemic, was used by CEOs to reward themselves with bonuses so they could buy another yacht or another Rolex.
    I am angry that people in downtown Winnipeg are sleeping in bus shelters because we have a housing crisis that successive governments have failed to take seriously with adequate investment. We need to ensure that the anger is directed toward the powerful, not the powerless, and channelled in a way that strengthens our democracy, not undermines it.
    When people are looked after and when they are not worried about how they are going to pay credit card bills or rent, or put food on the table, they are less likely to believe false narratives that scapegoat marginalized people, indigenous peoples, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, racialized people or LGBTQ+ individuals for their troubles.
    There is hope. We can tackle the far right while at the same time raising the living standards of millions of people. We just need that political will and the sense of urgency that this moment is demanding of us. We need to do it so we can rapidly shift our focus toward looking after people, which is what we are trying to do today in our debate of Bill C-10.
    Madam Speaker, I truly recognize and appreciate the role the New Democrats are playing on this very important initiative. In fact, they have been very creative in ensuring there is that much more accountability.
    I am wondering if the member can provide her thoughts. Being from the same province, we understand how important the demand is, particularly in late December and early January, because of the variation in the coronavirus and the impact it was having in the province of Manitoba.
    How important is it that we pass the legislation to ensure we have the funding for rapid tests?

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, certainly people in our NDP caucus support public health members and are in support of passing measures supporting rapid tests. What I am talking about here is the need to stop divisive rhetoric that is posing a threat to democracy, and the politicization by members of the House of the despair of individuals to fuel the rise of hate and white supremacy in this country. It is putting our democracy at great risk.
    Madam Speaker, I agree with the member. The symbols and messages of hate that have permeated these demonstrations are very concerning.
    To that end, will the member be voting in favour of the bill put forward by my colleague for Saskatoon—Grasswood, which would make Holocaust denial and distortion a criminal offence in Canada?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge my colleague, who is also from Manitoba, for his absolute disdain for the symbols of hate that have been flown during this illegal occupation. I would also like to thank him for his work around raising awareness around Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial is dangerous and we must put an end to it.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech. Much of it, however, seemed to be off topic. Let us get back to the matter at hand, namely investments in rapid testing.
    Right now, Quebec and Canada have some of the highest vaccination rates in the world. Canada is one of the countries where people have been the most willing to comply with public health measures.
    However, unlike other countries, we cannot lift the lockdown, at least not immediately. This is in large part because of the fragility of our health care system, and that fragility is the direct result of 30 years of federal underfunding. That is what we are talking about.
    Today's motion is once again intended to throw money around without promising permanent, stable investment for the coming years, as we have been asking for the past 30 years. That investment would have enabled us to keep the crisis from getting this bad.
    Does my colleague not agree?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I agree. We absolutely need to make greater investments in public health. We also need to do whatever is necessary right now to get through this current health crisis. We need to do it in a way that supports science and public health.
    Resuming debate. I want to remind the hon. member that, unfortunately, I will have to interrupt him at one point, and he will be able to continue his speech thereafter.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Madam Speaker, we are entering into a process today that will ultimately see a very important piece of the government's legislative agenda pass.
    To start off, I just want to acknowledge that the opposition parties have a choice. To some degree, I am very pleased with my New Democratic friends. People who have listened to me articulate in the past will know I am often offside with my New Democratic friends. Having said that, I appreciate the approach the NDP is taking on the process we are entering into today, which would ensure that Canadians feel comfortable in knowing that the federal government would be passing legislation that would assist in ensuring there would be rapid tests from coast to coast to coast. It is something that is absolutely urgent. We have at least one opposition party that has recognized that.
    On the other hand, even though the Bloc party is somewhat sympathetic to the need for rapid testing, and I guess that is something to appreciate, it wants to tie it into health care transfers. I would suggest that is for another day's debate. I would suggest that the Bloc is not too late to look at the urgency that is required.
    I will expand on why it is so important that we see that sense of co-operation shortly. Before I do that, I want to reflect on the Conservative approach to this particular piece of legislation.
    The Conservatives have demonstrated one thing very clearly over the last number of months, and that is that they are all over the map. We have no idea where they might be on any given issue, at any given point in time. In fact, if we were listening to one of the Conservative members who spoke today, we would think that the Conservative Party does not believe that rapid testing is an effective tool. I, and many members present inside the chamber, really question how the Conservative Party would not understand and appreciate the science, and listen—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1350)  

    I want to remind members that the hon. member has the floor, and members will have an opportunity for 10 minutes to ask questions and make comments when it is the appropriate time to do so.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, I would even extend that 10 minutes with leave, if they want.
    At the end of the day, the science and health care experts in all regions of our country have recognized the value of rapid tests. There was a day when the Conservatives actually did support rapid tests. They talked about how important it was for Ottawa to get rapid tests, and Ottawa acquired, through procurement, tens of millions of rapid tests. In fact, at the end of or mid-December of last year, six, seven or eight weeks ago, there was a surplus of rapid tests in Canada. Millions and millions of rapid tests were not being utilized.
    We have often talked about COVID-19 being something we cannot just mandate away. When a new variant of the coronavirus comes, hospitals are once again inundated. Provinces, territories and others recognized that we needed to implement rapid tests in a more effective way, so the demand for rapid tests exploded in the month of December. We provided the storage of rapid tests in good part to meet the immediate demand that occurred in December. Then, through our procurements, in January we brought forward an incredible effort that saw over 140 million additional rapid tests. We can take that in the perspective of Canada's population of thirty-seven and a half million people.
    The Government of Canada understands the science behind rapid tests, and I think rapid testing is a good tool. It is not quite equal to the vaccinations, but I would like to emphasize just how important it has been from the beginning of the pandemic that we have seen provinces, territories, indigenous leaders and stakeholders working in a team Canada approach to deal with the pandemic.
    We saw that in the distribution of vaccinations. Canada today is leading the world in vaccination and getting its population vaccinated, and that is no accident. That is because we have had effective leadership, whether it is from Ottawa, the provinces and territories, indigenous leaders or others. We are also seeing today, again, an excellent example through rapid testing.
    At least the government and two opposition parties recognize not only that rapid testing is important, but that the federal government has a role to play in it. The NDP members want to see the legislation passed because they know, as we know, how critically important it is to get over $2 billion to finalize purchasing and ensure that Canadians have these rapid tests. This is while the Conservatives dither. The official opposition does not really know what to think about rapid tests.
    I would encourage people to read some of the comments on the record by the first speaker from the Conservative Party, who I understand sits on the standing health committee representing the Conservative Party.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!

  (1355)  

    Again, I am not sure if certain members were not in the House a few minutes ago when I indicated that there would be not five, but 10 minutes of questions and comments when the appropriate time is, and I would ask members to hold on to their thoughts until then so that the hon. member can continue his speech.
    There will be time for questions and comments, as I have mentioned.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to—
    Madam Speaker, I am rising on a point of order.
    I think I speak for everyone in the House. I will sit very quietly and patiently if at least we can cut the time down to five minutes rather than 10 minutes.
    That is not a point of order. I would ask members to ensure that their points of order are going to be acceptable in the House.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, I would just suggest that I should get a bonus two minutes because the member interrupted my speech.
    At the end of the day I really believe that if members look at the legislative agenda that the Government of Canada has put on the table over the last couple of months, they will see that there is a very strong focus on the issue of the coronavirus and bringing in legislation to support Canadians in every way.
    The very first piece of legislation we brought forward was Bill C-2, which dealt with issues such as the lockdown benefits, wage subsidy benefits, rent supplements and other supports for Canadians. Members will recall that the Conservatives back then attempted to divide the bill. They were already trying to slow down the legislation. Without the support that was provided from that legislation, there would have been a great deal more hardship over Christmas and going into the new year, as a direct result of Conservative negligence and not understanding what was important.
    With respect to the motion we are debating today to put into process an amount of time to ensure that this bill passes, one only needs to look at the behaviour of the official opposition members to understand why it is so important that we put in a closure motion on the legislation. If we are not prepared to do that, we will see an ongoing display of the games, whether it is what was demonstrated with Bill C-2 or, as members will recall, last week's concurrence motion. There is a finite amount of time in the House of Commons. That is one of the reasons that, in order to be able to provide the support that Canadians need, we have to bring in this motion. We want to continue to have the backs of Canadians.
    The hon. member has 10 minutes and 20 seconds remaining in his speech. I am glad he cut it short.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[Translation]

Teachers

    Mr. Speaker, many members of Parliament remember teachers and support staff who made a positive impact on our lives.
    Now these people are making a difference in the lives of the next generation. The work they are doing nurtures and strengthens our country's greatest resource: our children. I am grateful for the teachers in my riding, Vaudreuil—Soulanges, who give it their all every day under normal circumstances.

[English]

    These are not normal circumstances. Teachers who have always gone above and beyond have had to reach even further and deeper for more strength, courage and patience, all the while putting on a brave face for their students.
    Over the last two years, the resolve and strength of our teachers and school personnel have been tested. With most tests, there is a grade that comes with it. I want to let our teachers and support staff know, on behalf of the House and everyone who calls Vaudreuil—Soulanges home, that they have given their 100% and they have earned and deserve just that in return.

COVID-19 Protests

    Mr. Speaker, as protesters mark their third weekend in downtown Ottawa, they are still waiting for an olive branch from the government. Personally, I would like to recognize the veterans expressing their love and commitment to our nation.
    Veterans have been a constant presence in our capital since they began. They have stood alongside truckers and families with their medals proudly on display. They have recited the Lord's Prayer and sung O Canada with Canadians from all walks of life. No one can deny the patriotism and passion on display.
    Soon we will vote on whether to end punitive federal mandates. Of even greater significance is whether our federal government will not only recognize but vow to cherish and uphold our fundamental freedoms: the freedom to speak, to believe and to make personal choices, protected by the rule of law, the charter and our Bill of Rights.
    Our veterans demonstrate that Canadian voices for unity and freedom are growing louder. Is the Prime Minister ready to listen?

Macular Degeneration

    Mr. Speaker, February is age-related macular degeneration month, which is the leading cause of blindness for Canadians over the age of 50.
    Close to two million Canadians and almost 200 million people globally suffer from macular degeneration, which is a progressive disease that, over time, takes the eyesight of those who suffer from it. It is very likely that everyone in this chamber knows someone who has suffered or will suffer from macular degeneration.
    Macular degeneration first starts with blurriness and difficulty recognizing fine details in faces. In its later stages, it leaves the individual legally blind, unable to see because of significant dark spots in their vision. We recognize that one of the most critical issues affecting our Canadian seniors' quality of life is the ability to stay in their homes and continue to live independently longer.
    Every year, countless seniors are forced to give up their homes and move into retirement or nursing homes because macular degeneration has stolen their vision and made independent living dangerous or outright impossible. Macular degeneration has no cure, but there are promising medical treatments currently on the horizon awaiting Health Canada approval.
    I hope everyone will join me in recognizing the millions of Canadians who suffer from macular degeneration.

[Translation]

Hooked on School Days

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to talk about Hooked on School Days.
    For many young people, staying in school can be tough. They may be dealing with learning difficulties, social issues or serious challenges. That is why this week provides an important opportunity to offer encouragement and tell them we are proud of them. I would encourage my colleagues to express their support by doing something extra nice or even just wearing the green and white ribbon with pride.
    It is also important to mention the invaluable contribution of all school staff who work hard every day to make learning fun and effective, thereby encouraging kids to stay in school.
    Staying in school means becoming more knowledgeable, cultured, open-minded, successful and prosperous.
    I encourage all young people to stay in school. We are proud of them.

Saint-Jean-Vianney Community Organization

    Mr. Speaker, Ressources Saint-Jean-Vianney is a community organization in my riding that helps vulnerable people in the Saint-Jean-Vianney neighbourhood of Longueuil.
    This year, this organization is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and I want to acknowledge what an important role it plays in our community. This organization helps young people by hosting sports activities and a summer camp. It supports low‑income people by organizing soup kitchens. It helps parents by providing them with support services and training. It brings immigrants out of isolation through intercultural, educational and social activities and so much more.
    I congratulate its executive director, Lyes Chekal, for his dedication, and I salute his entire dynamic team, who are always giving the best of themselves to meet the needs of our community.
    I wish them a happy 20th anniversary.

  (1405)  

Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

    Mr. Speaker, the word “resilience” has been used many times since the beginning of this health crisis. I would like to mention an exceptional group of people: our Olympic and Paralympic athletes who are participating in the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
    These athletes have had to overcome many challenges due to the pandemic. Getting to the Olympics is never easy even in normal times, so imagine the effort they had to make this year.
    On behalf of all the citizens of our beautiful country, I congratulate the 215 Canadian athletes. Canada already has 15 medals, and the games are not over yet. We all stand behind these athletes, and we are proud of their performances. Let us not forget that starting on March 4, our inspiring Paralympic athletes will have their turn to shine.
    I want to take this opportunity to congratulate our athletes from Portneuf—Jacques‑Cartier: Flavie Aumond in freestyle skiing, Miha Fontaine, who won bronze in mixed team aerials, and Laurie Blouin, who we will be watching this evening in the snowboard finals. We are proud of them.

[English]

Teaching Excellence in STEM

    Mr. Speaker, teachers are more than just educators; they hold the key to our future success. They instill central values and passion in our youth. Without them, we could not cultivate the next generations of scientists, engineers, artists and leaders.
    I want to highlight an incredible teacher in my riding of York Centre, Ms. Cindy Law, who recently received the Prime Minister's award for Teaching Excellence in STEM. I had the pleasure of congratulating Ms. Law and learning about her unique teaching methods and passion for the success of her students.
    As a mother to a high-schooler, I know how important it is to have a teacher who inspires our students to excel and grow. Ms. Law motivates her students to think critically, collaboratively and explore the natural world in an engaging way.
     Both she and her students have won several awards and achievements, which can be attributed to her success with her students. To achieve this during the ongoing pandemic is truly remarkable and a testament to her incredible work as a teacher.
    On behalf of our York Centre community, students and families, I thank and congratulate Ms. Law.

Black History Month

    Mr. Speaker, February is Black History Month and this year we are focused on recognizing the daily contributions that Black Canadians make to Canada.
    I would like to recognize one of my constituents who is making a difference in Scarborough. Reverend Denise Gillard is a powerhouse. She is the force behind the HopeWorks Connection, which brings arts to local youth through the Toronto Children's Concert Choir and Performing Arts Company. She is also the senior pastor at Kingdom City Church and an important part of our faith community.
     She is proud of her history. Her father came to Canada from Jamaica and her mother's family came to Canada through the Black refugee and loyalist movements in Nova Scotia.
    She has devoted herself to empowering children and the people who love them to work toward fulfilling their full potential in the light of faith, service and transformational living.
    Denise's story is Canada's story. I am proud to celebrate her and everyone who is making a difference in our community.

Pegasus Project

    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to salute those involved in the Pegasus project, led by a group of Saskatchewan automotive enthusiasts. It raised over $1 million at the recent Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona to support the STARS air ambulance in my province of Saskatchewan.
    A custom-built, one-of-a-kind 1968 Ford Mustang 427 Fastback was auctioned off in hopes of raising much-needed funds for the STARS' fleet renewal. This initiative was led by co-chairs Vaughn Wyant and Wayne Halabura, who brought Saskatoon actor Kim Coates and Humboldt Bronco bus crash survivor Kaleb Dahlgren on board.
     I want to thank Barb and Gord Broda of Prince Albert for their passion in supporting STARS ambulance. May they enjoy the ride in their 1968 Ford Mustang.

  (1410)  

COVID-19 Protests

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to address the protests that have spread across the country.
    Just last week, my constituency office received a suspicious package in the mail, as did many other Nova Scotia politicians from all levels of government and all different political stripes. Members of Parliament and their staff work hard in the service of their communities. Of course, we will take criticism from time to time. It is part of our job, and that is democracy.
    From a package with an irritant to border blockades and the occupation of our nation's capital, these are not acceptable means of protest, but rather a disrespect of Canadian democracy that puts safety in jeopardy. Through you, I call on every member of the House to stand in solidarity against these unlawful acts. I stress that, as parliamentarians, these actions will not intimidate us or our staff from doing our jobs.
    All Canadians are frustrated, but as my father would have said if he were here, the point has been made and now it is time for them to go back to their homes.

Congenital Heart Disease

    Mr. Speaker, happy Valentine's Day.
    In addition to Valentine's Day, today is another day relating to matters of the heart: congenital heart awareness day. Every year, over 260,000 Canadians are born with congenital heart disease. It is the leading birth defect in Canada, affecting one in every 100 births.
    In 2015, my son Teddy was born with a congenital heart defect. We lost him to heart failure just 22 minutes after his birth. There are not many days that go by when we do not think of what could have been. My wife Allyson has been a tireless advocate for women who experience the terror of infant loss and miscarriage. Her motto is always to choose love, and she has a blog by the same name.
    We could all choose love a little more. Please join me in bringing awareness and love to the hundreds and thousands of Canadians suffering each year from congenital heart disease as we work on a cure.

