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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 075

CONTENTS

Thursday, May 19, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 075
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), l have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 11 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

Public Complaints and Review Commission Act

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Committees of the House

Citizenship and Immigration 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, entitled “Main Estimates 2022-23: Votes 1, 5 and 10 under Department of Citizenship and Immigration, and Vote 1 under Immigration and Refugee Board”.

Government Operations and Estimates  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, entitled “Main Estimates 2022-23”.

[Translation]

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in relation to the motion adopted Thursday, May 5, 2022, on the International Civil Aviation Organization.

[English]

Criminal Code

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present this important legislation today, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to Corinne's Quest and the protection of children. I would like to give special thanks to my seconder, the dynamic member of Parliament for Nunavut.
    As we well know, physical punishment of children is still legal in Canada, despite the fact that dozens and dozens of countries around the world have banned the practice. This bill seeks to repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code, which allows for physical punishment of children.
    Corinne's Quest comes from Corinne Robertshaw, a lawyer for the federal government who saw first-hand the results of allowing physical punishment of children and the death and injury of children throughout the 1970s and 1980s. She started Corinne's Quest and it continues today. Despite her death, Corinne's Quest continues to advocate on behalf of children.
    I would like to give special thanks to Kathy and John Lynn, constituents of mine in New Westminster—Burnaby, who are shepherding the push to ban physical punishment of children and repeal section 43.
    I hope that all members of Parliament will support this important legislation.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal Code

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. This bill addresses a central issue when it comes to street crime affecting Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo and all areas of Canada. It responds to the decision in Regina v. Zora from the Supreme Court of Canada, which dramatically altered the bail landscape and made bail essentially a given.
    This bill would permit the courts to detain somebody who is alleged to have committed three indictable offences, serious offences. That would make the person presumptively detained, except in exceptional circumstances. I am confident that this bill would help protect Canadians in a balanced and nuanced way. I thank my seconder, the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Food Day in Canada Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to introduce at first reading Bill S-227, an act to establish food day in Canada. I am very proud to sponsor this initiative, which would formally establish food day in Canada on the Saturday before the first Monday in August, making it fall on a Saturday on which most provinces hold a holiday long weekend. I am especially proud that, through this bill, Parliament is honouring the legacy of the late Anita Stewart for her lifetime of devoted advocacy for Canadian food.
    I would like to thank the hon. Senator Rob Black for sponsoring this bill in the other place, where it passed unanimously. I appreciate the support that this bill has already received, including from the members for Wellington—Halton Hills, Durham and Guelph. I hope that, with the support of all parties, this bill, Bill S-227, can pass quickly through this House. Now, more than ever, it is important to champion the healthy local food that hard-working farmers and farm families grow throughout Canada.

     (Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

  (1010)  

Business of Supply

    Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and, if you seek it, I hope that you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
     That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, during the debate on the business of supply pursuant to Standing Order 81(4) on Thursday, May 19 and Monday, May 30, 2022:
(a) the time provided for consideration of the Main Estimates in committee of the whole be extended beyond four hours, as needed, to include a minimum of 16 periods of 15 minutes each; and
(b) members rising to speak during the debate may indicate to the Chair that they will be dividing their time with another member.
(c) no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay. Hearing none, it is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Victoria Cross  

    Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to present petition e-3636, calling on the government to award veteran Jess Larochelle the Victoria Cross for his valour. Every year, we take one day to remember our veterans: Remembrance Day. We might remember them on the anniversary of a battle or conflict, but we do not do enough to recognize veterans' sacrifices.
    Other countries have recognized this and have reviewed the citations given to veterans who ought to be appropriately recognized for their valour, but here in Canada we have not done that appropriately. In fact, a Canadian has not been awarded the VC since 1945. Over 14,000 Canadians who signed the petition are clear that this must change.
    I want to acknowledge the unprecedented grassroots movement bringing together the veteran community, including organizations such as the Royal Canadian Legion, members of the military community, municipalities and grassroots Canadians, who together are calling for Private Jess Larochelle's citation to be reviewed and to award him the Victoria Cross he deserves.
    Veterans who have served heroically and have been ignored for reasons such as their race must also be considered for the Victoria Cross. It is time to recognize their valour.
    Mr. Speaker, it is hard with an e-petition to split some of the signatures that were brought forward by my colleague, the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, and I want to thank her for doing that. This is a bipartisan effort, so we cannot split those 14,129 signatures, but as a veteran and a former minister of veterans affairs, I want to pledge bipartisan support for the work done by Valour in the Presence of the Enemy, which gathered these signatures.
    All veterans groups, including the Royal Canadian Legion, want a proper review, because valour in the presence of the enemy was demonstrated by Jess Larochelle, who in 2006, while injured, defended against 20 to 40 insurgents. The 12-year mission in Afghanistan was our longest. We need a process to review the valour of our citizens, much like all of our major allies have.

  (1015)  

[Translation]

    I support the efforts of our veterans and my colleague. We need a fair and transparent process to review the valour of soldiers like Jess Larochelle. Now is the time to do that.

[English]

Ukraine  

    Mr. Speaker, today I present a petition where the signatories are asking for the government and all members of Parliament to continue to support and advocate for Ukraine, in particular on the issues of lethal weapons and ongoing support in terms of supplies of lethal weapons, continuing efforts and doing whatever we can for displaced persons and, of course, humanitarian aid.
    It is with pleasure that I present this petition today.

[Translation]

Corporate Social Responsibility  

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Development and Peace-Caritas Canada, today, I am pleased to present a petition that has been signed by residents of my beautiful riding of Madawaska—Restigouche. The petitioners are calling on Parliament to pass a law on Canadian companies operating abroad.
     This law would require such companies to prevent adverse human rights impacts and environmental damage throughout their global operations and supply chains.
    It would require companies do their due diligence, including by carefully assessing how they may be contributing to human rights abuse or environmental damage abroad and by providing access to remedy when harms occur.
    It would provide for meaningful consequences for companies that fail to carry out and report on adequate due diligence.
    Finally, it would establish a legal right for people who have been harmed to seek justice in Canadian courts.

[English]

Vaccine Mandates  

    Mr. Speaker, the signatories of this petition are calling on the radical ultra-left socialist coalition to stop the demonization of people it finds unacceptable and lift the mandates, together with all restrictions, so our nation can get back to normal and begin to heal.

Opioids  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions.
    The first is a petition from Calgarians concerned about the deadly opioid crisis. In 2016, I participated in the health committee's extensive study into the opioid crisis, and we made a number of recommendations to the House.
     The petitioners are calling on the government to take the necessary steps to stop the needless death and overdose injuries occurring in every community in Canada. They also want to see the federal government work with the provinces to develop a national overdose plan. The petitioners are asking the government to consider alternatives and reforms used in other countries that have been proven to work in tackling this public health challenge.

  (1020)  

Ukraine   

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from many concerned Canadians. Of course, we are all horrified by the situation in Ukraine, and Canadians are looking for Canada's government to take a strong stand against Russia.
     The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to provide military equipment and arms for the defence of Ukraine. In addition, they are calling on our government to work with our NATO allies to close Ukraine's airspace to the Russians. Finally, they are asking Canada's government to take a leadership role in any future peacekeeping mission in Ukraine. Like all Canadians, they hope that this war comes to an end soon.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by several dozen people in British Columbia, including constituents in my terrific riding of New Westminster—Burnaby.
    The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to support Motion M-1, a green new deal, which is an initiative that I tabled before the House of Commons on behalf of the NDP. As members well know, the climate crisis is upon us. We need to have solutions put into place, and the green new deal is part of those solutions.

Opioids  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to present a petition on the urgent matter of the opioid crisis.
    The petitioners cite statistics that are well known in this place. The overdose crisis is a public health emergency, and more than 13,900 people have died from opioid-related deaths since 2016. They call on the Government of Canada to recognize that this is a public health emergency and to reframe the overdose crisis as a health issue rather than a criminal matter.
     There are a number of other points, but to summarize, I will reference a private member's bill, Bill C-216, from the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni, which also calls for this really critical point. It calls for drugs to be decriminalized in Canada in order to reframe the issue as a health crisis and not a criminal matter. In closing, the petitioners are also grateful to the organization of Moms Stop the Harm.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to introduce two petitions signed by constituents in Kitchener—Conestoga.
    The first petition requests that the Government of Canada address the climate emergency by enacting just transition legislation, which would reduce emissions by 60% below 2005 levels by 2030, end fossil fuel subsidies and create good green jobs.

Social Responsibility  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition I have the pleasure to present requests that the Canadian government work to require governments to prevent adverse human rights impacts and environmental damages throughout their global operations.

Taxation  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and table a petition on behalf of thousands of constituents from Kelowna—Lake Country and from across Canada. The petitioners are supporting wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries, of which 95% are small businesses.
    The petition says, “inflation, labour shortages, supply chain issues, increasing business debt and federal tax increases on businesses are already increasing costs at an unmanageable level for small businesses” and asks the government to recognize “that small business have been hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result of a volatile open-and-shut cycle”.
    The petitioners are calling on the government to freeze the automatic escalator excise tax on beer, wine, cider and spirits.

Ukraine  

    Mr. Speaker, on this Vyshyvanka Day, I am honoured to present a petition supported by the fine residents in my riding of Brantford—Brant and many Canadians who are very concerned about Russia's unprovoked war and genocide against the people of Ukraine. They are also concerned about the Liberal government's slow and inefficient response.
    Knowing that Canada was the first western country to recognize Ukrainian independence, people are calling on the government to show leadership in helping Ukraine in the fight for its sovereignty 31 years later. We can and must do much more to support Ukraine and its people, including providing funding and the direct military assistance needed to liberate all territories from Russia, including the Donbass and the Crimea.
    Slava Ukraini.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: No. 457.

[Text]

Question No. 457—
Ms. Heather McPherson:
    With regard to sanctions imposed by Canada under the United Nations Act, the Special Economic Measures Act and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, broken down by type of asset and type of sanction: (a) what is the dollar value of assets frozen since February 23, 2022, belonging to (i) Russian, (ii) Belarusian, nationals; (b) what is the dollar value of assets frozen since February 24, 2022, belonging to (i) Russian, (ii) Belarusian, nationals; (c) how many individuals have had assets frozen since February 24, 2022, belonging to (i) Russian, (ii) Belarusian, nationals; (d) what assessments, including the dollar value, have been done on the amount of Russian and Belarusian assets in Canada owned by sanctioned (i) Russian, (ii) Belarusian, nationals; and (e) as of which date is the information provided in response to this question current?
Hon. Robert Oliphant (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the following reflects a consolidated response approved on behalf of Global Affairs Canada ministers.
    In response to parts (a), (b) and (c) of the question, in coordination with allies and partners, Canada will continue to escalate sanctions and close loopholes to maximize pressure against the Russian regime until President Putin stops his war on Ukraine and turns to diplomacy. The measures the Government of Canada has put in place are designed to hit at the heart of Russia’s economy and limit its ability to fund its illegal and unjustifiable war.
    Under Canada’s sanctions, it is prohibited for persons in Canada and Canadians abroad to engage in activities related to the property of sanctioned persons, including the provision of financial or related services. As a result, the assets of sanctioned persons are effectively frozen. They cannot be sold and they cannot be transferred, making transactions involving them simply impossible.
    Through budget 2022, the Government of Canada is proposing amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act that will allow courts to order seized or restrained property belonging to sanctioned persons, including Russian elites, oligarchs and their proxies, to be forfeited to the Crown.
    The proceeds generated from forfeited assets may be used for the reconstruction of a foreign state adversely affected by grave breaches of international peace and security; the restoration of international peace and security; and the compensation of victims affected by grave breaches of international peace and security, gross and systematic human rights violations or acts of significant corruption.
    The management and disposal of assets are expected to be handled by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada under the Seized Property Management Act. These changes will make Canada’s sanctions regime a leader in the G7.
    Federally regulated financial institutions, or FRFIs, are regulated and supervised by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, OSFI. This includes foreign banks operating in Canada. OSFI expects FRFIs to comply with all relevant Canadian sanctions legislation and to ensure they have adequate procedures in place to comply with the existing and any future laws on an ongoing basis.
    Disclosures on the existence of sanctioned assets are made by reporting entities, such as Canadian financial institutions, to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the RCMP.
    Global Affairs Canada is not in a position to provide the requested figures, given that they may not fully reflect what has been effectively frozen under Canadian sanctions and would represent only those assets that have been reported to the RCMP. Such an exercise could lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information.
    In response to part (d) of the question, G7 finance ministers released a joint statement on March 17, 2022, outlining their commitment to take all available legal steps to find, restrain, freeze, seize and, where appropriate, confiscate or forfeit the assets of those individuals and entities that have been sanctioned.
    With regard to part (e) of the question, the information provided in response to this question is current as of March 31, 2022.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 456 and 458 to 460 could be made orders for return, these return would be tabled immediately.
     The Speaker: Is that agreed?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 456—
Mrs. Laila Goodridge:
    With regard to the Royal Canadian Air Force's CF-188 Hornet or CF-18 aircraft: (a) what have been the total costs related to aircraft maintenance on the CF-18 since 2016, broken down by (i) year, (ii) type of expense; (b) what are the projected costs to maintain the CF-18 aircraft, broken down by fiscal year from present until 2032-33; (c) how much has been spent on improvements, either directly for or related to the jets, including (i) radar improvements, (ii) communications gear, (iii) equipment, (iv) other expenditures, broken down by fiscal year since 2016; and (d) what are the projected costs of improvements, either directly for or related to the CF-18 aircraft, broken down by fiscal year and type of improvement, from the present fiscal year until 2032-33?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 458—
Mr. Dan Albas:
    With regard to changes in government policies, regulations, and taxation measures that came into effect on April 1, 2022, broken down by department and agency: what are the details of all these changes, including, for each, (i) what the change was, (ii) the reason for the change, (iii) the costs or projected costs associated with the change, (iv) the additional revenue or loss projected for the government over the next five years, broken down by year, as a result of the change?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 459—
Mr. Dan Albas:
    With regard to vehicles owned, rented or leased by the government, since 2016, broken down by year and by department, agency or other government entity: (a) how many parking tickets, or similar types of citations, were received by government vehicles; (b) what was the cumulative amount of fines of the parking tickets referred to in (a); (c) how many of the parking tickets referred to in (a) were paid for by the government; (d) what is the total amount paid by the government for parking violations; (e) why did the government pay for the tickets in (c) rather than the government employee or other individual who parked illegally; (f) how many traffic tickets, or similar types of citations, were received by the government, including those received by mail or email, such as from red-light cameras or speeding cameras; (g) what was the cumulative amount of fines of the traffic tickets referred to in (f); (h) how many of the traffic tickets referred to in (f) were paid for by the government; (i) what is the total amount paid by the government for traffic violations; (j) why did the government pay for the tickets in (i) rather than the government employee or other individual who committed the traffic violation; and (k) what is the policy regarding who pays the (i) parking ticket, (ii) traffic ticket, when it is unclear who committed the infraction?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 460—
Mrs. Kelly Block:
    With regard to the government’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters: (a) how many doses has the government procured, broken down by the year the doses are, or were, scheduled to be delivered, from 2020 through 2028; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by manufacturer and specific vaccine; and (c) what is the breakdown of (a) by the number of doses intended for (i) domestic use, (ii) foreign use through COVAX, (iii) other foreign use?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

     Finally, I would ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

  (1025)  

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Rules and Service Levels for Travel  

    That, given that,
(i) Canadians are currently experiencing unacceptable wait times at Canadian airports, even though airports are still operating at reduced capacity,
(ii) current restrictions have been cited by experts as ineffective and contributing to additional delays, costs, and confusion, as well as acute labour shortages,
(iii) Canada's international allies have moved to lift COVID-19 restrictions at airports and other points of entry,
(iv) Canada is losing business and economic opportunities,
the House call on the government to immediately revert to pre-pandemic rules and service levels for travel.
    She said: Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.
    I am always honoured to rise on behalf of the constituents of Thornhill.
    More than two years ago, travel and many other parts of normal life came to a compete standstill. Countries around the world shut their borders, their airports and virtually everything else, and it was necessary to do so. We were faced with a new virus that we knew very little about. We had to do this until we found a way to live with COVID. We had to do this until we learned more.
    Two years ago, all of our allies were in the same place. We all shut our borders. We all had restrictions in place. Today, that is no longer the case. Countries around the world have dropped their restrictions and have cancelled mandates. Canada is no longer in line with the rest of the world. Canada is an outlier. We know that most governments make decisions based on science, research and advice from the experts. All of our allies are lifting the restrictions, so surely they cannot all be wrong. Surely the science cannot be different in Canada than anywhere else.
    We might be able to understand the government’s thought process on this, if it would share the advice it has received and when it was received from the experts it claims have given them this advice. However, it has refused to tell Canadians what metrics it is using, what plan it has and what evidence these rules are based on. In fact, we have not been able to find anyone who has told the government to keep the legacy health restrictions and the assault on mobility rights in place. That leads us on this side of the House to believe that there is no evidence, there are no metrics and there is no good reason, other than the ideological drive to punish those who do not agree with the government.
    Not only are these restrictions vindictive and discriminatory, which we have said a lot in this place, because it is true, but they are causing chaos at our airports, which the House and the Minister of Transport ought to be concerned about. We have all seen photos of passengers lined up for hours and hours on end, with no chance of making their flights on time. They wait on the tarmac, only to be shepherded into a lineup that exceeds the size of the terminal or the CBSA hall. Passenger processing times have quadrupled, and in committee this week, industry experts told us directly that these restrictions and mandates are, in part, to blame.
    Our airports are famous for all of the wrong reasons, and we can fix that today, at least in part. The world is opening and people are finally travelling, which is a good thing. Businesses are growing again. Canada should be a world-class destination for people to work and play, but what do people abroad see? They see long lines, chaos and a place they want nothing to do with. They see COVID restrictions that their countries did away with months ago. They see lineups that take longer than the flights themselves. They see a big neon sign at the border saying that Canada is closed for business. They will choose to go elsewhere.
    The Toronto Region Board of Trade said that about 50% of travellers at Pearson, my home airport, as well as that of the Minister of Transport, as it is the airport he goes to most often, had “extensive delays” last week. How does that create a good first impression? Our tourism sector cannot afford this. Our small businesses cannot afford this, and our country cannot afford this.
    It has been two long years. They need as much help as they can get, and it is not just dollars and cents. These are peoples’ livelihoods, their years of hard work and their life savings. It is simply hypocritical for the government to claim that it has businesses’ backs when it continues to dig in its heels and stand by the measures that are now affecting everyone, not just those who opposed its views in the first place. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, tourism associations, the Canadian Airports Council and now doctors have all called for an end to border restrictions, vaccine mandates and the broken ArriveCAN app. They just want their livelihoods back.
    There are acute labour shortages in this sector, we know that, and while the minister blames travellers, saying that they are out of practice, we know the problem lies in part with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, which is under his purview. Of the security workers lost during the pandemic, 10% to 30% were never replaced.

  (1030)  

    Surely a room full of people, many of whom use airports on a regular basis, would show an ounce of humility and listen, instead of doubling down on outdated practices and more outdated talking points.
    The Ottawa airport alone needs 350 staff to operate properly. Right now, it has 172 who are fully trained and cleared. That is less than 50%. In every sense of the word, that is a failure, and we saw it coming.
    Canadians should know that CATSA is a user-pay model. That means those who use it actually pay for it. It is not a run-of-the-mill government agency. It should be the best.
    The government runs a profit off travellers. What are travellers buying with their money? They are buying longer lineups, some of the most archaic screening in the western world, and missed flights. Airlines in Canada are fined for delays and poor service, but what is the government’s liability when it is responsible?
    Even the president of PHAC told carriers and airports it would remove testing from airports in January. It is May. Instead, the government launched a new strategy consultation this week. I cannot think of a more worthless remedy in this environment: A government that cannot provide services that have already been paid for by the traveller is going to develop a strategy for people it has punished and blamed already.
    The workers who have not been fired yet are subject to this incompetence as well. They are being forced to keep families on airplanes in 30° weather. There is more outrage when a dog is found locked in a car in the summertime in a Costco parking lot.
    Why will the Liberals not listen? We know they have problems accepting diversity of thought and differing viewpoints, but are they seriously vindictive enough that they will continue to allow our economy to suffer, just to prove a point?
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    Ms. Melissa Lantsman: Mr. Speaker, they are laughing at this. We are hearing laughter on the other side of the House at the suffering of Canadians.
    The people's voices this party brings forward in this House each day might seem like strangers to the people laughing on the opposite side of this House. They are not strangers.
    Some of the hon. members forget that those they have othered, the ones they continue to actively disparage and look down upon, are people too. They are parents and grandparents and they are nurses and tradespeople. They are everyday Canadians whom we know in our communities. They have missed birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and funerals. They are hurting. Now the ideological crusade on them has crossed into affecting everyone else. It is affecting everyone who did everything they were asked to do throughout this pandemic.
    The vaccine mandates imposed by the federal government do not just restrict travel. They restrict our workforce.
    The Minister of Transport acknowledged that the issues we are seeing at airports would not be solved immediately. Some say those delays and long lines could last until Christmas or later.
    We are not saying removing the restrictions is a magic bullet. It is not going to solve all of the problems overnight, but surely airlines, associations, unions, chambers of commerce, businesses and now doctors cannot all be wrong that these restrictions are causing delays. We owe it to them to support them after two years of closures and lockdowns in this country.
    We owe it to our constituents to listen to their concerns. We owe it to the millions of struggling Canadians who just want to see their economy reopen and start getting real paycheques again. We owe it to travellers to allow them to finally travel quickly and easily. We owe it to everyone in this country and everybody coming to this country.
    Surely the government trusts Canadians enough to allow them to travel freely. Surely members in this place want to see our economy back on track. Surely they want to support our tourism sector and our small businesses. Therefore, surely they will vote with our party to lift the mandates, end the restrictions and immediately revert to prepandemic rules and service levels for travel. Our economy depends on it.

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, I regret this opposition day motion has been overshadowed by recent events within the Conservative Party, but I did find it very interesting that the member used words like Liberals do not understand the “diversity of thought”. She also said the government likes to “punish those who do not agree” with it. I find that very interesting, given the news that the member for Abbotsford was removed from his critic portfolio as a result of his diversity of thought and that diversity of thought being counter to that of the member for Carleton.
    I am wondering if the member would like to comment on the fact that diversity of thought and punishing those who do not agree with them is alive and well within the Conservative Party, as we witnessed just last night with the member for Abbotsford being removed from his critic position for disagreeing with the Conservative leadership.
    Mr. Speaker, I am actually sad to answer this question, because I would hope that the member opposite would have a question related to what we are speaking about today and related to the punishment that the government has imposed on over four million Canadians who still cannot get into an airplane. There are 4,000 tests happening at an airport all day, and it is happening only in Canada.
    I would hope that in the future, the member opposite would have a question that relates to something that is happening in the House today.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    The motion states that “current restrictions have been cited...as ineffective”. The science, however, says something completely different.
    This morning, the papers were reporting that Canada's third-dose vaccination rate ranks second last among G7 countries. Our vaccination rate is apparently 54.3%.
    What is my colleague's response to that?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member to look at everywhere else in the world. I would ask him to ask himself why the science is actually different in this country and whether mandates have increased vaccination on the third dose. The answer is, not really.
    We have heard from public health experts and doctors who have said that these mandates do not work. We have heard from the travel industry, which said they are bottlenecking our airports. We have heard from nobody that these restrictions are working.
    I would hope that the member opposite watched the Edmonton Oilers play the Calgary Flames last night with over 20,000 in an arena, unvaxxed and unmasked because it did not matter, or that he goes outside of this place, takes off his mask and goes to any restaurant. The science does not make sense. The science cannot be one thing here and one thing there, and Canadians ought to know that.
    Mr. Speaker, there was a lot in my hon. colleague's speech that I agree with, and she made some excellent points.
    However, she, too, was at the transport committee when we heard from the Canadian Airports Council that the number one factor contributing to delays at the airport is the staffing issue. Removing all of the pandemic measures and pandemic rules is not going to address the massive staffing shortage.
    Why did she not include a proposed solution to the staffing crisis in this motion?
    Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate the member's interventions and I like the work that we do together on the transport committee. We did speak about the labour shortages, and it is a very real issue in airports. One of the ways we can solve that is to bring back all of the people that the government fired because of the federal vaccine mandates. We heard from witnesses in the committee that there are people out there waiting to work. That is a solution to the labour shortage.

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like my hon. colleague's opinion, because, from a public health standpoint, vaccines should provide sterilizing immunity, and these shots do not. They do not stop transmission. From a public health standpoint, vaccine mandates make scientific sense only if they stop the transmission.
    The Prime Minister was in Moncton in July 2021, with the members for Fredericton, Beauséjour and Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe. He basically said that one can still pass on the virus if one is fully vaccinated. He knew almost a year ago that this still could be passed on.
    Does my colleague think that the Prime Minister and the Liberal government should have any public discourse, or is there anything the House can do if they are not giving the true facts to the Canadian people as regards the validity of these vaccine mandates?
    Mr. Speaker, what I do know is that the government has not shared any data. We have asked it consistently to table any of that data and public health advice. What we know is that the Prime Minister wears a mask in the House and in parts of this precinct, but he does not wear one in Ukraine.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I salute my colleague, who does incredible work on her transport file. She speaks on behalf of thousands of Canadian travellers who are asking themselves a lot of questions about why the federal government truly wants to maintain the health measures in airports and at land borders. We have a lot of questions.
    We have been asking for evidence and documentation from the beginning and have been calling on the Minister of Health to table any advice in the House that he has received telling him to maintain the restrictions. We are unfortunately not hearing anything from the government, which has no justification for maintaining the many health measures that are no longer required here in Canada. The government is not listening to experts, who are saying that we must now start thinking about transitioning back to prepandemic times.
    Like always, the Prime Minister and his government are doing nothing, which is the main reason our airports have been plunged into chaos—not to mention the chaos with immigration services at Service Canada and with every single public service that the Liberal government has its hand in. The government cannot deliver.
    What we have seen at airports in recent days and weeks is particularly concerning: long delays, endless lineups, never-ending processing delays, bottlenecks and missed flights. People are missing their flights while others have to wait for hours on an aircraft before being able to disembark. That is the new reality. If we let the Liberals continue, this will unfortunately be the new Liberal standard at Canadian airports.
    This spring, Toronto's Pearson Airport even advised passengers departing for other countries to arrive a minimum of three hours before their flight to make sure they do not miss it. For some travellers, that is longer than the duration of the flight itself. That is completely unacceptable, but that is what the government has unfortunately brought us to.
    I remind members, as did my colleague, that for months, the United States and the main allies of the European Union have been gradually eliminating the restrictive health measures imposed on passengers. They are even talking about eliminating the requirement to wear a mask during flights and in airports, among other things. The situation is evolving everywhere else, but, here, in Canada, we remain attached to measures that the government was late in implementing at the start, and we should remember that. In fact, when the time came to protect people, the government was slow to act.
    Now, however, the time has come to realize that the measures adopted, such as vaccination—which had a lot of uptake—and mask wearing have had the desired effect and we have begun another stage. However, the government is not moving forward. It is sitting back, to put it mildly, and prefers to wait for everything to sort itself out, just like the budgets. The Prime Minister has previously stated that the budgets would balance themselves.
    However, the pandemic is not going to resolve itself, and people's freedom to resume their activities and the life they lived before the pandemic will not return by itself either.
    Tourists arriving in Canada, foreigners and business people are extremely disappointed when they arrive in our country and have to face extreme delays at the airports because of the government's inaction. Then there is the infamous ArriveCAN application, which asks them to answer personal public health questions and complicates their arrival.
    On that topic, let me tell you about something that happened in my riding, not at an airport. These situations happen to real people who want to travel. My riding, Mégantic—L'Érable, borders the United States and includes a border crossing.

  (1045)  

    A man from Lac‑Mégantic came to our office to get the infamous ArriveCAN receipt that border officers at the Woburn crossing asked him to obtain. However, he did not have his passport with him and was forced to come back to the office, the first unnecessary step.
    Mr. Paré, who is 85 and does not have a smart phone or a computer at home, also had to come to our office. We had to open an account for him and fill out the ArriveCAN papers so that he could travel from one side of the border to the other. If we had not helped him out, he would not have been able to go see his relative, who lives 15 or 20 minutes away on the other side of the border. That is the reality. At 85, will he have to buy a computer and a smart phone? No, he will not. He came back to our office to get his paperwork filled out to be able to cross the border again. That is the reality.
    The government is not considering that reality, what Canadians have to go through. It is unacceptable how disconnected this government is from reality. Their many measures, now unnecessary, are causing delays and inconvenience to Canadians, particularly at airports. Who is affected by them and who is suffering? Travellers, tourists, business people, that is who. Plus, it is easy to forget, but the people working at airports have to endure the wrath and anger of the public, of everyone who is kept waiting. They have to enforce the rules that this government is imposing, even though they know full well this should not be the case. That is the reality.
    As we know, the last two years have been very hard on the airline and tourism industries. Both have suffered greatly from the pandemic as they were among the hardest hit. For the past two years, my Conservative colleagues and I have been staunch defenders of these two sectors that are vital to our economy, especially because they are also vital to Canada's economic recovery.
    Unfortunately, once again, the Liberals seem to be completely blind to this reality and to all the damage they are doing now, which will have long-term consequences. The Liberals, with their harmful policies and their usual who-cares attitude, are a real threat to the Canadian tourism industry. Something has to be done before this Liberal government completely destroys Canada's reputation as an international tourism destination of choice and as an investment destination for business people.
    In 2019 and 2020, before the pandemic, it took about 15 to 30 seconds for a Canada border services officer to process an international passenger on arrival. Now, health questions and COVID‑19 measures have increased to the point that processing takes two to four times longer. Sometimes it can take as long as two minutes. If we multiply two minutes by thousands of people, that makes for endless wait times and people complaining and dreading having to travel by plane.
    Instead of accepting full responsibility for this, the Minister of Transport chose to blame delays at various entry points on out-of-practice travellers. That is how the Liberals always operate. When they do not have an answer or a solution, they find someone else to blame. This time, they are pointing the finger at travellers, the people receiving services from this government.
    I hope members of the House will send a clear message to the Liberal government that enough is enough. We have to do what other countries around the world are doing. Those countries have experts and scientists too, and they understand that we need to get back to a more normal prepandemic period for everyone. I encourage all my colleagues to vote in favour of this motion. In particular, I encourage the Liberal government to show us why this motion should not be adopted. The Liberals will not be able to do that because they like chaos and they like not being able to deliver services.

  (1050)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his speech.
    I also want to share some information with Canadians who may be watching us right now regarding the ArriveCAN app. Up to 72 hours before arriving in Canada, or before making a short trip outside of Canada, travellers can log on to ArriveCAN from a computer to obtain a receipt, print it out and have it on hand while travelling. Individuals may also submit travel information on behalf of someone else.
    I find it remarkable that many members of the Conservative party supported the anti-vax protesters who blocked critical infrastructure earlier this year, slowed down our national supply chain and occupied downtown Ottawa for weeks. The protesters made life miserable for residents and caused significant economic damage to local businesses. It is also worth noting that most of his party's leadership candidates are now competing with each other to pander to these blockaders and their supporters.
    Is it not the case that the Conservatives are quite selective when it comes to their concerns about economic damage? Will the member clearly denounce the protesters who caused so much economic harm earlier this year?
    I would like to point out that the faster members ask their questions, the faster we will get the answer. Everyone wants to take part in the discussion.
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.
    Mr. Speaker, the message just delivered by the Liberal member was picked up and paid for by the Liberal government's department of misinformation. That is the reality.
    As I said in my speech, I have a constituent in my riding who is 85 years old and does not have a smart phone or a computer. The parliamentary secretary just told us that the gentleman can use his computer to get his receipt up to 72 hours before travelling. He does not have a computer, and he cannot do that.
    Instead of answering the question, trying to find a solution and responding to Canadians, the Liberal government continues spreading misinformation and obfuscating. I understand why: The Liberals are unable to answer us when we simply ask them to give us any scientific evidence that justifies maintaining mandatory health measures at the border. They are unable to name the experts who have recommended that these measures remain mandatory. We cannot get an answer.
    Meanwhile, the Liberal government's department of misinformation is working overtime right now. I think it is the only thing that is more or less working on the Liberal side.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.
    We agree with several aspects of his analysis. However, when talking about a pandemic that caused many deaths, we must be responsible. Both sides must avoid politicizing—in the least noble sense of the word—a debate like this one.
     I sat with my colleague on the Standing Committee on Health. Earlier, he said that we should go back to the way things were before the pandemic, but I would like to qualify that statement. We know that the world's population is far from fully vaccinated. As long as vaccination rates are low and people are travelling, there is the potential for a variant that could completely compromise the benefits of vaccines, particularly in terms of the possibility of developing a severe form of the illness. I am sure my colleague agrees with me on this. In any case, I hope he will mention that.
    The tourism industry's GDP has dropped 50%. This is serious. We have been asking, but the government has yet to table a plan to lift the health measures to give some predictability to the tourism and airline industries and to the travelling public. How does my colleague explain that?

  (1055)  

    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable has 30 seconds to answer the question.
    Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to take at least as much time as my hon. colleague took when he asked his question, which was fairly long and very specific.
    My colleague from Montcalm and I were both members of the Standing Committee on Health. He is right about one thing, but I do not share his concerns about the other. We have to be able to take all the recommendations and see how we can learn to live with the pandemic. I think that is the goal when we talk about getting back to a prepandemic normal. We have to learn to live with the pandemic. Unfortunately, as my colleague said, and I fully agree with him, the government does not seem to have a plan for learning to live with the pandemic. What criteria is it using?
    We know the government said that 75% of the population would have to be vaccinated for herd immunity. Then they raised that number to 80% and then they raised it to some unknown point because there was no threshold. There was no benchmark.
    I just have one little thing to add. If the government were less focused on misinformation and more focused on transparency, we would have a plan to get back to normal and an explanation for why airport public health measures are still in place. Unfortunately, the government does not care about that. It is holding fast to its ideological ideas.
    Mr. Speaker, I can see that you are standing to cut me off—

[English]

     I want to get this one right off. The shorter the questions are, the shorter the answers are and the more people who can participate. I see two members standing who are wanting to ask a question, but we are completely out of time.
    There are a number of members who would like to ask questions, so let us try to do our best to make sure that everybody can participate in this great conversation.

[Translation]

    Resuming debate. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Thornhill for having raised this important question, which I know is a concern for many Canadian travellers.
    I will begin by saying that I understand and share their frustration. I myself am a traveller, and I have experienced delays at the airport. I know it can be aggravating. I also know that airport delays have an economic cost and that they do not help the recovery of our airline and tourism sectors, which are major economic drivers for our country. I also recognize that all Canadians, myself included, are tired of the COVID-19 protocols and hope to return to a prepandemic normal.
    Since the vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated, and since we have observed an improvement in the situation in our hospitals and communities, it is understandable that many Canadians are increasingly eager to see the remaining public health measures relaxed so they can return to their prepandemic lives. COVID-19 fatigue is a real thing and a perfectly normal instinct. Like many of my colleagues in the House and many Canadians from coast to coast to coast, I do not want these measures to stay in place any longer than necessary.

[English]

    I hear every day from Canadians who are angry that some mandates remain in place. I am sure we all do. Like them, I would like to put this long ordeal behind us, and yet COVID is not behind us. It is very much still in our midst. One lesson that many Canadians learned over the course of this pandemic was the danger of relaxing public health measures prematurely. Over and over, we saw this play out in different jurisdictions across the country and around the world.
    Policy-makers, eager to deliver a return to normal to their constituents, eased measures prematurely only to be faced with a new variant: a new wave of disease that started filling up ICU wards again. It was overwhelming our health sector and prompting new, sometimes stricter, lockdowns. This back-and-forth pattern was very damaging for our economy, as it made it difficult for businesses to make future plans and to retain workers and customers. What is more, it sapped hope and exhausted Canadians.
    Luckily, the remarkably quick development and deployment of very effective vaccines has greatly improved the outlook we currently face. However, we should remember the hard-fought lessons we learned. Countries such as Canada may have successfully vaccinated much of their populations, but lower-income countries have not had the same access to vaccines, which is providing opportunities for new variants to emerge. While we know much more about COVID than we did a couple of years ago, much remains unknown about aspects of the virus, such as long COVID.

  (1100)  

[Translation]

    Given these unknowns, let us remember the benefits of a cautious approach. That has been the approach taken in Canada in general, and by this government in particular. By deploying a series of public health measures, including in the airline sector, we were relatively successful in protecting Canadians' lives and health.
    COVID-19 claimed the lives of approximately 40,000 Canadians. That is tragic, but let us compare our situation with that of our neighbours to the south, where more than a million Americans died of COVID-19. Even if we take the different populations into account, the difference is staggering. According to the latest estimates published by Our World in Data, the United States suffered three times more deaths per million people than Canada.
    Lastly, here is the most important yardstick: Although we need to take into account the inconveniences and economic disruptions caused by airport delays and find solutions to minimize these impacts, we also need to weigh them against the lives of Canadians, our grandparents, our spouses, our children and our friends.

[English]

    Let me turn now from the big picture to the more specific topic raised by the opposition motion today dealing with airport delays.
    First, let me say that Canada is not alone in seeing such delays. There are, in fact, reports from all over the world of similar delays. They are not always caused by the same factors. Sometimes there are shortages of baggage handlers, sometimes of border agents and sometimes of security screeners, and sometimes large numbers of flights are cancelled unexpectedly. It all amounts to passengers stuck in long lines, some of whom miss their flights and all of whom experience frustration and stress.
    For example, in April, The New York Times wrote, per The Latch, that “the post-pandemic return to travel has simply swamped unprepared airlines”. The Latch continued:
    [They] have been unable to hire adequate staff due to the financial pressures brought about during lockdowns. The big picture is that airlines simply didn’t predict people would be travelling again in such huge numbers so soon. Layoffs or resignations, in the tens of thousands across the global industry, have just not been made up for.
    Similarly, on May 5, Euronews reported that:
    Although air travel is still below 2019 levels, traffic peaks are in fact higher than pre-pandemic levels at many larger airports.
    “Coping with this sudden increase and concentration of air traffic has been challenging for airports and their operational partners—in particular ground handlers,” says the joint statement from [Airports Council International] Europe....
    “This has resulted in an increase in flight delays and cancellations, and more generally a degraded passenger experience at many airports.”
    Along the same lines, NCA NewsWire in Australia reported this on May 9:
    Sydney airport has once again descended into chaos as staff shortages continue to create massive queues due to closed security gates.
    Both international and domestic terminals are impacted by the delays forcing thousands of passengers to wait in queues.
     Many have taken to social media to vent their frustration at the travel chaos as the airport enters its third month since international borders reopened and increased the number flights moving in and out of the major airport.
    The article also notes, “A spokesman for Sydney Airport predicted at the time that major delays would run through the school holidays, peaking over Easter and Anzac Day with passenger levels close to 90 per cent pre-pandemic.”
    This may sound familiar to consumers of Canadian news over the last couple of weeks. The fact that other countries are also experiencing similar problems does not make things any less frustrating for Canadian travellers. However, it does provide some necessary context in the face of commentators who claim that we have never seen the chaos we are experiencing at Canadian airports currently or that Canada's reputation will be irreparably harmed.

  (1105)  

[Translation]

    With a view to providing the necessary context, let me explain why there are delays at Canadian airports. The simplest and most common explanation is that the delays are caused by a shortage of CATSA screening officers. However, there are other factors that also come into play.
    CATSA is indeed having difficulty rehiring staff in prepandemic numbers. However, as Minister Alghabra recently pointed out, CATSA's staffing levels have returned to approximately 90%, while the travel volume has returned to only about 70% of prepandemic levels. It is more than a simple labour shortage issue.
    What appears to be happening is that the airlines are providing less accurate information about anticipated passenger volumes, and in a less timely manner. It is therefore difficult for CATSA managers to properly plan staffing levels. I am not saying that it is the airlines' fault. It is not surprising that they are finding it hard to predict how fast the number of passengers will increase and to plan the number of flights accordingly. This highlights the need for better communication between the various stakeholders in the airline sector, and that is exactly what the minister and Transport Canada are working on. I will get into more detail shortly.

[English]

    Another example of the complexity of the problem is that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are also having problems rehiring staff to prepandemic levels. This sometimes results in U.S. officials asking CATSA screeners to slow down or pause the security screening of travellers. CBSA is also experiencing similar staffing issues, resulting in longer than usual lines for travellers arriving from international destinations.
    In fact, worker shortages being experienced all across airports, the air sector and the labour market more broadly are affecting how efficiently our airports work. For example, some CATSA employees who were laid off during the pandemic have since been hired by airport subcontractors as baggage handlers or in other roles at airports. Again, I offer this to provide necessary context so that Canadians can understand what is behind some of the delays at our airports.
    My friends on the opposition side will oversimplify things and suggest that it is only public health measures that are slowing down air travellers and clogging our airports, but that is simply not the case.

[Translation]

    They are also unaware of the advantages of the measures still in place. For example, random testing in airports helps us detect in a timely manner new variants that might be entering the country and to trace their origins. This will not prevent variants from entering Canada, but it will provide invaluable data and help our health care sector prepare for any changes. It could help slow the spread of new variants and save us precious time. Contrary to what some have suggested, we cannot get the same result simply by analyzing the general population's wastewater.
    Other measures such as mandatory vaccination, ArriveCAN and mask wearing provide travellers and airline workers with additional layers of protection, while offering Canadian travellers peace of mind, since they know they are travelling with other people who have chosen to be vaccinated. Vaccination is the best protection against the most serious consequences of COVID-19.

  (1110)  

[English]

    My Conservative colleague from Thornhill has selectively chosen to quote from testimony heard from business groups, but she neglects to mention that when asked at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities whether they would disregard advice from public health officials to maintain certain public health measures, they demurred, acknowledging they were not public health experts. I think this is important for Canadians to retain. They should weigh this when considering calls to immediately dismantle public health protections and should consider who is proposing such a step and what that person's qualifications are.
    This also reminds me to consider another source: the Conservative Party of Canada itself. I think it is important for Canadians to remember this is the same party whose former leader allowed unvaccinated candidates to go into seniors' homes during the most recent federal election. It is a party that had in its ranks an MP who presented a petition calling on the government to suspend the use of all COVID‑19 vaccines.
    Another Conservative member claimed his own research showed that people were “13 times more likely to die from the delta variant if [they] were double vaccinated than if [they] were unvaccinated.” Needless to say, this was completely false.
     The Conservative member for Sarnia—Lambton was ultimately forced to apologize after minimizing the risks of COVID by comparing it to polio, a disease that at its peak in 1953 claimed the lives of 500 Canadians. Let us remember we are now tragically at over 40,000 lives lost due to COVID.
    The Conservative leader at the time remarked about these comments, stating:
    There’s a big difference between advocating for your constituents who may need reasonable accommodation and creating confusion about public health measures. It’s a great example of why members of Parliament of all stripes should let the professionals, let the public health officials, let the physicians answer questions about the efficacy of vaccines.
    I agree. Let us let our public health experts determine the most appropriate time to phase out the remaining public health measures at our airports.