Federal Vaccine Mandates

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Premier Scott Moe for being the first Canadian leader to announce the end of vaccine mandates. Today in Saskatchewan, anyone who wants to will be able to go to a restaurant and celebrate Valentine's Day with their loved ones, with no proof of vaccination required.
    When making the announcement, Premier Moe stated, “The benefits no longer outweigh the costs.... It's time for proof of vaccination requirements to end.”
    I am pleased to see other premiers following suit. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister is refusing to do the same. Canada was founded on the principles of peace, order and good government. When we do not have good government, peace and order become harder to maintain.
    I call on the Prime Minister to stop using the pandemic to divide Canadians for political purposes. I call on the federal government to follow Saskatchewan's lead and end all federal mandates.

[Translation]

Valérie Grenier

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the achievements of a young athlete from my riding.
    Valérie Grenier, who hails from Saint‑Isidore, is a member of the Olympic alpine ski team. The people of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell are proud to stand behind her.
    Valérie Grenier is an inspiration to all Canadians. During these unpredictable and unprecedented times, she has shown courage and resilience. Her journey will inspire a new generation of athletes in our region.
    We are proud to see her at the Olympic Games and we will continue to cheer her on. She has dedicated herself to her sport for a long time now, and her hard work certainly points to her success.
    I encourage all athletes proudly representing the maple leaf to savour every second of this unique experience. Canada is so proud of them.
    Congratulations, Valérie Grenier.

[English]

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

    Mr. Speaker, today, February 14, marks the annual memorial march in honour of missing and murdered indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
    Every single first nation, Métis and urban community in our region has been devastated by the loss of a loved one who was brutally murdered or forcibly disappeared.
    As the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women pointed out, this is genocide. Two hundred and thirty-one calls to justice must be realized, from ending poverty to providing housing. These are actions rooted in the absolute need for decolonization.
    At a time when much attention has been given to the illegal occupation of our capital, we are clear that the systems of settler colonialism, including policing, are part of the problem when it comes to violence against indigenous women.
    Today we remember and honour them, and we recommit to pushing for action now. We cannot rest until no indigenous woman, girl or two-spirited person goes missing or is murdered again. There must be justice now.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

100th Anniversary of Saint-Narcisse-de-Rimouski

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today in honour of the 100th anniversary of Saint‑Narcisse‑de‑Rimouski.
    On February 13, 1922, a section of Haut‑Pays‑de‑la‑Neigette split from Sainte‑Blandine, giving rise to the municipality of Saint‑Narcisse‑de‑Rimouski. At the time, the first residents of Saint‑Narcisse‑de‑Rimouski were determined to live on and work the hinterland, clearing the land, working with their hands, and raising their families. One hundred years later, the community of Saint‑Narcisse‑de‑Rimouski is proud of its roots but firmly focused on the future.
    The central importance of agriculture and forestry to this community is a testament to the legacy of these builders, while the municipality's tourism sector and many cultural activities help it thrive and showcase its festive spirit all year long. Both the Festival de la fenaison agricultural festival and the popular snow blowing races at the Carnaval d'hiver winter festival attest to the life and energy of this community, making it clear that Saint‑Narcisse‑de‑Rimouski is a great place to live.
    I wish the people of Saint‑Narcisse‑de‑Rimouski a happy 100th anniversary.

[English]

Federal Vaccine Mandates

    Mr. Speaker, today Canadians are awaiting the vote on our Conservative motion calling for a plan and timeline to end all federal mandates and restrictions in Canada.
    For over two years, Canadians have done what is asked of them. They followed the rules. They did what it took to get us to a point where we can finally see the end of this pandemic. Other similar countries around the world have given hope and provided leadership by releasing their plans.
    Canada is one of the most vaccinated countries in the entire world. That should be celebrated, and we should be celebrating where the science and data by medical experts is headed. Instead, our country has never been more divided, angry and pessimistic.
    The Prime Minister created this mess by his tone and unacceptable language when attacking those who disagree with him. Today Parliament has a choice: to provide hope and optimism with a clear plan and timeline to end federal mandates or to plunge us into further chaos and division at a time when the opposite is needed.
    The country is watching. Will the Liberals join us and answer the call for a plan today?

COVID-19 Protests

     Mr. Speaker, “I am Canadian and I am triple vaxxed. For my family, my neighbours, my co-workers, our healthcare workers, for my country. I will not be bullied.”
    These words, written by Ms. Jean Yoon and countless Canadians over the past few days, have become a rallying cry. Make no mistake: After two years, we are all tired of this pandemic. We are tired of not being with our loved ones, tired of seeing small businesses and communities struggle, tired of this illegal blockade that has terrorized Canadians and attacked our supply chains. We have sacrificed so much to be where we are today, and we will not back down. It is our obligation to one another to do what is necessary to protect Canadians.
    It is time for the members of this House to start putting first their obligations to the citizens who elected us to serve, to put petty politics aside and to work together. Together let us show an effective plan to see us through to the end of this pandemic. Let us show what Canadians have proven: that we are united.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

COVID-19 Protests

    Mr. Speaker, it has been reported that the Prime Minister is planning to invoke the Emergencies Act to deal with the current protests in Ottawa and in some parts of the country. We know the protests continue here in Ottawa. We know the Windsor border has been reopened. We know that last night there were arrests in Coutts.
     Section 16 of the Emergencies Act refers to “threats to the security of Canada”. Given this context, does the Prime Minister think that these protests constitute threats to the security of Canada, and if not, does he think that with this news he could be escalating rather than de-escalating an already inflamed situation?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, these illegal blockades are hurting Canadians. We have seen borders closed, our economy crippled and Canadians losing their jobs. That is why, since the beginning, this federal government has provided law enforcement with all of the resources that they have needed.
    In Windsor, the RCMP and Windsor police have reopened the Ambassador Bridge; in Alberta, the RCMP made 11 arrests and seized guns at the Coutts border crossing; and in Ottawa, the RCMP and the OPP have established an integrated command centre with the Ottawa Police Service.
    Our number one priority is to end the illegal blockades, uphold the law and allow Canadians to get their lives back.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, we have been asking the Prime Minister to stop dividing, stigmatizing and name-calling people he disagrees with and let them know that he listens and that he hears them, but he refuses to do that.
    Today we are voting on a Conservative motion, a reasonable motion that asks the government to present a plan for a reopening by the end of the month. This should be a time of optimism and joy for Canadians, not division and fear.
    Can Canadians count on the Prime Minister to do the right thing and today stand up with us, support our motion and give Canadians the hope that they deserve so much?
    Mr. Speaker, it does not really matter whether members of the opposition have been merely irresponsible or recklessly complicit, but what this country is facing is a largely foreign-funded, targeted and coordinated attack on critical infrastructure and our democratic institutions. The illegal border closings are clearly intended to harm Canada and hurt Canadians, and our government is prepared to do whatever is necessary to restore order and to protect Canadian interests.
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear the Prime Minister and these Liberals are still big fans of polarization, division and negativity. Two years into the pandemic, Canadians deserve, in this moment, some optimism and some hope for the future, and they deserve leadership from their government. They need to know when the federal mandates and the restrictions will be lifted. That is not an unreasonable ask.
    Again, will the Liberals, will their Prime Minister, will their ministers, will their backbenchers stand up for their constituents, and vote with us to present some optimism and some hope for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, at every turn in this crisis, the Conservatives had an opportunity to de-escalate and talk to those who were outside about dispersing and moving on. Instead we saw the interim leader of the Conservatives come out saying that they should continue this for political purposes. The member for Carleton, who is currently a leadership candidate, came out saying that he is proud and stands with the illegal activity that is happening outside. The member for Yorkton—Melville was saying that ripping down barricades protecting the war memorial was an act of profound patriotism. This is their failing leadership here.
    What this—
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

[Translation]

COVID-19 Protests

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are not fooled. They understand the Prime Minister’s political games.
    First, according to his own MPs, he wilfully chose to wedge, to divide and to stigmatize in order to win an election. We are not the ones saying that. It is people from his own team and caucus.
    He then chose to politicize the pandemic, and that is what he is still doing today. Section 16 of the Emergencies Act states that there must be a threat to the security of Canada in order for the act to be invoked.
    How does the Prime Minister justify using emergency powers in a different way, once again—
    Order. The hon. Minister of Public Safety.
    Mr. Speaker, these blockades are hurting Canadians and they must stop.
    We are acting responsibly. In Windsor, the RCMP and Windsor Police Service have reopened the Ambassador Bridge. In Alberta, the RCMP have made 11 arrests. In Ottawa, the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police have established an integrated command centre with the Ottawa Police Service.
    Our top priority is to end the illegal blockades, enforce the law, and make it possible for Canadians to get to where they need to go.
    Madam Speaker, the situation that is unfolding today was entirely avoidable. The Prime Minister's campaign to divide Canadians and to divide his own caucus contributed to this escalation and, unfortunately, he went into hiding for days instead of trying to defuse tensions. The public wants a peaceful resolution to this conflict, an end to the protests, but not the military on the streets.
    Will the Prime Minister vote in favour of our motion and present all Canadians with a plan, as all the other governments in Canada have done?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party has a clear choice: to de-escalate the situation by telling the protesters that it is time to leave Ottawa immediately. On Twitter—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Can we proceed?
    The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.
    Mr. Speaker, on Twitter, the Conservative Party continues to support the illegal actions taking place outside. The next potential leader of the Conservative Party keeps saying that he is really proud of the illegal actions going on outside. That is totally irresponsible.
    We are going to work very hard to stop what is going on outside.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister intends to invoke the Emergencies Act to deal with the occupation in Ottawa. He will have seven days to get the House's approval for the special powers he is seeking. However, he refuses to say exactly what he intends to do with those powers.
    People have a right to know. We cannot wait seven days to find out. We cannot give the Prime Minister carte blanche when we are talking about extreme powers that could include the use of the military. Will the Prime Minister reveal his detailed plan today?
    Mr. Speaker, from the beginning, we have been supporting the City of Ottawa and its police service in their response to the blockade. We have acted responsibly. This includes three deployments of the RCMP, tactical and logistical support, and an integrated command centre with the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police.
    Our top priority is to put an end to the illegal blockade, enforce the law and help residents of Ottawa get their lives back.
    Mr. Speaker, in short, they have done nothing for three weeks.
    We do not know what the Prime Minister is planning to do, but we do know some things. We know that Quebec is opposed to having the Emergencies Act imposed on its territory. To this point, the crisis has been much better managed and contained in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada.
    If the premier of Ontario wants emergency measures implemented in his province, he has that right and it is his business.
    However, will the government commit to not imposing the Emergencies Act in Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said several times since the start of this crisis, we offered resources to the police services in Ottawa and Windsor. Even in Coutts, the police have made great progress. However, we must now rally all members of the House and put an end to the convoy.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, people in communities across our country are feeling the impacts of the occupations. Health care workers, retail and grocery store workers, truck drivers, small business owners and residents have lost their jobs and livelihoods. They have also been intimidated, and even assaulted, during these occupations.
    Where was the Prime Minister 18 days ago when this started? If he had shown leadership and acted promptly, we would not have to talk about emergency measures today. Canadians want to know why the Prime Minister let things get so bad. Why has it taken him so long to show any leadership at all?
    Mr. Speaker, let me acknowledge the terrible impact these blockades and actions have had on ordinary Canadians. We have seen terrible disruptions to the lives and safety of not only the people of Ottawa, but also those right across the country. These blockades have resulted in true harms to the people of Canada. We have seen idle workers. We have seen the interruptions to the supply chains of goods and services.
    Right from the outset, we have provided support and advice to law enforcement and to the provincial and territorial governments. However, as this event has evolved, we have seen greater threats to critical infrastructure, and to the lives, safety and interests of Canadians. We are prepared to do what is necessary.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the Prime Minister has been absent since the beginning of the convoy crisis, and that is nothing new. He has been absent when it comes to the housing crisis, the increased cost of living, the climate crisis and health transfers. Today, people feel neglected and abandoned. They want a Prime Minister who does not wait for the worst to happen before taking action.
    Why does this Prime Minister refuse to take action when people really need help?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, from vandalism to acts of violence, the convoy has turned Canadians' lives upside down. My colleagues opposite have had many opportunities to de-escalate the situation, but they chose to throw oil on the fire instead. From the beginning, our government has supported three deployments of the RCMP and is now supporting an integrated command centre with the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ottawa Police Service. Our top priority is to put an end to the illegal blockades and enforce the law.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, many people in my riding approached me this weekend wanting to talk about this government's lack of leadership. I want to remind the Prime Minister that Canadians are 90% vaccinated, and Canada is the most vaccinated country in the G7. We will be voting on a motion this afternoon that calls on the government to come up with a plan by February 28 for getting life in Canada back to normal.
    Will the government commit to doing that?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and want to congratulate her on talking about a plan. We have had a plan for the past 22 months, and the plan is working. We have the lowest mortality rate of any G7 country by far, except Japan. We have enjoyed some of the best economic growth of any G7 country and most OECD countries. People have been doing their part, including getting vaccinated, for quite some time. Nearly 80% of Canadians of all ages are fully vaccinated, and nearly 50% have received a booster.
    Mr. Speaker, to govern is to make decisions. This government's lack of vision has caused division within its own caucus. After two years of efforts and sacrifices, it is time, as Dr. Theresa Tam says, to re-evaluate the public health measures.
    Will the government choose to move forward or will it keep spinning its wheels by dividing and stigmatizing people?
    Mr. Speaker, speaking of division, I think that in Canada most people are not divided. On the contrary, they support vaccination and think it is important. Eighty per cent of people have chosen to get fully vaccinated. Nearly 50% have gotten a booster dose and that number is going up every day. Every day, 150,000 Canadians are receiving their booster shot and 10,000 others are getting their first dose. It is those 10,000 people that I would like to congratulate in the House for making the right decision every day to protect themselves and their loved ones. That is particularly appropriate on Valentine's Day.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, today at the agriculture committee, the Canadian Pork Council stated that an interprovincial trucking vaccine mandate would be very damaging to the industry and producers.
    This proposal was not even considered at the height of the pandemic. Now Canadians are lining the streets of Ottawa and clogging up major economic arteries. The Prime Minister is getting pressure from every direction, asking when we will have a clear plan to move this country forward.
    Would the Minister of Transport put on the record today that his government will not go forward with an interprovincial trucking mandate for the trucking sector?
    Mr. Speaker, let me put it on the record today and every day that our government will always follow the advice of our public health experts. We will follow the advice of our doctors, and we will always do what is good for our—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. We are waiting for some silence.
    The hon. Minister of Transport.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know why it upsets them when we say we follow public health advice. I do not know why it is so irritating for them.
    We will do what it takes to protect our truckers, our transportation industry workers and our economy. I know people are frustrated with public health measures, but we will do what is right. Canadians understand that this is for their own good, and this is for the good of the people—

  (1435)  

    The hon. member for Regina—Lewvan.
    Mr. Speaker, I am so happy to hear that answer.
    What public health officials are asking for an interprovincial trucking vaccine mandate for the truckers? What public health official is asking for more restrictions to be put in place? What public health official is asking for mask mandates and vaccine mandates across our country?
     I want to hear from the member. I ask the member to show me the scientific proof that this country cannot move forward. I want to see the data they are looking where we cannot reopen our provinces and businesses and let people get back to living their normal, everyday life in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I know my hon. colleague knows that vaccines save lives. I do not know if the hon. member can point out a single doctor who can say that the pandemic is over. I do not know if my hon. colleague can point to a single scientist who says that the pandemic is over. We will do what it takes to protect the health and safety of Canadians. We will respond to the advice. When the advice is to ease measures, we will ease measures.
    One thing I can say is that honest leadership tells Canadians that we do not know what the future hold, but we must remain prudent.

COVID-19 Protests

    Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Public Safety correctly stated, it is the Windsor Police Service and law enforcement in Alberta that are diffusing the illegal public infrastructure blockades that have traumatized Canadians. It has not been the federal government. In fact, the Prime Minister has been inflammatory, at best, and unresponsive, at worst, as this crisis has mushroomed and traumatized Canadians.
    How can the Prime Minister justify asking for an unprecedented power through the Emergencies Act when he has failed to exercise leadership with the authority he already has?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, I want to thank the members of the RCMP who aided the situation in Windsor. As a result, now we have an Ambassador Bridge that has reopened, which means Canadians are going to get back to work and our economy is going to continue to roll on.
    I am quite surprised to hear my hon. colleague asking about the inflammation of the situation outside this chamber when it was the interim leader who said that they should not go home, and that they would make this a problem for the Prime Minister.
    That is how they inflame the situation. That is why it is important that the Conservatives call on the illegal blockades to end, so Canadians can get their lives back.
    Mr. Speaker, that was embarrassing. Canadians are not looking for finger pointing. They are looking for leadership right now.
     This is an unprecedented public crisis, but the federal government has done nothing. It has not responded to the provincial governments' requests for resources to end this crisis, and now the government is asking to invoke the Emergencies Act, which has never been invoked in Canada before, and several provinces have already said no.
    It seems as though the Liberals want to invoke the act to get provincial governments to shoot it down as a way of abdicating the use of the existing powers that they have at their disposal. Why are the Liberals doing this instead of taking leadership?
    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about leadership. When we see illegal actions occurring outside of this place, and border crossings and bridges being blocked, all these illegal actions, what would responsible leadership be?
     I will tell the member what it absolutely is not. It is not saying that they are proud and stand with the illegal actions they are seeing. It is absolutely not equivocating, as in some of their members saying to continue to stay, egging them on, and then saying, sometimes, in the House, that maybe they are against it, and then tweet that they are for it. That is not leadership.
    Leadership is exactly what we are doing every day with patience, caution and prudence, making sure we safely—
    The hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, nature abhors a vacuum.
    In the absence of federal government leadership, private citizens stepped up to block potentially dangerous occupiers because they feel their government has abandoned them. Ordinary people, brave as they may be, put themselves in harm's way because of this government. After three weekends of chaos, ordinary people felt they could count on nobody but themselves.
    Protecting the people is the cornerstone of the contract between citizens and the government.
    Does the government understand the consequences of its lack of leadership?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question, and I agree with her. Ensuring respect for the law is a priority for this government.
    People have to respect people's rights, even those of the people of Ottawa. That is why we have supported police services with more resources, more people and more officers right from the start. We will keep working with all levels of government to protect Canadians.
    We are where we are because the federal government has been three steps behind since the beginning of the crisis. It took the federal government 10 days to convene a trilateral table with all levels of government, and it forgot to invite police departments. It was only on Saturday, 16 days in, that they ended up creating their own integrated command centre.
    Today, day 18, the government is talking about invoking the Emergencies Act but has no concrete plan to share. When will the government take over crisis management for real?
    Mr. Speaker, we have taken a lot of concrete measures since the beginning of this convoy. Officers have been deployed on three occasions, in addition to the police departments in Windsor and Alberta. The Ambassador Bridge has been reopened in Windsor. That is good news and shows that this government is making progress in co-operation with police forces. We will protect all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, for 18 days, the Prime Minister allowed the crisis to escalate. Today, he is announcing that he plans to invoke the Emergencies Act.
    After 18 days, we have waited long enough on the federal government. The government must tell us today how it plans to use these emergency measures. It must set out a plan and tell us exactly when it will be implemented.
    People are at the end of their rope. Law enforcement is at the end of their rope. What is the plan?
    Mr. Speaker, I share my colleague's concerns, and that is why we will continue to support police services on the ground with more resources and all the services that police and authorities need.
    We must work closely with the City of Ottawa and the City of Windsor and with all the provinces to address this crisis. We must protect all Canadians. That is our government's priority.

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the Blue Water Bridge border crossing and the 402 highway in my riding are still being impacted by the lack of action from the Prime Minister on these trucking mandates. Provinces are listening to their medical experts and they are getting rid of the mandates.
    When is the Prime Minister going to follow the science, listen to the World Health Organization, work with President Biden and end these mandates?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the question. I know we have been working very closely with her community in Sarnia to ensure that the Blue Water Bridge and the port of entry continue to remain open with the support of local law enforcement and with the support of CBSA.
    This is a very critical moment, and that is why the government will continue to provide the people, the resources and all of the tools that law enforcement require to ensure that our ports remain open and that our critical infrastructure remains protected. We have to continue to do that to uphold the law.
    Mr. Speaker, provincial governments in Alberta and Saskatchewan have dropped the COVID-19 mandates. Both Manitoba and Ontario announced they would lift the vaccine passports on March 1. They too are following science.
    Will the government stop speculating and reassure truckers that they will not face new federal mandates when they cross provincial boundaries?
    Mr. Speaker, the opposition would like someone, perhaps the health minister, to declare that COVID-19 will end on a particular date. Unfortunately, that is not how the virus operates and that is not what science tells us. What science has told us is that we need to be prudent and responsible in assuming federal leadership. The federal government does not dictate everything. A lot of the restrictions to which the opposition is alluding are restrictions imposed by provinces and territories, and we are going to support them in whatever manner we need to.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the foundational principles of leadership is that a leader should be slow to speak and quick to listen. We hear a lot of talk from the Prime Minister, but not a lot of listening. Canadians are speaking clearly and they want their lives back.
    When will the Prime Minister stop the division, stop the traumatizing, stop the name-calling and scapegoating, and instead start to listen to what Canadians are saying from coast to coast? Canadians are doing their part. When will the Prime Minister do his, and end these divisive mandates?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives opposite have been doing a lot of talking. I would pose back to them this very clear question. When the member for Yorkton—Melville said that ripping down barricades in front of the war memorial was an act of patriotic passion this weekend, and when their aspirant leader was saying that he is proud of the illegal actions outside and stands with them, is that the position of this caucus across from us?
    I would ask if they would stand up and condemn these incendiary tactics that are escalating this situation and join with us to say it is time for the folks outside to go home.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, February 14th is the date of the Women's Memorial March in honour of murdered and missing indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people. Despite the national inquiry, its final report and the Liberals' weak national action plan, the violence continues. Last week, I attended the beginning of the inquest for 16-year-old Eishia Hudson killed by the Winnipeg city police service. Her family and thousands of others deserve justice. The government needs to immediately stop political sound bites and instead offer a meaningful solution.
    When will the government implement the calls for justice and stop the genocide?
    Mr. Speaker, frankly, the member opposite is absolutely right. We have invested $2 billion in the federal pathway, and as we approach the first anniversary in June, survivors and 2SLGBTQQI+ persons are looking for results and outcomes.
    This is something that we say is a whole-of-government approach, but it is up to every minister in our cabinet and, frankly, everyone in this House to make sure that we are living up to our goals and the calls for justice, which are vast in nature. First and foremost, they have to be trauma-informed and focus on those who are still suffering in silence and those who are courageously speaking out.
    We will be there for them. This is a whole-of-government approach. It is a whole-of-Canada approach. The member opposite is absolutely right.
    Uqaqtittiji, for too long the families of first nations, Métis and Inuit women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA members have suffered violence and injustice while consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments stood by. It is six years since the Liberals came to power, and things are only getting worse. In May, 2020, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada announced its concerns for delays in implementing the MMIWG calls for justice. They called for a commitment of federal funding of $20 million. They are still waiting.
     We need to make sure the organizations that support indigenous girls and women can do—
    The hon. minister for indigenous and Crown relations.
    Mr. Speaker, just this past Thursday, I was honoured to stand with Rebecca Kudloo, who is the president of Pauktuutit, and award her the award for women, peace and security for her role in peacemaking inside this country. It is not something that we do and stand up and say we need to do internationally, but something that we need to do internally.
    If it were not for Rebecca Kudloo and the organization of Pauktuutit, perhaps the advocacy around shelters in the far north and for Inuit Nunangat, including here in Ottawa, would not have been done or perhaps not done as quickly. We have a lot of investments that need to be made. They have to be invested in communities. They have to be invested in Inuit Nunangat and I think—
    The hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, commercial fishers on B.C.'s coast are at their wits' end. They managed to get through two years of COVID impacts and now, just when things look like they might be getting better, the government is causing more undue hardship by slashing the Pacific herring harvest rate. This decision was made with no scientific explanation, no consultation, no compensation and no concern for the livelihoods of fishers, including indigenous operators.
    If the minister does not base her decision on science, what does she base it on?
    Mr. Speaker, on the Pacific coast we are facing an absolute crisis in our wild Pacific salmon. Salmon feed on herring, and the herring stocks are very fragile to begin with. I took a more precautionary approach to the herring fishery this year, so that we could protect wild salmon and rebuild the herring stock to its former abundance.

  (1450)  

Innovation, Science and Industry

    Mr. Speaker, as our economy continues to recover from COVID-19, Canadians from coast to coast to coast, including in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, understand that competition will be a driving force behind innovation, efficiency and adaptability. Now, more than ever, effective and modern competition laws and enforcement are necessary to promote affordability for middle-class Canadians, foster growth and entrepreneurship and maintain resilient supply chains.
    Could the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry kindly update the House as to how the government is modernizing our competition regimes?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for all of his hard work on behalf of his constituents.
    Our government is committed first to promoting a healthy, competitive environment in the Canadian economy. That is why I was proud to announce last week that we would undertake a thorough review of our competition laws, including tackling wage-fixing arrangements, modernizing our enforcement regime, which colleagues should be happy with, and fixing loopholes that harm small businesses, consumers and workers. We should all be happy about that.

Disaster Assistance

    Mr. Speaker, I have a little more of a serious question. Members of all parties have outlined in the House that British Columbia will need additional funds to recover from the recent disasters and to plan for future disasters. B.C. is appreciative of the collaboration with the federal government thus far.
    Will the upcoming federal budget include specific line-item funds for dike and flood infrastructure, flood preparation and planning, and forest fire mitigation?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for his ongoing collaboration and hard work on behalf of his constituents.
    I want to take the opportunity to assure the member that we are working very closely with the B.C. government, and we have made commitments to be there for the people of British Columbia not only as they recover from the terrible floods of last fall, but as they build a more resilient community. We will be there to support them, and we are working hard with them to do so.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, since 2015, 5,500 jobs have been lost in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore oil and gas industry. The Bay du Nord project has been highly anticipated in my province for quite some time. This project represents a $12-billion investment in our offshore and $25 billion in revenues over the life of the project.
    After 1,285 days of endless red tape, can the environment minister tell us when the Bay du Nord project will be approved?
    Mr. Speaker, certainly the oil and gas sector in Newfoundland and Labrador, just as in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, is an important part of our economy. As we move forward, we are focused on ensuring that we are developing our regional economies in a manner that will promote prosperity and economic opportunity for all folks who live in those regions of the country.
    As the hon. member knows, the Bay du Nord project is subject to an environmental assessment, which will continue. We will eventually come to a decision, but we are certainly focused on ensuring that we are working collaboratively with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
    Right on, Mr. Speaker. That is about what I was expecting.
    The government may be split over supporting this project, but the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are very united, with a weekend poll showing 85% support. After years of arduous environmental assessment, the Environmental Assessment Agency has given a green light to Bay du Nord.
     Will the minister respect the authority of the Environmental Assessment Agency and approve the Bay Du Nord project, yes or no?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member would be aware, we are working actively with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on moving forward with respect to economic opportunities that would benefit Newfoundland and Labradorian families, just as we are doing in provinces and territories across the country. We will continue to work collaboratively with Premier Furey, with the oil and gas industry, with the offshore wind industry and other opportunities for Newfoundland and Labrador to increase and ensure prosperity for its citizens going forward.

[Translation]

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, after eight months of pressure, the government is finally admitting that cutting the guaranteed income supplement for the poorest working seniors was heartless.
     Now that the government has admitted that it made a mistake and that this mistake plunged seniors into poverty, there needs to be a quick solution.
    The deputy minister told us that IT problems are making it impossible for the government to compensate the victims faster. Seniors cannot wait until May because of a computer glitch.
    What is the minister going to do to pay back these senior victims faster?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we know how difficult this pandemic has been on seniors. On this side of the House, we have been there to support them.
    As announced in the fiscal update, we will be delivering a one-time payment to fully compensate those affected in 2020. Last week, we also introduced Bill C-12 to exclude any pandemic benefits for the purposes of calculating the GIS going forward. I am calling on all parties to quickly pass this bill to prevent any future reduction in the GIS for low-income, vulnerable seniors.
    This is something we can all get behind, and I hope the hon. member will move forward on it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, a fault confessed is not half redressed when it keeps people from being able to put food on the table. These seniors have been making sacrifices for eight months. What makes my colleagues think that seniors would be reassured to hear that they still have months of hardship to go through because of an IT problem?
    As we saw during the pandemic, the government is capable of getting its chequebook out quickly, so it should start writing cheques. When will seniors be able to shop for groceries with dignity? What is the minister going to do to speed up the one-time payment to the most vulnerable seniors?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government's priority has been to support the most vulnerable, especially the most vulnerable seniors. That is why we worked so hard to strengthen income security for them, including increases to the GIS, which have helped over 900,000 low-income seniors. That is precisely why we introduced Bill C-12 to exclude any pandemic benefits for the purposes of calculating their GIS. We are also making a major investment through the one-time payment to get that money out as quickly as possible.
    We are always going to be there for seniors.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, nine months before Kabul fell, 23 Liberal MPs sent a letter to the Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Foreign Affairs warning them of the dangers Afghan interpreters and those who serve Canada would face when the Taliban took over. They pleaded to help them immigrate to Canada with their families as soon as possible.
    Why did this fall on deaf ears? Why did the government ignore their own MPs and abandon thousands of Afghan interpreters and our allies, leaving them in harm's way?
    Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to reflect on the fact that during the fall of Kabul, there was an absolute emergency. We did what we could to rescue thousands of vulnerable Afghans who are now living in Canada.
    I am pleased to share that there are more than 7,500 Afghan refugees living in Canada today. The situation in—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I am going to have to interrupt the hon. Minister of Immigration.
    We will let the hon. minister continue.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the situation in Afghanistan is terrible, but it is why we have made a world-leading commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees. I am pleased to share with the House that there are now more than 7,500 in Canada today, and we will not waver until we succeed in our mission to welcome 40,000 into our country.
    Mr. Speaker, they were busy knocking on doors. There is no pride in only achieving 20% of that target. The minister should be ashamed of himself for abandoning them and then standing up for an election instead of helping those Afghans. The minister should be thanking the veterans, NGOs and those of our NATO allies that actually stepped up when his government failed to.
    UNHCR testified that it had a plan to evacuate Afghan refugees back in January 2021. The government knew about it and ignored it.
    Why was an election plan more important than an evacuation plan?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the veterans organizations, the NGOs and our NATO allies that were helpful in rescuing Afghan refugees, some of whom are now in Canada. However, the politicization of this event by the member opposite is a disgrace. He said I should be ashamed of our record on Afghanistan, but I remind him that he campaigned, during the election he spoke about, to bring precisely zero Afghan refugees here. Moreover, if we look at their platform, we will see that they campaigned on a commitment to end the government-assisted refugee stream altogether, which has resettled thousands of Afghan refugees who now call Canada home.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we have learned that on December 30, 2020, 23 Liberal—not Conservative—MPs wrote a letter to the ministers of foreign affairs and immigration asking that former Afghan mission staff be given safe passage to Canada.
    The Prime Minister said in September 2021 that the situation had developed too quickly and that he had not had time to respond and to draw up a plan.
    Even though 23 Liberal MPs were making this request in December 2020, the Prime Minister said in September 2021 that he had not had time to do anything. Why is the Prime Minister not listening to his own MPs?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the support of members of Parliament on both sides of the aisle in the House for their contributions to the effort in Afghanistan. I hope we continue to receive that support and advice from the conversations they are having in their communities.
    One of the things that came from my conversations over the course of that campaign was the opportunity to engage with the government to say that we should be doing more and we should be increasing our ambitions. The situation in Afghanistan during the fall of Kabul is precisely why we have decided to step up and make one of the most substantial commitments out of any country in the world to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees. I am proud we made that commitment and I am pleased to be the minister responsible for making good on it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, our government knows that immigration is critical to Canada's economic recovery.
    Rural and northern communities are facing significant demographic challenges and often have a tough time attracting and retaining newcomers, who choose to settle in big cities.
    Could the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship tell the House how the rural and northern immigration pilot is helping communities like Sudbury attract and retain more newcomers?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Sudbury for this important question and for the opportunity to practise my French.
    Immigration is essential to the entire country's economic recovery. Through the rural and northern immigration pilot, we have welcomed over 420 newcomers to 11 rural communities, including Sudbury. These are people who work in our hospitals and in our businesses. They are new neighbours who are making enormous contributions to our communities.
    I look forward to continuing my work to welcome more newcomers to large and small communities across Canada.