[Translation]

    With this essential reminder out of the way, I will now address what Minister Alghabra and our government are doing to help our airports and Canadian travellers.
    For now, I will leave aside the many billions of dollars our government has provided to help support the airline sector during the pandemic, including some $1.4 billion earmarked exclusively for airports under the airport critical infrastructure program, the airport relief fund, the enhanced airports capital assistance program, the rent relief for airport authorities, and broader initiatives from which airports benefited, such as the Canada emergency wage subsidy.

[English]

    As I mentioned earlier in my speech, at first glance, many of the problems currently being experienced in our airports seem to stem from more than a simple shortage of security screeners. The larger problem seems to be that different parts of the system are not communicating effectively with one another and not working together to better plan for increased passenger volumes as the air sector recovers.
    As I have mentioned throughout, we recognize the impact that wait times at some Canadian airports are having on travellers and we are working with our partners to take action and find solutions. CATSA is working to increase the number of screening officers at passenger screening checkpoints. There are currently approximately 400 new screening officers in different phases of their training across the country.
    Last week, Minister Alghabra met with Mike Saunders, the CEO of CATSA, and in the previous week he met with the four major airports to hear—
    We have a point of order from the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. parliamentary secretary is aware, as are all members in this place, that we refer to members of Parliament by their riding or position. That is the second time she has used the proper name of our Minister of Transport.

  (1115)  

    It is actually the third time. I was going to mention that at the end of her speech.

[Translation]

    I want to remind the parliamentary secretary not to use members' last names.
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising that important point. It is duly noted.

[English]

    With four major airports to hear directly about what was happening on the ground and to discuss solutions, airports, airlines and CATSA are working to make sure communication to travellers is clear so they can better anticipate processing requirements. TC, PHAC and CBSA are working with airports and air carriers to identify efficiencies that can be gained throughout the travel journey and reduce wait times upon arrival.
    Our government will continue to work together with all partners to address wait times as a matter of priority. We will continue to take clear and decisive action to ensure the safety, security and resiliency of Canada's transportation system, its employees and its users while supporting economic recovery.

[Translation]

    We will always be there for Canadians, just as we were during the pandemic. We will continue to protect public health. We will continue to take measures to help our economy recover, and we will continue to help people get from their point of departure to their destination.

[English]

     That was the first point. The second point was to make sure that we have short questions and short answers, so that everyone can participate in this discussion.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Regina—Lewvan.
    Mr. Speaker, I really want to thank the parliamentary secretary for reading that speech prepared for her by the PMO. It was really interesting.
    The question I have for her is twofold. First, she talked about following the science and the data. Could she please give the House the data that shows these mandates are still necessary and that we cannot go back to prepandemic-level travel?
     Second, does she believe that, in Canada now, it is fair that three million people cannot travel within their own country to see their family, to see their friends or to go on a vacation within Canada because of a personal health choice? Does she think that is fair and equitable treatment for all Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, vaccines are an important tool to protect Canadians and stop the spread of COVID-19. Science is clear on this matter. Vaccines are safe and effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19, as well as reducing severe cases and hospitalizations and protecting health. On this side of the House, we will always look to science to help us monitor and mitigate all unnecessary risks to the Canadian population as COVID-19 evolves and changes with the various variants.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the Liberals' management of the borders, I think we can agree that they dragged their feet a lot. They dragged their feet when it came time to close the border, and they are still dragging their feet on implementing an effective reopening plan. I would like to hear what the parliamentary secretary has to say about the government's border management, because the Auditor General issued a number of rather damning reports. They talk about a lack of testing at the borders, a lack of response to the emergence of new variants, a lack of quarantining when waves were at their peak, a lack of service in French from the companies responsible for screening, a lack of coordination with quarantine hotels, delays in providing screening test results, a shortage of staff to ensure compliance with home quarantine orders, and little or no follow-up with travellers who failed to follow quarantine orders.
    I would like to hear the parliamentary secretary's comments on that. She could read the notes that her party gave her to tell us how the government is responding to that report from the Auditor General.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for that important question.
    As we have said before, since the beginning of the pandemic, our government has focused on the health and safety of Canadians by following the latest science. Canada's border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence. We are currently reviewing the Auditor General's report. I have no doubt that Transport Canada and the minister will do the right thing.

  (1120)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, numerous constituents of mine have asked me if I know when the government plans to lift the restriction on unvaccinated Canadians from accessing air travel, given the current evidence on transmission. I noticed a recent article from Dr. Zain Chagla in The Globe and Mail, suggesting that the current restriction makes no sense.
    I understand that the mandate is under review by the government, so I wonder this. Could the parliamentary secretary indicate to the House when that review will be complete, and how the results of that review will be communicated, both to this place and to all Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, as we have said numerous times, this is an evolving situation. We follow the guidelines of public health. The emergence of the omicron variant and others was a clear reminder that the pandemic continues to evolve. That is why we continue to require vaccination to travel when departing by train, plane or cruise ship.
    Again, from day one, our public health measures have been based on the science. We will continue to follow the very sound advice of our public health professionals.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with much of what the hon. member had to say, and particularly with what the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley also pointed out: that current delays in Canadian airports seem to be more of a staffing problem.
    I am concerned that the premise of the motion before us today, and much of the debate, has been that somehow Canada is an outlier and that everybody else has stopped having restrictions. All morning, while I have been waiting for my chance to speak, I have been checking out websites to see what countries we could go to where there are no restrictions at arrival. I cannot find any countries I could visit like that. I did find Ireland, but not the vast majority: for example, Mexico, Germany, France, Italy or Morocco, and I could go on and on.
    Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have a reliable list that would tell Canadians there are these countries that no longer require people to be vaccinated to visit, that no longer require any tests or documentation of any kind? There are very few. The vast majority still have roughly the same restrictions as Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, ultimately, each country is responsible for the safety and security of its own people. Each country is experiencing unique factors, such as vaccine availability, as per my speech, the vaccination rate and the number of hospitalizations. Each country adjusts its measures to best fit its unique context.
    I agree with the hon. member that perhaps there should be a list compiled of all the various countries and what their requirements are, because a one-stop shop to find this information would be very beneficial not only to Canadians wanting to travel, but also to everyone around the world who needs that information at a moment's notice.
    Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if my colleague could provide her thoughts on another issue, related to the idea of what is happening around the world.
    Canada is not alone in terms of labour shortages in certain sectors. In fact, there is a bit of a labour shortage today. Not only is it affecting our airports, but it is affecting other airports around the world. Could the member provide her thoughts in regard to the need for additional labour?
    Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member states, this is a problem that is not specific or unique to Canada. There are labour shortages throughout.
    There are committees looking at labour shortages. There is communication among departments and allies around the world to make sure that we are well aligned and answering the needs of the labour shortages. As we see, it is not only transportation, airports, airlines or the aviation sector in general that are plagued with these labour shortages. It is also throughout every sector we can think of.
    Mr. Speaker, in listening today and in responding to the member's last comments, we have countries around the world that have lifted all restrictions, including the U.K., the U.S., Sweden, Norway and Mexico.
    I am going to ask the parliamentary secretary a specific question. What specific advice are we getting from our health experts that is allowing Canada to make the decision to continue restrictions? What is the specific advice we are getting?

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate that ultimately each country is responsible for the safety and security of its own people. They have their own public health experts that provide them with information. We have our own public health professionals who are world-renowned scientists and researchers. We take guidance from our public health professionals, and we will continue to do so.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague would agree that the Conservative Party always wants everything a little too quickly. We have seen this with the last few motions the Conservatives have moved during their opposition days, calling for all health measures to be lifted immediately. It is the same thing today.
    Could some sort of compromise be reached, if the government were to submit a plan to gradually lift these measures? Would my colleague agree to that? We still have not seen a plan for a gradual lifting of health measures, and I think the public deserves to see one.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for this important question. Our government is always ready to work with all parties in the House to come up with solutions and reach compromises. We are always ready and willing to work together.
    I would therefore invite my colleague to contact me or Transport Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I will start by saying that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Jonquière.
    I am grateful for the opportunity to address this subject today. I was very happy to see the hon. member for Thornhill's motion. There is a lot of talk in the media and from our constituents about wait times for passports and delays at the airport. People pretty much everywhere, including in my riding, are eager to get back to normal. The pandemic is winding down, and people want to start travelling and visiting sun destinations again after two difficult years.
    That is why I think this is an important matter. Moreover, we have been in a pandemic for more than two years now. That has forced governments to implement measures that may have curtailed our freedoms, but that were needed because they were there to protect the health of the population.
    The Conservative Party has always opposed these measures. It has constantly tried to limit their scope. We saw this with the many questions they have asked in the House since the beginning of the 44th Parliament, as well as with the opposition days they devoted to the issue, when they demanded the immediate lifting of all measures. They did not adopt a gradual approach. They really wanted to lift all measures immediately.
    Although it is true that the Conservatives were pandering to libertarians on this matter, it is also true that the Liberals also did not hesitate to politicize the issue and to use unvaccinated people for political purposes. We saw this in the last election campaign. The government suddenly announced a vaccination requirement for all federal employees, while still refusing to present a plan for lifting the health measures. At every turn, the two parties accused each other of dividing the population, on the one hand with health measures, and on the other with disinformation. I think that it is crucial to avoid politicizing this issue. As members of the Bloc Québécois have said many times, the only thing we should do in this situation is listen to the science. We are not the experts. We must listen to the public health experts.
    As I mentioned earlier, the member's motion addresses problems at airports. Just this past Monday, the Canadian Press reported long lineups at airports and even said that it was taking four times longer to process incoming passengers than it had before the pandemic. It seems likely that the more travellers there are, the worse the problem will get. The Conservative Party is therefore asking the government to immediately revert to prepandemic travel rules and service levels. According to the Conservatives, the problem is the restrictions, the mandates they have been condemning for months. Their solution is to lift them all.
    In my opinion, the Conservative Party is misguided in laying all the blame for airport wait times on the COVID‑19 restrictions, when that is not necessarily the case. Just yesterday, the Customs and Immigration Union publicly called on the Minister of Public Safety and the Canada Border Services Agency to increase the number of border officers assigned to passenger operations at Canadian airports, in order to alleviate the pressure on both airport staff and passengers. Union president Mark Weber said that there are simply not enough officers.
    These delays are a source of frustration for everyone, but the union's solution is to bring in more officers, not to get rid of measures that are designed to keep the public and travellers healthy. The union said that this situation was foreseeable, noting, “Over the past decade, the number of officers assigned to passenger operations has decreased dramatically”. At present, at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, it is estimated that fewer than 300 officers are active in the passenger operations section, which is nearly half of the number needed to process inbound travellers in a timely manner. This is not unique to Toronto, either, with both Vancouver and Montreal facing similar issues.

  (1130)  

    One sentence caught my attention in the press release I read this morning. To quote Mr. Weber:
    The reality is that even with the eventual lifting of current public health measures, significant delays will likely persist, not only due to the critical shortage of officers in most border operations across the country, but also due to an over-reliance on inefficient technologies.
    Mr. Weber said that an officer can process a traveller twice as fast as the automated primary inspection kiosks. Essentially, he attributes the excessive delays at the airports to the staffing shortage and the inefficient technology.
    At the end of the day, these delays should come as no surprise. They were foreseeable. Mr. Weber says that we could have seen them coming for the past 10 years, having watched the situation deteriorate. What he is asking the Minister of Public Safety and the Canada Border Services Agency to do is to add more staff.
    We are seeing the same issue in almost every domain. I met with representatives of the National Police Federation last week who told me the same thing: The police is short on human resources, staff and security officers, including at the borders and at airports. Lifting the health measures will not necessarily make the lines shorter. There needs to be more people on the job.
    I would like to come back to paragraph (iii) of the member for Thornhill's motion, which states that several countries “have moved to lift COVID‑19 restrictions at airports and other points of entry”. That may be true, but only partially. Some countries have gone ahead and lifted all restrictions, but most still have some restrictions in place, particularly when it comes to people who are unvaccinated. For instance, the United Kingdom and Ireland have lifted most of their measures. However, in France, only fully vaccinated travellers can arrive in the country without having to be tested, and those without proof of vaccination must show a negative test upon arrival. In the U.S., our biggest partner, travellers must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country. It is the same in Spain.
    No matter what standard of comparison we use, I think that it is reasonable to say that so far, Canada has followed the science and public health advice on what should be done to protect the public. However, if anyone asked me whether the government has managed the borders properly since the start of the pandemic, I would instantly answer no.
    I refer to what my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue said about the Auditor General's comments on border management over the last 27 months. There is a pretty long list of things that did not go well: a lack of border testing; a failure to respond properly to emerging new variants; a lack of quarantines during peak waves; a lack of service in French from testing companies; a lack of coordination with hotels to provide accommodation for quarantining travellers, and members will recall that the chaotic quarantine situation at hotels made the headlines several times; delays in getting test results, as many people took a test and sent it in, but never got the result, leaving them unsure about their status; no follow-up for travellers who complied with their quarantine; and a lack of staff to enforce the requirement to quarantine at home.
    I am not even going to delve into the passport saga because I will run out of time. Passport Canada is in total chaos right now. Call volumes have doubled or tripled because, as I said, people are itching to travel again. They realize that their passport expired and want it renewed quickly, but that is impossible because there is not enough staff. The fact that the government decided to keep these offices shut for so long, while public servants worked from home as a precaution, may also explain the current situation. In some cases, the government waited until May 17 to call employees back to work to open service points. This could have happened more quickly, considering that it has been demonstrated that certain businesses and service points could provide services to the public without endangering the workers. This government's failure to be proactive could very well explain this whole thing.
    Unfortunately, we are experiencing a labour shortage, which is why I do not fully agree with all the points raised in the Conservative Party's motion.
    As I said a little earlier when I asked the parliamentary secretary a question, I think we could work out a compromise instead of demanding the immediate lifting of all health measures, even it it is stressful to arrive at the airport and have to wait, and even if we are fed up with all that. We were very happy in Quebec when the mask mandate was lifted last week. I think it is still important to listen to and respect what public health experts are telling us.
    I believe that the government could come up with a plan for gradually lifting the health measures. The Bloc Québécois will therefore be moving an amendment to the member for Thornhill's motion to ensure that we can find common ground.

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, I wonder what my colleague tells her community when she is asked why the health measures at Canada's airports are different from those in other countries.
    Is she aware of specific government health advice suggesting that the health measures are still effective?
    Mr. Speaker, I think it is difficult to make comparisons, even within Canada. The provinces did not all have the same measures in place. Quebec was the last to lift the mask mandate. I think that it really listened to Quebeckers, while monitoring the number of cases and the number of deaths. Although these numbers are dropping, they are still high.
    If we had lifted the mask mandate and other measures too quickly, we might have faced another wave. That was the case in recent months; each time we thought we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, another wave hit. I think we need to listen to what public health has to say. To a certain extent, that is what the government did. Is an update needed? Yes, absolutely. I think that we have reached that point. However, that is different from saying we need to lift all measures right now. I think it is a bit too soon, despite the fact that, as I mentioned, we are all tired of the measures.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would have loved to hear the member for Thornhill answer the question the member concluded her speech with, which was about whether or not the Conservatives are open to the idea of gradually phasing in some kind of plan.
    I am wondering if my colleague from the Bloc can comment on that. If such a plan were to be developed, would she expect it to be done in close consultation with public health officials so that it comes from a place of science and proper data and they inform the concept she is recommending?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I think it is absolutely necessary to do that, not only in consultation with the experts, but also by listening to what the experts have to say. That is what we have done in recent months.
    I will take the liberty of comparing Canada’s management with Quebec’s. The Quebec government held almost daily press conferences to explain the situation, the next steps and the reasons why some measures needed to remain in place, while providing assurance that the situation could gradually get better. I saw less of that at the federal level. There is a lot of uncertainty among the public, and people keep asking for clear information.
    We still witnessed a wave of solidarity: 83% of Quebecers are vaccinated, compared to approximately 82% of Canadians. These are great numbers relative to other countries. People made the effort, and what the government owes them in return is a bit of transparency and a long-term vision. It would be nice to give the public that.

  (1140)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked a bit about transparency and sharing information. Just recently, I asked the parliamentary secretary a pretty straightforward question about a review that is under way. I asked when that review will be completed and how the information from that review will be shared with the Canadian public. She answered with the same old mantra that had nothing to do with the question.
    Does the hon. member agree with me that this sort of mantra-based public policy actually erodes public trust at a time when we need to be strengthening it more than ever?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I think that we need to set an example and show solidarity as elected members. We can sympathize with our constituents, tell them we understand the problems they face and that we, too, are tired of it all.
    Spreading information that is not necessarily wrong but that is completely different on one side and the other divides people or, in any case, certainly does not unite them. It might not be the best way to handle things.
    If we had a somewhat less partisan approach based on the opinion of public health experts, I think it would benefit everyone.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by telling my colleague from Thornhill that I think she is a very dynamic person and that I think highly of her. I hope she will not take offence at the comments I am about to make.
    On the last Bloc opposition day, my Conservative colleagues talked a lot about the relevance of our motion, which had to do with prayer. They wondered why we had raised that subject at a time when no one was talking about prayer and when, in their opinion, we should have been talking about inflation and gas prices.
    I am therefore surprised that my Conservative colleagues have not put forward any motions on gas prices or inflation on their last two opposition days. I do not hold it against them, but I would like to do the same for them. I may not talk about the relevance of their motion, but I would like to talk about their intent. What is my Conservative colleagues' intention? What is motivating them today to call on the government to immediately revert to pre‑pandemic rules and service levels for travel?
    First, I believe that, before we can immediately revert to prepandemic rules, we must necessarily rely on public health guidance. Here, I would like to make a first distinction. On the one hand, there is the science and public health objectives, which involve establishing truths that are sometimes difficult to establish, especially during a pandemic. On the other hand, there is political partisanship or the desire to promote a political ideology, which often involves advancing a political agenda.
    In my view, the purpose of the motion before us today is to advance the political agenda of the Conservatives rather than really determining whether the public health situation permits a full reopening and the lifting of certain measures.
     I do not want to hurt the feelings of my Conservative friends, because, after all, I am a caring person. That said, the reason why I am talking about the Conservative political agenda is because I think that there is a phenomenon that is plaguing my Conservatives colleagues, and that is populism. There seems to be a form of populism embedded in Conservative Party rhetoric, and the proof of that is in the favourite topics of the member for Carleton, whom I admire. In the cut and thrust of debate, the member for Carleton is exciting and interesting, and we want to hear him, but, unfortunately, the issues that he brings up often relate to some form of populism. I am thinking of all his speeches about the need to take back control of our lives. I will come back to that later.
    I do not know what other people are going through, but I for one have not lost control of my life. I may have lost control of my weight, but sooner or later I will be able to get that back under control. However, I have not lost control of my life.
    I am also thinking of that word “justinflation” that the member for Carleton is always mentioning, and, of course, his rhetoric about freedom. Shouting “freedom” four or five times does not necessarily imply an understanding of that concept. I could refer to some concepts of freedom—

  (1145)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I very much enjoy the speech that is being given, so I regret to interrupt, but the member did refer to a term that, at least in English, you have ruled to be out of order, and that is using the Prime Minister's name in conjunction with the word “inflation”. At least, through the translation, it came across in the way it is regularly used.
    Perhaps the member could rephrase that.

[Translation]

    I believe we have already said a few times that that word is not allowed in the House.
    The hon. member for Jonquière may continue.
    Mr. Speaker, that was a judicious intervention. I apologize for offending my colleague. It is an unflattering play on the word inflation and the Prime Minister's name that I feel conveys that populism.
    Before I go on, I would like to define the word “populism”. Generally speaking, it is a style of politics that divides by attempting to simplify issues and amplify antagonism. It is us versus them. In this particular case, there are travellers on one side and the government on the other. A simplistic interpretation is that the government is preventing travellers from moving freely and that all it has to do is change the rules to solve the problem. That is simplistic because we know this is a public health issue.
    When we talk about populism, we can also say that we are talking about personalized speech and behaviour that relies on rhetoric that combines utopia and demagoguery. In an ideal world, we are not affected by the pandemic. It does not affect us, and everyone can come and go as they please. If we were to take a demagogic approach, we would say that all of the border crossings can be reopened tomorrow morning, and there will be no problems. Generally, this sort of thing is done to pander to the people and pit them against the elite. The travellers, the people, the truckers, to use a term dear to my colleague from Carleton, have a view of society that is against the elite. That is populism.
    Populists usually condemn institutions that do not sufficiently consider the public's aspirations. The government and public health do not care about the aspirations of the average person. Populists characterize political opponents as elites who care very little about the ideas of the people and popular common sense. Generally, when it comes to populism, the truth is in popular common sense.
    That sets the table for a debate which, in my opinion, is a perfect example of what is wrong with politics today: the democracy of opinion. Those of us who know a bit about philosophy make that distinction. On the one hand there is opinion and doxa and, on the other, episteme, the sciences. Opinion is based on appearance. You say “it appears to me that,” without having checked the facts. On the other hand, science involves a deeper reflection.
    I feel that that is what today’s debate is about. Conservatives are saying that it appears that the measures in airports are far too restrictive and that we are further along in the pandemic, but they have not taken care to consult a public health expert.
    I said that I wanted to help my Conservative colleagues, who are poisoned by populism. I would like to cite Pierre Rosanvallon, an author I particularly like. When he speaks of populism, he says we must beware of the “threefold populist simplification”.
    I would like to explain what threefold simplification means using my friend and colleague from Carleton. First, according to Pierre Rosanvallon, there is political and sociological simplification, where “the people” is a defined homogeneous subject. Considering the people a defined homogenous subject is the same as saying “Canadians think that”; for example, all Canadians think that we should immediately lift all measures in airports. It defines the people as different from the elite, in other words, from other politicians who think differently, as if the people were a monolith. On the one hand, there are truckers and unvaccinated people and, on the other, a form of elite that is completely disconnected from reality and that is hostile to freedom.
    There is also, according to Pierre Rosanvallon, procedural and institutional simplification. This involves attacking institutions and politicians who think differently. I will give you an interesting example. My colleagues may have followed the debate between the hon. member for Carleton and Jean Charest. In the debate, my colleague from Carleton said to Jean Charest, “to hear you talk about law and order is a bit rich, given that your party, your [Quebec] Liberal Party, took a half-million dollars of illegal donations when you were the head of that party. The average trucker has more integrity in his pinky finger than you had in your entire...Liberal cabinet.”

  (1150)  

    We can see here that this is a populist discourse that attacks, in a manner of speaking, populist adversaries.
    Let us take this a bit further, and consider what we heard from the hon. member for Abbotsford, who finds that what our friend from Carleton is doing on cryptocurrency is entirely inconsequential. Moreover, in response to a recent direct attack on institutions by the hon. member for Carleton and his threat to dismiss the Governor of the Bank of Canada, the hon. member for Abbotsford said, “We lose some credibility when we do this. It is fair to ask questions, to demand solutions to the skyrocketing cost of living. But we also have to respect the institutions that have been granted independence to ensure that they function apart from political interference.”
    Members can then see a dynamic that reflects the lowest form of populism, which can even lead a member to call our colleague from Carleton to order.
    I will conclude by addressing simplification that arises from populism. The hon. member for Carleton said in the House, “We are going to give Canadians their freedom back and make them the authors of their own stories. That is the approach we will take as Conservatives. Everybody has their story, and the story that I am hearing right now is that people feel like they are losing control of their lives.”
    In my opinion, this is what is poisoning my Conservative colleagues in today’s debate: They want to make people believe that institutions are preventing them from taking control of their lives, and they are doing it to the detriment of science. It is a very dangerous game.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech, in which he took multiple shots at the concept of populism.
    I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the fact that hundreds of sovereignist voters in Quebec who vote for the Bloc Québécois often ask the same questions as Conservatives on issues like the vaccine mandate and airport management. There are a large number of Bloc supporters on social media who are asking the same questions Conservative voters do. Is asking questions strictly a Conservative trait, or do sovereignists do that too?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's thoughts were poorly expressed. A person can ask questions whether they are a member of the Bloc, a Conservative, a papist or whatever else, but those questions have to be rational. We need to listen to the science.
    You can please somebody by saying that global warming does not exist and that they can keep burning gas until the end of time and nothing will ever happen to them. I have people asking me about the price of gas, but I think it is important to be honest with them and answer them in a reasonable way.
    Populists do the opposite and present simple solutions to complex problems. A public health issue like COVID-19 is complex, so we cannot just propose a simple solution like lifting all restrictions. I often hear people calling for an end to the mandates, but that is completely irrational and does not follow the science. That is what I wanted to explain to my colleague.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to come back to the theme of the opposition motion before us today and ask my colleague a more philosophical question.
    In his opinion, from a scientific perspective, where does the burden of proof fall with regard to the effectiveness of public health measures? Does it fall on the government, who imposes those measures, or on those who challenge them? Does he think the burden of proof has been met?

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, I know that we need to listen to science, but pandemic science is not a monolith. There is not one united opinion and many experts disagree. It is up to the government to sift through the opinions, but it is certainly not required to base its decisions solely on the rumblings of some people who feel that their freedom is being violated by the restrictions on travel and on how we live our lives.
    We need to listen to what scientists are telling us. Not too long ago, people were told that smoking was good for their health; cigarettes were associated with sports. We need to keep listening to science, because if we only listen to our first instincts then our society would be more or less unsustainable.

[English]

    Uqaqtittiji, I wonder if the member for Jonquière agrees that to move away from populism and to unify Canadians, it is better to employ Canadians. Is it better to create and implement a plan to hire more screening officers to reduce wait times?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, one thing the evidence does show is that we need to increase screening measures. I agree with my colleague that all members in the House need to do some soul-searching and move away from populism, which is eating away at our democracy and plays too big of a role in our debates. I think that is the best short-term solution.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member's speech on populism was very interesting, but I want to talk about what was happening, for example, this weekend in Montreal and at the airport. It is hard for constituents to understand. When they go to the airport and realize they need a mask, they have to go back to get a mask, and then they go through all these checks that they do not normally have to go through. How does the member explain to his constituents why, when they are outside of the airport, they do not need a mask, because the Quebec government says it is safe, but inside the airport they do?

[Translation]

    What a mind-boggling question, Mr. Speaker. What does this mean? Does it mean that every restriction that people do not understand must be lifted? If someone wants to drive at 200 kilometres per hour because they think that they are a good driver, should we remove speed limits because this person does not understand that there are restrictions in society? I cannot believe that question.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise. I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Vancouver Kingsway this morning.
    It is a pleasure to rise and speak about the situation in our major airports, a situation that I think by now pretty much every Canadian across the country is familiar with. It is a situation that is chaotic, and it is a situation that is having real impacts on a lot of people.
    For over two years, Canadians were asked to put off travel plans. They could not visit family members; they missed major life events; they had to cancel long-awaited holidays; they could not travel to other parts of Canada or other parts of the world. People made significant sacrifices to protect each other, to protect their loved ones and to protect their communities. They helped buy time for frontline health workers before we had vaccines, and they kept it up when new variants emerged and threatened to derail our collective efforts. The vast majority of Canadians did their part, and for that they deserve our thanks.
    With many restrictions now lifted, people are excited to travel again, which is understandable, and they are returning to our airports in huge numbers. Last week, an average of 120,000 travellers went through our major airports each day. That is a huge number, but once at the airports, they are being stuck in long screening lines. Planes are stuck on the tarmac without passengers able to leave. People are missing flights, and much more. Of course, people are rightly frustrated by this situation. These delays are creating stress and anxiety for travellers and they need to be addressed. This situation was foreseeable. It has been going on for weeks and the government needs to fix it.
    Why is this happening? As we heard at the transport committee from the Canadian Airports Council, the biggest factor is staffing, especially the lack of screening personnel needed to move passengers through security. Screening capacity is a federal responsibility through the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA.
    Like many sectors of our economy, aspects of the air transport sector have struggled to rehire employees laid off earlier in the pandemic, and we have heard about that challenge in today's debate already. As the hospitality industry has experienced, some staff simply are not available to hire back because they have moved on to other positions with better work conditions, better compensation and better terms of employment. The minister needs to ensure that the terms of employment related to these positions, the positions at our airports that are needed to screen passengers, are adequate to attract and retain the skilled workforce that we need to ensure safe air travel for all those who fly.
    The other issue, of course, is the fact that the pandemic is still very much with us, and it is hard to maintain staffing levels when employees are catching COVID and leaving work because they are sick.
    The government should have been able to predict that these challenges would emerge. It should have hired sufficient staff, and if it struggled to find people to do the work, it should have reviewed the terms of those positions to ensure that they are competitive and able to attract and retain the people it needs.
    The Liberal government first announced it was relaxing travel restrictions on February 15, with mandatory arrival testing and quarantine scrapped at the end of February. Liberals were happy to go around saying how exciting it was that travel was back and Canada was reopening in time for the tourism season, but over three months have passed since those announcements, and it is clear that the government has not done enough to ensure that our airports are ready. Now Canadians are facing the consequences of the government's mismanagement and lack of preparedness. This was entirely avoidable. It should have been anticipated and it needs to be fixed.
    We have seen the same mishandling from the government with passport applications. I am sure everyone in the House has heard from constituents who are facing incredibly lengthy delays and long lines at Service Canada offices because the government failed to anticipate an increase in demand for travel when the restrictions were relaxed. The same folks who were left scrambling to get their passports on time a few weeks ago are now at the airport experiencing long lines at security screening. They are frustrated and anxious because of the delays they are seeing.

  (1200)  

    Instead of acknowledging the government’s failure to prepare, the transport minister had the audacity to blame the travellers themselves, saying that it was their lack of practice and the slowness with which they took the liquids out of their bags that were leading to these long delays at the airport. Frankly, that is offensive.
    Shifting to the riding I represent, I am particularly mindful of tourism operators in northwest B.C. and across Canada, who have looked forward to a season of welcoming back clientele from across Canada and around the world. I think of operators in the Bulkley Valley, the Bella Coola Valley, Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert. They are looking forward to finally getting their business back, and the last thing they need is their clients hearing that travelling to Canada is a hassle because of the delays at our airports. That is going to hurt the tourism business right across Canada, and it needs to be addressed.
    The Conservatives have brought this forward because they see a very particular opportunity in this crisis, which is the opportunity to once again try their hand at removing every health measure, every restriction and every tool we have to protect Canadians and safeguard our country against future waves of the virus. We disagree with that approach.
    We disagree because the pandemic is still very much with us and because there are some public health measures, we believe, that are likely still advisable for the ongoing protection of Canadians and the detection of the virus at our border. Most of all, we disagree because we believe important public health measures should be informed by public health science, not by politics.
    The motion before us makes the claim that Canada’s international allies are removing all travel restrictions. Simply put, that is not the case. Just to the south of us, the United States still requires a predeparture COVID test. That is more restrictive than here in Canada. Almost every country requires proof of vaccination to enter. Saying that our international allies are lifting all restrictions is simply not accurate.
    We have an opportunity to strike a balance between enabling the mobility of Canadians and keeping in place tools that allow us to respond to future public health threats. The question is, do the current pandemic travel measures strike the right balance? Are they defensible? Are they based on the best available evidence? How are they better than other, similar measures that have been proposed as alternatives? This is where the blame goes back to the Liberal government, which has been less than forthcoming of late when it comes to these pandemic measures.
    In fact, the NDP wrote to Dr. Tam in March and called on her to conduct a full re-evaluation of Canada’s pandemic measures and report back to Canadians. The letter from the member for Vancouver Kingsway and the member for Elmwood—Transcona simply highlighted that creating trust in public health measures requires explaining the arguments and sharing the evidence on which they are based.
    I have asked questions on this topic in this very debate today. I have asked the government to tell us when it will be reporting back from its review and how that information will be shared with Canadians, yet we do not get a response.
    The questions are growing. Just last week, infectious disease expert Dr. Zain Chagla from McMaster University published an article stating that, in his view, Canada’s “current rules for travel do not make sense”. A few days ago, a Globe and Mail editorial asked whether the measures in place are still needed.
    The government needs to be more transparent with Canadians about the evidence behind any remaining public health measures. It needs to clearly communicate the data and the science informing these decisions. The government needs to stand up and answer. The truth is that it has become less transparent and less forthcoming precisely at a time in the pandemic when the public needs answers more than ever.
    It was not always this way. We remember the beginning of the pandemic, when Canadians received in-depth explanations of every measure and the evidence justifying it. The result was high public trust, high compliance with restrictions and guidelines, and a sense that we were all pulling in the same direction.
    The situation at the airports is frustrating. People who are having their travel plans cancelled are under extreme stress. The government should have seen this coming and it should have fixed it. We need more answers and more transparency from the Liberal government.

  (1205)  

    Madam Speaker, I know my colleague was dissatisfied with my response to his previous question about reviewing public health measures at airports. I would like to clarify that a review of measures is ongoing and constant. Health Canada is always reassessing the latest public health data to better dictate our decision-making at airports. There is no completion date, as this is ongoing. It will also likely vary depending upon the scientific measure: vaccine mandates, masking, random testing, etc.
    What would my colleague do differently? Would he set an arbitrary date for when measures should be lifted, or should it be as soon as possible as new data is assessed?
    Madam Speaker, a review that has no terms of reference, no scope identified, no timeline and no date on which the results will be reported back to the public really is not a review at all. To say that things are constantly being reviewed really undermines the whole concept of having something called a “review”, which most Canadians understand to be a process that has a start and finish and a process through which results are communicated.
    The parliamentary secretary said some things that I do agree with, one of which is that we need this to be based on science, but we need the government to be instilling public trust by providing answers to the basic questions. These are reasonable questions that, in fact, public health experts themselves are asking, and Canadians deserve answers.

  (1210)  

    Madam Speaker, for many things, the member and I have some agreement on. He talked about foreseeable and anticipated aspects of things, and he is right. Being proactive is one thing the government has failed to do.
    One of the comments the member made was that, unfortunately, people who were in line three weeks ago for their passports have not gotten them. They are not even in line at airports at this point in time.
     The member also talked a bit about evidence and science, which are very important and are in my background. Ultimately, my question for him, because I have not gotten a clear answer from him, is this. Does he not feel that evidence and science should be presented to Canadians today and that a plan based on them should be put forward to Canadians today?
    Madam Speaker, I am not an infectious diseases expert, and many of us in this place are not, so I will go back to the basic principle that the government has a responsibility to communicate the basic rationale for the measures that it puts in place in a way that Canadians understand. It should also respond to the independent public health experts, who have asked very rational and important questions. That is how we build public trust at a time when we need it more than ever. The reality is that unfortunately at this juncture in the pandemic, public trust is at a very low level. We need to correct that and we do that through transparency and communication.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, since I have been in the House, I have often seen the Conservatives add something to the wording of their motion that makes it so that that only they will vote in favour of it, since it includes inaccurate information.
    It says here that, “Canada's international allies have moved to lift COVID-19 restrictions”, when one of the worst infection hot spots on the planet has been our neighbour to the south, with whom we share one of the longest borders in the world and who has not lifted restrictions at all.
    I would like to hear my colleague's comments about that being added to the motion when the Conservatives are looking for everyone's support.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague, the member for Montcalm, makes a great point. It is one that I made earlier today, and I agree with him wholeheartedly.
    To the premise of his question, the idea that there are things in the motion that are unsupportable simply because they are inaccurate and false is really a challenge. We have three opposition parties on this side of the House that I think agree on many aspects of this debate. If we had gotten together, established where that agreement lies and put forward a motion that really holds the government to account and calls for things that are rational, defensible and evidence-based, we could have made some real progress. It is sad that this is not the case.
    Madam Speaker, as always, it is a privilege to rise in the House to speak to important issues of the day, not only on behalf of the great people of Vancouver Kingsway, but on behalf of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    I want to start with an observation. As health critic for the New Democratic Party of Canada, I have had a front-row seat to the issues, unfortunately, since the beginning of this pandemic, having sat on the health committee way back in 2019 to 2020 when COVID-19 first emerged. One thing I can say for sure over the last two-and-a-half years of policy for COVID-19 is that Canadians are never well served when any political party plays politics with the pandemic. I think we have seen that practised by the government at various times. In fact, government members themselves have publicly stated that their own government has sought to use the pandemic and abuse the pandemic for partisan political purposes. I think we see it here today.
     Any time that politicians prey on frustration, ignore science and data, use partial facts or misleading statements and practise poor public health policy, Canadians are not well served. I regret to say to the House today that this motion really has all of that. As my great colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley just stated, this motion does contain some things that are true, but unfortunately it also contains some statements and conclusions that are dangerously false.
     It is interesting to me that this motion was introduced by the Conservative transport critic, not the health critic. As the underlying issue here is public health policy and the pandemic, that speaks volumes about the motivation behind this, because the motion ignores fundamental truths and facts from the health world and attempts to exploit the frustration of travellers to result in what would be an incredibly ill-advised health policy decision.
    I want to start with some things I agree with. I agree that the vaccine mandate ought to be questioned and replaced if it proves ineffective. There is growing and significant evidence that there is little impact of vaccination on the ability to transmit the virus, at least post-omicron. It is also the case that Canadian public policy has failed and continues to fail to recognize infection-acquired immunity. There is overwhelming evidence that infection-acquired immunity is real. There is substantial evidence that it is as strong and durable as immunity achieved from vaccination, and perhaps even more so.
    Countries such as Austria have recognized this for many months. Citizens in that country can access public facilities and services by proving they are vaccinated, as we require in Canada, but if they can produce serology tests that prove they have been exposed to COVID and recovered, that is accepted as well, because it is basic vaccinology 101 that no matter how we recover from an infection and how our bodies produce antibodies, it has the same result.
    Those two facts suggest that disallowing unvaccinated Canadians, particularly those who have been exposed to COVID and recovered from travelling, may not be science-based any longer. That, to me, should be explored and changed based on data and evidence. In fact, I have spoken to many constituents, as recently as last night, who question the vaccine mandate policy today in light of the mounting evidence.
    Unfortunately, that is not what this motion before us states. It goes far beyond that to indefensible and unsafe areas. It wants us to agree that we should revert to all prepandemic rules. The motion says:
the House call on the government to immediately revert to pre-pandemic rules and service levels for travel.

  (1215)  

    That is completely irresponsible and belied by the science. For example, requiring foreign travellers arriving in Canada to be vaccinated is absolutely still necessary for one major reason, among others: to protect our strained health care system so that travellers do not get sick and clog up our ICUs. It is still the case, as we know, that being vaccinated significantly reduces one's chance of becoming seriously ill or dying.
    Here is another example. Mask mandates are probably the single most effective measure we have for helping to reduce the spread of airborne viruses. This is especially the case in crowded indoor places, where physical distancing is not possible. I would venture to say that airplane cabins are, perhaps, the quintessential example of this, yet this motion introduced by the Conservatives states we should have no rules in this regard.
    Every single expert who has appeared at HESA and been questioned on this issue has agreed that we need to maintain masks as a precaution. Not a single one has said it is wise or time to abandon them, yet the motion and the Conservatives ignore this fact. It is only common sense.
    We know COVID is spread in aerosolized fashion as a respiratory illness. It is well established that masks help to stop the spread of such viruses. It is no surprise that the Conservatives would ignore that fact, as they continue to refuse every day, and in fact today, to wear masks in the House, a crowded indoor place, despite public health advice to do so—
    An hon. member: Why aren't you speaking with one?
    Mr. Don Davies: Madam Speaker, someone asked why I am not wearing one. We take masks off when we speak, and they know that. It is for the interpreters. The Conservatives understand that, but the fact that they would heckle on that point shows how bereft of rationality and evidence they really are.
    Again, this motion calls for the policy to immediately revert to prepandemic rules. That assumes things have returned to normal. Like every Canadian, I wish that were so, but it is not. This motion presumes to refer to experts, but not one epidemiologist or public health expert has testified at the health committee that we are in an endemic phase. The Conservatives know that or they should know that.
    I predict there is a high probability we will see a resurgence, perhaps a seventh wave, in the fall. Why? It is because nothing has changed. The virus is still present, mutations are occurring, the omicron BA.2 variant is still in circulation and there is detection of others, including something called the “deltacron” variant.
    Vaccination in the developing world is still shamefully behind. We know vaccine efficacy wanes, and it does not prevent infection. Sloppy habits, like the Conservatives refusing to wear masks in crowded indoor rooms like this one, help contribute to the spread of airborne respiratory illnesses.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Don Davies: Madam Speaker, I hear the Conservatives laughing at that. Maybe they should go back to medical school and take a beginner's course in virology.
    This motion also attempts to blame the problems of Canadian airports on public health rules. This fundamentally misunderstands what is happening.
    The core problem is that there are few flights due to reduced traffic and, more importantly, reduced staffing due to the shortages of workers, especially in security and baggage handling. The causes of this are poor pay, poor hours, shift work and poor working conditions. Airports are having trouble attracting workers back to work because of these things.
    Did I say that? No. People in the airline industry say that, yet the Conservatives vote against every attempt to improve workers' conditions. They will not raise minimum wages, they oppose better unionization rules, they fight occupational health and safety improvements and they even wanted workers to work until they were 67 years old before they could retire, which would be especially hard on blue collar workers, who find physical work and shift work more difficult as they age.
    If we want to do something to help workers and get airports flying better, let us get improved conditions for workers in every airport in this condition. We are never going to get that from the Conservatives, but we will get that from New Democrats.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, I think the member hit the nail on the head. It is pretty clear that he was getting under the skin of the Conservatives, because they could not stop heckling him.
    He raises a really interesting point in his discussion, and I was thinking about it. When it comes to the Conservatives' approach to vaccines, they have always taken the approach that the vaccine only has to do with them: It is their choice because it only has to do with them. In reality, the science behind vaccines is really about not just the individual, but how a community is affected by individuals making a choice.
    I am wondering if the member could comment on the importance of vaccines as it relates to communities as a whole and protecting an entire population, as opposed to this just being about an individual.
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague raises a very poignant and, I think, foundational point, which is that, when we engage in breaking new ground and experiencing something as unprecedented as a global pandemic, it will raise very difficult public policy issues concerning the rights of individuals versus the protection of public health.
    That is why playing politics with a pandemic is so harmful and dangerous. Seeking to exploit an individual sense of grievance and frustration at the risk of public health absolutely ought to be rejected by any right-thinking person in the House and in Canada. We need to find that balance but, first and foremost, we have to always remember that public health rules are meant to protect the public, and we should only craft them, lift them, remove them or put them into place when the science and data supports that, not when politicians such as the Conservatives try to exploit people's frustrations.