[English]

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, I hear regularly from Canadian charities working overseas about the damage direction and control regulations are causing. These silly regulations force charities to spend millions of dollars in unnecessary legal fees and obstruct genuine partnership by requiring donor control.
    Could the government tell us if it will finally listen to the sector and support our efforts to end outdated and neocolonial direction and control regulations?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I can tell my hon. colleague across the way that the Canada Revenue Agency is working with all charities to ensure that they comply with the law and government rules. We will continue to do our job.
    If my colleague has any specific questions, I encourage him to contact my office.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, for far too long, direction and control regulations have limited the collaboration between charities and other organizations. That is why I am proud to sponsor Bill S-216 in the House. Bill S-216 would replace direction and control with an accountability framework that would allow for constructive and equal partnerships between charitable organizations and the communities they serve.
    It has already passed the Senate unanimously. Will the government commit to working with us to ensure the bill passes during the 44th Parliament?

  (1505)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, our organization will continue to work to end discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation and disability. This includes evaluating existing processes where there are concerns.
     In this regard, at the national summit on Islamophobia earlier this year, I had the opportunity to announce that I had asked the taxpayers' ombudsperson to conduct a systemic examination to address the concerns of Muslim communities.
    I have appointed a member of the Muslim community to the advisory council on the charitable sector, and these actions will help the CRA pave the way for a process that is more inclusive and more representative of Canada.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, respectfully, that was a much worse answer than I was expecting. This is a question about direction and control. Again, to the minister or some minister, we want an answer about direction and control regulations.
    Bill S-216 has been before this Parliament and the Senate for years in the same form. Surely the government is aware of it. Surely the government has heard from someone in the development sector. Could we please get an answer to the question? Could we please get some good news instead of nonsense talking points on completely different issues?
    What is the government's position on reforming direction and control?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure my colleague opposite. The Canada Revenue Agency respects the rules and regulations and the measures in place, and it will do what it can to ensure that people respect the agreements with the government.
    We will continue to work toward that goal with our partners in the community.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity has been steadfast. We have been there for the people of Ukraine, with economic, social, development and military support. However, with Russia's increasing aggression and with threats of a further invasion of Ukraine, many Canadians and I are more concerned than ever.
    Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs please share with Canadians what steps we are taking and will take to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine and to protect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
    We are deeply concerned by the continued buildup of Russian troops in and around Ukraine. My top priority is ensuring the safety and security of all Canadians on the ground. I am urging Canadians in Ukraine to leave now. We will continue to stand steadfast in our support for Ukraine and its people every step of the way. Any further Russian incursions will face serious consequences.

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government made a huge mistake when it cut some of the most vulnerable seniors off the GIS, which they rely on to purchase basic things like housing, medication and food. They feel hopeless and they feel abandoned. The New Democrats have been asking the government since before the last election to fix this problem. Finally the minister announced a one-time payment, but it is not until May.
    Seniors are in desperate need now to stave off hunger and eviction, so again I am asking this: Will the minister support seniors at risk and immediately release emergency funds?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her advocacy on this. We both share a deep desire to support the seniors most in need.
    I am very pleased to share that we will now be able to deliver payments to those who saw their GIS reduced ahead of schedule, as early as April 19. Service Canada will also be working with members of Parliament to help constituents in dire need to get support sooner, in March, and we will continue to be there to support seniors through our increases in pension benefits.
    I would like to take a moment to thank officials for their extraordinary work. I look forward to continuing to have these conversations with the hon. member.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, ironically, two years ago today, the former leader of the official opposition said, “These protesters, these activists, may have the luxury of spending days at a time at a blockade, but they need to check their privilege”. It seems to me that we have a larger problem in this country of a double standard when it applies to how indigenous protesters are treated by the police and how anti-Black racism protesters are treated.
    I ask hon. members and the minister if there is in fact a way to examine the double standard in policing and bring the implicit racism in the way we treat protest to an end.

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, of course, we always have the expectation that our RCMP and all law enforcement will exercise their duties responsibly and in a manner that is respectful and consistent with the charter.
    I would point out that over the last number of days, law enforcement, including the RCMP, has done an exceptional job. I would like to thank them for ensuring that we could get our economy going by reopening the border and allowing Canadians to get back to work. The only double standard that I think we are all worried about here is when the Conservatives are going to finally join with the government and call on those at the illegal blockades to go home.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[Translation]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Federal COVID-19 Mandates and Restrictions  

    The House resumed from February 10 consideration of the motion.
    It being 3:10 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the member for Portage—Lisgar relating to the business of supply.
    Call in the members.

  (1525)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 24)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benzen
Bergen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Blanchette-Joncas
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Caputo
Carrie
Chabot
Chambers
Champoux
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desbiens
Desilets
Doherty
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Ferreri
Findlay
Fortin
Gallant
Garon
Gaudreau
Généreux
Genuis
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Hoback
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Larouche
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lightbound
Lloyd
Lobb
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
Normandin
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Plamondon
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Savard-Tremblay
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudel
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Vis
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 151


NAYS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney
Blois
Boissonnault
Boulerice
Bradford
Brière
Cannings
Carr
Casey
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garneau
Garrison
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Joly
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Ng
Noormohamed
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
Petitpas Taylor
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Singh
Sorbara
Spengemann
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thompson
Trudeau
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Virani
Vuong
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 185


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion defeated.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I may still be somewhat new here and I recognize that some votes are emotional for some, but I am wondering about the appropriateness of heckling while a vote is taking place. I wonder if there is a standing order with respect to whether that is appropriate or not.
    I would point out, if I could have members' attention, that heckling is not allowed at the best of times or the worst of times, which I guess better describes heckling. I want to ask all members, whether it is during voting, question period or whenever, to please be respectful of one another.
    I believe in this case, for most of the voting, and it must be Valentine's Day, people were talking across the aisle, so I just want to encourage people to get to know each other better but not by shouting across the floor.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to subsection 94(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2021 annual report to Parliament on immigration.

Petitions

Corporate Social Responsibility  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition on behalf of my constituents from Avalon and more particularly from the southern shore area.
    The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to adopt human rights and environmental due diligence legislation that would hold companies responsible for their impact on the environment and their human rights abuses.
     I would like to thank all the people who signed this petition for their hard work and advocacy.

Natural Resources  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of my constituents who are presenting a petition opposed to the proposed pumped storage project by TC Energy on the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre base in Meaford. They are calling on the government to stop this.

  (1530)  

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions to present today.
    The first petition is in support of Bill S-223. This bill seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. It would make it a criminal offence for a Canadian to go abroad to receive an organ without the consent of the person giving the organ. Petitioners are hoping that this is the Parliament that finally gets this done. This bill has passed the Senate unanimously three times and has been supported by MPs from multiple parties going back over 13 years. We hope this time we get it done.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition I have today is on the ongoing Beijing Olympics. Canadians want to ensure that parliamentarians remain focused on the Chinese Communist Party's accountability for its human rights record. The case of Peng Shuai reminds us of how the athletes themselves are also vulnerable to acts of oppression and violence by the Communist Party. Polls show that seven out of 10 Canadians are worried about the health and safety of Canadian athletes. The signatories of this petition want to see the Government of Canada take stronger action regarding the Communist Party's human rights abuses, particularly recognizing the treatment of the Uighurs and Falun Gong practitioners.

Northern Residents Tax Deduction  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition I am presenting is on behalf of constituents living in the towns of Fox Creek and Swan Hills. These two towns are located in my riding in northern Alberta. The petitioners recognize that there are extended travel times and heating costs. Swan Hills is a town with one of the highest elevations in Canada. Constituents are asking for the arbitrary geographical line that runs across Alberta to be lowered so the residents of Fox Creek and Swan Hills can both access the prescribed intermediate zone tax relief that is available to folks living in northern regions.

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, the next petition I have speaks directly to Bill C-230, the protection of freedom of conscience act, which is moved by my colleague, the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek.
    The petitioners from across Canada are concerned about doctors and health care professionals who might be coerced to engage in support of euthanasia or MAID, as they want conscience rights or second opinions to be protected. The petitioners note that doctors deserve freedom of conscience and note how the Canadian Medical Association confirmed that conscience protections would not limit access to assisted suicide. The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to enshrine in the Criminal Code the protection of conscience rights for physicians and health care workers from coercion or intimidation to provide or refer assisted suicide or euthanasia.

Charitable Organizations  

    Mr. Speaker, the final petition I have today is from people from across Canada who are concerned about the politicization and revocation of charitable status for folks who hold to a pro-life view. They are concerned that this is a politicization of the charitable tax code and want to ensure that the charitable tax code does not become politicized. These people are also concerned about the 300 babies who die every day due to abortion. They want to ensure that Canada remains resolved to bring an end to this practice.

Human Organ Trafficking 

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition from a number of Canadians who want to bring to the attention of this place their concerns about international trafficking in human organs removed from victims without consent. Even though that is an issue, there is not yet a prohibition on Canadians travelling abroad to acquire or receive such organs. It is an important issue that I look forward to the House being able to provide an answer for.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.
     Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Government Business No. 8—Proceedings on Bill C-10

    The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
    The member for Winnipeg North has 10 minutes and 20 seconds left on the clock.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, as I said to my colleague, I do value those 20 seconds.
    When it comes to legislation, when we listen to members of the opposition and different political parties, they will often talk about the time allocation that allows for debate, and understandably so. I did that when I was on the opposition side as I now today do it from the government side.
     There are certain legislative initiatives that are actually processed via time where, for example, the opposition will move a motion on the floor of the House and at the end of the day a vote is requested on it, or they can go into private members' hour where they get a very limited amount of time on private members' business. However, it also happens at times for government business through unanimous consent.
    Just recently, back in December, we can recall when conversion therapy legislation came before the House. It was so encouraging when members on all sides of the House said this was an important issue that was important to Canadians. The House, without any debate whatsoever, agreed to pass it through second reading and committee, the whole nine yards, and it was done unanimously when all it took was one member to say no to it.
    In respect of other types of priorities in the past number of years, and particularly as a minority government, Canadians want us to and we want to work with opposition parties. Sometimes it has been the Conservatives, sometimes the Bloc, sometimes the New Democrats and at times it is even getting support from the Green Party representatives. It varies, depending on the legislation.
    Like the conversation therapy legislation, the issue we are debating today is of the utmost importance. If we reflect on what this bill would enable, every member of the House will vote in favour of the legislation. The issue is when they want to have that vote.
    We have critical supports for the coronavirus pandemic that still need to get through the House. This is yet another piece of legislation. Timing does matter. This is going to be a very busy week. We are looking to see if there are other partners with whom we can get the support to recognize the importance of the issue and, ultimately, to get the legislation passed.
    Those people who are following the debate might ask why we do not allow for additional debate. Much like in the past, when other parties have recognized the importance of an issue, they will ask for unanimous consent to get that legislation through. Here we have an important piece of legislation that the Government of Canada wants to get through and has recognized as being important. If there were discussions in good faith that said we could get this thing through today because there is no other mechanism to guarantee its passage, I suspect we would have been open to that. However, we have to move this as well as other pieces of legislation. I am talking about the GIS legislation that is quickly coming before the House. We have to get this stuff through. We have identified it as a priority.
     I am grateful that the New Democratic Party has also recognized the value of getting this thing passed quickly. At least the Bloc members are kind of halfway. They recognize the importance of rapid testing, but they do not necessarily want to support its going through as quickly as we would like to see it go through. As I said just before question period, I hope that members of the Bloc will rethink that.

  (1540)  

    Just because the Conservatives banter and cheer and do all sorts of weird things at times does not mean we have to follow their lead. There is an opportunity here to show what many members of the opposition were calling for not that long ago during question period, which is to show some leadership in recognizing just how critically important this legislation is to all Canadians.
    From the very beginning of the pandemic, we have asked Canadians to step up. We all have a role to play. We worked with different levels of government to ensure that support programs were in place so that businesses would be in a better position to continue on and the number of job losses would be minimized. We brought in programs to support incomes for those Canadians who were unable to be in the workforce for a wide variety of reasons, as well as a multitude of direct supports to seniors, people with disabilities and non-profit organizations. We all came together to get us through the pandemic. Securing vaccines and vaccinating people has enabled us to be in the position we are today, with a great deal of hope and light.
     The rapid tests are a critical part of our recovery, of getting out and beyond. We know that for a fact, because that is what the science and health care professionals are telling us, not only with respect to the federal government and the people we rely on, but also the provinces.
    If we flash back to November of last year, there were tens of millions of surplus rapid tests in storage waiting to be used. There was no pent-up demand; there was a pent-up supply ready to be used. Once we experienced the omicron variant of the coronavirus, the numbers started to shoot up rapidly, and those rapid tests became absolutely essential. We stepped up, as we have done for Canadians since the very beginning. Tens of millions of tests that Ottawa was able to acquire were distributed. For the month of January alone, we had well over 100 million additional rapid tests. I would challenge any member of the opposition to tell me of a country in the world that has acquired more in one month, on a per capita basis, than Canada for distribution to its population. I do not believe we would be able to find such a member or country. It is possible I could be wrong, but I say that because I know how much this issue has been on the minds of the Minister of Procurement, cabinet as a whole and many other members inside this House. We saw the benefits. We realized how important these rapid tests are.
    This legislation is absolutely critical to moving forward. If we did not bring the closure motion and do not pass this legislation, it would bring into jeopardy all sorts of things, either directly or indirectly, such as the legislation dealing with the GIS, not to mention anything else that might be coming up, including being able to support opposition days, such as I believe the Bloc has coming up on Thursday, or dealing with the short days on Wednesdays and Fridays.
    Today is the day for us to have this debate, because this is legislation that is necessary in order for us to continue the fight against the coronavirus. I would like to see the Conservative Party be consistent, recognize the science, support the health care professionals, get behind the legislation, get behind the motion and recognize the importance of passing it here today.

  (1545)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to listen to the member for Winnipeg North and to debate with him.

[English]

    Again, I totally disagree with what the member has said, especially with the motion today.
    First, let me be clear. Do not get me wrong. We do support rapid tests. I know what I am talking about, because for the last year and a half here in the House of Commons, we have been asking to have rapid tests as soon as possible. Why? It is because it is one of the tools to get back to freedom, to get back to having more access to everything and to get back to a more so-called normal life, even if we know we will have to live through that period.
    My question is quite clear. This bill could be adopted tonight because of this motion tabled by the government. It might be adopted at 2:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, but what would happen then? We would have to wait a full week before the bill could be tabled in the Senate.
    My question is quite simple: What is the emergency today? Why not do it correctly, step by step, with the committee studying this $2.5-billion bill? That is the job we have to do here.
    Mr. Speaker, the issue is on the support for rapid tests from science and health care experts. The member should read what his colleague said earlier today, when he put into question whether we should even be listening to science and health care experts. He should review the comments from the Conservative member. They surprised a lot of us.
    I have a deep amount of respect for the colleague who posed the question. He knows and is fully aware that in any given week, it could be a very tight agenda. For example, today is all about the rapid tests. We also have to deal with legislation in regard to the GIS. We also have an opposition day motion. Those are the three big days. Then Wednesday and Friday are short days. If we were to take the approach the Conservatives want us to take, we would be putting into jeopardy the passage of legislation that is needed today. I would encourage my friend to revisit the sense of urgency if in fact they support the need for rapid tests.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, if I am not mistaken, the parliamentary secretary just asked us how we will vote on this motion, referring to the vote that occurred after oral question period when we indicated that the government must present a plan to lift restrictions.
    I would just like to point out to my colleague opposite that asking for a plan to lift restrictions does not mean that we are against health measures. On the contrary, we believe that appropriate health measures must be applied, but the government must also tell people where we are headed.
    Right now, we are debating Bill C-10. I would like to know how is it that the federal government has the means to provide money for health right now, but every time Quebec has asked for it in the past, the federal level was not there for Quebec.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the vote that we just had prior to getting under way with this particular motion is something I am more than happy to discuss offline with the member.
    What we are talking about today, the motion that I am debating, is a motion that would see closure put in for Bill C-10, which deals with the rapid tests, in the hope that the Bloc party would not only support the need for rapid tests but would support the urgency in getting the legislation passed. That is going to be the vote that we are going to have later today.
    Does the Bloc actually support the sense of urgency in getting Bill C-10 passed? I think the people of Quebec and the people of Canada are watching and want to see how the Bloc is going to respond.
    I will answer the second part of his question in a follow-up.