  (1225)  

    Madam Speaker, what is pretty clear is that the NDP is parroting the Liberals. They are hand in hand. The member is talking about science, but the health authority where he is from, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, has publicly provided documentation that vaccines do not make any difference as far as a person being able to transmit COVID, and they do not make any difference as far as protecting someone from being able to get COVID. There is no difference.
    Maybe the member should do research to see what his own health authority says and what Bonnie Henry has also said about transmitting and getting COVID. On this side, we are following the science.
    Madam Speaker, I think the essence of science and research is to listen. If he were listening, my hon. colleague would have heard me quote in my speech research that shows that being vaccinated now appears not to have any significant impact on preventing or transmitting COVID. I said that in my speech. Had he been paying attention, he probably would have caught that.
    That is why I think it is so vital that we base public policy decisions on science, and on a rational, calm and data-based review of the current evidence. It is only by doing this that we will keep Canadians safe.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Vancouver Kingsway for his speech. I serve with him on the Standing Committee on Health, and what he said about the science is absolutely correct.
    It is clear that vaccination still protects against developing the serious form of the disease, which is why we must protect our health care systems. That is the main thing.
    However, does he not think that the government should eventually, for the sake of the tourism industry, present a progressive plan to lift the measures, even though we know full well that we are not in the endemic phase since the planet is not vaccinated?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to also say what a pleasure it is to sit on the health committee with my hon. colleague from Montcalm. I appreciate his contributions there and in the House.
    I absolutely agree with the need to recognize the horrific impact that COVID has had on the Canadian economy and, in particular, industries such as tourism and hospitality. I get letters about that constantly, and I think we absolutely have to have effective measures that are based on public health and only based on rational data and science.
    I do agree—
    Unfortunately, we have to resume debate.
    The hon. member for Niagara Falls.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for South Surrey—White Rock.
    It is an honour for me to rise in my place today to speak about a pressing issue facing Canadians and international travellers entering and exiting through Canada's various ports of entry, including airports, land border crossings, bridge border crossings and even CBSA marine reporting sites for small vessels.
    My hon. colleague from Thornhill has brought forward an excellent and timely motion today, one which I will be fully supporting. Ultimately, it calls on the government “to immediately revert to pre-pandemic rules and service levels for travel.” In short, the Liberal government's outdated COVID-19 protocols at airports and other international ports of entry are causing extreme delays, lineups, bottlenecks and missed connections. Worst of all, they are acting as a disincentive for those wishing to travel to Canada.
    While the focus of our opposition motion today is on airports, it is very important and relevant that other international ports of entry are mentioned and included as well, because they are all connected in our economic ecosystem. These ports of entry support businesses and economic opportunities in many sectors, including tourism, which is very important in my riding, as we have the city of Niagara Falls and the towns of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie.
     My Niagara Falls riding has four international bridge crossings. They are managed by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission and the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, respectively. These are the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge and the Peace Bridge. All have been hit hard by the two-year pandemic, and the federal government has done nothing to support these bridges, despite the heavy hardship of lost traffic due to extended border closures.
    One of the biggest issues I hear about at our international bridge crossings is that of backlogs and delays being caused by the ArriveCAN app. In an email from March 24, 2022, the general manager of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority warned local politicians that their analysis showed the continued mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app would result in much longer processing times and lengthy border waits, which would significantly depress cross-border traffic at a time when we were moving into the 2022 summer tourism summer season.
    Fast forward two months, and here we are. His prediction was right. I raised this issue with the federal government as soon as I could. What did it do to prepare for these border backlogs? It doubled down and decided to spend $25 million more in budget 2022 to continue to support the mandatory use of this application.
    Along my border community riding, there are also a number of CBSA marine reporting sites for small vessels. They include the Niagara-on-the-Lake Sailing Club, the Smugglers Cove Boat Club, the Greater Niagara Boating Club, Miller's Creek Marina, Bertie Boating Club, and the Buffalo Canoe Club, amongst others. Out of all these sites I just listed, only one is operational. Miller's Creek in the upper Niagara River and Fort Erie is open, but all the other sites are closed.
    Members can imagine, if someone is boating on the lower Niagara River in Niagara-on-the-Lake, they would have to travel all the way to Port Weller in St. Catharines to report in with CBSA. If they are on the upper Niagara River but closer to Chippawa and Niagara Falls, then they have to travel all the way to Fort Erie and all the way back just to report in with CBSA. This adds many kilometres to a voyage and is a huge waste of time and money for boaters, especially as fuel prices skyrocket to record highs.
    These closures are a huge issue for local recreational boaters, especially as we approach the May long weekend and enter the summer boating season. We need the government to reopen all sites immediately. There is no time to waste.
    Tourist businesses in my riding were hit first. They were hit the hardest, and they will take the longest to recover from COVID-19. The effect these failing Liberal policies are having on our boaters will only make recovery take that much longer. Tourist businesses in Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie depend on domestic and international visitors travelling to our communities, spending their time and dollars and enjoying all that Niagara has to offer. The operation of attractions, historic sites, restaurants, wineries, craft breweries, cideries, casinos and many other businesses depend on this visitation.
    In communities such as Niagara, international visitation is important. While they make up approximately 25% of our total visitor base, these international visitors account for over 50% of the dollars spent in our tourism communities. This spend helps support over 40,000 jobs that are reliant on a strong tourism industry, which we had in Niagara before this pandemic. That is why it is essential we welcome back our international friends, guests and visitors. That starts by giving them a great, quick and efficient experience at our international ports of entry.

  (1230)  

    No one is going to choose Canada as a travel vacation destination if they have to risk waiting hours upon hours in stressful and frustrating lineups at an airport or a border crossing. Economic damage and missed opportunities are already being incurred. As the world reopens from COVID and other countries lift their restrictions, Canada looks to be stuck in the past and out of touch with reality. For example, the European Union and the United States have dropped their mask mandates for passengers on flights and in airports.
    As countries around the world are reducing red tape and making it easier for citizens to travel again, the Liberals in Ottawa continue to impose their outdated and unjustified mandates, which are leading to longer lines and a slower recovery. As an example, fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Canada are still subjected to random COVID-19 testing, and in some cases, these travellers are not even told they have been selected until they get a surprise automated phone call or email a few days later from Switch Health.
    This happened to Kathryn and her daughter, two constituents of mine. On May 10, they had an uneventful Nexus border crossing at the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia. They were never informed that they were selected for random testing, nor were they given a random test on their exit from their Nexus inspection. Three days later, they received multiple phone calls and emails from Switch Health warning them to get a day-one random test or else risk contravening a public health order with severe penalties, including fines upwards of tens of thousands of dollars and mandatory quarantine. It seems illogical for people to be told they have to take a random test and then wait for Switch Health to send it to them by courier so they can complete it a few days, if not weeks, later. How is this in the best public health interest of Canadians? Simply put, the incompetence of the government knows no bounds.
    Many experts have called for the end of these ridiculous requirements. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has called for a step back to improve regulations in order for Canada to become more competitive. The president of the Canadian Airports Council has called for the removal of legacy public health protocols, noting that mandatory testing is leading to bottlenecks and hurting Canada's competitiveness. These requirements are stifling our hard-hit tourism industry and are leading to long delays for Canadians just looking to travel after a long two years of obeying government-induced lockdown measures.
    All of these terrible travel experiences at our airports and border crossings are hurting Canada's economy, competitiveness and international global reputation as a top tourist destination. Since the world started reopening months ago, Canada has lagged far behind our international tourism destination competitors due to these bad federal government policies. On a scale this large, every port of entry across our country is negatively impacted, and this ripple effect negatively impacts every riding of the House of Commons, especially those, like Niagara Falls, that depend on tourism as a major economic driver. We all benefit from a strong tourism industry, and we all lose when it is weak and chaotic, like it is now.
    After two long years of government shutdowns, lockdowns, border closures and stringent travel restrictions, many tourist businesses in my riding are counting on a significant rebound this summer. Unfortunately, due to these travel measures and issues at airports and borders, government policy is working to stifle, rather than support, an urgently needed recovery in our tourism economy in 2022. Through their lack of preparedness to keep Canadians safe and preserve our economic best interests, the Liberals and NDP are abdicating their responsibility to govern.
    In my opinion, before COVID, Canada was the best place to visit and vacation. We can get back to being the best, and we should strive for nothing less, but we have a lot of work ahead of us, and it starts with objective of this motion, which is to get the federal government to immediately revert to prepandemic rules and service levels for travel. Niagara badly needs to achieve economic recovery this summer, and that is simply not going to happen if ArriveCAN and other federal travel and health restrictions continue at our airports and borders. It seems as though everyone wants to achieve economic recovery from this pandemic and a return to normalcy, everyone except the Liberal-NDP government, but it should know there is still time to save the 2022 tourism season if it acts quickly, and it should start by supporting today's common sense and timely motion.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, how fortunate the Conservative Party is. After all, it has the member for Carleton. The member for Carleton is better than the health experts or science. He has made the proclamation that we do not need to have mandates at airports. In fact, he has been talking about getting rid of mandates for months now.
    Now we have the Conservative Party abiding by one who could be the future leader of the Conservative Party, who has made the decision that mandates are no longer required, even though the Province of Quebec only recently lifted the wearing of masks. Does the member opposite have more faith in the member for Carleton than he does in science and health experts?
    Madam Speaker, during this pandemic we have asked the current government to share the data and to share the science. It has continued to refuse to do so over two years.
    Going back to just this February, Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph's hospital in Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University, said that singling out travel for COVID‑19 testing “does not make any sense” since it is no riskier than any other activities. These are other stakeholders. The Canadian Tourism and Travel Roundtable has said that it is time to end and move back these harmful restrictions. They are hurting tourism. They are hurting the 40,000 people in my riding who depend on it.

  (1240)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, on the one hand, we see that the Conservatives tend to question all health measures and cozy up to anti-vaxxers. On the other hand, we see that the Liberals do the opposite and tend to provoke anti-vaxxers.
    I would like to know whether my colleague would be open to an amendment to the proposal: Rather than having the measures be lifted “immediately”, they could be lifted “gradually”.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am here today to speak on behalf of my constituents: the 40,000 people who work in the tourism sector. Situations like ArriveCAN are harming the tourism industry. There is no need for the tourism sector to continue to arrive at situations that disincentivize travel.
    The federal government has ended all support programs for the tourism sector, and this past budget contained no support for the tourism sector. It has tied the tourism sector's hands behind its back. It should allow it to do what it does best, which is to welcome people from throughout the world to enjoy all that Niagara has to offer. It is time to do so.
    Madam Speaker, through you, I want to ask the hon. member this. There are countries and allies, such as the U.K., that have entirely removed their border measures and restrictions, yet have witnessed similar scenes at airports that we are witnessing and that the hon. member and many members across the aisle have mentioned today. They have long delays. They have missed flights. Can he explain why that is the case if they have removed those measures? Why is that the situation in the U.K.?
    Madam Speaker, to respond to the member's question, I think one of her colleagues mentioned the lack of preparation on behalf of the current government. It is not prepared for this time. It has had two years. During COVID, it hired thousands of workers, so why is it that we are facing these lineups? Our constituents should not be facing lineups at the passport office, or with border services agents or at Service Canada offices. This should not be happening. Why is it, when the federal government has workers who could be servicing Canadians at home? Why did it fire thousands of government workers? Let us bring them back to work to do what they do best, which is helping Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, I am curious. As the member goes into the summer tourism season, and as we see U.S. border protections being reduced by 20%, and as we see a lack of Canadian customs officials in place at this point in time, and as we see the lineups that keep getting longer at every border as travel increases, how is that going to impact his tourism sector and his riding in general?
    Madam Speaker, earlier I mentioned the general manager from the Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority. He wrote to us on May 10 and shared some statistics that are staggering. Even after COVID testing requirements to enter Canada were lifted on April 1, auto traffic for the month of April was down 52% at the bridges of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission and 43% at the Peace Bridge compared with prepandemic—
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock.
    Madam Speaker, almost every week, I have the privilege of travelling across this great country, from Vancouver to Ottawa and back. With a three-hour time zone difference, it is basically a day in travel each way. It can be a tiring part of a cross-country commute job, as it would be for any Canadian, but now it is gruelling. I am witnessing first-hand the Liberal government's outdated COVID-19 protocols at airports. They are causing extreme delays, lineups, bottlenecks and missed connections.
    Travellers are frustrated and unhappy. They can watch a hockey game with thousands in an arena without a mask, but must wear that mask on a flight in between Canadian destinations, and in and out of Canada, with sometimes well over 150 other people. It is not rational or even logical.
    The European Union and the United States have both dropped their mask mandates for passengers on flights and in airports. Meanwhile, travellers arriving in Canada are still being subjected to random COVID-19 testing and must answer personal, private health questions on the ArriveCAN app. Why is Canada's science different from the science followed by many of our international allies?
    These unnecessary protocols are causing severe delays at Canadian airports. Customs has become so backed up that there is not enough physical space to hold the lineups, leaving passengers stuck on planes for over 75 minutes. I recently had the experience, on my Washington trip with the Minister of National Defence, of having to deal with the ArriveCAN app. Imagine seniors like me dealing with the issues on this app when trying to come home.
    Every airport and airline is complaining that it is severely understaffed in all aspects. At YVR on Sunday, there is now a sign at the screening entrance stating, “Limited capacity due to staff shortages”.
    Bags are not making the transfers between flights if a person has a layover in Toronto, despite long layovers. Security lines are ridiculously long. They do not have enough staff to open all the scanner lines, despite having the traveller traffic to warrant that level of operation. Meanwhile, airlines are ramping up their schedules very slowly, because they simply do not have the staff to service that many flights. I was told by one airport employee that Toronto's Pearson alone is 600 staff short. This means that if a person checks a bag and it gets on the flight, but the person does not make it because they are stuck in security, they may not see that bag for a long time. It may be days. Then, when the person misses that flight because security lines are so long, they cannot get another flight for several hours or they get one with a long, multi-hour layover.
    Vancouver, like most international airports, has standard and express security lines, but even the express line was taking over one and a half hours last weekend, with people lined up way down to the international check-in areas. That means, for domestic flights, which usually recommend being at the airport 90 minutes in advance, we now need to allow for arriving two hours or more in advance to get our bags checked and through security on time.
    Staff at the airports are so overworked and confused, with scarce resources and so many flights, that they are sometimes giving travellers false information about flights being held for them when they are not. Not only do we have the frustration of waiting, but then we have the surprise of no flight at the end of the security check-in process. I cannot even imagine travelling with young kids and dealing with these major hurdles. At YVR on the weekend, I saw a very pregnant woman with three kids racing through the airport, because the screening had taken so long, and no one was helping her.
    It will come as no surprise to anyone in this place that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, or CATSA, is a federal Crown corporation responsible for all passenger security screening, and it is experiencing ongoing staffing shortages. CATSA said that it has been actively supporting its contractors to recruit and develop new staff. Screening resources are scheduled according to airline traffic.
    Prior to the pandemic, resources could be utilized across the board between domestic and international checkpoints due to staggered passenger peaks, but as air travel has recovered we are observing simultaneous peaks with passengers flooding more than one security checkpoint at a time. Because of uncertainty about baggage handling, passengers are also travelling with more carry-on bags, resulting in additional time required to process them at screening and creating storage issues on board.

  (1245)  

    A CBC News article stated:
    Mike McNaney, chief external affairs officer at the Vancouver International Airport, said an ongoing staffing shortage at the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) is contributing to the long lines and lengthy delays in processing passengers through security at the airport.
    He went on to say these were “delays that we have not seen here before and were worse than anything that we have previously experienced throughout the pandemic.”
    Anyone travelling even domestically knows this to be true.
    The article continued:
    He said the airport has been welcoming about 45,000 passengers per day and they expect that number to increase with the busy upcoming summer travel season.
    He added there are “serious concerns about the summer schedule, when the demand will increase”, and whether CATSA even has a management plan, short and long-term, to address the challenges.
    The aviation and tourism industry in Canada has been hit hard. We need to be supporting economic recovery in Canada instead of needlessly restricting travel. Airports are facing major staffing issues that the government is refusing to remedy.
    CATSA itself said that at the beginning of the pandemic it employed 7,400 screening agents. Today, there are only 6,500, despite travel increasing. Our global reputation as a top travel location is at risk.
    Recently, at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Mr. Robin Guy, who is a senior director with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, testified that the Canadian aviation and tourism industries were particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. We know this.
    He said:
    The myriad of public measures taken to dramatically stem the transmission of the virus has resulted in a decline in travel by...95% of 2019 levels. The protracted pandemic will result in Canada's airports losing more than $4.6 billion in revenue in 2020-21, and adding $3 billion in debt to stay open and maintain safe and secure operations....
    Prior to the pandemic, he said, Canada's airports contributed to major economic development. In 2016, those airports directly contributed $48 billion in economic output, $19 billion to GDP, almost 200,000 jobs and $13 billion in wages.
    The government must work with industry to address the challenges the sector faces as it rebuilds itself post pandemic. First, the government must review all regulations introduced during the pandemic. With high vaccination rates and an easing of most public health measures, these pandemic regulations are now outdated and no longer required. There are massive delays in processing passports and NEXUS that are being felt across the transportation system.
    Should a Canadian citizen renewing a passport really have to arrive in the middle of the night to wait and then still be told they did not make the top 10 list for processing?
    Second, we need to invest in our airports' infrastructure, technology and innovation. Low-traffic volumes over the past two years have meant airports delayed much-needed capital projects.
    We must recognize that air travel delivers a spectacular double-line benefit to the economy. Air travel is key to the travel and tourism industry, and that part of our national economy. Industry experts from a large variety of disciplines are calling on the government to abandon the travel restriction that causes numerous negative repercussions on our economy and international reputation.
    The Liberal government needs to ensure that passengers have a seamless experience from couch to cabin and check-in to arrival at Canada's airports. It is time for us to get with the times instead of selective and secretive Liberal science that is hampering Canadians' lives and their ability to see loved ones and their families.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, we have been hearing a great deal of what I would suggest is somewhat misleading information for Canadians coming from the Conservative Party. I will be addressing that shortly.
    Are the Conservatives actually suggesting we look at ways we could be cutting back on security measures? Is that what they are suggesting, either directly or indirectly? Around the world, we are seeing delays very similar to the ones we are experiencing here in Canada.
    Madam Speaker, it is hard for me to really understand that question, to be honest. I do not believe I said anything like that in my speech. We are not suggesting at all that security measures be lost. What we are saying is that they should be reasonable, logical, rational and based in science. If, as the Liberal government says, it has science to back up these ongoing restrictions that other countries are abandoning, then it should tell us what it is. It should tell us who it is listening to. It refuses to answer those questions.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, last week, the Conservatives and the Liberals criticized the Bloc Québécois on its opposition day, when it discussed dropping the prayer in the House of Commons. If I were a bad sport, I could also criticize this particular opposition day on lifting health measures in airports. Since I am not a bad sport, I will not do so.
    I will, however, ask my colleague to tell me whether she honestly thinks this opposition day is really about politics or whether it is not rather about public health measures we should be staying away from.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I have to applaud my friend for bringing the issue of prayer into airports. If I understand the question correctly, he is asking if this is based in policy, and we are saying it is absolutely based in policy. Every provincial health authority in every province has lifted vaccine passports and mask mandates. We see our own Prime Minister travelling abroad in countries with low vaccination rates and he is unmasked, with groups of people, anywhere from bars to restaurants to formal meetings. We walk out of this place, out of Parliament, take our mask off, and we can go to any restaurant and to any place we want to shop without a mask. It is simply unreasonable, and the Liberals refuse to tell us what the science is that they claim they are relying on.

  (1255)  

    Uqaqtittiji, I am glad that the member mentioned CATSA, because it is facing a labour shortage. To fix that requires better wages and more support for workers.
    Do the Conservatives acknowledge that we need to support public servants, like the workers keeping the flying public safe every day, by supporting them with good wages?
    Madam Speaker, I am a big believer in paying people for the work they do, and border security and security at our airports are very important jobs. However, the fact is that the staffing shortages, and I think in my speech I alluded to their being at least 1,000 lower than they were, are just not acceptable.
    I am not intimately knowledgeable about the union issues with CATSA right now, but I would say this: If there are union issues, then it needs to deal with them and it needs to care about the experiences of the travelling Canadian public, whether it is within our own country or going to another country. People want to get back to seeing relatives; they want to get back to being able to travel, and they do not understand why there are more restrictions in an airport and on an airplane than anywhere else where they spend their time.
    Madam Speaker, the member talked about a pregnant lady going to the airport with her kids. I came across an experience in Montreal where four ladies came to the gate and just missed their plane. One was a diabetic and she was in tears. She was begging to be let on the plane. She could see it. The reason she could not get on the plane is she spent three-and-a-half to four hours going through security.
    What can we do to alleviate some of those concerns?
    Madam Speaker, there have been many suggestions made by people with knowledge. Rachel Bertone from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, for instance, emphasized that international arriving passengers are being delayed by public health requirements. Others are saying that they need more hiring; they need to get more staff, and they need to pay attention to this. It is not only one thing. It is many things that need to come together in a prudent and rational approach to travel and to the recovery of our tourism economy.
    Madam Speaker, if I may, today is Vyshyvanka Day. That is why we will see members on all sides of the House from all political parties wearing these beautiful embroidered shirts, as the people of Ukraine and people well beyond the borders of Ukraine get an appreciation of Ukrainian heritage in a very beautiful way. This morning we had members of Parliament, as I say, from all sides of the House, along with interns, showcasing the embroidery and an appreciation of Ukrainian heritage.
    Having said that, and Mom always says to try to say something nice, I would like to get into the meat of what we are talking about today. There are a couple of things that I want to focus a bit of time on.
    If we listen to the Conservative Party, that could be a bad thing, because we get this impression that Canada is alone in the world, that we are the only country in the whole world that has any sorts of mandates in place in our airports. That is what we would be led to believe. That is the Conservative spin, or the member for Carleton's spin, I should say.
     I just did a very quick inquiry and found out this. The U.S., Japan and Israel continue to require predeparture testing. Italy, Japan, Australia and Israel require intercountry testing for some travellers. The U.S., Japan, Australia and Israel require some form of vaccine in order to enter the country. France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Australia and Israel still require masking in their transport sectors.
    If we listen to what the Conservatives are saying, not only today but for a long time now, it is this: We do not need mandates. It is as simple as that. That is the Conservative Party's line. Is it based on health or science? No. It is based on the member for Carleton. The member for Carleton has said mandates are not necessary. That should not surprise us; he has been saying that for months.
    Mr. Dan Mazier: He is consistent, anyway.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Madam Speaker, he is consistent. The member is right. I will give him that much. The member for Carleton is consistent. If someone is a Conservative member of Parliament, they do not need to listen to health experts. They do not have to look at science, but just look to the member for Carleton and they will understand why it is they do not need mandates.
     Members will understand why it is that everyone else in the chamber is more skeptical in terms of what members of the Conservative Party of Canada are saying. We believe that we should have more faith in health measures, with the experts and the science. Therefore, as the members of the Bloc and the NDP and the Green Party and, yes, the Liberals, we will continue to follow the science and listen to the health experts. We will do what is right for Canadians.
     We are very much aware that Canadians are feeling frustrated with regard to the lineups and the delays at airports. We are very much aware of that. In fact, not only am I aware, but I will be sharing my time with the member for Pickering—Uxbridge, and members will find that she will no doubt even be embellishing on some of the points I am making.
    Before I get back to some of the other things that I was going to say, I will just pick up on the member for Carleton. It is an interesting thing when the member for Carleton will say “freedom” and “speaking truth to power”. Do members remember him saying that? What happened to the member for Abbotsford? My goodness, did members catch the news lately? What happens there if someone voices their opinion?
    The member for Abbotsford and I often disagree, but I agree with him in terms of it being a dumb idea to fire the Governor of the Bank of Canada. I am inclined to agree with the member for Abbotsford. Speaking that kind of truth to power and having the freedom to be able to say that has been kind of lost within the Conservative Party under the leadership potential of the member for Carleton.