  (1550)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are debating supports for COVID and the impact COVID has had over the last two years in Canada. I am wondering if the member could comment on the lack of any ability by the government to admit its mistakes with some of those supports and admit that it did not get them right. So many things have fallen through the cracks.
    I talked to the tourism people recently. There is a whole tourism package that is unavailable to seasonal tourism companies. How many tourism companies in Canada are not seasonal? Seniors have been stripped of their GIS supports. These are the poorest and most vulnerable of Canadians, and they have stripped of their GIS support because they were told to go on CERB last year. I could go on and on.
    I am wondering if the member can explain why the government has been so reticent to admit its mistakes and fix them.
    Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to speak in the House a number of times and often referred to the fact that in the last couple of years during the pandemic, we saw the creation of a multitude of programs and supports. To say they were absolutely perfect would be misleading on my part, so I will not mislead.
    Yes, we brought forward a suite of programs, and there has been the need at times to modify them. They were modified because we understood, after listening to Canadians, that we needed to make some adjustments. The Minister of Seniors just referred to one during question period in wanting to co-operate and provide additional funds for issues such as mental health and long-term care facilities. The list goes on in terms of the types of supports and investments we have made in health care over the last couple of years.
    Mr. Speaker, coming into today's debate, I was under the impression that Conservatives thought that rapid tests were effective tools, but I could not help but take note of the comment that was made by the member for Cumberland—Colchester today. He represents the Conservatives on the health committee and is a doctor as well. He said, “we need to have a look at the science”. That is a direct quote.
    I am wondering if the parliamentary secretary can comment as to whether or not that sounds like somebody who believes that rapid tests are going to be useful in this pandemic.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to be kind. After all, the member for Cumberland—Colchester is a medical doctor, and we love our health care professionals for the fabulous work they have done throughout the pandemic.
    That said, members on the government side or any Canadian cannot blame the Conservatives for giving different positions on the same issue at times. They have not been consistent. The quote that my colleague and friend just referred to highlights one inconsistency on a very important issue.
    Science and health care experts are what we have been following and listening to since the beginning. The same cannot be said about the Conservative opposition party. Today some were questioning it. As the member pointed out, one was not only a medical doctor but also someone who sits on the health committee representing the Conservative Party. I do not get that.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to read from the manufacturer's booklet for the intended use of rapid tests. It says this test is “an in vitro diagnostic rapid test for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 antigen...in human nasal swab specimens from individuals who meet COVID-19 clinical and/or epidemiological criteria.” In other words, regarding my colleague who earlier said today that we do have to look at the science, the manufacturer says this is accurate with people who have symptoms.
    With the omicron variant, things have changed. For sure Conservatives believe in rapid tests as an important tool, but why do Liberals not want the motion to go to committee so we can get the most up-to-date science and spend Canadian tax dollars efficiently and effectively to help us all get out of this pandemic?

  (1555)  

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know the package and I am not a doctor myself. At the end of the day, I am following the best advice that is provided to me. I would tell the Conservative caucus to feel comfortable in knowing that a vast majority of people recognize the science and the health care experts. Rapid tests are a good thing and we need to have them in our tool belt.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, which he tells me is the number one riding in all of Canada. I happen to think Barrie—Innisfil is.
    Let me begin by noting how profoundly disappointed I am with the results of what I thought was a reasonable request on the part of the opposition, through our opposition day motion, to ask for a plan from the government, by February 28, for coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and limiting or cancelling all of the restrictions and mandates. We are seeing a cascading effect across the country in the provinces, with premiers coming out and telling their people that by a certain date, this is going to happen. This is causing any cynic to be concerned that perhaps the Liberal government does not want to end the federal restrictions and mandates, does not want to unite Canadians and does not want to provide hope to Canadians. After two years of lives and livelihoods being lost and businesses being decimated, somehow they cannot support this, and it only speaks to the fact that the Prime Minister and Liberal Party want this to continue, for whatever reason. I am profoundly disappointed that we are at this point in this country.
    I rise today to speak to the Liberals' latest attempt to run roughshod over Parliament. Today the House is considering government Motion No. 8, which sets out draconian terms by which the House would dispose of Bill C-10. The bill is laudable in that it would give the Minister of Health the ability to purchase 2.5 billion dollars' worth of COVID-19 tests, the majority of which would be rapid tests. It would also grant the minister the power to start distributing those tests on April 1 of this year.
    Throughout the pandemic, the Conservative Party has consistently and persistently called for greater access to rapid tests for all Canadians. In fact, in April 2020, I was approached by a rapid test distributor and he told me that he was being bogged down at Health Canada and that the approvals process for these rapid tests was not moving as quickly as it should, despite the fact that they were approved by the U.S. FDA on an emergency-use basis and also by CE bodies in the European Union. Arguably, these blue-chip regulators are the best regulatory agencies in the world. That is not to discredit Health Canada, but it was a problem in April 2020 that I was highlighting, and I know that my colleagues were as well.
    In the election, we promised to break down the bureaucratic delays that were preventing the approval of rapid tests in Canada, and at that time, tests approved for use in the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union were not approved in Canada. Why was this so, when these blue-chip regulators were already approving them? We promised to make at-home test kits readily available to all Canadians, to deploy rapid tests to the border and other points of entry and to provide provincial governments with enough tests to keep schools open. Our support for the widespread use of rapid tests has been unwavering, and our support stands today.
    Despite the fact the Liberals did drag their feet in getting these essential tools into the hands of Canadians, they can count on our support for this legislation. We are not trying to stop the legislation. We are just trying to get some oversight, because we believe this bill could be strengthened and we would like to propose three common-sense amendments.
    For starters, if the minister has the ability to deploy the tests sooner, we would support an amendment that would allow him to do so. That is reasonable.
    Second, we would propose an amendment to require the contracts for these tests to be tabled in the House. That is another reasonable request. Let us remember why we are asking for this. These are the same Liberals who found time, at the height of a pandemic, to hand $900 million in a contract to their friends at WE charity and another $237-million sole-sourced contract to former Liberal member of Parliament Frank Baylis. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect there would be some oversight and scrutiny on these contracts. The government, and indeed these Liberals, should not enjoy the blind trust of the House. They have proven in the past that this trust needs to be questioned. As such, we should require the highest level of transparency, especially when it comes to urgent spending related to COVID-19.

  (1600)  

    Third, the Conservatives would propose an amendment that would require the minister to report on the deployment of these tests to ensure they are being used as part of a plan to ease COVID restrictions. In short, we want to ensure that this investment of taxpayer money is used to help Canadians get back to their normal lives.
    I would love nothing more than to debate the merits of these amendments, but the Liberals and their coalition partners in the NDP are teaming up to ram this bill through the House. Government Motion No. 8 provides for a shortened debate at second reading and a single vote that would be applied to the remaining stages of the legislative process. If the Liberals get their way, there will be no further debate, no ministerial accountability at committee, no testimony from stakeholders and no opportunity for the opposition parties to make amendments.
    The government House leader is offering the House a binary choice, and under this motion, we can either take the bill as it is or leave Canadians with fewer available COVID tests. The government House leader is trying to deny the House a third option: to support a strengthened bill by incorporating amendments from the opposition. Instead, without as much as one word of debate on the bill, the House leader has moved to pre-emptively shut down debate. This motion is a flagrant abuse of power, and the Liberals are being aided and abetted by a hapless coalition partner.
    That said, I recognize the need to pass this legislation quickly through the House, and on Friday, I sent a letter to all House leaders proposing a plan to dispose of Bill C-10 by Wednesday of this week. The proposal would have provided for a debate at second reading today, an abbreviated committee study tomorrow and final passage on Wednesday. It also included an order for the Minister of Health to appear at committee and for the amendments to be proposed during the usual clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. My proposal would allow the opposition to apply appropriate scrutiny and to propose improvements to the legislation without sacrificing the government's overall timetable to turn the bill into law.
    The House should also be made aware that the Senate agreed to a government motion to adjourn the other place for the entirety of this week. As a result, whether the bill passes in the House today or Wednesday, it will not be considered in the other place until next week. Any due diligence that we apply to this legislation in the House this week will do nothing to delay it from receiving royal assent.
    I will now take a couple of moments to address our colleagues in the NDP.
    I am calling on them to remember that they are the party of Jack Layton and Tommy Douglas. Back in the day, theirs was a party that stood for workers, for low-income Canadians and for the democratic rights of members of the House of Commons. It is not so anymore. The NDP have abandoned their first principles. Perhaps it is because they have a leader who is more interested in his own social media than he is in social policies and how they impact Canadians.
    For example, the NDP openly fights against jobs for unionized pipefitters and steelworkers every time they oppose new environmentally safe pipelines. They applaud the Prime Minister every time he talks about phasing out the jobs of hard-working Canadians in the oil and gas sector. In recent days, they have refused to defend the minority rights of workers who lost their jobs to discriminatory government mandates. They support the Liberal carbon tax that disproportionately hurts the poorest in our society. They support hikes in payroll taxes that make it harder for low-wage earners to make ends meet. The list goes on.
    Inside the House of Commons, they have allowed themselves to be the moderate wing of the Liberal Party, and they should be ashamed for that. The Liberals can count on the loyal support of the NDP whenever they move to ram their agenda through the House. Since 2019, when the Liberals were reduced to a minority government, the NDP has supported the shutting down of debate on 14 different occasions. It is high time that the NDP distances itself from the tired Liberal government that is demonstrably anti-working class and increasingly anti-democratic. Perhaps its members can start by standing against this undemocratic motion in the House today. In June 2019, the NDP House leader argued against the Liberal majority government when it moved to curtail debate. Back then, he said the Liberals “promised to work with the opposition parties and all members. Instead, they are imposing gag orders”.
    At a time when tensions are rising in this country, let us take the opportunity to demonstrate to Canadians that their elected officials can collaborate in the national interest. We can and should stand together to get the best results for Canadians.

  (1605)  

    Mr. Speaker, the first Conservative speaker today talked about the science of rapid tests, and in his comments he implied that we need to have a study on the effectiveness of rapid tests. Given that the member who just spoke is the opposition House leader, I am wondering if he can expand on what the Conservative Party truly believes with respect to the effectiveness of rapid tests. Does the Conservative Party believe that they are, as science and health care experts say, the type of tool we must have? If so, would he indicate that there is no need to call into question the effectiveness of this particular tool?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member was listening to what I said. I have been advocating for rapid tests since April 2020, a month after the COVID pandemic started storming around the world. I actually sent letters to the Minister of Health asking for the approval of certain types of rapid tests that had been approved by other blue-chip regulatory bodies, like the U.S. FDA and CE bodies in the European Union.
    There is no question that rapid tests work; otherwise, they would not have been approved by Health Canada. However, that is not the issue here. The issue here is that we are debating a bill that the Liberals have dropped the hammer on, and it is a multi-billion dollar piece of legislation that at least requires some sense of scrutiny by MPs.
    Mr. Speaker, it always gives me great pleasure to listen to Conservatives talk about their support for workers. I mean, after all, this is a party that voted against pharmacare, voted against dental care and voted against establishing a wealth tax to level the playing field. Members of its caucus have been gleefully standing with the occupiers in Ottawa, who are harming small businesses and preventing workers from going to work. We have the receipts.
    I have heard the member for Durham talk so much about how this country needs to get up on rapid tests, and we now have a bill that is going to authorize the federal government to provide the necessary resources to the provinces. I am just looking for some consistency from the member for Barrie—Innisfil. Could he explain why the Conservatives seem to be flipping and then flopping on this particular issue?
    Mr. Speaker, we support the bill. I do not think I can be any clearer than that. However, we are saying that we cannot bring the hammer down. Our job as members of Parliament is to provide oversight and scrutiny on the money that is being spent by the government to make sure it is effective and make sure it is being spent in the best manner it can be. All we are asking for, and the only compromise I propose, is that we have one day to scrutinize this.
    We were not going to hold up the bill. The Senate is not sitting until next week, so if the bill gets approved tonight, it just sits there for five days. What damage can be done by providing a little oversight or some scrutiny on a multi-billion dollar bill? It does not make any sense. We support the piece of legislation, but we also support accountability.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the things we see over and over again from the Liberals is that their measurement of success is how much money they have spent. They do not go back to the raw details about what actually happened. Here, again, we see a big dollar number. They are promising to spend a huge amount on rapid tests. It seems to me that this is a bit late and after the fact given that we have been calling for rapid tests for almost two years. Now, in the dying days of the pandemic, rolling out rapid testing does not seem like a good use of funds. I wonder if the hon. member has any comments on that.

  (1610)  

    Mr. Speaker, the one thing we have found with these Liberals is that they are always a day late but they are never, ever any dollars short. They have never found a problem that they cannot throw money at. However, it does speak to the issue of scrutiny. If the member recalls, we had four hours to deal with a $57-billion bill at one time during the pandemic. Again, as I have talked about several times in the House, this speaks to a pattern of overreach, a pattern of control by the government, instead of letting us do our jobs, especially at a point when the Senate is not sitting. To let us do our job is not an unreasonable request.
    Mr. Speaker, before I begin debating this motion, I will briefly comment on the opposition motion we just voted on.
     In my riding of Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon and across this country, Canadians are losing hope. They do not know what to do anymore. They have been triple-vaxxed, they have followed all the rules and they are just looking for some transparency from the federal government so they can get their lives back. Canadians urgently need a plan to get us out of this pandemic—
    There is a point of order from the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, the member indicated at the outset of his speech that he was going to start by talking about a matter that has already been voted on. We really do have to talk to this. Given the time constraints that have been highlighted by the Conservatives, I think it would be appropriate to stay on topic. He did say—
    Actually, when he did start out, and I am going to continue on, he said that for a few moments he would mention this and then move to the rest of his speech. I think I heard him correctly, or I will stand corrected.
    The hon. member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, it would be irresponsible of me not to look at what happened in the House earlier today with this motion for closure the Liberals put forward. For two years, Canadians have been living with COVID-19 restrictions. There have been two years of lockdowns, of not being able to visit loved ones and of not being able to travel. There have been two years of isolation that has inflamed a mental health crisis and hurt Canada's vulnerable populations.
    When it comes to lockdowns and mandates, we are seeing the evidence and public health advice for change. Last week, Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Teresa Tam, said that all existing public health measures needed to be re-evaluated so we could get back to some normalcy. Just last week, we saw two Liberal MPs challenge their government for being so political about how it was treating the pandemic, and the response the government was taking to dealing with COVID-19 across our country.
    Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Israel, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Spain and Denmark are all moving to end restrictions and mandates. Many provinces in Canada are doing the same thing. Today, we come to the House and the government does not want to debate Bill C-10: It wants to debate stopping debate on Bill C-10. That is very problematic.
    It was on December 14, if I recall correctly, that the government tabled Bill C-8. One of the key provisions of Bill C-8 was $1.72 billion for COVID-19 tests. We just debated that bill last week and the week prior. Canadians were looking for a plan in that bill. Liberals stood up time and again and said that they had a plan and were moving forward. For us to be here today, talking about Bill C-10 in the same context, which would see another $2.5 billion for rapid tests, I wonder what the House leader for the Liberals is doing.
    Why do we have two bills that were tabled within four parliamentary sitting days of each other on the urgency of rapid tests when, in my province, the public health officer is telling us that, for the majority of the population, they are not needed anymore?
    Dr. Bonnie Henry said that, in most cases, if someone is triple vaccinated, as I am, they can skip getting a test. If someone has COVID, they need to stay home and self-isolate. We are treating it like the regular flu. She is only recommending testing now for people who are currently hospitalized, pregnant, at risk of severe diseases or who live or work in a setting with others who are at an elevated risk of a severe illness.
    Already, British Columbia is saying that we do not need to go to the Ag-Rec Centre in Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon anymore and take a morning off work with one's two-year-old to get a swab up their nose. No. We just need to isolate them at home and move forward with our lives.
    Now we are here in the House of Commons, having a debate about not having a debate on rapid tests. My big question is, where was the government a year ago? Where was it when parents had to take time off work? It costs parents an average of $250 for a week of day care, and then they had to take more time off work because of that. I know for a fact that if we had had rapid tests, parents would not have lost so much money. That is shameful.
    Canadians were asking for rapid tests so long ago. Other countries, such as the U.K., the Netherlands and other European Union countries with similar GDPs to Canada's per capita, were able to navigate the virus in a much more efficient way because their governments were more responsive. All we get from the Liberal government is Bill C-8 on December 14, and then Bill C-10 on January 31, saying that we need to pay for rapid tests now.
    I cannot help but be cynical knowing that the Prime Minister called an election that was really divisive for all of us. Liberals called an election because of the urgency to deal with COVID-19 and various approaches to doing so.