  (1300)  

    Is it any wonder now, considering the member for Carleton says we do not need mandates, that Conservatives are jumping up from their seats saying we do not need them? They do not have to listen to the health experts or science. I think that is wrong.
    We have recognized that what is happening in Canada is not unique to Canada alone. There are airports around the world that are experiencing the same sorts of issues we are facing here in Canada. It is not to try to marginalize the issue. Whether someone is the Prime Minister, the Minister of Transport or any other member of this House, they are concerned about what is taking place in our international airports. The Minister of Transport is actually getting committees together. Transport Canada is working with stakeholders.
    We understand the importance of the tourism industry to our country a whole lot more than the Conservatives do. In fact, we were there to support them during the pandemic. We provided direct support to airlines and industries such as restaurants, and to a festival that I often make reference to, which is a great tourist attraction in my own province of Manitoba, Folklorama. Talking to restaurant owners or reps in the hospitality industry, one of the most common comments I receive is that they were very happy and grateful to see that there was a wage subsidy program. They understood the importance of a government taking action to support the hospitality and tourism industry.
    We understand that the peak season is around the corner. We would like to get back to our new normal as quickly as we can, but we are not going to do what the Conservative Party of Canada/member for Carleton has to say on the issue. Rather, we are going to continue to look at the science. We are going to continue to listen to what the health experts say. At the end of the day, that is where we are going to fall on the issue of policy.
    If colleagues take a look at our record as a national government, working with Canadians and other levels of government and stakeholders, they will find that Canada is doing quite well going through this pandemic. The Conservatives might like to think that we can just wish it away, but it does not work that way. There is a process in place to ensure that it is done in an orderly fashion, so that we can, in fact, ensure that the health and well-being of Canadians in all regions of our country are being taken care of. We continue to look forward to the weeks and months ahead.
    Earlier this month, in May, the province of Quebec lifted the mandatory masking requirement. Quebec is not alone. There are other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world that still have some form of mandate out there. It seems to be only the Conservative Party of Canada/member for Carleton that believe mandates have no role at all. I would hope that the membership of the Conservative caucus will have the freedom to get onside with science and health experts and defend what is important: the health and well-being of all Canadians. That would be my recommendation.
    We have seen the hiring of 400 people to help out with security clearances. Airports are working with airlines and Transport Canada on ways in which we can speed up the process. We understand the issue, and we will do what we can to try to fix it as quickly as possible.

  (1305)  

    Madam Speaker, I think the frustration that stems from most reasonable people in this chamber is about the fact that when a question is asked, what experts are you relying upon? What is the advice that has been given? Share that advice with Canadians. If you have reports or expert advice saying we cannot open this airport or we cannot remove restrictions and here is why, why not share it?
    The fact of the matter is that they do not have it, and that is why they will not table it. If you had it, you would table it. Any reasonable person would, but we are not dealing with reasonable people or rationality. Why will they not table this advice now?
    I would remind the hon. member that I cannot table anything.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, I can tell the member that the one health expert we are not listening to is the member for Carleton.
    At the end of the day, we have health experts from across the country. We have individuals who have a background in science, and we will continue to work with those individuals in ensuring that the public policy we present is sound.
    As the chief public health officer of Canada has indicated, we do have reviews that are ongoing. Why? That is the responsible thing to do. To throw their hands up in the air months ago and say mandates are useless and not necessary is highly irresponsible.

  (1310)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleague from Winnipeg North that his mother always told him to try to bring something positive to a conversation. I remember that.
    On a more serious note, I would like my colleague to explain what ArriveCAN is. I came back from a mission a few weeks ago and was met with what, in my opinion, was totally useless bureaucracy. Therefore, I would like him to explain to me what the purpose of ArriveCAN is.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, members will recall that at the beginning of my comments I talked about today being a special day, Vyshyvanka Day, and that is why we are wearing these wonderful shirts and blouses. Right after saying that, I said that my mom always told me to try to say something nice, and that was the nice thing I had to say. The rest was just to try to enlighten my Conservative friends in regard to the negatives of following blindly the member for Carleton, because what he is talking about is not in the best interests of the health and well-being of Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, I would offer that when legitimate questions are not answered directly, it erodes public trust at a time when we need public trust more than ever. I support vaccination and public health as much as anyone in this place, but there are legitimate questions about the vaccine mandates for domestic air travel, and the government refuses to provide the basic information that we need to defend those policies. Why is that?
    Madam Speaker, I am not 100% sure exactly what the member is getting at. I believe we have been very clear as a government that we continue to listen to what the department and health experts and science are telling us. If the member is saying that he needs to hear first-hand some of that, he might want to approach the Minister of Health or the parliamentary secretary and we might be able to accommodate him. I am sure the member can appreciate that other jurisdictions also have health experts and there have been times when they, too, have had lockdowns, curfews and mandatory masking indoors or outdoors. There is quite a smorgasbord of activities dealing with mandates and I am more than happy to sit down personally—
    Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities.
    Madam Speaker, I am glad to rise today and follow my friend and colleague, the parliamentary secretary, on this important debate. The challenge here is that, continuously, we see from the Conservative Party this idea of trying to politicize the health and safety of Canadians throughout this pandemic.
    I had the great pleasure and responsibility of being the parliamentary secretary to the former minister of health during a large portion of the pandemic. I sat through committee meeting after committee meeting with our health officials and with experts, witnesses and members from all sides of the House. Instead, in the heart of the pandemic and of dealing with some of these most crucial issues, the Conservatives chose to be obstructionist and chose to just attack and “own” the Liberals at every stage of this pandemic.
    When I sit here and see the opposition day motion that we have in front of us, it brings me back to those days, remembering what the Conservatives actually brought to the debate and brought to our country during one of the most challenging times that I think many generations will see. I am reminded of those days when I had the opportunity to serve our government in that role. I remember the Conservatives screaming and shouting, saying that we need to close the borders, that we need stricter mandates and that we need all of these things, and then, when we do those things, they scream and say to get rid of mandates and get rid of masks. At no point did they ever base it on science, facts or evidence. They based it only on “owning” the Liberals. If they had any ability to actually govern in this country, Canada would be in serious trouble, because their policy playbook is simply the opposite of the Liberals.
    The members continue to heckle me because they cannot stand a member standing on this side of the House “owning” them, and that is precisely what—

  (1315)  

    I apologize for interrupting the parliamentary secretary, but can we have some order in the House?
    The hon. member for Prince Albert is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, she “owns” me? I find that very offensive.
    I am sorry, but I did not hear that.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, the member opposite misheard. I did not say I own him. I said that when it comes to the policy debate, we are “owning” the Conservatives on the legitimate policy debate.
    While I am sorry I have hurt the member's feelings, if that is his issue—
    The hon. member for Prince Albert is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I think I have to pursue this, because she is trying to regenerate a different dialogue. What she said was, “We own him.” If we could please check the Hansard—
    The hon. parliamentary secretary is rising on the same point of order.
    Madam Speaker, as the expression is known, the expression “we own you on this” does not mean that we literally own—
    We are getting into debate.
    I ask the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs not to use those expressions.
    The hon. member for Prince Albert is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, between that and “just inflation”—
    We are getting into debate.
    I am asking the hon. parliamentary secretary to refrain from using those expressions. They are exciting matters.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, that is not a problem. I will not use things that excite the members, when they are unable to control their emotions in this House. I will move on to the rest of the point, because I clearly upset the members opposite.
    What I will speak about is simply the fact that the Conservatives have not based policy decisions in this House on experts, on science or on the testimony we heard at the health committee, when I was a member of that committee. We stand here today and members opposite talk about listening to the science. Time and again we heard experts. Our chief public health officer, Dr. Tam, was personally attacked by Conservatives when they disagreed with her expertise.
    I find it a bit rich to stand in this place and to hear the Conservatives say, “Bring out the experts; bring out the testimony.” When we do that, when we table that information, when we have witnesses at committee, when we have reports and when we have that expert testimony, the Conservatives make personal attacks against our chief public health officer. I notice that the heckles went silent, because the Conservative members know it is true, that there are those on their benches who made personal attacks against public health officials who disagreed with them.
    In addition to that, we talk about the mandates or any protections across the country throughout the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, we constantly said that there is no silver bullet and that vaccines are the safest, most effective way for us to get through this pandemic, but there are also layers of protection, and that is crucially important. Those layers of protection are going to help prevent people from getting severely ill and clogging up our emergency rooms and hospitals, and that is what the Conservatives do not understand.
    There are layers of protection, not only to protect the most vulnerable, but to protect businesses by not having to enter lockdowns. If we remove every layer of protection throughout this pandemic and businesses have to close, where would the Conservatives be to defend and support those businesses? I know Conservatives did not support them when we moved measures in the budget and in Bill C-8. They voted against the supports those businesses needed.
    We put in place layers of protection to help ensure, as the pandemic unfortunately is not over and COVID is still around, that we protect society, protect individuals, protect businesses, and protect our health care workers and our health care system. These are the very people those members call heroes and then attack at committee and try to discredit on social media.
    I find that, while the Conservatives might try to position or package some of their motion to act like they are on the side of people, throughout this pandemic they have flip-flopped consistently whenever they felt the political mood suited them.
    I turn to some of the comments I heard in this place earlier that accused the government of simply trying to punish people who have differences of opinion or who want the freedom to have a different view on things. I find this incredibly rich, considering what we all saw last night. Among the Conservative benches, they do not have the freedom to listen to science, and they do not have the freedom to speak out and have their own opinions. I heard heckles yesterday when members of our side voted in a free vote. The Conservatives criticized our members for having free votes, yet yesterday the member for Abbotsford rightly pointed out the dangers the member for Carleton was spreading about our democracy and the independence of the Governor of the Bank of Canada. What happened to the member for Abbotsford? He got the boot.

  (1320)  

    When it comes to Conservatives, the only freedom of choice they have is to listen to whatever leader happens to be running the show at the time. Therefore, it is really hard to take the Conservatives seriously when they talk about mandates, the health and safety of Canadians, and freedoms, when the Conservative benches do not even have freedom of opinion or freedom of speech. Frankly, the member for Abbotsford spoke truth to power, and he got booted to the backbench.
    It is really hard to sit here and listen to Conservatives try to defend the health and safety of Canadians when they themselves are not open to listening to experts and scientists or understanding the layers of protection in place to help keep Canadians safe, keep businesses open and keep travel available. They speak about restrictions around the world, but Canadians going even to the U.S. still require testing. There are protections there. There is nothing wrong with the Canadian government doing everything in our power to ensure that there are no lockdowns in this country, that businesses can stay open, that Canadians can remain safe and that our health care heroes can have the ability to keep our health care system functioning well.
    The key here is that, if we truly believe in freedom and supporting Canadians across this country, then we should not be listening to the Conservatives, who block freedom of speech and ignore when their own members speak truth to power.
    Madam Speaker, I will read a quote and then ask a quick question of the parliamentary secretary.
    “I can’t help but notice with regret that both the tone and the policies of my government changed drastically on the eve and during the last election campaign. From a positive and unifying approach, a decision was made to wedge, to divide and to stigmatize.” That was said by the Liberal member for Louis-Hébert back in early February speaking about who decided to politicize getting vaccinated in this country.
    The president of the Canadian Association of Professional Employees has talked about the fact that back in early March the mandates were a temporary measure, and he has asked the government when it was going to release a plan that explains the rationale and milestones to remove vaccine mandates.

  (1325)  

    Madam Speaker, I sincerely thank my hon. colleague for reading that quote because he made my entire point, which is the fact that on our side, on our Liberal benches, there is the freedom for a difference of opinion. I disagree with some of the things that the member for Louis-Hébert said, but I respect him as a colleague and as a friend. The fact is that a difference of opinion actually makes our debate and discussions in our caucus healthier and richer.
    I wish the Conservatives could learn from that, but they had better be careful. They may end up on the backbench if they disagree with the member for Carleton.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, since our colleague from Winnipeg North could not answer my question, I will try again and ask my other colleague.
    The Liberal government implemented a new, extremely bureaucratic measure: ArriveCAN. Travellers must download the application, enter data before they leave, and enter new data when they arrive.
    Can she tell me what this measure, which I find useless, actually does? What is its purpose?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I was parliamentary secretary to the minister of health when we started to have these conversations. Around the world, we were anticipating that there were going to be requirements for travel documentation for Canadians, and our government said that we wanted to ensure that vaccinated Canadians could share that information, have the ability to travel and prove vaccination status, but we also knew that we wanted to make sure there was a secure source available for Canadians to do this so their information is protected.
    ArriveCAN was developed to help ensure that Canadians still had access to travel and that they could provide their quarantine information, making the process of travelling easier while allowing them to upload that information in a secure way that would allow Canadians access to international travel if those requirements were required when they arrived at their destinations.
    Uqaqtittiji, I think the impetus behind this motion is really important, but I think the perspectives are quite skewed. The solution needs to be practical. We in the NDP are very much focused on the workforce.
    Can the government explain why it continues to undervalue the vital work in keeping the flying public safe as performed by security officers, and does it acknowledge that it is simply not doing enough to recruit new staff?
    Madam Speaker, I do agree with my hon. colleague that we need practical solutions. We need to ensure that Canadians understand the rationale for the layers of protection I spoke about. With recruiting and hiring more employees, we absolutely need to work with partners. As the member knows, some of this work is done through Crown corporations or airline industries that are independent, but we absolutely need to be at the table. We need to ensure that the workforce is hired so that Canadians can move in a safe way as this pandemic continues.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Calgary Forest Lawn.
    I have had the misfortune of listening to this debate for the past hour and a bit. When I use the term “misfortune”, it is because of the absolute opacity of the government. It refuses to answer even the simplest of questions during debate. Liberal members give speeches where they are obsessed with the member for Carleton, when we are supposed to be discussing the very serious issue of chaos at airports and the restrictions that are in place.
    Rather than talk about that, the Liberals are going on long diatribes about independence, other members and leadership matters. I think we have to ask ourselves why. If they cannot talk about the subject matter before us, it is probably because they have almost nothing to say. That is the absolute problem with the government and these members participating in the debate.
     Why are we here? Day after day, questions are asked about when the mandates will end, and what circumstances are needed in order to do that. These are not ridiculous partisan attacks, as the members across seem to suggest. I did not know they were so fragile that a direct question would be seen as a terrible partisan attack.
    We keep coming back and asking reasonable questions. We brought forward a motion ages ago, just asking what conditions, metrics or benchmarks the country had to hit so restrictions could be removed. This is not asking for them to be removed. It is asking what the benchmarks are and what Canadians could look to. The Liberals would not even vote for that. The government cannot do anything reasonable with respect to things like this.
    When we ask questions, we get answers like the one from the Minister of Transport, who said that travellers are out of practice and that is why the airports are backed up. Actually, that is, unfortunately, probably the best answer we have had from a minister or a member of the government with respect to what is going on, because at least it was an answer.
    We have questions, real questions, the questions Canadians are asking. I know these members get the same emails from Canadians. They cannot live in some strange Liberal bubble where everyone thinks things are perfect. They must get questions about what is happening at the airports and what are they going to do to fix it. I know I get them. I bet the Speaker is getting them as well.
    We put forward a motion like this to say that Canadians have had enough, that they want to see some action. They want something done. We would expect a reasonably serious response. However, for some reason, Canadians are not entitled to that. When we are here, we are the voice of not only our constituents, but also of other Canadians as well. These are the serious questions that are being asked. It is so insulting to them. I do not care about the insults that government members throw at us. We can take it. Over here, we are not so fragile. We can take the insults, but Canadians deserve those answers.
    We heard the member for Winnipeg North giving his speech. I had the opportunity to ask him what the advice was, whose advice it was, what was the actual advice is, and if he could table the advice. They were insane, ridiculous questions. How dare I ask the Liberals to share the advice they had with Canadians to show why they would not remove any of the restrictions.
    We have heard the terrible stories, which is why we are asking the questions. We heard the member for Prince Albert talk about a terrible experience he witnessed at the airport. I have seen that as well. People who are desperate and missing their flights. People who are having all kinds of trouble. There is not even a semblance of regret from the government about that.
     That is fine. If the Liberals do not want to say to Canadians that they are sorry they are going through this, then that is on them. However, Canadians deserve an explanation.

  (1330)  

    The Liberals must have meetings. They must be talking to experts, because they say, “We follow the experts' advice.” How hard is it? Throw Canadians a bone. They could give us a scrap of information, or maybe put a tenth of the report on the table so that we can see that there actually is a report, but they will not. If they will not do it, we have to ask ourselves why, right?
    When a child goes to school and says, “The dog ate my homework”, the teacher asks, “Show me the shredded pieces and then I will believe you.” That is what these guys are doing all the time. They are saying, “The dog ate my homework.” Well, they should show us the scraps, but we cannot even see that. They are not going to give us even that little tidbit.
    Canadians are frustrated. There are a lot of Canadians who cannot travel. I do not know if members have heard the stories, but I certainly have in my riding about people who cannot travel and miss all kinds of things. The Liberals might say, “Well, get in a car.” However, an 80-year-old unvaccinated woman from my riding cannot drive 1,800 to 3,000 kilometres to B.C. The Liberals' answer is: “We do not care. We refuse to give any information on when that person is going to be able to travel. We refuse to give any information as to why we are saying that person will not be able to travel. We refuse to give any information as to when that person can travel.”
    It is as though we are asking for the most unreasonable, unrealistic things. That is how the Liberals paint the debate. They cannot answer the debate directly. They cannot answer the debate forthrightly. If they really wanted to debate this issue, they would put their advice on the table so that we could all see it and debate it like adults, but they do not want to. They would rather give speeches talking about the former shadow minister for finance. They want to talk about the member for Carleton, because that is so pertinent to the debate. It is so childish and insulting to Canadians who are asking the very serious questions that we are raising in this motion to have members over there treat them with so much disdain and disrespect.
    I cannot believe it. Canadians who are unable to travel, unable to visit family and relatives, are watching this debate and listening to the kinds of speeches that these people are putting out, joking and laughing about the member for Carleton. It is beyond shameful. It is embarrassing, and they should be embarrassed for participating that way.
    We want things to move forward for Canadians. We want answers. We tried for a motion to ask the Liberals to put the benchmarks out for everyone to see: When we get to this, we will do this, and when we get to that, we will do that. The Liberals voted down the motion, unfortunately, with help from the NDP. We had a wonderful NDP member asking some great questions, but they voted down that motion as well, and I am disappointed about that.
    We have to ask ourselves: Why will the Liberals not do any of these things? It is probably because they have not set that plan out, because this is a government that cannot do more than one thing, as we have learned. They sort of stumble from one crisis to another. We choose to joke and say: “You cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.” That is kind of what we have happening here.
    Now, we are back to another motion saying, “You would not give us the benchmarks, all the rest of the world has moved forward, they are lifting all these things, so let us get on with it.” Let us get on with it. Let us actually say that this is what we are going to do.
    I, of course, will be voting in favour of this motion. I know that the Liberals will not be, but I am hoping other parties will. I am hoping that other members listening today will decide not to talk about the member for Carleton and will actually stand here and debate this issue, because if they do not, it tells us exactly what we need to know about them, which is that they have nothing to offer on this subject.

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, if members listened to that speech, they would think that this motion today was about providing sources of information to make decisions. It is not.
     I do not know if the member is aware of what is in the motion, but I will skip right to the resolve clause, which says: “the House call on the government to immediately revert to prepandemic rules and service levels for travel.” That is it.
    The motion is not asking about providing information that made us make the decision, but that is what the member spent his entire speech talking about. The motion is about pretending that the pandemic never happened, and going back, or in the Conservatives' words, “reverting” back to the way that life used to be.
    Did the member read the motion before he decided to stand up and speak today?