  (1615)  

    Here we are, so many months later, debating a bill not to have a debate on something that should have been done two years ago, or at least a year and a half ago. My constituents are upset. They are upset that they have to continue living with these lockdowns, but they are also upset with the incompetence of the government to move strategically on rapid tests, which is something that everyone agreed on, much earlier. That is shameful. It has impacted so many families and so many businesses.
    Last week, I met with one of the largest sound companies in North America. It is based in my riding. It was ranked the number one sound company in North America in 2013, and the number one in Canada for many years. It is the only outfit in the province of B.C. that is capable of equipping BC Place stadium for major concerts. Company representatives came to my office, and were pleading with me for some type of path back to normalcy: some type of path to get their business going again. What they said to me was that they had taken advantage of the high-risk loans and they had taken advantage of the business loans. They were thankful for them, but they had come to a point where the Government of Canada was driving independent, private-sector small businesses into oblivion.
    Yesterday, I received an email from Mr. Howes at Traveland RV. I went to school with his kids. The company is a major employer in Langley, throughout the Fraser Valley. The tourism sector does not know what to do this year, again. The supply chains are so impacted that the tourism industry does not know how to plan yet another year. It does not know where its revenue is going to come from. The tourism sector is asking for a plan. It is asking for some way out of this.
    All we got from the government on December 14 and January 31 were two bills, both related to rapid tests. Frankly, they could have been the same bill. I do not know why they were done differently. Maybe someone could answer that in debate. All the tourism industry is looking for is a plan to get people back to work. All it wants to do is hire more people again. All it wants to see is a plan to end the mandates and to get people their lives back. It is not too much to ask.
    Everyone has been vaccinated. We have a super high vaccination rate in Canada, but everyone has also gotten COVID. A lot of people who are triple vaxxed are getting COVID, and that is why some of our public health officials have changed their tune recently.
     Omicron has evolved, and the government needs to evolve in the way it is approaching this new endemic stage of the disease.

  (1620)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am starting to sense two different camps forming on the Conservative side of the House. There is one camp that thinks the rapid tests are completely useless. As the member said, in his home province they do not want them or need them. We heard the member for Cumberland—Colchester basically question the science of rapid tests, but then the leader of the Conservatives in the House, who spoke just before the last member, said that he believed rapid tests were absolutely necessary and that he actually plans to support this bill.
    I am curious. Could the member who just finished speaking comment on whether he is going to support this bill, as his House leader is? If he is, why would he, given that he just finished questioning the fact that they were even needed?
    Mr. Speaker, I have to say that the member for Kingston and the Islands is misrepresenting what I said.
    For much of the pandemic, when someone got COVID or thought they had it, they had to take time off work to get a PCR test. Frankly, we should have had rapid tests then, when that was the requirement of the Province of British Columbia. We are past that, but now the government is coming forward to say it will give people all these rapid tests. I wanted tests so that my wife did not have to take time off work. My neighbours wanted rapid tests so that they could go to work. That was the same in every community across the country.
    Do not dismiss the public health officer of B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry, who is changing her approach to dealing with the pandemic. Rapid tests still have a role to play, but not for the majority of the population, who are likely vaccinated and can likely self-isolate if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
    Mr. Speaker, it is odd, sometimes, to try to make sense of various Conservative positions in the House.
    I do think that rapid tests are very likely to continue to have an important role to play in the pandemic. I think it is prudent to try to have a number of rapid tests on hand across the country, lest there be another wave that requires us to again undertake certain kinds of public health restrictions we have had up until now.
    I do not think we can declare an end to the pandemic by fiat. If we could, I am sure someone would have done so a long time ago.
    It is reasonable to be prepared, and I think that supporting this bill is part and parcel of that spirit of preparedness that I have heard members on all sides of the House call for at various times.
    I think the hon. member's concern about financial oversight is warranted. He mentioned Bill C-8, which also has money for rapid tests. In my work as a parliamentarian, what I have discovered and what the government has—
    I am really trying to keep everybody in the questions.
    The hon. member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon.
    Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the New Democratic Party really does not think independently anymore. They just side with the Liberals on every single piece of major legislation.
    What is also important to point out is that Dr. Bonnie Henry in British Columbia is not even counting the number of COVID cases anymore because it would not be accurate, for some of the reasons I have already listed. That is in the news.
    It is time. The disease is entering an endemic stage. It is time for the Government of Canada to change its approach, and it is time for the NDP and the Liberals to wake up, stop wasting taxpayer dollars and start giving people their freedom back.
    Mr. Speaker, I know one of the concerns we have as Conservatives with this bill is relative to the issues around accountability and whether the checks and balances are going to be there to ensure we do not have another situation where procurement is taking place and padding the pockets of former Liberal MPs, such as Frank Baylis, and other friends of the Liberal Party of Canada.

  (1625)  

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the Liberals have done everything in this pandemic to avoid accountability. I would be remiss if I did not recall one of their first acts in March, when the pandemic started two years ago. They wanted to shut down the House of Commons, because they did not want us to hold them to account. They threw it out there in the public, seeing what they could get away with.
    At every stage of this pandemic, they have done as much as possible to avoid accountability, and that is why we cannot agree to closure. We need to study bills and respect taxpayer dollars.
    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in this wonderful House and speak on behalf of the residents I represent. I will be sharing my time with my friend and colleague, the member for Kings—Hants. I wish him well when his opportunity arises.
    We are here speaking about the urgency of getting to Bill C-10 and ensuring Canadians, and the provincial and territorial governments, have the tools they need as we continue the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic but also as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. That is exactly what we are doing.
    We procured vaccines. We procured personal protection equipment. We have now procured literally hundreds of millions of rapid tests. I wish to give a shout-out to my friend from Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, the minister responsible, for the Herculean efforts that the minister and her department officials have made on the file. I wish to thank them. Again, this is another tool in the fight against COVID-19. It is also another tool so that Canadians can gradually and safely return to normality in their lives. That is what we in the House all want, to again have normality in our lives, but we can only do it gradually and safely.
    It is Valentine's Day and I do want to give a shout-out to my wife. I thank the hon. member on the opposite side who I am friends with for that applause. I wish his spouse the same greetings as well.
    I am grateful for the opportunity to rise in the House to speak to the urgency of Bill C-10. As Canada emerges out of this omicron wave with vaccines widely available and promising therapeutics like Pfizer's Paxlovid starting to roll out, the focus of our planning will naturally shift towards recovery and a more sustainable approach to managing the ongoing presence of this virus.
    We know the virus does not have an end date. My opposition colleagues may think that, but it does not. We need to be prudent and gradual, and do the right thing for Canadians while protecting our health care system. This is where the importance of testing comes into play. In spite of all the promising gains, in terms of vaccinations and therapeutics, COVID-19 is still with us. We need a strong system in place in order to manage the virus, now and in the future, to prevent increased caseloads and hospitalizations as we reopen our economy and to prepare for possible future waves and new variants of concern.
    Testing complements and builds on the existing health response to COVID. Informed by science and the advice of public health officials, the Public Health Agency of Canada has developed guidance and tools regarding public health measures to help manage COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. This public health guidance is developed jointly or in consultation with Health Canada or other federal departments, provincial and territorial governments, health authorities and public health experts.
    As the evidence and understanding of COVID-19 has evolved, guidance has been adapted in turn. Provinces and territories also have guidance specific to their jurisdictions. This may include legislative regulatory policy and practice requirements, as well as professional guidelines. Their recommendations may differ, reflecting their local realities. Guidance developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada complements these provincial and territorial efforts.
    As COVID-19 continues to circulate in Canada, we have seen epidemic waves crest and fall, and numerous public health measures, testing strategies and personal protective practices deployed in response. It has been a multi-layered approach. This multi-layered approach taken on by our government in conjunction and working with all the provincial and territorial governments is to protect our health care system and make sure we can emerge safely from the pandemic.
    The Public Health Agency is working with provincial and territorial partners to plan for a sustainable approach, an approach that includes using testing to identify and isolate even more quickly cases of COVID-19. Canadians have become accustomed to terms and practices, such as using a layered approach to protecting themselves, which may include physical distancing, masking and avoiding poorly ventilated spaces.
    Testing will become a crucial component of this layered approach, especially as testing spreads more and more into workplaces. Canadians have been doing what it takes to collectively get us all through the various waves and have pulled together when it matters most. Through our ongoing sacrifices and efforts, many infections and severe outcomes have been averted.

  (1630)  

    PHAC scientists have analyzed data and completed modelling from Canada that shows that, in most jurisdictions, implementation of public health measures was associated with reduced transmission of COVID-19. Studies have also shown that the public health measures that some jurisdictions have implemented, such as school closures, social distancing, stay-at-home rules, quarantine and masking, have reduced the severity of the pandemic. These measures, alongside our high rates of vaccination, have resulted in decreases in daily case rates, rates of infection, hospitalization, daily ICU admission rates and deaths.
    I would be remiss if I did not give a shout-out to the wonderful residents of my riding and the region that I represent, York Region, where 90% of individuals have received their vaccine and the third dose rate is continuing to increase. That is great to see. Thanks to Canadians' willingness to follow these effective public health measures and to roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated, our outlook for the next several months continues to improve.
    Public health guidance will remain a critical tool to address how we respond to the virus in the months ahead and, as the guidance shifts to include testing, the Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to work with partners across the country and around the world to learn more as well as to evaluate the emerging science to inform public health advice and guidance for Canadians. In order to support Canadians to make the best decisions for their personal protection, the Public Health Agency of Canada has developed web-based tools, such as My COVID-19 Visit Risk, that enables Canadians to better understand the factors that affect the risk of getting COVID-19 when visiting or gathering with others.
    If Canadians are also able to use rapid tests to determine whether they are infected they will be able to make better, more-informed decisions to determine their risk of spreading COVID-19 and will be able to trust more that others are doing the same so that all Canadians can better protect their communities from further transmission. This is incredibly important when we go to visit our loved ones in long-term care facilities or seniors' residences or other vulnerable populations.
    Rapid tests will be critical and crucial as we move forward and finish the fight against COVID-19, but we know COVID-19 will continue to be with us and we need to be prudent. Testing and general public health measures all fit together to stop the spread of COVID-19. Wearing the best-quality and best-fitting mask or respirator available, having access to rapid tests to determine infection and following the various other measures are important in the context of variants of concern, particularly for vulnerable populations who have the highest risk of severe outcomes or experiencing the broader negative impacts of the pandemic.
    Recognizing that further waves will occur, longer-term sustained approaches and capacity building are required. As restrictions are gradually lifted in response to local epidemiology, approaches will concentrate on preventing severe cases of COVID through vaccination, supporting Canadians to use personal protective measures and making testing readily accessible. The longer-term, more sustained approach as we fight this virus will leverage all tools to balance the need to manage COVID-19 while minimizing societal disruption and enabling recovery.
    We all want to go to our favourite restaurants and gather with a large group of friends. I know we want to baptize my four-month-old and we want to invite all our family and friends there. We want a gradual reopening as well. We know that, and rapid tests will be a critical piece of that. As restrictions ease, ongoing updates to guidance and web tools posted on government websites continue to support Canadians in making decisions for their protection based on personal risk assessments.
    I would like to finish by reaffirming that this pandemic has demonstrated that we need a range of measures in our public health tool box, including vaccines, PPE and social distancing, to continue to fend off highly infectious diseases. That includes testing. To fight this pandemic, we have already made vaccinations readily available. Again, 90% of individuals in York Region are vaccinated. That is wonderful. We still have more work to do, but we are getting there. Now is the time to make testing readily available. With members' support of Bill C-10, we can give Canadians a better chance to manage their own health, to remain vigilant and to support each other throughout the remainder of this pandemic.
    I wish to say that we all need to work collectively, collaboratively and in the best interests of all Canadians to get through this pandemic. That should be the focus, that should be our end game, and we should not lose sight of that goal.

  (1635)  

    Before I move on, I just want to thank the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge for reminding us that it is Valentine's Day. I know our discussions in here get pretty heated sometimes, but let us make sure we wish a happy Valentine's Day to all the folks who allow us to do the crazy jobs that we do here in the House of Commons.
    The hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South.
    On that note, Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish my wonderful spouse a happy Valentine's Day, and I would like to wish the member across the way a terrific Valentine's Day as well. He is a member whom I respect greatly.
    Because we will not have a chance at committee, I want to ask a question that I might ask at committee if given the opportunity. This COVID endemic or pandemic could last for some time. Could the member let me know, if he knows off the top of his head or send the documents, when the rapid tests the government is going to purchase will expire?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Northumberland—Peterborough South. He replaced a very good friend of mine, so I liked the prior member a bit more but I know he is doing the best job he can to represent his constituents. I congratulate him.
    I will say this. Obviously, I do not know the expiry dates of the rapid test kits. My understanding is that they are quite lengthy. What is important is that, once they are received by the provinces, much like in the province of Ontario, they are distributed very quickly to the population and, most importantly, to vulnerable populations.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying hello to my constituents in Trois-Rivières, and everyone else for that matter. Over the weekend, many people told me that they were not too happy that the government was shutting down debate in these circumstances. I guess that when a government does not believe in its own bill, it invokes closure.
    In any case, I would like to ask my colleague from Vaughan—Woodbridge a question on vaccination efforts around the world. Canada does not exist in a vacuum, and, if we want to fight COVID-19, we will have to look beyond our borders.
    What does my colleague intend to do to secure the logistical support needed for getting vaccine doses to developing countries and ensuring that those doses get there and are properly administered?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

[English]

    If I understood the question from my hon. colleague correctly, the first and most important thing we need to do to help developing countries is to get them the vaccines to make sure their populations are vaccinated, because we know we can only fully emerge from this global pandemic globally, with all countries working together. Canada continues to do that and we will continue to go along that path.
    Mr. Speaker, I have to give a shout-out to my husband on Valentine's Day as well.
    I wonder if the hon. member would agree with me that there is a danger in all the rhetoric about freedom that we forget the people who are actually the real victims of COVID. As of last Friday, there were 87 people in the hospital in my community and 14 in intensive care. We were averaging as many as two deaths per day and over 200 new cases. We have 22 outbreaks in long-term care homes. We are still delaying over 500 surgeries a week for things like hip replacements.
    I know there is a lot of frustration about how long the pandemic has gone on, but would he agree with me that we have to keep in mind that some people are suffering the real impacts of COVID?
    Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with my colleague. He is absolutely correct. If we look at what the pandemic has caused and how we have tried to protect our health care system from the waves that have overwhelmed it, we know that most of those waves have been caused by unvaccinated individuals. Therefore, when we think about freedom, we need to think about both our collective and individual responsibilities, and we have a collective responsibility to get vaccinated and do the right thing to ensure the protection of our families.
    Here in the province of Ontario, much like in British Columbia, literally tens of thousands of surgeries have been cancelled in order to ensure we protect our health care system from becoming overwhelmed. Those frontline workers who, for the last two years, we have asked so much from, I want to thank them for everything they have done.
    Just to add very quickly, over the holidays my parents visited me from Vancouver. I had to take my father to the hospital twice. Thankfully, everything turned out all right, but just being there in the emergency room watching the frontline workers attend to people and do what they do every single day was proof that they are the real heroes of this pandemic.

  (1640)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute privilege to be here today to speak to Bill C-10, which is legislation that is being introduced to increase the number of rapid tests being sent to the provinces and territories by the Government of Canada. I cannot see this being a controversial piece of legislation. It is straightforward and it is needed, given we are still in the midst of COVID-19. Therefore, I will support it, but I would be remiss to not use this opportunity to explain my view on the broader front of what we are witnessing across the country vis-à-vis COVID-19.
    I have spoken at length in this House on my perspective surrounding the protocols associated with COVID-19. I will let Hansard reflect my interventions to date, but let me say this: We collectively simply cannot wish away the pandemic. We all want to be able to move on. People are tired. There has been a significant impact on our lives for the past two years and I will readily admit to a differing degree on the basis of one's profession and circumstance.
    When we look at the history of the outbreak of the Spanish flu, today known as influenza, the same debates we are having now on vaccine mandates, around health protocols and the pathway forward were taking place then. In fact, it took approximately three years for that pandemic to make its way through Canada at that given time. Let us be clear: The puck is moving on how jurisdictions around the world are evaluating their respective health measures.
    Here in Canada, Dr. Tam has signalled that we, too, will be evaluating our existing protocol at the federal level, and other provincial and territorial governments that are largely responsible for the measures which have been cited in this House are also evaluating next steps. We should celebrate that. It is because Canadians have embraced vaccination and by and large followed the recommendations of public health that has allowed us to be in the position we are in to be able to move forward.
    It is important to caution all of us as policy-makers that the decisions surrounding public health should not be made alone on public sentiment, but rather on science, on data and what is a reasonable balance between collective and individual freedoms. I trust and expect that governments at all levels will act accordingly and not on the instinct of what their supporters or partisan base may desire.
    I want to go broader and discuss what we are seeing across the country, what I worry about for our democracy and our civil discourse in this country.
    First, what we are seeing right here in Ottawa is not a protest. It has gone beyond that. It is a coordinated occupation. We would be naive to assume that what we are seeing in this country is simply and solely tied to COVID-19 and health protocols. The actions being undertaken are to cause direct disruption to Canadians. As is being reported, the organizers behind these actions are well funded, including from foreign sources. The last statistic I saw was that nearly 50% of the funds were from the United States.
    The membership includes former law enforcement officers and ex-military members. The actions, particularly this last week, have gone beyond burdening the residents of Ottawa, which has been terrible, but it has also included a deliberate targeting of the Ottawa International Airport. These individuals have openly stated their goal is to overthrow the government. They have espoused ludicrous ideas of meeting with the Governor General and forming a “coalition” to establish a new government. This may seem crazy to some, but that is the stated goal of the individuals behind the protest here in Ottawa.
    Elsewhere in the country, there are coordinated efforts to block critical public infrastructure. In Coutts, Alberta, in Emerson, Manitoba, in Sarnia, and the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, which represents 25% of our trade relationship with the United States vis-à-vis vehicle traffic that crosses our border every day with our important partner. This, by all accounts, is an effort to destabilize our country and causing economic harm.
     I have the privilege of sitting on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. We heard today from a number of witnesses, the impact that this is happening on our supply chains. There were industry leaders from the pork industry, for example, who said there have been hundreds of trucks that have been impacted and have not been able to travel back and forth. The economic harm is clear. The auto industry has been impacted. This is having adverse impacts on everyday Canadians.