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, again we see an example of what we get with this member in particular and the current government. They do not want to have an honest debate about subjects. When I say give the information, it is because just about every time they get up to speak they talk about how they are following the science, which is why they are going to vote against this motion. It is the crux of their argument as to why they will not support the motion. They say, “We are going to follow the science, so we are not going to remove any restrictions.” However, when we ask them for that science, there is none. It is a shock. They have nothing to actually add to the debate.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have been listening closely to today's debate—

[English]

    I would ask the hon. members to stop having conversations while another member is asking a question.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue can restart his question.
    Madam Speaker, I have been listening with interest to today's debate and have been wondering something. I think it is obvious that the Liberals have failed repeatedly in terms of managing the borders and in the measures they wanted to implement over the past year, but I would like to know what the Conservatives would have done had they been in power. What kind of situation would we be in now?
    We are at the tail end of a sixth wave, quite possibly because measures were put in place and they worked.
    What state would the borders be in if the government were Conservative? What would they have done so differently?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I cannot go over what we have done differently for the past two and a half years because I have only a few moments, but what I will say we would do differently right now is this. We would have released what the benchmarks are to get back to normal, because Canadians want to get back to normal. We all want to. I would release the science we are relying on to say we cannot open up now. We would say where we are, where we need to be and at what points we would remove certain restrictions.
    Where is your science for the motion, then?
    Madam Speaker, the member keeps heckling and asking where my science is. We are not the government. We do not have access to the science it has at the Ministry of Health. Why will it not produce it? It probably has not done it, because it really cannot do much.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague down the way made some excellent points in his speech and there was much that I agree with.
    Going back to the motion at hand, it calls for a return to prepandemic rules at our airports. I would submit that, in the same way that 9/11 changed forever our approach to security at airports, there may very well be some pandemic measures at our airports that are worth considering as long-term improvements in the way that we protect our country when it comes to public health. Would the member agree?
    Madam Speaker, I struggle to understand what those would be. I think many of them served a purpose and we all acknowledge that, but I do not know what we want to keep in place forever because of the chaos it is causing right now at airports. If we keep these measures in place forever, how are we ever going to get back to normal? That is the issue. Canadians want to get back to normal. They want a plan to get back to normal. If the government is not going to give us a plan, we are going to put forward a motion to get us back to normal.
    Madam Speaker, every province has now lifted its mandates, and we are in a situation where they are not even wearing masks in Quebec. Is that enough science to maybe justify what we are doing?
    Madam Speaker, this is exactly it. We can go to a stadium and watch a hockey or basketball game without a mask. These members go to receptions every night in crowded rooms without wearing masks, but they wear their masks in the chamber. Yes, things have moved on. It is time for us to move on with these restrictions, as well.
    Madam Speaker, today I rise to support this motion and add my constituents' voices to the growing concern about the legacy of Liberal-made backlogs. Canada faces massive delays for passports, veterans and seniors’ services, and 2.1 million people are stuck in the IRCC’s backlog. Now, we are seeing the same backlogs happening at airports due to inconsistent policies by the Liberal government. If there is one thing the Liberal government is good at, it is making everyone miserable.
     The government's biggest example of mismanagement is the mess in our immigration system. This is just an example that I will use to lead to the mismanagement happening at the airports. People looking to come to this country face growing processing times and absolutely no communication. Their applications disappear into a great bureaucratic black hole, along with their emails and phone calls. Newcomers can end up stuck waiting for months, if not years, to have their cases processed. As a result, families are left separated from their loved ones and refugees are left stranded in the hands of the Taliban. This is the reality that backlogs impose on real people.
     Our country faces a labour shortage crisis and there is a real need for new immigrants to help fill these gaps, yet instead of taking action the government has economic-class newcomers waiting in limbo. The economic-class backlog stands at over 235,000 people. That is 235,000 lives that are now on hold: workers who are unable to contribute to Canada’s economy and families who do not know if they will have a future here.
     For families of new Canadians, family sponsorship is also a nightmare. The backlog there now stands at almost 109,000. That means families remain separated, their mental health suffers and divorce and suicide rates are going up. I imagine all MPs' offices hear about these cases every single day, as mine does. I speak to constituents who tell me they do not know when they will see their spouses or children. They do not know how to go on, and it is heartbreaking.
    Backlogs are also hurting Canadian businesses and our economy. Employers and businesses share with me that the work permit and temporary foreign worker situation in Canada is alarming. My office heard from a small business owner in northern Ontario. She cannot get workers, and is now relying on one person on a work permit to help her husband run their mechanic shop. In tears, she explained that her last employee has been unable to renew his work permit because of this Liberal-made backlog. Most likely, he will lose status and have to leave. She told me that she would have to close her shop because it is impossible to quickly get LMIAs and work permits. The hospitality and tourism sector are other industries hit hard by this backlog, but if no one can travel or afford to go on vacation, I guess the government does not really care.
    Inflation is now at 6.8%, which is a new 31-year high, yet as inflation for food grew by the largest increase since 1981, and shelter and fuel inflation increased by 22% and 64%, respectively, the Prime Minister and his finance minister ignored Canadians' pain. Experts warn that inflation will continue to rise while wages barely grow and fall way behind.
     If inflation was not enough, the government went ahead and increased the carbon tax yet again. That is after years of kicking the energy industry when it was down and hating on it when it made gains. Those negative effects on the oil and gas sector directly affect our ability to afford groceries and home heating, or to drive ourselves to work; that is, if a person even has a job. The government’s unscientific and vindictive COVID policy has made millions of Canadians second-class citizens. That includes public sector employees and workers in federally regulated industries. For people exercising their freedom to make their own medical decisions, the government will take away the right to work, travel and be an everyday Canadian. Not only is it not enough for the government to make everyone’s life miserable economically, but it is also discriminating against our fellow Canadians.
    For those who can travel, the misery does not end. If Canadians planned on getting away from the high inflation and division of the Liberals, they apparently should have planned that back when they first got their passport. For some reason, the government could not figure out that if someone got a five-year passport five years ago, they would need to renew it now. After two years of lockdowns, it is no surprise that Canadians would want to travel and get away from the mess these Liberals have created, but they have even made that hard to do. The fact that, in 2022, someone must line up for three or more days or pay hundreds of dollars for someone else to stand in line to get essential government services is ridiculous. What choice do people have? The hotline has gone cold and people cannot get through to a human who can answer their questions or provide status updates. The website tells people to call, so the only option is to stand in line.

  (1345)  

     Like in the immigration system, people's applications for passports are now disappearing into the system. They cannot even get an estimated time when the government will send their passport back to them. Canadians are paying higher fees and extra payments to expedite applications, but then nothing happens. This should not be the way it works. Instead of letting public sector workers come back to the office, the government's solution is to throw more money at the problem and promise to hire more workers. It makes for a nice announcement, but we have seen what this promise has done in IRCC; the backlog has only grown.
    The reality is that the Liberals have both failed to plan and planned to fail. After keeping public service employees at home and putting unvaccinated workers on leave, the government failed to prepare for the influx of travellers and passport requests. Now we see that failure impacting the lineups at airports. The out-of-date mandates and COVID policies are forcing significant delays. The ArriveCAN app, random testing and other protocols mean customs services have become so backed up that there is not enough capacity at some airports to accommodate the lineups. That is leaving passengers stuck on planes on the tarmac, because they have nowhere else to go.
    Before the pandemic, CATSA had 7,400 employees and now, even after bringing back its staff, it has only 6,500 employees. Airports are also facing staffing shortages because of the mandates. This is at a time when the air travel and tourism industries in Canada usually reach their busiest season. Instead of working with the industry and addressing the real issues, the Minister of Transport would rather blame passengers. People are sick of the long lines and never-ending flight delays, and of the Liberals blaming them for the government's failures.
     Even airports and airlines are calling for eliminating out-of-date, unscientific restrictions on travellers. The EU, the U.K. and lots of other countries worldwide, many with lower vaccination levels than Canada, have scrapped the mandates. In these countries, families can reunite with their loved ones, people can work without government discrimination, and travel is not the chaotic mess that we see here in Canada. As the Liberals continue to discriminate, divide and promote fear, Canada, our economy and Canadians are the ones that suffer. The government seems to want to make as many people miserable as possible.
    We still face an immigration system unable to meet our labour demands, let families reunite or even get our friends and allies out of war zones. The financial situation for Canadians is devastating, and inflation and affordability have hit a crisis point. Our travel and tourism sectors are in chaos. Passports are impossible to get, and lineups and delays at airports are never-ending. This is the result of a government that is failing to plan and planning to fail.
    The COVID-19 pandemic affected all of us, but we now need an approach that will fix this disaster for all Canadians. We have an opportunity today to support this motion and show our support for the people of this country. I ask my colleagues in the other parties to do the right thing and join the official opposition in calling on the government to revert to prepandemic rules and service standards and to begin the process of cleaning up its mess, ending the misery for all Canadians.

  (1350)  

    Madam Speaker, I find the premise of a lot of this debate unfortunate, because I also, as other members have mentioned, decry using public health issues as a wedge issue to divide Canadians. I know we would like to put this together and not be feeling that the country continues to fight a sort of ideological divide.
     I certainly agree that the mandates in place should be examined and re-examined based on public policy and the best information we have from public health experts. However, it is unfortunate that the hon. member decided to say that these measures were put in place because the governing Liberals, with whom I have many, many points of disagreement, were motivated by trying to make people miserable. The measures may in fact make many people miserable, but I do not think that is the Liberals' intention, nor do I think it elevates debate in this place to say so.
    Madam Speaker, I would argue that the member continues to support the government in helping to make Canadians more miserable. Whether that is our hard-working energy sector workers or the bad policies of the Liberal government, she continues to support the Liberals. Every step along the way, I have seen the member support all the bad policies of the Liberal government.
    In turn, Canadians are miserable. We see that every single day. I do not know what science or what proof the Liberal government can provide to anyone or to Canadians that can prove that its vindictive mandates should still be in place today. Look at the mess the Liberals have created in every sector.
     The point of my entire speech was that it does not matter what industry or what sector. The government is great at making everyone miserable. If people are trying to come to this country, it is hard enough to get here. The ones who are here are miserable because of high rates of inflation, because of the economy and because they cannot afford a home. The ones who are trying to leave cannot even do that. The government is great at making everyone miserable.

  (1355)  

    Madam Speaker, I will bite. If the member wants to talk about tabling scientific information to support certain policies, could he please indicate to the House what scientific evidence the Conservative Party has to bring forward this motion that life return immediately to prepandemic rules and service levels for travel? Can the member tell us what scientific proof he has and table the information that led to this motion being introduced?
    Madam Speaker, there is a very easy answer to the question, because Canadians continue to see the hypocrisy from the Liberal government.
    I went to Europe with the immigration minister, and we were maskless there. Whether it was on planes or trains, we were all maskless, yet when we boarded the plane to come back to Canada, we had to put on a mask because of the government's weird policies that are outdated now.
    Just this morning in the House, a picture was taken of people from all parties without masks on. How can the member ask any type of question when it comes to mandates or restrictions, when his own party members do not even follow their own set rules? That is what I ask this member.
    Madam Speaker, I want to pick up on something we have been talking about throughout this debate, which is the inconsistency and hypocrisy we are seeing from the Liberal government. I am wondering if the member can elaborate on his frustration that we cannot get a straight answer on what data or science it is following in order to continue the use of these mandates.
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague used the word “frustration”. A lot of people were frustrated that when a fourth wave of COVID was ravaging this country, the Prime Minister called a very selfish election and put the entire country into a health crisis. He was okay with doing that. At the same time, he was abandoning the Afghan interpreters who served Canada and kept our troops safe. It totally shows the hypocrisy within the government.
    The government was okay with all of that, yet when it comes to locking down people who made health choices that are not the same as the Prime Minister's or those of the Liberals, they must be punished. However, he was okay with launching everyone, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, into a selfish election. What ended up happening is he spent the most amount of money on a election for an expensive cabinet shuffle. Hypocrisy runs rampant within the government, and Canadians see it all.
    Madam Speaker, I want to grab the opportunity to correct the record. I do not support the Liberal budget; I voted against it. There is an idea that I continually support the Liberals. I am a Green Party member, not an NDP member.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Asian Heritage Month

    Madam Speaker, as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, I am proud to stand in the House today to recognize May as Asian Heritage Month and to thank Canadians of Asian heritage for their immense contributions to our country.
    In Canada, diversity is a fact and inclusion is a choice. There is still work to be done to make Canada a country that is truly equal for everyone. For the last two centuries, immigrants have come to Canada from East Asia, Southern Asia, Western and Southeast Asia, bringing with them rich heritage representing many languages, ethnicities and religions.
    While the Asian community itself is very diverse, we are also united in helping build stronger communities and standing up to hate and discrimination in all its forms. I have been proud to celebrate Asian Heritage Month with friends, colleagues and constituents this month, and I look forward to continuing to represent Canadians of Asian heritage in the House.

  (1400)  

World Hunger

    Madam Speaker, abroad, drought, conflict and war leave millions hungry every day. Much of this suffering is completely avoidable. My daughter is currently working in Ukraine with the United Nations World Food Programme. They do wonders, under the most dangerous conditions, just to get someone in need their next meal.
    Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, they have fed 3.7 million people there alone. Millions in Ukraine and around the world will go hungry this year because of Putin's war. Russia's war, waged by a megalomaniac leader, will drive up food costs around the globe. Already we are seeing the effects, and it will get much worse later this year, with the first missed crops.
    Quashing the Russian war machine is the fastest and quickest way we can help reduce the number of hungry around the world. Let us do our part to reduce world hunger.

[Translation]

Nova Oculus

     Madam Speaker, last week I met with representatives of Nova Oculus, a Canadian company that has developed a promising new medical device to treat age-related macular degeneration, or AMD.
    This incurable disease is the leading cause of blindness for more than two million Canadians over the age of 50. Nova Oculus is currently awaiting regulatory approval from Health Canada for a new form of AMD treatment that uses microcurrent technology in a waveform applied directly to the retina.
    In the recently completed clinical trials, participants saw immediate results and optimal visual improvement after just four four-minute treatments. They saw improvements in their ability to watch television, recognize faces and function in their environment.
    Our government recognizes that one of the most important issues affecting seniors is when they cannot remain in their homes and maintain a good quality of life. That is why I commend Nova Oculus for its passion and determination to give Canadian seniors with AMD the ability to improve their vision and enjoy the golden years of their lives.

World Family Doctor Day

    Mr. Speaker, today, May 19, we are celebrating World Family Doctor Day.
    I want to congratulate them all for the essential work they do at the heart of our health care system. Family doctors are the closest to patients, with whom they build personalized and lasting relationships focused on prevention. It takes a special person with a lot of empathy and compassion to play this role at the crossroads of medical science. They are on the front line and they deserve to be commended for the crucial role they play, especially after years of dealing with the pandemic and having to constantly adapt to new data with unending dedication.
    We need more of them, of course. To get there, the least we can do is start by sincerely thanking them. I thank family doctors from the bottom of my heart.

Centre of Excellence for Cellular Therapy

    Mr. Speaker, one of the international hubs for cellular therapy research is located at the heart of Hochelaga. The Centre of Excellence for Cellular Therapy is one of the only centres of this scale in Canada.
    I congratulate Dr. Denis Claude Roy and his team for their exceptional work and their commitment to changing the lives of many patients. The research seeks to do nothing less than healing the unhealable. Cellular therapy involves using living human cells as medicine to destroy cancerous cells, replace a defective immune system or, one day, eliminate leukemia. It is a real revolution in medicine, and it is opening the door to innovative treatments for illnesses such as Alzheimer's, genetic illnesses, heart failure and other diseases. Cellular therapy is the medicine of tomorrow, and it is happening in Hochelaga.

  (1405)  

Renaud Fournier

    Mr. Speaker, today I wish to pay tribute to a great Canadian entrepreneur who recently passed away.
    Renaud Fournier is the perfect example of the economic diversification of Thetford Mines. In 1960, the asbestos mines and its “white gold”, as chrysotile fibre was then called, were vitally important to the local economy. It was at this time that Mr. Fournier founded his tinsmithing and metal welding shop. Back then, the mines were his only customers. He quickly became indispensable, and thanks to his hard work, he was able to realize his entrepreneurial ambitions.
    Over the next six decades, Fournier Steel Works became Les Industries Fournier and, today, Fournier Industries Group. Renaud Fournier was a visionary investor. His reputation in the mining industry is now worldwide. Developing new products allowed him to diversify his production. In 1999, he prepared his succession and, thanks to him, Fournier Industries has maintained its role as a major economic developer for the Thetford Mines region.
    On behalf of my colleagues in the House of Commons, I extend my condolences to his wife, Janine, to his children, Pierre, Daniel, Brigitte and Josée, and to all the employees of Fournier Industries.

[English]

Kannadigas

    [Member spoke in Kannada and provided the following translation:]
     Mr. Speaker, I feel happy for the opportunity to speak in my mother tongue, Kannada, in Canada’s Parliament. For a person from Dwaralu village in Sira taluk in the Tumkur district of Karnataka state, India, getting elected as a member of Parliament in Canada and speaking in Kannada is a proud moment for about 50 million Kannadigas.
     In 2018, Canadian Kannadigas celebrated Kannada Rajyostava, or state day, in Canada’s Parliament.
    I close my statement with a few words of emotion poetry written by national poet Kuvempu and sung by the emperor of actors, Dr. Rajkumar: “Wherever you are, whatever you are, be a Kannadiga.”
[English]

Attack in Buffalo, New York

    Mr. Speaker, once again a community has been absolutely devastated after a white supremacist opened fire in a Buffalo supermarket, killing 10 and injuring three more. Most of the victims were members of the Black community.

[Translation]

    We have to acknowledge the pain, the fear and the trauma that Black communities here are experiencing as a result.

[English]

    This was an abhorrent hate crime motivated by anti-Black racism and the so-called “white replacement theory”. Some on this side of the border were quick to say that this happened across the border and we do not have the same issues as the United States, but Buffalo is only a 90-minute drive from my riding of Milton and events like this do happen here in Canada. The Afzaal family was murdered in London only a year ago.
    This far right wing, violent extremism is the greatest threat to public safety in North America, and it disproportionately impacts Black and Jewish communities, Muslims, indigenous people and other people of colour. Canada is not immune to white supremacy. One ideologically motivated hate crime is one too many. We must find ways to put an end to these hate-fuelled attacks. I refuse to accept that they are inevitable in today's society.
    We are leaders. In the House, we are obligated to denounce hateful rhetoric at every turn unequivocally with our words and our actions, but also with better policies and better laws. Thoughts and prayers are not making our communities safer.

Vyshyvanka Day

    Mr. Speaker, traditionally, Vyshyvanka Day is a time to celebrate Ukraine's rich culture and traditions and share them with the world, but this year it is a time to stand with Ukraine in solidarity.
    Today, while we enjoy our peace and security here at home, often taking them for granted, our beloved Ukraine suffers from the illegal and unjustified full-scale invasion by Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have already been bravely fighting and sacrificing their lives for 87 days to protect the basic values that we all believe in.
    It is time to ask ourselves this: What is the cost of not supporting Ukraine in this fight? It means that dictators and despots around the world can redraw the lines on a map by force and get away with it.
    Ukraine is valiantly defending against the Russian invaders. Canada must match this bravery by providing what Ukraine needs the most: more lethal weapons.
    If we believe in protecting dignity, freedom, democracy and human rights, then we must recognize that this is our fight as well. Canada must always stand with Ukraine.
    Slava Ukraini. Heroyam slava.

[Translation]

Canadian Innovation Week

     Mr. Speaker, Canadian Innovation Week is a five-day celebration recognizing and supporting Canadian ingenuity across all sectors. We salute entrepreneurs and innovators who are changing the world one idea at a time.
    Canadian innovators are well positioned to take on and overcome challenges, including our most pressing global challenge: climate change.
    The city of Vaughan is an example of thriving innovative creativity. As a key hub for the manufacturing and food processing sectors, Vaughan is home to Canada's first smart hospital and new business incubators.
    Innovation is essential to our society and our economy. Innovators and entrepreneurs strengthen Canada's innovation ecosystem, and we will always be there to help them improve and be more competitive.

  (1410)  

[English]

Inflation

    Mr. Speaker, inflation is not like the weather. It is not something that just happens like a snowstorm in May. The inflation that Canadians are suffering from today is a direct result of the deficits the Prime Minister racked up, bankrolled by the money printing of the Bank of Canada.
    When the Prime Minister ran out out of other people's money to borrow, he turned to the bank, and the governor was only too happy to oblige. The Bank of Canada created over $400 billion in brand new money to purchase the government bonds to pay for the out-of-control Liberal spending.
    Any time we get more dollars chasing fewer goods, we get inflation. The decision to bankroll the government's deficit spending undermined the bank's independence. It has one main mandate: to keep inflation at 2%. It has completely failed and Canadians are right to demand accountability.
    To restore the bank's independence, the leadership at the bank needs to stop acting like it is the Prime Minister's personal ATM. As Milton Friedman said, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”. We cannot expect the Prime Minister to know that. He brags that he does not even think about monetary policy.

Residential Schools

    Mr. Speaker, next week marks one year since the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops residential school. The announcement sent shockwaves through the country and around the world. It opened up the eyes of thousands of Canadians and others to the horrors of residential schools.
    I offer my deepest condolences to residential school survivors. I thank those who have shown incredible bravery by sharing their stories. Their experience matters, their voice matters and their history matters.
    The Secwépemc have a word for those who never returned from residential schools: le estcwéý, translated as “the missing”. At this time, our country grieves alongside those who lost a friend, family or loved one.
    May eternal light shine upon le estcwéý. They will never be forgotten.