  (1645)  

    This is a relationship with our most important trading partner and it is impacting our food security. I submit to the House that these actions being undertaken in a coordinated fashion with the open goal of overthrowing the government is akin to an insurrection and we as parliamentarians should see it as such.
    Yes, as I have done before, I will not suggest everyone in the country who is protesting has this intent. I think that is very clear, but I truly believe that the principal organizers who are behind particularly what we are seeing in Ottawa have that intent that I have just laid out before us.
    Last week, I was pleased to hear the leader of the official opposition call for protesters to go home. Unfortunately, this was the same member who a week ago actively encouraged these individuals to stay and make it “the Prime Minister's problem”. I truly hope that members of Her Majesty's loyal opposition understand the gravity of what the country is facing and do not fan the flames.
    While I appreciate that policing is inherently within the jurisdiction of municipalities and the provincial governments, the actions we are seeing and where this is headed is of truly a national security risk and needs to be dealt with as such. We need to continue to coordinate with all levels of government and I ask our government to match our actions and our posture to the level of the threat that exists. Indeed as I stand here delivering my remarks, it is common knowledge that the government intends to introduce the Emergencies Act moving forward.
    It is important that we also recognize the decline of civil discourse in the country. Over the past two weeks, we have seen how journalists have been harassed, intimidated and threatened simply for trying to do their jobs. Mr. Speaker, we have had members in the House who have been targeted, you being one of them, along with the member for South Shore—St. Margarets, the member for Cape Breton—Canso, elected officials across Nova Scotia with packages, with hateful information and indeed chemical irritants. This is completely unacceptable. This is disgusting. We as members of the House have a responsibility to call it for what it is.
    I want to talk about the use of “mainstream media”. It is an Americanized term and I have started to notice a number of members in the House start to use it. It concerns me and here is why. It is giving the suggestion that media outlets in this country are propagating false information.
     I will readily admit that certain news agencies will have ideological bents. I read the National Post, for example. It has a more centre right conservative view on issues. The Globe and Mail may be in the centre, and CBC could be seen to be centre left, but when we as members start to use the term “mainstream media”, and I hear some of my colleagues across laughing, it starts to denigrate the integrity of media in our country. It leads, frankly, to tribalism, because if we cannot agree on a common element of fact in the House, and yes, we should debate different ideologies, different processes, but if we do not have some basic common element of truth, we see what is happening in the United States, the divide in the country. I ask all members of the House to be mindful of our civil discourse, of our behaviour and the words that can denigrate media outlets from reporting.
    I lay these concerns before colleagues in good faith. I do not believe myself to be alarmist, but to be reflective of what we are seeing. I am confident that Canadians, our democracy and our institutions are resilient to what we are experiencing. I ask my colleagues to please be mindful of our role to maintain a healthy democracy, to maintain civil discourse and to ward off those who may want to undermine our beautiful country.
    Given that I have about 20 or 30 seconds left, it being Valentine's Day, let me say happy Valentine's Day to all Canadians. To my sweetheart and my fiancée, Kimberly, and to our loyal Bernese mountain dog, Sullivan, I say happy Valentine's Day.
     I look forward to taking questions from my colleagues.

  (1650)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish the member a happy Valentine's Day, but I am hoping he would join me and indeed join his caucus member, Joël Lightbound, in calling for a more—
    I would remind members to refer to members by their ridings.
    The hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South.
    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would like to join his colleague, the hon. member for Louis-Hébert. I too believe we can have a better level of discourse, one that has compassion and collaboration at its heart, not anger and division. Would he stand today and criticize the leader of his party, the Prime Minister, show some strength of character and tell the Prime Minister that we need better, we need a prime minister who does not divide but unites Canadians, as do other people?
    Mr. Speaker, I believe if we check Hansard, we will see that I have called on all parliamentarians, whether they be in this House, whether they be the Prime Minister, the leader of the official opposition or elected officials at provincial and municipal levels. It is incumbent on all of us to have a tone and discourse that is respectful and where we can agree to disagree.
    I would agree with the member opposite that it is extremely important that we all have that collective responsibility, regardless of the title or role that we hold in this House.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thought we were talking about rapid testing. My colleague may have slightly deviated from the main topic, so I will allow myself to do so as well.
    My Conservative colleague just spoke about the member for Louis-Hébert, who joined the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois in calling on the government to present a clear plan, as the provinces have done, so that we can get an idea of what is coming.
    The member for Louis-Hébert also asked his government to start negotiating health transfer payments with Quebec and the provinces, which is something that we would have liked to have seen in Bill C‑10. Sure, quickly giving the provinces more money so they can deliver rapid tests is a good thing, but we should also start negotiations around supporting our health care systems.
    I would like to know my colleague's opinion on this. Is it not high time that the Prime Minister started to listen to his caucus members a little more closely?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for her question. My microphone was not working because of technical difficulties before my speech.
    With respect to health transfers, the government made promises during the election campaign. It promised to increase funding and enhance health care systems across the country, especially in Quebec. The government's plan is to provide that help to the provinces.
    With respect to speeches in the House and other ways MPs communicate with the public, I think all Canadians are now tired of COVID‑19, but the government has to develop a plan for the days to come. I am confident this government will produce that plan in due course, but not in response to the opposition motion.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as we move forward with making sure that people have the rapid tests they need to continue to address the realities of COVID, we know that in Canada we are still not seeing the investment that we need to support local businesses in being able to provide PPE and other necessary requirements for us to deal with these kinds of health concerns. That is unfortunate.
    I wonder if the member could explain why the government is not taking that dedication and especially making sure that we are never in a place again like we were at the beginning of the pandemic when we could not even find the things that we desperately because they simply were not created in our country.

  (1655)  

    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague raises the importance of making sure that we have supplies and rapid tests in the days ahead because, although, yes, we are on the other side of omicron, the reality is that this pandemic could perhaps stay with us in the days ahead. There is not going to be a moment in time where we simply throw down the gauntlet and say we are done with the pandemic. Notwithstanding, I would argue that some members of this House want that to be the case, but that is not how it is going to work.
    Our government, since day one, has been there to invest with the provinces and territories in supporting this PPE. As I mentioned earlier in the House to the member's NDP colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry has been working closely with a whole bunch of private sector players to make sure that we have vaccine capacity and PPE in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, I know that members will be disappointed to hear this, but I will be sharing my time with one of my colleagues.
    We are at a critical time in this nation's history. We hear a lot of, frankly, intentional efforts by other parties to misstate the Conservative Party of Canada's position, but I think it is important to put some clear things on the record about what we are proposing in terms of the response to this pandemic.
    Number one, Conservatives oppose the federal mandates. That is why we put forward a motion calling on the government to put forward a plan to end federal mandates. Now, why do we oppose these mandates? It is because they do not make sense, because they are not rooted in science, because they do not help us fight COVID-19, and because they infringe on the rights and liberties of Canadians.
    Let us talk about the truckers' mandate. These are people who work alone inside of their trucks. They have to abide by all provincial regulations when it comes to masking and accessing restaurants. Whatever the rules are in the province or state they are in, they have to abide by those rules just like everyone else. An exemption for truckers crossing the border was in place through the entire pandemic up until January, and then the government brought in this additional punitive measure, targeting these frontline workers who had served our country so ably throughout the pandemic and for a long time before. We oppose the truckers' mandate.
    We have consistently called for vaccine mandates when it comes to air travel, train travel or the public service, and we have talked about legitimate exceptions for people so that they can have some level of autonomy and choice. That means getting a rapid test before getting on a plane is a reasonable alternative when it makes sense to have that in place. Many public servants throughout the pandemic have worked from home, so a vaccine mandate for firing people, removing people from their jobs, simply because they are making a personal health choice when they are already working from home just does not make sense. Conservatives have been clear on a position that I think is rooted in science and evidence in opposing these federal mandates.
    The other thing that we as Conservatives oppose are the efforts by this government, in particular this Prime Minister, to demonize friends and neighbours who may have made different choices about their personal health. As other members have said, every person has their own story. Every person certainly has the responsibility to take the measures they can to protect those around them, but people have to make those decisions individually, and we do not believe in being the kind of country where people are compelled against their will or on pain of job loss to take a vaccination that they still have questions about.
    I hear Liberal members now talking about the tone, about bringing down the temperature and about inflammatory comments. The Prime Minister of Canada asked the question, “Do we tolerate these people?” Those were the Prime Minister's words. He talked about not tolerating people. He will call all kinds of names and put in place any kind of policy measure to squeeze those who are making different kinds of personal health choices. It is not helpful, frankly, in persuading people about any issue, to try to demonize and “otherize” those who are making a different choice about themselves. Therefore, we oppose the federal mandates and we oppose the clear efforts by this government, as called out by members of its caucus, to polarize the conversation and demonize those who have made a different choice.
    We have also said, and I have said consistently, that we support the right to protest and we support the message of those who are coming to protest on the issue of the federal mandates. Thousands of Canadians who have been forced out of their jobs, have lost businesses, are in a dire position because their livelihoods and the livelihoods of their families are threatened, whose mental health is threatened and are experiencing things they have not experienced before have chosen to come and protest. Many have not ever come to protest before. We support the right of people to protest. We support people's message when it comes to saying that these mandates are fundamentally flawed, they are not based on science and they infringe on individual liberty.
    At the same time, we have also been consistently clear in opposing the blockading of critical infrastructure as part of a protest. The great thing about the Conservative Party of Canada is that we have been entirely consistent in opposing blockading critical infrastructure in every case. We have called for additional legislative tools consistently for years when it comes to issues around blockading critical infrastructure, and it does not matter what the cause is. If the cause is federal mandates, if the cause is Idle No More, if the cause is opposing a pipeline, if the cause is trying to create a multi-heritage month—a cause near and dear to my heart—or whatever the cause is, people should not be blockading critical infrastructure. Conservatives have always said this—

  (1700)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order.
    There are two parts to this bill, and it is a very small bill. One part speaks to spending money to purchase rapid tests and the other paragraph speaks to distributing those tests to provinces and territories. This member has not spoken to this bill at all during the five minutes that he has already spoken.
    To the member, I have given a lot of leeway to a lot of members in the House to speak their minds and of course to get to the motion that is before us.
    I will caution the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan to adjust towards the bill.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Kingston and the Islands is eager to interrupt me, of course, because I am pointing out clearly the misinformation that has come specifically from speeches by members of the government during this debate. It is ironic that he would rise on a point of order to try to interrupt me when I am explicitly responding to things that members of the government have said. I know he is eager to come on my podcast, but this is not the way to do it.
    Let me resume the point I was making, which is that Conservatives have been clear and consistent on the issue of blocking critical infrastructure.
    Interestingly, immediately prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had a situation in which critical infrastructure throughout the country was being blockaded, and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations met with the protesters and talked to them. He said it was important not to ramp up and escalate the situation, which is a tone completely different from what we are seeing right now. In contrast to that tone, we have said consistently that we support the message of those who are calling for an end to mandates and we recognize that many of the thousands of people who have come out across the country to protest have done so entirely peacefully. It is sad to see that those who have participated in blockading critical infrastructure are really, frankly, allowing the Prime Minister a distraction. The Prime Minister would much rather be talking about blockades than talking about his own policy failures when it comes to mandates.
    Let us recognize that the blockades need to end. Let us also recognize that the failed mandate policies are really aggravating Canadians, and justly so. People are losing their jobs.
    The other thing Conservatives support is science-based measures that respond to COVID-19 and take into consideration all of the costs and benefits associated with those policy measures.
    Theoretically, we could say that we have to stop the spread of the virus, so everyone should just stay in their homes. However, there are many other costs to that approach, costs to people's livelihoods and costs to people's mental health. We have to balance these considerations against the risks associated with the virus. We have to recognize the variety of tools that are available and we have to recognize when the circumstances have changed.
    We are dealing with a bill that is about the government spending additional money on testing. That is ironic, because at the very beginning of this pandemic, I and other members of the Conservative opposition were saying that we need to be focused on testing, that we need to get rapid tests out and available. We need to look to successful models such as South Korea, where there is widely available testing, phone booth-based testing and other measures. We need to look at countries in East Asia that have minimized the use of lockdowns and instead have focused on the use of testing and tracing tools to isolate where the virus is in order to stop it from spreading, rather than this policy of imposing generalized lockdowns because we do not have the testing or tracing capacity to know where the virus is.
    Those are tools that were deployed successfully prior to the invention of the vaccination. Now the government is saying they have discovered that they should be investing all this new money into testing, and they are two years behind, just as they are two years behind in this issue of blockading critical infrastructure.
    They should have been with us two years ago when we were talking about how people should not blockade critical infrastructure. They should have been with us two years ago when we were talking about the importance of investing in testing. The government has missed the boat on all of these issues and now wants to be patted on its back for being late to the game.
    Conservatives recognize the value of testing. We also recognize that the vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated. Those who are not vaccinated are probably not going to get vaccinated. We should have tests available for people. We should give people the freedom to deploy various measures that they see as appropriate to protect themselves, but we should also have a plan in place to get back to normal. Recognizing all of the efforts that have been made and recognizing that provinces and other countries are winding down their restrictions, Canada should have a plan to do the same.
    That is why we oppose federal mandates and oppose the efforts by the Prime Minister to demonize people who have made different choices. We support the right to protest. We oppose blockading and we want to see a realistic science-based approach that follows the things we are hearing from Dr. Tam and from provinces and other jurisdictions. They are saying that now is the time to be winding down the kinds of mandates and restrictions we have seen.
    Now is the time to allow Canadians hope, to support our businesses, to support individuals and to give people the freedom to move forward without the constraints that we have seen for the last two years. It has been too long, and the government has been way too late. It is time for the government to have a plan to give people the hope they deserve.

  (1705)  

     Mr. Speaker, throughout the pandemic, we have been able to provide the provinces and territories with the necessary rapid tests, PPE and vaccines. What the provinces are asking for are additional rapid tests. This is based on the demand from provinces and territories. I myself stood in line during the holidays in the cold to get a rapid test because my family did catch COVID over the holidays, and I know that parents want to make sure they have a rapid test at home in case their child is exposed. What we are asking for is support for the provinces based on what they need.
    Would the member agree that it is really important to give parents and those of us who want to visit loved ones in long-term care facilities that tool so that we can make sure not to infect someone if we become exposed?
    Mr. Speaker, I am not going to disagree with the member, but here is the point: We were saying these things in the House two years ago, and the record shows it. The record shows that in my very first interventions in March 2020, I said to the Minister of Health that we should look at the countries that have been most successful at fighting the virus and do the things they did. I suggested looking at Taiwan, South Korea and countries that deployed this kind of testing and these tracing regimes, and those proposals were, at the time, dismissed by the health minister, who allegedly was the authority on all things science.
    It is great to see this late-stage conversion. As we are likely moving out of the pandemic phase of COVID-19, it is great to see the government now say that testing is important, but I think we need to recognize the reality of what is happening here and the clear failure of the government to be on this train when it would have made that much more of a difference.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for his speech.
    I would like to return to something he said about the tone of the messaging. He specifically mentioned the Prime Minister's tone in relation to the protests. He is absolutely right to say that it was detrimental and counterproductive.
    However, the tone chosen by people in his party all weekend long after last Thursday's debate conveyed misinformation. They said that the measures were coming to an end immediately, whereas the motion said that we wanted the government to adopt a gradual reopening plan that is based on science. This impeded the adoption of the motion.
    I will remind the member that Bloc Québécois members voted for the motion despite all of this, because the motion was worded that way. I would also invite the member and many of the people in his party to stop trying to score political points with overheated rhetoric and instead stick to the substance if they want to make more progress on the issues.
    Personally, I want results in the House. I would appreciate a response from my colleague.