Winner of Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

    Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to rise in the House today to honour the winner of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, which was presented at the 35th annual Politics and the Pen gala earlier this week. This year's winner, who was from a super talented lineup of finalists, was Joanna Chiu, a Canadian journalist who won for her debut novel, China Unbound: A New World Disorder.
    I want to thank the sponsors and the amazing Politics and the Pen organizing team for putting on such a fun evening and for raising $300,000 for the Writers' Trust of Canada, a very important organization that advances, nurtures and celebrates Canadian writers and writing. I also want to give a special shout-out to China Unbound's publisher, House of Anansi Press, based in my Toronto riding of Davenport.
    Canada has such a rich literary culture and so many talented writers. It is important for us to recognize and honour their work and their contribution to political discourse both in Canada and abroad.
    Congratulations to the Writers' Trust of Canada for hosting a successful event and to Joanna Chiu for this fantastic achievement.

  (1415)  

    While I am standing up, I will make a comment for anyone in the lobbies or outside the lobbies. Let us tell our friends who happen to be out there to keep the noise down, because it does bleed over into this chamber. As much as we are having fun and laughing at certain jokes and being happy to see each other, we are having serious moments here in the House of Commons.
    The hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski.

Clifford Evans

    Mr. Speaker, today I want to pay tribute to Clif Evans, who passed away earlier this month. Clif was known for being many things: a hotelier, the mayor of Riverton, MLA for Interlake, ministerial assistant to former minister Steve Ashton in the NDP government and, most recently, an invaluable member of our constituency team.
    Clif accomplished a lot. He was a strong mayor and an MLA who fought for all his communities, his legacy including flood protection, highway improvement and support for fishers.
    Clif was a proud New Democrat. Even though he was on the receiving end of a PC vote-rigging scandal in the 1990s, he had an incredible ability to reach across the partisan divide. He was proud of his work with the Association of Former Manitoba MLAs.
    What we will always remember about Clif is how he connected with people and how he was welcomed in so many rural communities and first nations, where he was like a member of the community. Clif was also a great mentor and a mentor to many. Clif was one of my mentors. I was proud to work with Clif Evans and proud to have known him. He will be missed by many.

[Translation]

World Bee Day

    Mr. Speaker, on May 20 we celebrate World Bee Day.
    This year, this day is especially significant because many of our beekeepers lost a large percentage of their bees, with mortality rates of up to 80%. No producer can afford such a loss.
    Producers held a press conference yesterday to sound the alarm. They need support. Higher temperatures due to climate change are having a devastating impact and producers are asking for emergency assistance. We must be there for them.
    We must also find long-term solutions to save our precious pollinators. Our crops depend on them. That is why I moved a motion in that regard in committee.
    Bees play a key role in the environment, agriculture and food. It is our duty to protect them.

[English]

Vaccine Mandates

    Mr. Speaker, with the perpetuation of his punitive vaccine mandates, the Prime Minister is in fact prolonging the pain of COVID. The hypocrisy is evident and everyone is watching. His mask is on in Canada, but it is off when he is gallivanting around the world. His mask was on when he met with Prince Charles yesterday in Ottawa, but it was off when he met with the Queen in England. Instead of inspiring confidence and strength, he continues to stoke fear and division.
    Many Canadians are asking why. Well, I suppose it is because he is more easily able to control people when he keeps them worried and fearful. Talk about an abuse of power.
    The Prime Minister keeps telling Canadians that he is following the science and listening to experts, but two questions arise: What science and which experts? The provinces have followed the science and have lifted the mandates. Countries around the world have done the same. Therefore, the question is this: Is there some secret science that the Prime Minister is privy to that he is not letting the rest of us into?
    The reality is this, folks. Canadians deserve better. Canadians are calling on the Prime Minister to put aside his obstinate ways and act in the very best interest of Canadians. It is time to lift the mandates.

Vyshyvanka Day

    Mr. Speaker, today is Vyshyvanka Day, the day of the Ukrainian embroidered shirt, and today I am very proud to be wearing the vyshyvanka that my grandparents Ivan and Olena made for me many years ago.
    In the past, I have worn this shirt to honour my grandparents and celebrate my heritage, but this year is different. For Ukrainians, the embroidered shirt is not just a garment, but a sacred emblem of Ukrainian culture, tradition and history since ancient times. The embroidery tradition has been passed on from generation to generation of Ukrainians, as has the desire for freedom and the courage and resolve to fight for it. Ukrainians have demonstrated that courage and resolve since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
    This year, on Vyshyvanka Day, people around the world are wearing a Ukrainian embroidered shirt to show their support for the people of Ukraine. This year, we not only honour our ancestors and we not only celebrate Ukrainian heritage, but we stand even more firmly with the Ukrainian people. I have never been prouder to wear my vyshyvanka.
    Slava Ukraini.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

  (1420)  

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, for two years now, Canadians have been making sacrifices to combat COVID‑19. They stayed home. They got vaccinated in large numbers. They got tested. They wore masks.
    Two years later, the majority of governments have listened to the science and lifted the health measures to give their citizens a bit of a breather. All the governments have done so, except one. Just one government refuses to acknowledge all of the sacrifices that people have made. Why is that?
    Mr. Speaker, we know more about COVID‑19 now than ever. That said, we have come a long way since March 2020.
    We have safe, effective vaccines and we have high vaccination rates. Our government will continue to make decisions informed by science and will adjust its guidelines and public health measures as this wave of the virus evolves.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' ideological stubbornness, which is not supported by science or any recognized scientific opinion, is hurting Canadians.
    What is happening in Canada's airports clearly shows that this NDP-Liberal government is out of its depth, and travellers are the ones paying the price. They are the ones who have to wait in huge lineups and who are being held captive on planes for hours.
    This chaos was foreseeable, but once again the Liberals did not see it coming and did not do anything. Oh yes, they are doing one thing. They are blaming travellers. When will the Prime Minister lift the public health restrictions in airports?
    Mr. Speaker, we have testing and surveillance tools that allow us to identify new variants of concern and track the spread of this virus. We also have new treatments that can help patients from getting seriously ill.
    The Conservatives have a choice to make today.

Government Programs

    Mr. Speaker, let us take stock of the government's record: passports, chaos; Service Canada, chaos; immigration, chaos; employment insurance, chaos; House management, chaos; border management, chaos; inflation management, chaos.
    Everything this Liberal government touches is a dismal failure. Can the minister responsible for this chaos please rise?
    Mr. Speaker, as we know, we were in a pandemic for two years. We are now in a period of transition. Canadians followed the rules. They did everything they could to keep themselves and their friends safe.
    We thank Canadians. The Government of Canada will be there to help them. We are putting measures in place to ensure that Canadians receive the services they need.

[English]

Airline Industry

    Mr. Speaker, it is another day, and there are more horror stories from Canada's airports. While the Minister of Transport blamed out-of-practice travellers for the bottlenecks at those airports, the parliamentary secretary now says that it is a global phenomenon. It is not.
    The government has not acknowledged any responsibility. It still has not shared any specific advice it claims to have for the restrictions in the airports.
    When will the government apologize to all of the travellers who have missed their flights due to its incompetence?
    Mr. Speaker, we understand how frustrating it is for Canadians to experience long lines and delays at airports. Canadians can rest assured that we are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. As I said earlier in the House today, we have hired approximately 400 new screening officers who are currently in different phases of their training across the country. We are taking affirmative action by forming working groups with CATSA, CBSA, PHAC and other aviation partners, and they are meeting multiple times a week to find and address the bottlenecks leading to these delays.
    We ask that Canadians remain patient as we work hard with CATSA and the air sector to find a solution.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the airports across the country are still grinding to a halt, and the government says that it is people's fault. There are people who are waiting months and months for passports, while the government tells them they have to line up at 4 a.m. For basic government services, the government says it is sorry and to take a number. The parliamentary secretary has said testing 4,000 travellers a day and keeping four million Canadians from domestic travel is based on public health advice.
    What specific advice has she seen that nobody in this House has?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge that after two years of staying home and making sure that they are doing everything they can to protect themselves and their loved ones, Canadians now want to travel.
    We understand that there is a huge demand. There are unprecedented volumes, in fact volumes we have not seen since 2006, when the United States asked Canadians to have a passport to travel there. We are doing everything we possibly can to ensure that Canadians can access those services in a timely fashion, and we will continue to maintain these measures so that Canadians can have access to these services.

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, the government has decided to appeal the court ruling on the unconstitutional appointment of a unilingual anglophone lieutenant governor in Canada's only bilingual province, but not everyone in the Liberal caucus agrees. Three New Brunswick MPs, or half of the province's Liberal MPs, have since had the courage to speak out against this decision.
    Does the Minister of Canadian Heritage find that his colleagues who are defending French in New Brunswick are just a bit too radical?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is firmly committed to protecting and promoting Canada's beautiful official languages. That is why, on March 1, I was so pleased to be able to introduce Bill C-13, which seeks to modernize the Official Languages Act. We will do our job. I hope that the Bloc Québécois and all parties will help us pass this bill.
    Our government is committed to ensuring that all lieutenant governors appointed in New Brunswick will be bilingual going forward.
    Mr. Speaker, on the one hand, there are Liberal members defending French in New Brunswick. On the other, there are Liberal MPs protesting the defence French in Quebec. It is pretty much the same gang that refused to recognize French as the official language of Quebec. It is the same gang that is criticizing the Bloc Québécois because we want private, federally regulated businesses in Quebec to be subject to Bill 101, and yet it is the Bloc that is considered radical. It really is nonsense.
    Who will the Prime Minister listen to, those fighting for French or those fighting against it?
    Mr. Speaker, members of the Bloc Québécois regularly speak. They have the right to do so because they are real Quebeckers. Liberal members who speak to the same issue do not have the right. The Bloc is deciding who is a real Quebecker and who is not; that is where they become radicalized.
    They are also becoming radicalized when they say that, if someone asks a question about Bill 96, they are against Bill 101. We support Bill 101. We have always supported it, and that is our party's position.
    They say that a person who takes part in a march wants to anglicize Quebec. No, we are there to defend French and respect the anglophone minority.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, last month, inflation hit a 31-year high at 6.8%. Meanwhile, wages increased by an average of just 3.3%. I doubt anyone needs a diagram to understand the resulting decrease in purchasing power.
    The worst part is that while the big chains are making hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, everyone's grocery bills are going up by 9%. More and more families are turning to food banks.
    When will the Liberals tax the excessive profits of big grocery stores and oil companies?
    When will they double the GST tax credit?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that inflation is partly caused by Putin's illegal war in Ukraine. That is why we are focusing on affordability for Canadians.
    We have cut taxes for the middle class twice and raised them for the wealthiest 1%. We created the Canada child benefit and made sure it was indexed to inflation.
    We have been focused on affordability.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that when we bring up inflation, the government likes to talk about things it did five or six years ago, but the fact of the matter is that we are experiencing record inflation now.
    We are experiencing that in a context in which a number of companies, including oil and gas companies right now, are receiving huge windfalls. The question is this: Is the government prepared to tax that excess profit and return it to Canadians in the form of an additional GST rebate or not? Yesterday we saw the Liberals side with the Conservatives to vote against a measure like that.
    We want to know, are the Liberals going to get with the program and provide relief to Canadians now?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, we know that inflation is taking a toll on the lives of Canadians and their pocketbooks. That is why, once again in this tax season, the basic personal income amount has grown again: another 500 bucks in the pockets of Canadians. A family right now that has been able to take advantage of our child care benefit in Alberta will save almost $6,000 a year. We have indexed the Canada child benefit to inflation.
    We are focused on affordability and the needs of Canadians.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the last time we saw the price of groceries jump 10% was in 1981, when another big tax-and-spend Liberal prime minister was in office. What was his name again? It is like déjà vu.
     Doug Porter, the chief economist at BMO, said that inflation “is spreading much more broadly, and at clear risk of getting firmly entrenched”.
    Will the Liberal government acknowledge today that its big tax-and-spend policies are entrenching inflation? When will it start to address the cost-of-living crisis that we are in?
    Mr. Speaker, one of the first things we did when we formed government in 2015 was to lower the taxes on the middle class twice and tax the wealthiest 1% more. In budget 2022, we have increased taxes on Canada's banks.
    The illegal war in Ukraine that Putin has started is driving up inflation. If the Conservative Party is serious about supporting Canadians, it can start supporting smart legislation and smart results, stop blocking the BIA and finance, get it to a vote and put money in the pockets of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister is still using talking points from 2015. He has the time machine. He is going back to 1981 with those policies.
    Other energy-exporting countries, like the United States and Australia, are taking action to protect their consumers from record-high gas prices. Trevor Tombe, an economist at the University of Calgary, has found that when Alberta dropped its gas tax, it successfully reduced its inflation rate in April.
     Since the Liberal government obviously has no ideas about how it can improve gas prices, will it at least reconsider the Conservative proposal to exempt the GST on fuel? Will it at least do that?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that inflation is affecting the lives of Canadians, and that is why our budget stepped up to the plate. I know the Conservatives do not like it that we have been delivering for Canadians for seven years. I know it offends their sensibilities, but the reality is that in our budget we have dental care for Canadian families, a doubling of support through the first-time homebuyers credit, a multi-generational home renovation tax, and 500 bucks to those concerned with housing affordability.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Hon. Randy Boissonnault: Mr. Speaker, they can scream and shout. We are going to keep delivering for Canadians.
    Order. Yelling does not help.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Richmond-Arthabaska.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that inflation has reached 6.8%. The last time it was that high was 31 years ago in 1991.
    This year, Canadians are paying 10% more for groceries than they did last year, and that is not to mention skyrocketing gas prices.
    Will the Liberal government take real action now to address the rising cost of living that all Canadians are currently experiencing?
    Mr. Speaker, I respect my hon. colleague's question.
    We know that inflation is affecting the lives of Canadians. That is why we once again increased the basic personal amount in budget 2022. That means that Canadians will keep hundreds of dollars in their pockets starting this year. We reduced taxes for the middle class, while raising them for the wealthiest 1%. We indexed the Canada child benefit to inflation.
    We will continue to focus on affordability. While the Conservatives seek to block the business of the House, we are focusing on making life more affordable for Canadians.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, inflation keeps going up and the government keeps doing nothing about it.
    Gas prices across the country were at over $2 a litre this morning and the price of diesel keeps going up. It is 35¢ more than it was just a month ago. This is having a direct impact on the cost of transportation, which automatically affects the cost of consumer goods, including groceries, which everyone needs.
    I will repeat my question. Will the government get its hands out of its pockets, start working for Canadians and lower the cost of living for once and for all?
    Mr. Speaker, we well know, as do all Canadians, that inflation is caused in part by Vladimir Putin's illegal war in Ukraine. That is why we are focusing on affordability for Canadians.
    In budget 2022, we proposed dental care for Canadians, doubling the tax credit for purchasing a home, and a one-time payment of $500 for seniors.
    We will continue to focus on affordability. While the Conservatives focus on picking fights, we are focusing on the lives of Canadians.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this week's diesel prices averaged $2.30 per litre, compared to just $1.45 last year, and prices are still on the rise. Diesel is a fuel that powers our economy and powers our critical supply chain from coast to coast. This is going to impact the cost of food, clothing and other goods. This is going to lead to an economic catastrophe.
     When will this tone-deaf government provide immediate relief to Canadians by cutting the taxes and ending the crippling and punitive carbon tax?
    Mr. Speaker, as the other side knows, eight out of 10 Canadians get more back than what they pay for the price on pollution. That is verified in the numbers, and that is why we are using a market mechanism. There is no evidence that reducing taxes on fuel is passed to consumers.
    At a time when this House should be focused on getting Vladimir Putin and his army out of Ukraine, the other side is playing games. We are focused on making life more affordable for Canadians, and that is exactly what we will continue to do.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals keep blaming Russia's war in Ukraine for the big price difference for gasoline between Canada and the United States, but that is Liberal disinformation. The objective of Canada's carbon tax is to make gasoline more expensive, and it is working. The Liberals should be taking credit for making energy more expensive with their punitive carbon tax.
    After the exchange rate, gasoline in my riding is $2 a litre, and it is only $1.50 in the state of Maine. That difference is all tax. What does Russia have to do with that?
    Mr. Speaker, this is a serious issue, and Canadians deserve a fact-based discussion, not partisan talking points from the Conservatives. The fact is that this global phenomenon is caused, in part, by the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Putin.
     We continue to propose concrete measures to make life more affordable for Canadians. The Conservatives focus on political talking points. We are focused on Canadians.

[Translation]

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, if the Paris climate change targets are not met, Canada and its carbon bombs will be partly to blame. These are projects that will result in billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. We are not talking megatonnes, but gigatonnes. These projects will create so much pollution that it will be impossible to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
    Researchers have a solution. These projects must be cancelled. Will the Minister of the environment do it?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question.
    As she is well aware, just over a month ago we presented our plan to fight climate change. It clearly shows how Canada will meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2030. Our plan will work regardless of whether oil production goes up, down or remains constant. Our emissions in 2019, before the pandemic, show that greenhouse gas emissions dropped, despite the increase in Canada's oil production.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, something that we are hearing about is climate bombs. If all the climate bomb projects were to go ahead, the planet would be in big trouble. We have learned that global warming could reach 3°C, which is double the Paris target of 1.5°C. That is dangerous.
    Canada has 12 climate bombs. Researchers say that defusing these bombs should be a priority in a climate change mitigation policy. Of those 12 bombs, several have not yet been developed. Will the Minister of Environment make a clear commitment to prevent the development of any new climate bombs in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I would remind my hon. colleague that the issue of climate bombs is not new. When I was at Greenpeace in the 1990s, we actually published a report on this. This is not a new issue, for one thing.
    The other thing is that we made a commitment to cap greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector, and we are working on that. This is one of the things that will allow Canada to meet its greenhouse gas emission targets by 2030. They include cutting emissions by 40% to 45%, whereas the IPCC is calling on countries to cut them by at least 43%. We are doing exactly what the science is telling us to do.
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for climate bombs. It is on the same list as Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, the list of rogue countries that together threaten our climate future. Canada is also one of the countries that has the most to gain from the green transition, and yet the development of fossil fuels still comes first.
    These gigatonne carbon bomb projects must be scrapped altogether. We also need to ask ourselves why, in 2022, the fossil fuel sector is still receiving public funds.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question.
    As she is probably well aware, the independent international NGO Energy Policy Tracker has shown, quite independently, that the Canadian government is investing more in clean technology and renewable energy than in fossil fuels. Our recovery plan is the greenest of all G7 countries and the second greenest of all G20 countries.
    That said, we have committed to eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies by 2023, two years earlier than all our G20 partners. That is exactly what we are going to do.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, two of my constituents, Audrée and Nicolas, contacted me about a very serious issue. Each of them has a baby with serious allergies to breast milk and regular formula, so they absolutely have to use hypoallergenic formula. A product recall caused a shortage, and now, extremely worried parents are seeing empty shelves. Apparently Health Canada has implemented an interim import policy that will get the product back on store shelves in a month, but that is too late.
    Is the government telling families they will have to wait a month before they can feed their children?
    Mr. Speaker, this is certainly a very sensitive issue. I can assure my colleague that the Minister of Health, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada and I are taking the situation very seriously. We are doing what needs to be done. I can also assure my colleagues that, here in Canada, we are lucky to have a number of suppliers, and we are doing what must be done to avoid a shortage in Canada.

[English]

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is the fifth-largest agri-food exporter in the world. In fact, we ship healthy food all over the globe. However, increasingly in Europe non-tariff trade barriers are restricting our access. Can the minister assure the producers in the agri-food industry that these tariffs will be eliminated or will not be applicable in the upcoming Canada-U.K. agreement?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that we have some of the most amazing exporters here in Canada and we have incredible trade agreements, including in the European Union, that give our producers access to over 500 million customers. We continue to work with our trading partners to make sure those markets are open. Indeed, we are seeing results, because we are seeing trade increase into the European Union. We are at the table with the United Kingdom, and those exporters are also getting access to that market while we are negotiating the agreement.
    Mr. Speaker, we learned this week that India has placed a ban on wheat exports as a result of poor crop yields. It is Canada's responsibility to step up to the plate and meet this new global demand, but because of the current government's failed policies, like the carbon tax and a failure to grow our export markets, our farmers are now left with their hands tied. Why has the minister failed to secure greater market access for Canadian wheat, which would allow our farmers to step up and meet this looming global food shortage?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have access to 1.5 billion customers in the global marketplace through Canada's excellent trade agreements today, whether it is here in the North American market through the newly negotiated CUSMA, the European Union through CETA, or the CPTPP, which is another 500 million customers in the Asia-Pacific. We are at the negotiating table with the U.K., Indonesia and ASEAN. We are opening up markets and working with businesses, especially small businesses, so they can get access to these markets. I am very proud of the fact that Canadian exporters are growing and are growing around the world because of the great work that we are doing.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, it is now clear that long COVID cases are spiking across Canada. Half of all Canadians infected with COVID‑19 are expected to develop significant long-haul symptoms. Experts are warning that this will create a mass disabling event with serious and debilitating impacts on patients, yet the Liberals have ignored long COVID in their public health policy and guidance. What concrete steps is the government planning to take to help people suffering from long COVID?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his collaboration on the health committee.
    The government recognizes that some Canadians who have contracted COVID-19 are facing a long recovery. Our government is actively working with national and international experts to build the evidence base on post-COVID-19 conditions to support Canadians experiencing longer-term effects. Increasing our understanding of COVID-19, including its longer-term effects, is key to addressing and recovering from the pandemic.
    To that end, since March 2020, the Government of Canada has invested more than $250 million in critical areas of COVID-19 research. Budget 2022 also proposes over $20 million over five years, starting next year, for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to support additional research on long COVID and the effects of COVID-19.

Indigenous Affairs

     Uqaqtittiji, I have asked the government many times about programs and services towards the betterment of Inuit, first nations and Métis. Indigenous people do not have adequate housing, proper investments in education and mental health supports. This is systemic discrimination from the federal government.
    Now the Parliamentary Budget Officer tells us that the government is accomplishing less than in previous years. Why does the government keep failing to deliver results for indigenous people?