  (1710)  

    Mr. Speaker, I first wish to thank the Bloc Québécois members for voting for our motion.

[English]

It is too bad we did not have more support from other members in other parties.
    The motion was clear in calling on the government to put forward a plan to end all mandates, and of course many Canadians would like to see that plan involve unwinding these mandates as quickly as possible, especially when many of these mandates were not based on science and did not make sense in the first place. There was never a reason to have this trucker mandate in place. They are people who work alone and had an exemption throughout the entirety of the pandemic up until January. These things were never based on science in the first place. The government has no data to justify its decision to say someone has to be vaccinated and that a rapid test is not a legitimate alternative for air travel.
    These are the points we have made. I think it is legitimate and right for us to be clear and principled in opposing these mandates while not—
    Questions and comments. Let us try to get another quick one in here from the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.
    Mr. Speaker, when I hear Conservatives talking about the blockades, I sometimes get the sense that they are kind of like the kid who was playing with matches in a hay barn and was then surprised that the barn burned down.
    That said, the motion we have before us is trying to forward a bill very quickly that Conservatives have been calling for for over a year now, and I am wondering why the Conservatives are holding back on something that would allow provinces to get the resources they need so that we can quickly track where COVID is happening and give many families peace of mind.
    Mr. Speaker, it is very disappointing to see the NDP basically giving up all its principles as part of whatever deal it has with the government. The NDP used to understand very well the importance of parliamentary scrutiny of legislation and of a minister testifying about bills, and there should be opportunities to propose amendments at committee.
    This is such a basic thing about how parliamentary democracy should function. All parties, except the Liberals, used to get it. Now the NDP has fallen head over heels for this nonsense that somehow, because we agree with the principle of a bill, we need to rush it through without any kind of study. This is ridiculous. We need to do our jobs as parliamentarians to study the legislation, see if it does the things it says it does, see if it works and subject it to a basic level of scrutiny. That is what we are paid to do.
    Mr. Speaker, it is, as always, an honour to rise in this place to talk to the issues that are so affecting Canadians.
    To be honest, I join this debate today with a conflicted heart, having just listened to the Prime Minister's press conference. Before members opposite jump up to call points of order to try to discourage a debate in this place, it is very relevant to the issue at hand.
    I rise conflicted because we have a government that has shown itself time and time again to be, quite frankly, and I am going to compliment the government, good at politics. They are thanking me, but they have not heard the second part.
    Liberals are good at politics, but they have shown over the last six years that they are not so good at governing. They are quick to take credit, but they never take responsibility. They are quick to divide when it benefits them and their interests, yet they refuse to show an ounce of humility or contrition, even though that is what true leadership is.
    I stand conflicted in this place because I just listened to the press conference, where the Prime Minister of this country continued down the path of division and fear, using further inflammatory language. I spoke in this place, about two weeks ago, about how that was inflaming the frustrations and leading to the demonstrations in the streets. It was incredibly disappointing that the Prime Minister would continue down this path instead of acknowledging his failures.
    Let us be clear that there are failures, one after the other after the other. There are failures regarding the pandemic. There are failures regarding the so-called fringe minority with despicable views. There are failures on every front, which has led to a country that has maybe never been more divided.
    I have spoken a lot about that in this place. The members opposite think that is somehow playing politics, and that it is somehow okay to divide, conquer and segment different elements of Canadian society because it fits their political narrative, so they can win.
    I am about halfway through the former attorney general and justice minister's book. This is probably going to trigger a whole bunch of Liberals. I am about halfway through Jody Wilson-Raybould's book and, acknowledging that she and I would disagree on a lot of things regarding policy and practice, what is interesting is that everything that we say is wrong with the Liberal Prime Minister and the way he governs this country is affirmed in the pages of that book.
    It is why I say that the Prime Minister and the government are good at politics, but they fail when it comes to governing. The consequences of that are seen each and every day across this country. That is a shame for Canada. I hope and pray each and every day that those divides, and the scars being left on this nation, are not so deep and damaging that it is irreparable.
    Those are strong words, but it is what I hear each and every day from my constituents, the people who sent me here and who I have the honour of representing. They feel left behind by these Liberals. I am going to speculate for a moment that the positions, talking points and carefully crafted messaging that come out of the government benches do not reflect the reality of what many of the constituents of those members across the way face.
    I am not suggesting there is universal agreement on any of these issues. That would be a mistake the Prime Minister would make. No, I am suggesting there are differences of opinion, but in a democracy that is okay. In a democracy, that is what makes the strength of our discourse. Shortly after being elected, I had to spend much of my time fighting to ensure this place, the only place in this country where there is truly representation from every corner of the country, was able to sit.

  (1715)  

    I find the path that our nation is on to be incredibly troubling, when the Emergencies Act has been implemented, after 18 days, I think it was. The language the Prime Minister continues to use is incredibly troubling. There is no humility, no leadership, failure after failure, rhetoric inflamed daily in question period, accusations tossed out about members of the official opposition and even to those within their own party when there is disagreement there. I know that those members opposite are hearing a narrative that is very different than the carefully crafted one being amplified by a few political staffers in the PMO, who are bent on power at all costs. It is shameful, and our country is more divided for it.
    We see a debate today on an initiative that should be able to unite Canadians, yet what I do find very interesting is, again, the rhetoric. They are trying to somehow blame Conservatives for doing our job. The Liberals need to be careful because Canadians are watching. We want to debate legislation. What I saw, time and time again, throughout the pandemic, was the Liberals would bring forward legislation and say that unless we gave it a rubber stamp, then somehow we were not Canadian enough and somehow we were not serving our constituents, whatever the rhetoric of the day was.
    This place ensures the ability for scrutiny of legislation, for things like the rapid testing bill, with its two parts covering both the procurement and the transfer of rapid tests to our provinces. The Liberals have played politics with this, so they have invoked closure so the debate on this ends today. However, we have not heard the Prime Minister apologize for calling an election in the midst of a crisis that has divided Canadians even more. The fact that he lied about mandating—
    Oh, my apologies.

  (1720)  

    Could the member retract that word? Thank you.
    Mr. Speaker, I will adjust my language to simply point out the inconsistency of the Prime Minister's message prior to the election campaign. As my colleague from the Liberal Party in Quebec very effectively highlighted in the press gallery this past week, there was a real change in the Prime Minister's rhetoric in the days leading up to the election, which he had promised he would not call. I certainly know what that is, and I know Canadians watching do as well.
    We want to see rapid tests in the hands of Canadians. We want to see the tools used. I never thought, prior to getting involved in politics, that I would invite local weekly newspapers to come to cover me getting my COVID-19 vaccination because I believed that was in the best interest of the country. However, to hear that the Liberals would somehow change their narrative to demonize the fact that we acknowledge there is not universal agreement on something, it speaks to how utterly ignorant and discriminatory, quite frankly, their rhetoric has become.
    We have mandates being changed around the country, and the usage of things like rapid tests, which we are talking about here today, is a tool to help us move forward to learn to live with COVID, yet we have the Liberals who, instead of backing up and carefully considering a path forward, double down on failures and division. Now there is the invocation of the Emergencies Act. My constituents remind me often, because I am not old enough to remember the elder Trudeau when he was prime minister, and I know I am not allowed to say the name of the current, but I was referring to the previous, there are scars that this country has not healed from, from the elder Trudeau. I find it incredibly troubling that the Prime Minister is taking Canada down a path where I fear what the consequences will be.
    Whether the Liberals are playing politics with the fact that we Conservatives in the official opposition want to do our job or playing politics with the fact that even though we may disagree on aspects of the pandemic response, we cannot find much agreement, instead of charting a path forward that would put the interest of Canadians first, the Liberals, again in this bill and everything they do, are dividing Canadians for their narrow political game, and that has to stop. For the sake of our country, that has to stop.
    Mr. Speaker, as I flew into Ottawa a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on the plane next to the member for Battle River—Crowfoot's wife. We had a wonderful conversation. This being Valentine's Day, I hope he has been in touch with her, as I have been with mine. It was nice getting to know his wife in that way.
    The member touched on the election, and I want to let him perhaps expand on that. A lot of people in Canada watching at home think the election took up six weeks of time, but here we are in early February, and we are only just starting a lot of what Parliament has to get going. Six months were wasted for all the issues that are facing us, not just COVID, but also housing and the opioid crisis. I wonder if the member could take some time there.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether Danielle is watching. I know she does not watch CPAC all day. I will thank my hon. colleague from B.C., as I do want to wish Danielle a happy Valentine's Day. I love her, and I am so appreciate of the support that she gives. I thank the member for that reminder, and this will be on the record for all time. I hope the member and his wife have been able to have an enjoyable time. My wife did comment about how much she enjoyed that flight from Toronto to Ottawa a number of weeks ago, and about how conversations, and this place, can bring people together, even when we have, in some cases, diametrically opposed ideological views.
    That member highlights exactly the facts when it comes to the Liberals' claiming that there is urgency for this, and I do not disagree with that. What I do disagree with is the fact that, between prorogation and an unnecessary election, we are months behind where we should have been serving Canadians. Instead, the Liberals prioritize politics over the best interests of our country.

  (1725)  

    Mr. Speaker, it certainly would never be the case that we have seen the Conservatives put politics ahead of anything in this country. I appreciate that the member for Battle River—Crowfoot understands that, in this place, people in glass houses should not throw stones. However, I want to agree with him that the Prime Minister should never have politicized vaccines as he did on August 15. I remember sitting there watching the launching of an unnecessary election and thinking, oh dear, this will go badly. We must not create wedge issues around public health advice.
    Would the member reflect now on what we do as parliamentarians to hold this country together, as even within families, people are breaking apart? We need to hold together.
    Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. I have heard from families that are being torn apart by the divisiveness associated with many of these issues. The Quebec Liberal MP who spoke to the press last week articulated very well the division that has taken place as a result of some of the decisions that were brought forward.
     I do not often talk about this, but over the election there were a number of instances when the police had to be called, on both extremes of the ideological spectrum in my constituency. If we listen to the Prime Minister and members opposite, they would say what the Prime Minister said in his press conference, which is that somehow there are only right-wing extremists, which I think were the words he used.
    The consequence of division for political gain is division in our country, and we are seeing that each and every day. I would never be one to dismiss partisanship, and even its place within our parliamentary institutions, but it is absolutely essential that the priority always be serving Canadians, not our own personal self-interest.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise today to provide some comments on the motion before us, which puts a set of steps into motion that have to do with how to deal with this particular bill.
     As I was preparing to do this and I was listening to the debate in the House for the last several hours, I could not help but wonder where it is that the Conservative concern comes from about passing this legislation so quickly. Almost every speaker who has got up to speak to this has spoken about a whole host of issues other than this particular motion, time after time. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan did not speak to the bill at all. He did not even address it, but then in his comments afterwards he said—
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would hate to follow in the member opposite's footsteps, but I certainly wonder what the relevance to the debate at hand is for what he is bringing forward. Specifically, if he is aware that the Senate is not even sitting this week in terms of the delay—
    We are getting into the throes of debate once again.
    I would ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to continue and stick to what he can on the bill.

  (1730)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am going to be addressing the comments that have been made during this debate, but unlike the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, who justified his comments by the fact that—
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the member is supposed to be speaking to this particular motion. He has called out different members for talking about something other than what he thinks they should be talking about. In this case, all he can talk about is what we Conservatives are saying.
    We are starting to get into debate. I know we enjoy cutting people off here sometimes, but I am just hoping that we can get back to the debate at hand.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker who rose on a point of order clearly did not hear your ruling when you said that this was getting into debate.
    I am going to address the comments I have heard during this debate but, unlike the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, who somehow justified his 10-minute speech that had nothing to do with this based on what he had heard other people say, I am not going to attempt to suggest that two wrongs make a right. What I have heard is a number of Conservatives talk about issues that are everything to do with what is going on right now, but not about this particular bill.
    We heard the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan say, “We need to do our jobs” and that we need to be able to publicly scrutinize this bill, yet he did not even do that in his own comments. He did not try to scrutinize the bill. He did not bring up the bill once. I even rose on a point of order to ask him to talk about the bill and he would not do that, so I find that very perplexing.
    The reason this is important to this debate is that the debate we are having right now is for a programming motion that relates to what happens to this bill that is before us regarding the rapid tests we are looking to acquire. It is extremely important. To me, at least, it validates the fact that this is important and there is very little argument coming from the other side as to why it is not important to move forward with this right now. The important part about this is that I have not heard anything about why we cannot move forward with this.
    I know there are some Conservative colleagues out there who very much support rapid tests and were calling on the government to get them weeks ago. Now, suddenly, there seems to be this opposition and an attempt to slow down the actual process.
     On January 5, the member for Durham, who colleagues may remember as the former leader of the opposition, said, “Before Christmas, it was like the 'Hunger Games' trying to get a rapid test in Canada”. That was just at the beginning of January when he said that. The member for Mégantic—L'Érable tweeted on January 12, “See! They have failed. Again. Lockdowns and restrictions are being normalized as a public health tools because of [the Prime Minister's] failure to secure rapid tests—
    Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I am enjoying this trip down memory lane. In fact, the member is correct that we did call for rapid tests two years ago, but I do not see the relevance here.
    This is the third point of order on this and I just want to remind members that there is some flexibility during the discussions before the House. On this particular bill, there is that flexibility. I will remind the member to make sure his speech speaks to the bill that is before the House, but we have to be mindful there is quite a bit of flexibility on the issues that surround this bill.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, if you review Hansard, I am sure you will find that I am one of the few people who is talking about rapid tests during today's debate. I do appreciate the points of order though, because it gives me an opportunity to collect my thoughts.
    On January 5, the member for Thornhill, the Conservative Party transport critic, sent a letter to the Minister of Transport asking that he consider rapid tests as an alternative to the new requirement for cross-border truckers to be vaccinated. Here we have time after time Conservatives calling on the government to get more rapid tests and to do it as quickly as possible, yet today they seem to be in a position where they want to push back against that, delay it and slow it down as much as they can. The member for Calgary Nose Hill is quoted as saying, “We need immediate action to deploy widespread rapid testing for all Canadians”.
    Conservative after Conservative, at some point in the last month or two, have been calling on this government to do this and to do it as expeditiously as possible. However, now we get to the point where we have a piece of legislation before us to authorize the government to make those purchases and in turn supply the rapid tests to provinces and territories, yet there is opposition from the Conservatives about doing this. I cannot help but wonder why. We have heard so many times about not politicizing things and not politicizing the debate on this. The Conservatives have said that repeatedly today, but they seem to be doing exactly that, which I find very confusing.
    I want to address a point that has been brought up by a couple of Conservatives. The member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon brought this up. He asked why there are two bills and why this was not put into the budget implementation act. I find it ironic, I must admit, that the Conservatives are now asking why we did not create an omnibus bill when they usually complain that we are doing that and we should not be doing that. There is actually a really simple answer for that. The answer is that the first allocation of funding in the budget implementation act was a result of the fall economic statement. In the fall economic statement, it was determined x number of dollars was required for rapid tests.
    When the statement was delivered and when the bill was introduced and tabled, we had not yet become aware of the omicron variant and what that was going to expose the world to in terms of a new higher demand for rapid tests. Once that comes along and we discover we need more tests and the demand will increase, the default is that we need a new piece of legislation to get more rapid tests into the hands of the Canadian government so they can be deployed to the provinces and territories.
    There is a very simple explanation for why this has been done in two different bills. The Conservatives want to paint it as some kind of sinister attempt to fool somebody or to try to trick people by putting this into two bills for some reason. This bill is very straightforward and it is very simple. There are two clauses. It does not even consist of more than three sentences in total. There is one sentence in the introduction, one sentence in the first clause and one sentence in the second clause. The first clause authorizes the Minister of Health to make the payments necessary to secure rapid tests. The second clause allows the minister to deploy those rapid tests to provinces and territories throughout Canada so that provinces can work to make sure that the supplies are available in terms of rapid testing.
    I cannot help but wonder why there is this cry from across the way about division and political opportunity when we are literally talking about the simplest bill I have ever seen before the House in the six years I have been here. It is very straightforward. It could easily pass quickly and could be moved along so we can get those resources into the hands of provinces and territories.

  (1735)  

    However, we are still hearing the rhetoric from across the way that we have not delivered. This government has delivered millions of rapid tests and put them in the hands of the provinces and the authorities that distribute them. Wherever we can, we have made sure that there were opportunities for those who needed rapid tests to have them, paid for by federal dollars, essentially being paid for by all Canadians, which is what is so critically important when it comes to anything re